A message from SEF for Arsenal game

Posted on April 28, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Announcements, Arsenal, Champions League, Chants & Songs, Man United   2 Comments »

Stretford End

Once again United find themselves in the Semi Final of the European Cup, this time up against familiar English opposition Arsenal. As the expectation levels rise its important that WE as supporters do not let our tension get to the players. EACH and EVERY supporter has a role to play on Wednesday night, as we re-create that passionate atmosphere that helped inspire the team to a famous win over Barcelona in last years semi-final.

Whilst it might be your normal matchday routine to arrive in your seats as the game kicks off, UNITED’S PLAYERS, MANAGEMENT and ourselves at SEF are calling on supporters to take their seats that bit early, as WE look to build up the atmosphere into a crescendo of noise as the teams emerge from the tunnel. Supporters are encouraged to take up their seats by 7:30pm in the build up to kick off.

YOU are encouraged to bring along your own flags and scarfs, creating the colour within Old Trafford.

But more importantly, dont forget your singing voices!
Just like last year, SEF have arranged for two mosaics to be in place.

The East Stand will once again be the setting for the BELIEVE mosaic, the inspiration and meaning which carried the team to last years success in Moscow.
The Stretford End will be the setting of a EUROPEAN CUP MONTAGE mosaic.
SEF will have in place 9 TIFO flags, which will be waved on the pitch by SEF members. These flags will be spread out along the two goal lines and along the touchline in front of North Stand

If you could give it a mention it would be much appreciated, wether you use the full messege or not it doesnt matter any mention of getting in early/bringing your own flags/scarves will be great.

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Manchester United vs. Arsenal: Roy Keane & Patrick Vieria bust up

Posted on April 25, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Arsenal, Man United, Players   9 Comments »

Roy Keane

With a triple header coming up against Arsenal (no that’s not a double intender) it’s perhaps an apt time to launch our “Old Trafford Legend” series, a collection of articles that will review iconic or defining moments in the clubs history, starting with the infamous Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira tunnel incident at Highbury in 2005.

It may seem untrue to many but this was the final time the two would ever cross swords in Premier League action but perhaps that lends an air of greater nostalgia to the event. After several years of blood and thunder encounters this game marked a change in the pattern of the fixture – more recently acknowledged as probably the finest footballing clash in the country.

So let’s give a little background information. United were still smarting from Arsenal’s unbeaten season, and Arsenal were still smarting from United ending that unbeaten run in acrimonious circumstances the previous October. That game itself had a little extra curricular activity, with Cesc Fabregas showing early signs of his simply charming personality by (must say ‘apparently’ here) throwing pizza of all things at Sir Alex Ferguson.

There was a 3 month long media whirlwind stoking the fires for the return fixture and the dangerous fuse didn’t take long to ignite – we didn’t even have to wait until the first whistle. During the warm up Vieira approached Gary Neville and told him he thought Neville “kicked all Arsenal players” when he played against them, a claim he re-stated in the tunnel, in reference to what he perceived to be harsh treatment of Spanish hard man Juan Antonia Reyes in the previous game. Of course there is no indication of how aggressively Vieira approached Neville as the United player has never revealed this – however, Keane heard the second comment and took umbrage at the mid 6 footer finding the smallest player on the opposition side and singling him out for intimidation.

Of course Keane actually stands an inch shorter than Neville and this made the following scene all the more comical – Sky cameras caught it live, Vieira walking hurriedly and sheepishly to the front of the players in the tunnel with an angry Keane getting louder and louder in the background, restrained by Graham Poll – when he became audible the phrases “I’ll see you out there” and “Thinks he’s a nice guy” were uttered and became part of United folklore.

What happened next was a breathtaking display of football – word had obviously reached the terraces of the incident as the atmosphere was at fever pitch, almost boiling over when Ashley Cole dived in the box after 3 minutes, scandalously trying to get a penalty. This incident is conveniently forgotten by myopic Gunners who concentrate on the (admittedly 30/70 in their favour) penalty incident at Old Trafford. It was an incident soon forgotten by United too as Vieira headed in the opener before fading into anonymity, save for one incredible dive in an attempt to get Wayne Rooney sent off.

