Match Report: Hull City 0-1 Manchester United

Posted on May 24, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Hull City, Man United, Match Reports   No Comments »

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Gibson's celebrates
Darron Gibson scored a wonder goal from 30 yards to move Premier League Champions Manchester United onto 90 points and make a mockery of the belief that Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to field an admittedly under strenght side would question the integrity of the league.

United’s opponents, Hull City, started the day in fear of relegation but were saved by Newcastle’s inability to get a point at Villa Park, making for a bizarre atmosphere at the KC Stadium.

The Red Devils had the majority of the play as the youngsters Sir Alex fielded rose to the occasion, despite the pressure of the importance of the game and that placed on them by the media to perform.

The majority of the chances came for the champions aside from that stunning Gibson strike, with Welbeck coming close after a couple of mazy runs – perhaps the young forward could have been a little more unselfish at the end of his runs – Macheda having a couple of opportunities that perhaps he could have done better with, and Nani being a constant threat.

With Barcelona looming on Wednesday Ferguson was denied the opportunity to play Rio Ferdinand – the defender now appears doubtful for the Champions League final – but gave chances to Wes Brown and Gary Neville as well as match time for Rafael. All three could be in contention to start should either Ferdinand or Evans fail to recover in time, and it is this issue that will probably have dominated the manager’s thoughts despite having to complete the Premier League fixtures today.

Source: (Yolkie)

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Sir Alex Ferguson interview

Posted on May 17, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Managers, Players, Press   2 Comments »

Sir Alex Ferguson
Scoffing my face this morning with peanut M&M’s that I had retained from watching Angel’s & Demon’s at the cinema last night I sat down to watch the Sunday Supplement on Sky Sports 1. In between munching away and then throwing the bag in the bin admits the fears that I would end up looking like the big bearded Martin Samuel (yes I still haven’t got over him ‘stealing’ my blog ideas) – I noticed that Fergie was giving an exclusive interview in the Times on Sunday to Hugh McIlvanney. I immediately switched off the telly (Sky plusing the ‘Alan Shearer goes mental’ part) and bought myself a copy.

I really enjoyed the interview and thought I would extract some of his quotes for the blog. If you are going out later on I would recommend picking up a copy as it is a great read (comparison with Busby and Paisley and also the teams under Fergie since 1992/93).

Fergie on Welbeck and Macheda:

I like to be around young people. I love being with my three sons and my grandchildren. At the club I enjoy talking to the Welbecks and Machedas rather than the dinosaurs (Neville, Scholes & Giggs).

Fergie on Macheda:

Nobody has to be told about Kiko’s ability. And he’s a hard bastard. Strikers need a bit of that

Fergie on Welbeck:

Danny’s a certainty to make it at the highest level. I’ve told Fabio Capello the boy will be in his World Cup squad next year. Wide left or right or through the middle, he has the intelligence, guts, athleticism and talent to do the job. He’s going to be a big lad. His height is about 6’1 now but the prediction is he’ll be 6’3. He’s yet to get the conformation in his thighs, so he is still gangly , but he’s brave enough to carry that. When he’s completes his growing , he’ll really be something.

Fergie on race days (Chester race day recently):

Only Scholesy and John O’shea will have any idea what they’re doing and the others could make the mistake of asking them for tips.

Fergie on drugs:

We’ve never had the slightest sign that drug taking is a problem. We had a 16-year-old kid who was caught twice. We released him.

Fergie on centre back partnerships:

Quality at centre-back is fundamental and i’ve had some tremendous fellas there.

Fergie on Bryan Robson:

I think the unluckiest man i’ve had here was Bryan Robson. He was one of the best players ever – what a combination of talent and commitment and drive – but he was nearly 30 when I came and his fearlessness had contributed to an awful toll taken on his body by injuries, and our early struggle to be successful lasted too long for him to have a chance of getting the rewards he deserved. If he were in the present team, say at 31, he would be phenomenal.

Fergie on Frank Lampard:

He is an exceptional player, a huge asset to his team. Every time he plays he goes box to box and he hardly misses a game. You pay attention to players who can get goals from midfield and he’s averaging 20 goals a season. You don’t see him getting into stupid tackles or making a habit of becoming involved in silly rows. When he was sent off against Liverpool two or three months back he walked from the pitch straight away, without fuss. He stayed restrained in the middle of all that bother after Chelsea were knocked out by Barcelona and made a point of swapping shirts with Iniesta. As I say, Frank Lampard is exceptional.

