United could have signed Balotelli

Posted on September 11, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Man United News, Transfer Targets   2 Comments »

Balotelli

Reports in Spain have suggested that both Barcelona and Manchester United turned down the chance to sign young striking prodigy Mario Balotelli – who now applies his trade for Inter Milan in Serie A – earlier in his career.  United beat Internazionale 2-0 (over two legs) last season – with Balotelli coming on as sub in first game and being subbed off at Old Trafford.  On both occasions the youngster appeared to lose his head in the heat the game.

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Fergie: Ferdinand could make Spurs trip

Posted on September 11, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Man United News, Spurs   No Comments »

Rio Ferdinand

Manchester United centre half Rio Ferdinand could be fit for the trip to London to take on Spurs on Saturday after Sir Alex Ferguson claimed he had a ‘chance’ of making the squad.  Ferdinand has been out for nearly a month after injuring a thigh muscle in training for United – with young Evans deputising for the experienced defender.

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Stats you might have missed….

Posted on September 10, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Man United News, Statistics   No Comments »

Fletcher challenges Song

Having been away from so long I haven’t been able to update the Statistics on the website – until now that is. So far we’ve played five games (including the Charity Shield) , scored ten goals, conceded four and Wayne Rooney leads the scoring charts with five goals in all competitions.

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Rooney: I didn’t dive against Arsenal

Posted on September 04, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Man United, Man United News, Players   23 Comments »

Wayne Rooney

Manchester United centurion Wayne Rooney has shrugged off the claims from Arsenal fans that he was on his way down already before contact from Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia in the 2-1 victory over the Gunners last Saturday. Rooney scored from the resulting penalty – which brought United back into the game.

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Stretford-End.com Player of the Month

Posted on September 03, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Announcements, Awards, Man United, Players   No Comments »

Wayne Rooney

Unsurprisingly, Wayne Rooney is our player of the month for August. While Cristiano Ronaldo settles in with his £80m price tag, conversely it is on Rooney’s shoulders that this £80m responsibility has been shifted to – the task of becoming less sidekick and more leading light comes with extra pressure when the terms “world player of the year” and “most expensive player ever” are bandied about.

There are plenty of United fans however who always believed Rooney to be the brains of the operation, the true heartbeat of the side. And, naturally, Rooney has blossomed under the spotlight of expectation with a thundering 5 goals in his first 5 games.

His average rating of 7.6 for the 5 games (including the Community Shield) is heavily weighed down by the collective team shambles at Turf Moor – in all other games we’ve ranked him at least 8 / 10, and Man of the Match on three occasions.

While his new club striker team mate Michael Owen may have sent a brochure around in the summer illustrating his talents, United’s number 10 has done his talking on the pitch – painting himself as last minute saviour, the man to dig the team out of a sticky situation, chief orchestrator of an on song display, and the man for the big occasion all in one month.

It’s fair to say that a great deal of United’s trophy aspirations lie with Rooney – and if he continues to perform in such a manner, Sir Alex’s troops may well have some medals come the end of the season.

Goal of the month : Dimitar Berbatov v Wigan

In a great team performance, this goal was the perfect snapshot – clever link up with Scholes and Rooney finding the Bulgarian who exquisitely controlled the ball over the keeper and finished emphatically.

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Pleased to see Hargreaves on the mend…

Posted on September 03, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Champions League, Man United, Man United News, Players   No Comments »

Owen Hargreaves

Yes – we’ve been as slow as old cart horse John Terry chasing an old granny lately but with good reason!  My house move is all done just waiting on broadband activation now – but when there is connection everything will be up to speed!

Anyhow that is enough of my pathetic excuses, on to more promising matters of Owen Hargreaves return with his inclusion in the Champions League squad.  If there was no chance of him playing – like when Mourinho left out Michael Ballack in 2007 after his injury – Fergie wouldn’t have even thought about including the midfielder in his list.  Turns out Hargreaves is back at United this month – and hopefully not too far away from first team action.

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Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal

Posted on August 31, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United   2 Comments »

This fixture has often provided a classic spectacle in the English Premier League – and technically, you could lend the term to this latest chapter in the great rivalry between two of the domestic heavyweights using a contemporary reference – it was classic Manchester United, digging out a win despite being nowhere near their best, and classic Arsenal, showing plenty of on the ball ability and none of the steel required to seriously challenge for honours.

As fortuitous as the victory came about for the Champions after their lacklustre display, their 3 points came as a result of a dogged display and was, to that end, completely deserved.