Keane set the tempo for a resurgent and stunning comeback and after a breathless 90 minutes which saw 6 goals and a red card for Mikael Silvestre, United were clear and deserved 4-2 victors with a comprehensive footballing masterclass.

Vieira had wilted under the psychological battle that he himself had created, and although we didn’t know it at the time, an era defining game was being played out before us.

Arsenal had simply lost their bottle and by the end of the game had no leg to stand on – where people had previously tried to claim that they were the superior footballing side, the game they had witnessed left no spectator in doubt that the claim was fraudulent.

The pre-match incident was a microcosm of Keane and Vieira’s approaches to the game – Vieira’s attempt to wind up Neville being the equivalent of a woman bitching about the colour of someones hair, and in truth this was indicative of Vieira as a player, a strong commanding athlete whose tendency to be a sneak and a diver not only defied sense but also let him down. Keane on the other hand defied his relatively small physique and for all his faults – his temper and penchant for holding a grudge usually apparent – it was his unswerving honesty that brought him the respect that his approach commanded.

The two did have one more showdown, in that years FA Cup Final, with Vieira seemingly happy to be overrun for 120 minutes in midfield, as were the Arsenal side, as United threw wave after wave of ultimately fruitless attack at the Gunners, who became the first side to win the trophy on penalties – predictably, Vieira scoring the winning penalty with what turned out to be his last kick for the club (the equivalent of being beaten up on the last day of school, only to sneak in a kidney punch before running home!).

Keane himself left United in the autumn of that year under controversial circumstances, meaning that the game at Highbury took on added significance as it seemed to indicate one last round between two battle weary world champion boxers, paving the way for new blood but also illustrating the mammoth task they had in filling the shoes of their predecessors – yes, it is widely acknowledged that Keane had “won” that last battle, and probably the war, too, but it is a true acknowledgement of such an outstanding opponent in Vieira that gives the greater feeling of significance.

The Highbury Tunnel incident is probably the single greatest reference to the Keane/Vieira clashes and it was fitting that such an event should be their parting shot – even with some of the same players in both sides, the bad blood that was around 4 years ago has passed, even between the managers – probably moreso from Ferguson who has stated on more than one occasion that appreciation between the clubs is “a one way street”.

On the day Keane just had too much for his worthy opponent, and this was a fair analogy for the near-decades worth of battles prior – but although fans today enjoy the footballing spectacle of todays clashes, there are a few of us who look back on those equally encapsulating encounters with more than just a few fond memories.

Watch the incident again in all its glory

Source: (Yolkie)

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Match Report: Manchester United 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Posted on April 25, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, Spurs   3 Comments »

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Ronaldo scores against Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester United took an almighty step towards  lifting a third successive Premier League title with a quite dramatic comeback against Tottenham Hotspur.  Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney scored four goals between them with boo boy Dimitar Berbatov rounding the scoring off.

United knew that Liverpool had beaten Hull City 3-1 prior to kick off, which kept the challengers on top by goal difference, and it was essential that United obtained the three points at home to Spurs.  Considering Spurs had not won at Old Trafford since December 1989 – United would have been confident in heading into the fixture.

Berbatov was back in at the expense of Giggs, whilst Fletcher and Carrick were brought back into replace Scholes and Anderson.  Sir Alex obviously looking ahead to the Champions League clash with Arsenal on Wednesday decided it would be best to rest both Scholes and Giggs whilst giving players like Nani a chance to make an impression.

United’s first half performance was distinctly average without any great urgency in the passing or movement.  This lack of urgency gave the visitors confidence and the North Londoners settled with some good football, which had United on the back foot at times.  United conceded the first goal in the 29th minute when Ferdinand and Vidic failed to deal with a cross from the right and the fortuitously fell to Spurs’ number 10 Darren Bent who smashed it past Edwin Van Der Sar.