Fergie on Barcelona:

Chelsea would have presented the more straightforward challenge, one we’ve learned to deal with over the past year or two. The way Barcelona operate in midfield makes it very difficult to get the ball off them. I don’t think Iniesta and Xavi have ever given it away in their lives. They get you on that carousel and they leave you dizzy. Your concentration levels can’t be allowed to falter for a second. But, with the right tactics, their game is containable.

Fergie on Rooney:

We couldn’t not buy Rooney. We knew about him when he was 14 (1999/00) but he wouldn’t come then, and he wouldn’t come when we tried again at 16 (2001/02). But when he became a professional and started thinking about winning things we knew there would be a change in his attitude, if not necessarily in Everton’s. So we bought him for £26Million or whatever it was. You knew what you were getting with Rooney. He gets all your emotions going, drags you in with the physical, emotional way he plays. When he starts to compete and show you that great desire and intensity, you say to yourself ‘Fucking Hell’, what is this boy made of? You’re starting to think ‘I’ll maybe rest Rooney this week’. Then he comes up to you at training and says ‘I hope i’m playing Saturday. If I don’t play against Middlesbrough I won’t play well against Arsenal. I’m hopeless if I’m rested.’ He’s something else.

Fergie on Ronaldo:

As for Ronaldo, as a teenager he was never likely to be heading anywhere else but here. We had an arrangement with Sporting Lisbon that he would stay with them for two years to mature. The boy was aware of it. Then in the summer of 2003 we went to Lisbon and faced Sporting in a friendly and he tore us apart. I got word up to Peter Kenyon in the directors’ box that he had to come down immediately because we weren’t leaving the ground until we had secured the Ronaldo. We got the boy, his mother and his agent together to sort it out. Later we sent a private plane over the deal was done.

Fergie on Ronaldo Madrid link:

After Barca battered Real Madrid 6-2 our players were telling Cristiano that if he goes to the Bernabeu he’ll have to play centre-half!

Fergie on the hairdryer:

I lose my temper in different ways now. It’s probably more measured, more calculating, more cold.

I would strongly recommend getting a copy if you can as it is a great read with many more features.

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Match Report: Manchester United 0-0 Arsenal

Posted on May 17, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Man United, Match Reports, Premier League   No Comments »

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Ronaldo takes a freekick

Manchester United claimed their 3rd successive Premier League trophy, and 18th overall, becoming the first club to ever win it three times in a row twice.

They went into the game with Arsenal knowing a point would mathematically ensure the championship and a point is exactly what they came away in an ultimately underwhelming game – somewhat of an anti-climax rather than the swaggering confident display that would have befitted the occasion.

In truth though the visitors were never going to lie down, especially after two very recent humiliations at the hands of their opponents still very alive in the memory. United played as if they had one eye already on the celebrations planned for the end of the game and never seriously threatened to score.

Cristiano Ronaldo made an early break but decided to cross rather than shoot – and aside from a perfectly good goal scored by Ji Sung Park that was wrongly disallowed for offside, the Champions in waiting didn’t even get a shot on target – the closest either side came to a goal was a Fabregas effort in the dying stages that clipped the outside of van der Sar’s post.

Carlos Tevez started, but was substituted for Park, and appeared to wave goodbye to 76,000 adoring fans who immediately chanted “Fergie, sign him up”.

It would be impossible to argue with Sir Alex’s judgement however as this latest success is just another chapter in the ongoing career of unquestionably the greatest manager the sport has seen. United have the welcome opportunity of 10 days almost solid preparation for the Champions League final against Barcelona – a success would make it four trophies for the season, eclipsing even that wonderful achievement in 1999.

In winning the league Sir Alex made it 24 major honours in 19 years, while Ryan Giggs extended his record as the most successful player in the domestic game with his 11th Premier League title and 22nd major trophy. But, in true Manchester United spirit, neither are ready to rest on their laurels just yet, and it this attitude that will hopefully see them get Ferguson’s 25 major trophy in 10 days time.

Source: (Yolkie)

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Match Report: Wigan Athletic 1-2 Manchester United

Posted on May 13, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, Wigan Athletic   1 Comment »

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Carlos Tevez scores

Michael Carrick was sporting a swollen eye but it was he that delivered what surely will be the knockout blow to Liverpool in the title race at the JJB Stadium.