The first 35 minutes were instantly forgettable – an unfamiliar line up fielded by Sir Alex Ferguson saw Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov on the bench while Antonio Valencia and Nani flanked Wayne Rooney up front. The decision backfired as United failed to impose themselves on the game and Arsenal took full advantage. A foray from the visitors into the home box led to Darren Fletcher challenging Andrey Arshavin inside the box – initial views seemed to indicate it was a strong but perfect challenge, replays showed that Fletcher had taken Arshavin out AND handballed. Any fortune the hosts had quickly evaporated as Arshavin exacted full vindication with a 20 yard drive that went in – defenders Vidic and O’Shea should have done far better in closing him down, and keeper Foster should probably have done better when dealing with the shot.

Straight after the break all the nervousness of United’s midfield seemed to translate to the defenders and Arsenal dominated the early exchanges, threatening to score again. Arshavin crossed for van Persie who should have converted but Foster made amends for any fault in the goal with a stunning save with his left leg.

Inspiration was needed and it came from three sources – Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney. Rooney began to take the game by the scruff of the neck and really forced the issue, while Giggs, despite a poor performance, used all of his experience to play two excellent passes that changed the game. The first was a slide rule pass to pick out Rooney who got to the ball ahead of Arsenal stopper Almunia who brought the England striker down.

Rooney dusted himself off to step him and easily, if completely undeservedly, drag United back in the game. Less than 10 minutes later and the direction of the game had totally swung. Giggs’ free kick was converted, unchallenged, into his own net by Abou Diaby. Arsenal offered little in the way of a force back into the game – instead, crumbling and inviting United to have chance after chance to add to their lead, with substitute Berbatov and Nani having gilt edged chances to add gloss to the scoreline but wasting their opportunities. Fletcher meanwhile threw himself tooth and nail into every challenge after a poor first half in a determined attempt to rescue the game and such an effort did not go unnoticed by the crowd or the manager.

The Gunners did have the ball in the net, albeit a full 10 seconds after the flag was raised for offside, and Arsene Wenger was needlessly sent off for his over the top reaction.

The game was seen out comfortably by United but Wenger felt the need to blow his top after the game, hinting his side had been cheated out of a penalty, and stating that a United player had committed “twenty fouls” and escaped a yellow card by a card happy referee Mike Dean but adopting a familiar position regarding a diabolical dive by Eboue with an “I didn’t see it comment”, and in the wake of the recent antics of his players, the experienced manager perhaps should wait before judging the decisions that go against his team when taking into account his teams all too recent deceptive activity.

As for United’s manager, Ferguson papered over very evident cracks by claiming he was impressed by what he saw as an imposing second half display, but he must surely be concerned by a lack of physical presence by his midfielders in yet another game.

Ratings : Foster 7, O’Shea 6, Vidic 6, Brown 5, Evra 6, Fletcher 8, Carrick 5, Giggs 7(Berbatov), Valencia 5 (Park 5), *Rooney 8, Nani 6.

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Anderson set to leave United?

Posted on August 25, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Man United News, Players   4 Comments »

Anderson

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The future of midfielder Anderson has been cast into doubt according to reports in the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail.

The Mirror claims that Sir Alex Ferguson did not take kindly to Anderson’s reaction at being left out of the entire squad for the Community Shield clash with Chelsea – the Brazilian apparently saying he would rather be elsewhere than not in the squad prompted Ferguson to call his bluff.

The Mail goes a little further than this and claims that the coaching staff at Old Trafford have got concerns over Anderson after his “best friend” Ronaldo was sold in the summer.

After not featuring against Chelsea, Anderson was due to come on against Birmingham but an injury to Jonny Evans meant he was not brought on. He was played on the left wing in the defeat at Burnley before coming off.

The departure will be a blow for many United fans who were hoping after his difficult second season that he would flourish this year. However the loss of form that afflicted him last year divided many fans, though it would still be a bizarre move for Ferguson to ship Anderson out this close to the transfer deadline given that the alleged incident happened over 2 weeks ago.

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Wigan 0-5 Manchester United

Posted on August 22, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United   No Comments »

A backlash was required after the Turf Moor shambles, and Premier League Champions Manchester United sensationally provided a thoroughly powerful response to their doubters.

Question marks were justifiably raised after United’s early season goalshy approach produced an unconvincing win against Birmingham and then a limp defeat at the hands of Burnley – the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez were being raised in more prominent terms. This display will not silence all the doubters but it did send out a clear message to their title rivals.

Such a blitz was threatened in a first half performance that had all the hallmarks of a side powered by one or two Fergie rockets – Rooney was sensational, Berbatov was at his irrestistible best, while Valencia and Nani showed the kind of form United fans will be hoping is the norm in this campaign. But for all their efforts – and clear cut as they were, with a Fletcher effort blocked on the line by Titus Bramble, a Scholes drive horribly miscued after a delicious flick from Berbatov, a couple of Rooney efforts that Kirkland did well to save, and a Berbatov chance amazingly robbed by a last ditch tackle by Bramble again – it looked as if it would be another frustrating affair for the champions.