It didn’t get any better three minutes later when Aaron Lennon, who put in a superb first half performance against Evra, dropped a cross in from the right to the back post where an unmarked Modric placed a left footed shot past the stranded Van Der Sar.  Modric was left unmarked as young Brazilian fullback Rafael was caught out of position – which gave the Croatian an easy finish.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a number of set pieces, which were dealt with by the error prone Tottenham goalkeeper Gomes.  The Spurs stopper also made a quite remarkable save from a Ronaldo half volley.  United’s number seven struck a free kick into the wall which bounced back to the Portuguese winger who proceed in smashing the ball towards the top corner.  The ball looked destined for the back of the net, with the Stretford End on their feet, the Spurs goalkeeper somehow managed to get his finger tips to the ball.  United went in at half time 2-0 down with much to do in the second half.

Ferguson’s intentions were obvious with the inclusion of Carlos Tevez for the ineffective Nani.  Tevez was deployed up top alongside Dimitar Berbatov, with Wayne Rooney operating from the left hand side.  Tevez’s introduction lifted both his teammates and the crowd as the industrious forward closed down the ball from all over the pitch, making the Tottenham players rush their play.

United’s break through came on the 57th minute when Gomes was alleged to have brought down Michael Carrick after a superb Wayne Rooney pass.  Howard Webb immediately gave the penalty without hesitation, however it was clear from television replay’s that the Tottenham goalkeeper had touch the ball before bring Carrick down.  Ronaldo didn’t care though and stepped up to score his 22nd goal (in all competitions) for United this season – smashing the ball down the centre.

Tottenham were clearly rattled by the decision, which gave United the confidence to search for more.  They were rewarded ten minutes after the first when Wayne Rooney, who was quite simply breathtaking in the second half , scored a right footed shot after a good pass from Carlos Tevez.  Wayne Rooney may get frustrated in not playing in his favourite position more often (as a main striker), however he will have to stop proving to be such a versatile player – he was at times unstoppable.

It was Rooney who then setup the third goal a minute later when he crossed for Cristiano Ronaldo who proceeded in heading the ball past Gomes.  Cue the Old Trafford eruption, with Ronaldo celebrating erratically with his team mates.  In the space of twenty three minutes United had taken the lead after being two goals down at half time.

It got worse for Tottenham three minutes later when Ronaldo returned the favour, from the right side though this time, by picking out Rooney who was lurking at the far post.  Rooney took a touch before placing the ball past the keeper.  Ex Manchester City defender Corluka tried in vain to stop the ball crossing the line – however his momentum took him over the line, closely followed by the ball – 4-2.

This remarkable comeback was rounded off by Dimitar Berbatov, who had been booed by some United fans, when Wayne Rooney swung in another delightful cross from the left.  United’s number ten checked onto his right foot, waiting for the right moment, before placing a inch perfect pass onto the head of Berbatov.  The Bulgarian’s header was saved by Gomes, however Berbatov bundled in the rebound – giving United a 5-2 lead.

United’s win brought back memories of Steve Bruce scoring at Sheffield Wednesday in 1993, Chris Eagles scoring at Everton in 2007 or more recently Federico Macheda scoring against Aston Villa at the Stretford End.  United performance was much better than recent matches and Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping the result will spur his men on for Wednesday’s clash with Arsenal – with United knowing they have an amazing opportunity to retain the double.  Make no mistake this is a massive win that, although was clouded in controversy, is a massive step towards the title.  Ten more points from a remaining fifteen will give United a third successive title and eighteen titles all in all.

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Match Report: Manchester United 2-0 Portsmouth

Posted on April 22, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, Portsmouth, Premier League   2 Comments »

Rooney Scores

Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick scored the goals that returned Premier League Champions Manchester United to the top of the table with a 3 point lead and a game in hand in a comfortable display against Portsmouth.