Rumoured Red Devils target Antonio Valencia came close to shocking the Champions as he latched onto a through ball, out pacing Vidic but just misfiring at the crucial moment. The visitors were taking a while to get into the swing of things but after 10 minutes got two chances in quick succession – first, Berbatov‘s fine movement and cross headed horribly wide by Rooney, and then Rooney made a real fight to reclaim possession, doing so and starting a move that was hit narrowly over by Carrick.

Hugo Rodallega gave Wigan the lead after 28 minutes – a long ball forward was contested between the forward and Vidic, with the Colombian getting the better, losing sight of the ball momentarily before recovering to screw home the opener. Vidic felt he was impeded, but referee Styles was having none of it.

Bar a couple of Ronaldo free kicks United didn’t really come close to equalising until stoppage time in the first period, when a wonderful move involving Berbatov, Anderson, Ronaldo and Rooney ended with the ball at the latter’s feet – however the young Englishman shot wildly off target.

The second half started with not much in the way of increased promise so Sir Alex Ferguson called for some intervention in the shape of Carlos Tevez just before the hour mark. Inside fewer than 5 minutes, the forward had equalised – Carrick picked up the ball and drove with his right foot, but it was wild. Fortunately for United the shot was converted by Tevez, with what first appeared to be a fortuitous flick, but later clearly indicated a simply stunning backheel of extravagant ability.

From that moment on the game swung firmly in favour of the visitors, who went for the jugular, but had to wait until the 86th minute to secure the 3 points. O’Shea received a Ronaldo pass and found Carrick who, with trademark simplicity, stroked a sublime shot home from 17 yards to find the top corner with his left foot.

Manchester United now only need to avoid defeat in either of their last two matches to claim their third straight championship.

Source: (Yolkie)

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Match Report: Manchester United 2-0 Manchester City

Posted on May 10, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Citeh, Man United, Match Reports   2 Comments »

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Tevez and Ronaldo

The 141st Manchester derby provided as comfortable an occasion as Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United troops could have hoped for at such a crucial stage of the season, as they returned to the top of the table.

The 2-0 victory, while petering out for the whole of the second half on the pitch, was achieved with goals by two players who appeared to throw their Old Trafford futures in doubt once again.

Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Champions the lead – Dimitar Berbatov was felled around 25 yards from goal, and the United number 7 continued his excellent recent form by drilling in the right hand corner of the goal.

Carlos Tevez then made two telling contributions – the first acting as somewhat of a forecast for the second, with his initial 20 yard effort smashing against the outside of the post, and then his second – after the sublime creation of Berbatov – found the inside of the post into the goal to seal the result. The much loved Argentinian’s response was to cup both ears in direction of the South Stand – evidently in the hope of a stronger attempt to sign him from Sir Alex,

The second half was almost a non-event save for a hysterical reaction by Ronaldo to being substituted – throwing an offered vest to the ground and then almost pathetically offering pouts to the cameras for a full 2 minutes.

The visitors only really threatened through a wild Robinho half chance and an effort that van der Sar magnificently saved, while United could have added another with a late flurry, most notably through Rafael who saw his effort saved.

What looked like one of United’s toughest remaining fixtures on paper didn’t turn out to be so in reality but the lethargy of the performance, particularly after Tevez’s goal and the reactions of both he and Ronaldo will probably have given Sir Alex an untimely – and ultimately, more prevalent – potential disharmonious headache in a crucial week for the club.

Source: (Yolkie)

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Match Report: Arsenal 1 Manchester United 3

Posted on May 06, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Champions League, Man United, Match Reports   5 Comments »

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Park scores

Manchester United crushed expectant Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium to progress to their second successive Champions League final.

Sir Alex Ferguson took a couple of risks with his selection – with John O’Shea and Ji-Sung Park providing a seemingly lightweight right hand side and Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney guarding their left hand side both carrying bookings – but he needn’t have worried about the possible negative effects perhaps denying his side the opportunity of a 4th European Cup Final.

United’s superior ability and confidence shone through in the early stages – Arsenal did defy their first leg approach by coming out and searching for a goal but were made to pay in the 7th minute when Park capitalised on a very unfortunate slip by Gunners defender Gibbs to convert a Cristiano Ronaldo cross.