Wigan did threaten themselves, and began to impose themselves on the game midway through the first half, with a Jason Koumas 20 yard curler that was expertly saved by Ben Foster their brightest moment.

If anything was said at half time – whether from Sir Alex or the players themselves – it certainly made a difference, and what threatened to turn out to be profligacy became sheer domination.

Antonio Valencia added a statistical credential to his promising performance, with a marvellous cross that was equally brilliantly headed in by Wayne Rooney for his 100th Manchester United goal.

A goal rush followed – United’s performance had hinted that one might knock down the barndoor, and it did. Berbatov was the beneficiary of clever play by Fletcher and Rooney, though the hard work was by no means done, and a finish that was preceded by a trademark deft touch was the Bulgarian’s reward for a fine display. He then fed Rooney who cut inside and finished via a deflection to begin his second century – and there was an air of inevitability about Rooney’s replacement, Michael Owen, getting his first ever goal for the club. It was smartly taken on his weaker side, deftly clipped in off the post, and registered with obvious delight.

In stoppage time Nani fired a free kick over, but there was still time to correct that – another, around 25 yards out, was dispatched into the bottom corner, to register the youngsters first goal of the season – it will be a real boost, considering the pressure he faces in the coming campaign.

What may have made Sir Alex more pleased with the display was that it came against a combative and energetic Wigan side, who tested the defence on several occasions – it was a big afternoon for the “front 4″, too, as all indications are this will be the boss’s first choice. And, on this showing at least, they are well up for the task ahead.

Foster 8, Neville 7, Vidic 8, Evans 8 (O’Shea 6), Evra 7, Valencia 8, Scholes 7 (Gibson 7), Fletcher 8, Nani 8, *Rooney 9 (Owen 7), Berbatov 8

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Burnley 1-0 Manchester United

Posted on August 19, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United   No Comments »

The story before kick off was about Burnley’s last home top flight game being one that ended in relegation at the hands of Manchester United – but their 33 year wait for revenge at Turf Moor could barely have been any sweeter as they comfortably disposed of the Premier League Champions in a humbling and humiliating defeat for the visitors.

United began the first half in composed fashion – Michael Owen, making his first start for the Champions, could have registered his first goal for them after just 2 minutes but couldn’t connect on a great pull back from Evra.

Burnley made a serious exert into United territory just after the quarter hour mark and it paid dividends – record Clarets’ signing Steven Fletcher beat a flimsy offside trap and should have scored, but Ben Foster made a smart stop. The Red Devils couldn’t clear and when a cross was poorly dealt with by Evra, veteran Robbie Blake smashed in an unstoppable volley from 12 yards.

The home side were not exactly in an unfamiliar position, with their cup exploits last season claiming some high profile victims such as Arsenal and Chelsea and for the remainder of the first half they utilised that experience to make life very uncomfortable for United. Aside from a missed Owen header and a couple of ambitious but very wayward Rooney strikes, the visitors offered nothing in the shape of a real goal threat in the opening half.

They were in need of divine intervention – and even when that arrived in the shape of a clumsy challenge on Evra by goalscoring hero Blake to gift United a penalty and an undeserved route into the match right on half time, Michael Carrick fluffed his lines and Burnley keeper Brian Jensen made a good save.

United fans were undoubtedly hoping for a famous Fergie hairdryer at half time but if it came, there was little sign of it in the second half. Antonio Valencia was introduced for the completely ineffectual Anderson to try and input some width, then Berbatov for Owen but neither offered anything that would change the game – one Park effort from 20 yards aside, they rarely even made keeper Jensen break a sweat, and even that was comfortably dealt with.

Burnley will probably not have a more comfortable game in their first ever Premier League season and as a result Sir Alex Ferguson’s public unwavering support of his existing squad will surely be severely tested – a severe lack of mobility and creativity in midfield alongside Michael Owen’s early season determination to prove that his goalscoring instinct has well and truly deserted him to the extent some United fans were even questioning whether he was missing on purpose must have given the lengendary manager food for thought.

That United’s main creative energy came from a 35 year old in the shape of Giggs was in itself a damning verdict on the talented but frustrating Carrick, the non penetrative Park and the perennial question mark hanging over Anderson.

This defeat on its own is, obviously at such an early stage, not the death knell of a title defence, but if the lack of penetration and midfield enforcing that was clear on Sunday and costly tonight continues, it is difficult to see past what is admittedly a knee jerk reaction – the Champions will have severe problems not only retaining their title but may also struggle keeping in the Champions League places.

Ratings : Foster 6, O’Shea 5, Brown 5, Evans 5, Evra 5, Park 4, Carrick 4, Anderson 4 (Valencia 5), *Giggs 6, Rooney 5, Owen 4 (Berbatov 5)

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