The first half saw the home side really for the jugular and they started the second half in similar fashion, only to tail off and almost give Pompey a glimmer of hope before Carrick’s late goal sealed it.

Sir Alex Ferguson sprung a change or two in his line up, opting for Rooney up front while not starting Berbatov or Tevez, and playing Anderson despite the talented youngsters exerts in Porto and then the two hour performance on Sunday.

But it was Anderson, and veteran Ryan Giggs, who dictated the early exchanges, Anderson’s logic defying high energy display perfectly complementing Giggs’ intelligent use of the ball – it was no surprise that this combination led to the opening goal after just nine minutes, the Brazilian finding the Welsh legend with an out of this world 45 yard pass, the winger producing one of his trademark slide rule balls, with Wayne Rooney accepting the opportunity to slam United into the lead.

Chances followed as Anderson’s improvisation almost brought him a first United goal and Giggs movement created two great chances for him, though doubters may point towards profligacy for the reason that the opportunities were spurned.

Fletcher had an opportunity and Ronaldo began to creep into the game, while O’Shea had an effort cleared off the line – but it took Michael Carrick, on for the tireless Anderson, to seal the result. Paul Scholes, in his 600th appearance in a United shirt, played a ball that has long been his trademark, allowing his midfield partner to rely on his own ability and composure to steer the ball into the corner of the net to ensure United’s return to the top of the table.

Rafael and Ronaldo had later chances to add a greater gloss to the final scoreline but all attention will now be focussed on the Saturday teatime fixture with Tottenham – a crucial component of the 13 point obstacle between United and an 18th domestic league championship.

Source: (Yolkie)

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Match Report: Everton 0-0 Manchester United (4-2 on pens)

Posted on April 20, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Everton, FA Cup, Man United, Match Reports   2 Comments »

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Everton Celebrate
Sir Slex Ferguson made 8 changes from the side that beat Porto and paid the ultimate price as his dire Manchester United team lost on penalties to Everton, therefore being eliminated from the FA Cup and the chance to become “quintuple” winners.

Using his examination of the previous days semi final and the impact the occasion and pitch had on the players of fellow Champions League semi finalists Arsenal and Chelsea, Ferguson took a huge risk by throwing in youngsters Rafael, Fabio, Gibson, Welbeck and Macheda while starting with Ben Foster in goal.

It would perhaps be too harsh to be so insulting to the youngsters who made a good fist of the performance and in fairness were the stand out performers in pushing a seasoned, professional, experienced and very talented Everton side all the way to penalties, and even having arguably the better of the play in normal and extra time.

The game itself presented few chances – among the best were ex-Red Devil Saha’s chance after a Foster mistake which the keeper just managed to recover, Welbeck’s deflected effort that grazed a post, Cahill testing Foster from distance, and Gibson doing the same to Howard.

But the major talking point came when Phil Jagielka clearly took out Danny Welbeck as the youngster seemed to create an opening to shoot, and referee Mike Riley, who David Moyes had accused of being a Manchester United fan in midweek, waved the claims away. Fergie was furious and his anger will no doubt have been two-fold considering the incredible number of clear set piece opportunities that have been denied his side over the last 18 months due to manipulation of the officials.

Such a result would have been harsh on Everton on the balance of play as only Anderson and, as ever, the two United central defenders Ferdinand and Vidic left the field with any credit for the favourites.

The biggest disappointment of the day was the introduction of record signing Dimitar Berbatov who contributed so little after his substitution that Fergie must have wished he had left wonderkid Macheda on – this feeling probably was exacerbated when Berbatov hit a woeful penalty in the shoot out straight at Howard.

A kick in such a situation would not normally be considered a great crime but Everton had missed their first spotkick and the Bulgarian had a great opportunity to establish some momentum for United, however his effort mirrored his awful attitude and body language. It was no surprise that the Toffees were bouyed by the miss and went on to convert all of their remaining kicks (Ferdinand missing the second kick) and in doing so progressed to the FA Cup final for the first time since they beat United there 14 years ago.