Just 4 minutes later, Ronaldo was fouled by van Persie over 40 yards out. No danger, normally, but the World Player of the Year followed up his quarter final stunner with a fabulous set piece to silence the home crowd and many pundits – the goal had provided the holders with a seemingly unassailable advantage to the dismay of even the commentator for broadcasters ITV, Jim Beglin, who stated he was disappointed about United’s advantage without giving them credit for a truly ruthless first half performance.

Arsenal pushed for the remainder of the opening period but were caught out many times by the incisive passing of their visitors – almost conceding from a Rooney 25 yard effort and another Ronaldo free kick.

Hopes of a second half fightback were dispelled as United continued to expose their hosts on the counter, and those hopes were finally completely distinguished on the hour mark as Ronaldo scored his second in a move he started with an exquisite backheel to Park – United’s first scorer fed Rooney, who brilliantly found his number 7 to put the seal on the tie.

Arsenal, somewhat predictably, turned a little nasty after the third goal went in, culminating in a penalty award for a completely fair Darren Fletcher tackle on Fabregas (just before a terrible challenge from Adebayor on Carrick). Fabregas typically did not own up to the referee’s discrepancy and Fletcher was dismissed, ruling him out of the final. With so little at stake for the Spanish prodigy it was a disgraceful display of sportsmanship.

Robin van Persie scored the spot kick to make it 1-3, but the visitors pushed to score even more after.

Sir Alex Ferguson will eagerly view the game between Chelsea and Barcelona to assess his sides final opponents, but will be desperately unhappy regarding Fletcher’s dismissal.

Source: (Yolkie)

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Why Michael Carrick can be the match winner against Arsenal

Posted on May 04, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Champions League, Man United, Tactics   3 Comments »

Michael Carrick

Michael Carrick is a fine footballer, who has grown into one of the best midfielders in Europe since his 2006 move from Tottenham to Manchester United. His passing range is immense and has proven how valuable his creative vision is in the center of the park for United. However, he does still get his fair share of criticism from rivals fans and of course United fans who don’t get too excited when he gets on the ball.

To quote Johan Cruyff ‘Football is simple, but the hardest thing is to play football in a simple way’ – something that you could apply to Michael Carrick. He doesn’t score too many goals, rarely gets in the box like Scholes used to but he has been pivotal in United’s success since he joined the club three years ago. His ability to switch play is superb and his vision helps us counter attack – something that will be extremely important tomorrow. I have no doubt that he will be part of a midfielder three consisting of Anderson and Fletcher – with Carrick being the main creative force.

I had blogged about Carrick earlier in the season, which was when he was playing out of his skin – however in recent weeks he hasn’t been at his best.  Against Inter Milan I though he was poor and off the pace whilst against Aston Villa he was anonymous – however tomorrow he can really stamp his authority on the game and control proceedings – something Gooners will be hoping Cesc Fabregas can do.  The duel between Fabregas and Carrick may be closer if Robin Van Persie plays from the start – with Fabregas more likely to adopt a deeper role rather than the second striker role he adopted last week and against Middlesbrough and Liverpool.  Both midfielders are capable of controlling the game with outlets in the form of Anderson and Song aiding their creative guile.

I am confident that United can build on the one goal lead obtained from Old Trafford last week – however Arsenal will not play anywhere near as poorly as they did in the first half last week.  Ferdinand and Evra are confirmed starters with Robin Van Persie back for Arsenal.  I presume that Robin Van Persie will replace Diaby with Nasri going out left and Fabregas dropping a little deeper to influence play.  I don’t know who Fergie will play up top out of Berbatov and Tevez – my gut instinct would be Berbatov with instructions to Anderson to get forward to support.  It should be a fascinating encounter and I just hope that United can get that away goal early, which will really silence the Emirates – hopefully through a Michael Carrick assist.

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Superga air disaster remembered

Posted on May 04, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Munich   9 Comments »
Superga air disaster

Sixty years ago today a plane carrying the Torino side back from a friendly against Benfica crashed into the hill of Superga – near Turin – killing all 31 passengers on board. Of course this has no reference to United at all, in terms of directly affecting the football club – however nine years after this tragedy – Munich happened.

Some people are unaware of the tragedy outside of Italy – which robbed Italy of one of their finest sides they had ever seen. Torino had won five Serie A titles on the trot from 1943 (45 & 46 were not contested due to the war) and was generally considered the best side in Italy – ahead of city rivals Juventus. Torino also boasted the talents of Valentino Mazzola, the father of Italian football legend Sandro Mazzola.