For United the quintuple dream is over but they must find some resolve as the next 6 days – two home games against Portsmouth and Tottenham – could prove crucial in their defence of the Premier League.

Source: (Yolkie)

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Match Report: FC Porto 0-1 Manchester United (2-3)

Posted on April 15, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Champions League, Match Reports   No Comments »

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Cristiano Ronaldo scores Cristiano Ronaldo scored a 40 yard wonder goal to propel European Champions Manchester United into their third successive semi final in the competition, with his goal being the first winner for an English club at the great home of the Portuguese champions. With echoes of David Beckham’s free kick from similar range against the same opponents that hit the crossbar 11 years ago, Ronaldo went one better to score one of the greatest goals in the grand history of the European Cup to give a telling nod to his detractors this season (not Sir Alex Ferguson, as the Sky broadcasting team persistently and rather pathetically tried to insist).

Ronaldo’s goal was the highlight of a vibrant attacking display but the pivotal players in this second leg were Rooney, Giggs and Anderson, whose work rate and skill in possession made the game far more comfortable than it seemed at kick off. And if they were the ones who dictated the run of the game, the sight of a more familiar backline with Ferdinand and Vidic was the controlling element that ensured no seriously nervy moments.

Ronaldo’s goal aside, a glaring chance for Vidic and a fantastic United move in the dying moments of the first half could have extended the advantage – and several counter attacks could have sealed the game in the second. Porto did have their moments but nothing that ever really troubled van der Sar, and United head into a semi final against their famed rivals over the last decade or so – with Ronaldo looking like he is hitting form again, Berbatov in inspired mood, Giggs still appearing evergreen, the energetic Anderson back, and Ferdinand making his return, the Champions of all trophies bar the FA Cup look in good shape moving into the semi final in this competition.

Source: (Yolkie)

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A view from Portugal – how do the Portuguese think we’ll get on?

Posted on April 14, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Champions League, Man United, Press   No Comments »

Nemanja Vidic takes on the Hulk
Working in the industry that I do you are lucky enough to meet a number of interesting people along the way.  I was contacted a couple of months back by Andre Torres for ESPN regarding United’s 1964 European Cup Winners Cup defeat to Sporting Lisbon.  I contacted him over the weekend to get his thoughts on the up and coming quarter final between United and FC Porto.  Thank you Andre for contributing to the Stretty Rant.

My name is André Torres, no relation to a certain Liverpool striker, except from the fact that I’m equally skilful, but an injury in the left knee, you know how it is…

In fact I’m not even Spanish, I’m Portuguese born in Lisbon 27 years ago and I’m a Sporting Lisbon Supporter, you know, that Portuguese team that this year for the first time in its history passed the Champions League Group stage only to lose on aggregate to Bayern München by 12-1 which, yes, is the biggest aggregate defeat in Europe in case you’re wondering…

Sporting is also the club where Figo, Simão, Quaresma, Nani and… Cristiano Ronaldo came from, in fact it was when Manchester went to inaugurate the Alvalade XXI in 2004, (Sporting brand new Stadium) that apparently after the match, some Man United players of the defensive sector begged Alex Ferguson to buy Ronaldo, they didn’t want to play against him ever again…

Tomorrow is another Portuguese team that Man Utd will have to face, FC Porto.

Porto have dominated the Portuguese football for the past three decades. Since 1987, the year Porto won “everything” (The Portuguese Championship, the European Cup, UEFA Super Cup and the World Clubs’ Cup)  they then went to win another Champions League, a UEFA Cup and a massive 14 Portuguese championships out of 21.

Today in the Portuguese Press, Ronaldo is supposed to have said “Porto is the best Portuguese team, but Manchester is better than Porto.” I believe he’s right but only if Porto plays badly. Porto’s talent isn’t based in Portuguese flair but in South American genius or even worse, Argentinean teamwork.

Lucho González and Lisandro Lopez have the fighting spirit of the best center midfielders when actually they’re an upfront duo recently upgraded with the arrival of the incredible brazilian Hulk.

Lisandro Lopez as scored only 5 goals in 19 Portuguese league games, but an extra 6 goals in 7 Champion League ties.

In another South American might also be the weaker spot of the team,  Helton, as been far from secure between the posts this year, famously allowing one of the easiest goals so far to the prolific… if in Spanish territory,  Diego Forlan.

They are, like Man Utd used to winning and perhaps that’s the key to beating them, they are not used to suffering the first goal. In fact if Manchester wins at the Dragão Stadium that would be a feat no other English team was capable to do, ever.

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Why did Diego Forlan not work out?

Posted on April 11, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Players, Transfer Targets   11 Comments »

Diego Forlan

Diego Forlan will always be remembered by United fans for his double against Liverpool after Dudek had comically blundered a pass back from Jamie Carragher – however his £7Million move from Independiente to Old Trafford didn’t quite work out the way Fergie had hoped it would.  That period of Ferguson’s Old Trafford career was probably the most eyebrow raising in terms of talent that he brought to the club – with Bellion, Kleberson and a skinny little kid called ‘Ronaldo’.  Diego Forlan should have been a hit but sadly wasn’t…

Forlan played 98 times for United scoring a measly 17 goals.  That works out at (quite obviously) at a strike rate of 0.17 goals per game.  When you compare that stat to the likes of Gary Birtles (0.18) and Alan Brazil (0.29) – you realise how much of a failure the Uruguay International was.  The fact that the lad had to wait eight months for his first goal from the penalty spot against Maccabi Haifa – combined with a Roy Keane rant, indicating he wanted someone else to take it – should have been more than enough proof that the Premier League wasn’t for him.

However, he always seemed a likable character, always eager to work hard and prove doubters wrong – regardless of how ineffective he was in football matches.  Other than the two goals against Liverpool and the wonder strike against Rangers in the 3-0 victory – many United fans weren’t too bothered to see the back of him in 2004 – a mere two years after his big money move to  Europe.

Fast forward five years – Diego Forlan has proved that he is a top striker and can mix it with the best of them in Spain.  To date – he has scored 90 goals in 166 matches for Villerreal and Atletico Madrid giving him a strike rate of 0.54 – much better if you compare it to Andy Cole’s 0.44, Eric Cantona’s 0.44 and Ruud VanNistelrooy’s 0.68 (Wow!) goals per game ratio.

Of course you need to adapt to the culture of your new home and fit in with your surroundings rather than just rely on your ability – however I could never see Forlan becoming a success at the top level – simply because I didn’t think he was good enough.  He proved me and many other fans wrong with his sublime strike rate in one of Europe’s top leagues.

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Is O’Shea really that bad?

Posted on April 11, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Players, Statistics   8 Comments »

John O'Shea

John O’shea had a superb season in 2002/03, slotting in at left back and displacing Phil Neville and Mikael Silvestre in what would be a superb Championship run-in – pipping Arsenal to the title, which in the February looked unreachable. Since then John O’Shea has become known as the utility man – the man who plays when there is something wrong with everyone else – but does O’Shea get too much criticism for this role at Old Trafford now?

The reason I bring this up is that I was fascinated, and i’m sure you’ll be amazed too, that O’Shea has accumulated (jointly) the most appearances for the club this season with 44. He’s played at right back, center half, holding midfielder and left back so far this season – whilst last term he was used as a makeshift striker and before that he went in goal at Tottenham. But he still gets loads of abuse for his performances – despite the fact that he has represented the club the most this season.