The similarities to our own disaster are vast – both cities were gravely effected by the loss of the team, both teams were widely considered the best in the land and would go on to achieve even more greatness and both clubs had players that would have contributed to the success of the national side in future world cups – however United were able to rebuild with the survivors of the air disaster and guidance from Jimmy Murphy through the dark days post Munich – with Busby still in hospital. Torino were never the same post 1949 as the whole side was wiped out – there were no survivors. City rivals Juventus became the most successful side in Italy and ironically won the 1950 title – something that would not have been achievable had Torino not flown that day. Torino have only won the Serie A title once since 1949 – in 1976 – and you feel that had this tragedy not occurred – the Turin club would have won a considerable amount more.

RIP all those who died in the Superga air disaster, sixty years today.

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Match Report: Middlesbrough 0-2 Manchester United

Posted on May 03, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, Middlesbrough   1 Comment »

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Giggs Scores

Champions Manchester United opened up a (temporary) 6 point gap at the top of the Premier League with a comfortable victory achieved with an under strength side at the Riverside.

Similar goals in terms of execution were scored by Ryan Giggs and Ji-Sung Park in each half, ensuring Sir Alex Ferguson’s team selection was justified, but relegation threatened Boro rarely even mustered a meaningful attack let alone a shot that tested Ben Foster.

The opening goal came after Dimitar Berbatov played a ball in the direction of Federico Macheda who was making his first start in the league – the youngster couldn’t control it, and the ball rolled instead to Giggs, who used all of his experience and ability to drive home magnificently from 20 yards. The goal instantly drew eerie similarities to the one he scored in the same venue almost 13 years ago when United clinched the title in 1996, and it was his 98th Premier League goal, and 149th overall for the club.

Giggs used the goal as inspiration for another stellar performance in the middle of the park alongside fellow legend Paul Scholes – but try as they might, the visitors could not penetrate for a second goal in the first half. The second half was a different story however and both Macheda and Rooney went close in the opening moments – a move involving both the players, as well as Giggs and Berbatov, culminated with Rooney finding Park with a sensational through ball, and the South Korean smashed home on the run from 20 yards with his weaker left foot.

The game took a settled tone after the second goal as Boro looked powerless and United looked to pick them off on the break, with Wayne Rooney in particular eager to add more goals to the tally. It wasn’t to be, but Sir Alex took advantage of the relaxed pace of the game to make all three changes while ensuring that the likes of Carrick, Fletcher, Anderson and Ronaldo were all completely rested for Tuesday’s massive clash with Arsenal.

The result means the champions need just 7 points to ensure a third successive championship which would draw them level on 18 titles a piece with Liverpool.

Source: (Yolkie)

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Match Report: Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

Posted on April 29, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Man United, Match Reports   1 Comment »

O'Shea scores against Arsenal

Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

Manchester United will take a 1 goal lead into the second leg of the Champions League semi finals after the first leg with great domestic rivals Arsenal finished 1-0.

The holders made a rip roaring start and with a Wayne Rooney and Bacary Sagna combined header, and a Carlos Tevez point blank strike, could have been two up if not for the heroics of Manuel Almunia. But it was the corner resulting from Tevez’s effort that brought the opener, as John O’Shea converted with more than just a little aplomb.

United pushed for a second before the break as Arsenal struggled to get to grips, with a couple of Rooney efforts – one from fully 50 yards – and a Cristiano Ronaldo header that was well saved again.

Arsenal had difficulty establishing themselves but after the break managed to break up most of the home sides possession, making for an unpleasant spectacle in the second half, save for two major moments – Ronaldo hitting the bar from 30 yards with a superb effort and Ryan Giggs being adjudged offside (replays suggested unfairly) before skinning the keeper and rolling the ball in.

The visitors’ one big moment came when substitute Bendtner rose for a header but was unable to make a clear connection.

Ultimately Arsene Wenger will be the more relieved manager, being able to regroup his side with only a goal deficit after a tie when they could have been put well and truly out, but Sir Alex Ferguson will be optimistic with the opportunity to remind his team just how much they controlled this first leg.

Ratings : van der Sar 7, O’Shea 7, Ferdinand 8 (Evans), Vidic 8, Evra 8, Fletcher 8, Carrick 8, *Anderson 8 (Giggs 7), Ronaldo 7, Tevez 8 (Berbatov 7), Rooney 8.

Source: (Yolkie)

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