I personally wouldn’t have John O’Shea in the first Xi, and I would put both Neville and Rafael ahead of him if both fit. But thats the point – both aren’t fully match fit (I know Neville has just played two games back to back but he didn’t look too sharp last weekend) and Sir Alex is lucky enough to be able to call on a player that obviously wants to play but understands his role at the club. So what do you reckon of O’Shea? Do you see him as this bumbling lummox hobbling up and down the flank or do you remember him as the young lad who made the left back slot his own in 2003 – nutmegging Luis Figo along the way!

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Why Macheda should be given a chance against Porto…

Posted on April 11, 2009  by Stretford-end  in Champions League, Man United, Players, Tactics   3 Comments »

Federico Macheda scores against Aston Villa

Other than Eric Cantona announcing that he will pull on a Red shirt one last time for the confrontation with FC Porto on Wednesday – there isn’t anything much more romantic other than Federico Macheda continuing his amazing scoring feat – having scored two winners in the previous two games against Aston Villa and Sunderland.

What is great about Macheda’s two goals are the difference in quality but both equal in importance. Turning away from his marked with a neat Cryuff turn – he proceeded to smash the ball into the top corner and saved the day for the Reds. He then repeated the feat although this time with a sneaky little side footed shot after Michael Carrick had struck a shot goal wards. Mark Hughes used to score goals like the one against Villa, whilst Gary Lineker used to score goals like the one against Sunderland. Combing both Lineker’s goal feat with Hughes ability to score amazing goals – would make some striker, however he has demonstrated that at a young age he has the confidence to play at the top level whilst scoring goal at important times.

So the big ‘Roy of the Rovers’ question – should Fergie stick with the youngster for the game against FC Porto on Wednesday OR should he stick with the experience of Berbatov – if he is fit. Now, I don’t criticise Berbatov like some Reds do for his apparent lack of work rate and ‘laziness’ around the park. I think he is a sublime player with good movement and creative guile – however his transfer fee will always play a part in his fortunes at Old Trafford.

One of our earlier blogs - from January 2008 – commented on the fee being branded around for the Bulgarian. It turns out he went for £5Million more than the shocked price we used that was being reported. Many fans will feel that thirteen goals (all competitions) combined with nine assists in thirty-four appearances – might not be considered value for money. There is a certain element of that which is true – however there can be no doubting what a quality footballer he is, although it can be questioned whether we needed him or not.

Back to Macheda – one thing I always heard when I played football (by the way I was never a striker – far too slow for that!) from teammates and coaches is that once you score a goal you want to keep it going as long as possible – so if Macheda has that mentality and we are anticipating a potential high scoring game, why not give the young lad a chance?  He has scored two goals for the first team now, combined with his ten goals for the reserves – even if Berbatov is fit – shouldn’t Fergie opt for the fearless on form striker?

You get many fans jumping on the bandwagon when a player performs well for a couple of games (cue William ‘He played great against QPR’ Prunier) – however the boy has saved us twice now, he is strong and skillful plus he obviously he doesn’t hide when called upon.   It would be an almighty risk by Fergie – and I highly doubt this will even be flirted with – but wouldn’t it be great to shut up all those doubters!?  The media already think we’re on our way out whilst Arsenal fans seem to be planning how they can out fox Porto in the semi’s – why not get the goalscoring machine that is Macheda to set us up for that semi final against Arsenal or Villerreal?

In Porto’s last three games they have scored nine goals and lined up 4-3-3 in all three fixtures – this will not change on Wednesday.  Everyone feels United need to win rather than obtain a 3-3 draw (w0uld love it if that happened!) – so obviously we can’t be overly cautious but I feel the key to ruffling the Portuguese league leaders is to unsettle the defensive midfielder Fernando, who I thought played superb last week at Old Trafford.  He scored against an under strength Arsenal  in their 2-0 win – whilst playing in the middle of a three man midfield.  I think we’ll lineup the same as them, but I hope Rooney is given license to roam, thus dragging the young midfielder out of position – which could be the space needed for Carrick or Giggs to operate in.  What ever happens – I hope we make a game of it – and I hope that he don’t go out on away goals.

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