When Rio Ferdinand made his big money move from West Ham to Leeds I really thought the world had gone mad. A ridiculous transfer fee for a player that I thought at the time was very much overrated and hyped up by the media.
He played for a London club and was thought to be the new Bobby Moore, everything about Rio at the time to me seemed like the usual English player being made up to be something he wasn’t.
West ham came to us one day back in 99 /00 and we knocked them for 6, Rio played that afternoon and didn’t even look Sunday league standard.
Leeds shelled out £18 million on him and I laughed at our Yorkshire rivals.
At Leeds he improved, but I still didn’t see it, I still didn’t see how many thought this lad was world class.
The world cup of 2002 came around and this is where Rio caught my eye.
His performances in this tournament suggested to me that he actually was something special, his reading of the game was improving and his style on the ball of passing it rather than hoofing the ball up field was classy, risky at times but very clever all the same.
I had a feeling then that we would go in for him that summer, which of course we did and were successful in our bid.
Rio joined us for £29 million in the summer of 2002, held his shirt out on the pitch wearing a white suit, he looked flashy and a typical cockney. It would take more than him looking the part for him to convince the majority of Manchester united fans that he was worth his transfer fee.
During the season Rio was terrific for us, you could see him learning off Laurent Blanc and developing his game.
That season we won the league and Rio was an integral part of that, we had been lacking a pacey center back since jaap stam left and Rio more than filled that void.
Just as Rio had won over the united fans he rather foolishly forgot to take part in a random drugs test and went shopping instead.
Opinion was split on Ferdinand, some saying it was a genuine mistake others feeling he had something to hide.
Rio received an 8 month ban, a ban in my opinion deserved. The argument is that players that have actually taken drugs and have been caught don’t receive such lengthy bans, however if the suspension for missing a drugs test was less, then offenders would simply say they “forgot” to do a test and not actually be caught with drugs in their system and receive a ban far less than if they got caught.
Rio held his silence during this ban and its fair to say we missed him during his absence and the phrase “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” could certainly apply to that situation.
Rio returned as if he had never been away and now us reds felt that he owed us for missing that test, he owed us top class performances, guts and determination, everything of which we got from Rio.
Unfortunately contract negations between Rio and the club got out in the open, Rio wanted more money, some fans felt that we stuck by him during the drugs test scandal and how dare him ask for more money, others felt his performances deserved a pay rise a la Roy keane in 1999.
Fortunately for us Rio signed for United and remained integral to our success both domestic and abroad since then.
We now know about Rio as a player but what as a person? I’ve bumped into Rio a couple of times before games and he’s always been chatting to fans, signing autographs and posing for photos. He seems really genuine and always happy to mix with supporters. Some of our players that have been at the club their whole life, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville etc you wont see doing this. Sometimes stopping to talk to a fan is a chore, for Rio you can tell he loves it and doesn’t mind.
On twitter he comes across well, his tweets funny and at times intelligent. He’s probably the only footballer that uses twitter correctly and doesn’t slag off refs or other teams. Jack Wilshere I'm looking at you here!!
Rio I think, well mine at least is in every united fans heart now. Whenever we score and Rios on the pitch he’s there in the celebrations, he’s a proper team player, he wants to be involved in everything.
His partnership with vidic in my eyes is still the best in world football, they complement each other so well and as much as I love vidic I think Ferdinand is the better player.
Very rarely will you see Rio fly into a last ditch tackle, something you will see john Terry do numerous times every single match, why is this? Simple, Rio reads the game so well he never gets himself into the position where he has to throw himself into a last ditch tackle.
Terry’s reading of the game is poor as is his positioning, you only have to look at the 2 playing for England to see how many mistakes Rio has to clean up from Terry.
So we come onto England and the whole debacle of him being stripped of the England captaincy in full public view.
Capello said that he didn’t phone Rio as he likes to do things face to face, Steven Gerrard yesterday proving Capello is liar by saying that the Italian called him up to explain that the captaincy was going back to John Terry.
Rio, as always has remained dignified about the whole incident, he hasn’t come out and said anything or even used his twitter account to have a pop at anyone. Infact he’s still supported England 100% however I really feel its time for Rio to forget playing for England.
As time goes on these niggling injuries are catching up with Rio, theres no argument against that unfortunately it’s a fact of a footballer’s life.
Rio can take a look around the united dressing room and see Giggs and Scholes, 2 players that called time on their international career to prolong their club football. There is no reason at all that Rio couldn’t play at the highest level for a few more years if he gave up international football.
I can understand Rio is incredibly proud to play for his country, but he’s also a proud person, does he really want to play under Capello? A man that has shown little regard and terrible man management towards him?
Us united fans have barely seen Ferdinand this past year or so and although Smalling, Brown and Evans all come in and do a good job we do need Rio back next to Vidic.
United have stood by Rio through thick and thin, the fans could easily have not forgiven him for the drugs test and contract negations but we did and like I said previously have taken him into our hearts. Maybe it’s about time Rio gave a little extra back to us and quit the international scene to benefit Manchester United.
The dreaded international break has once again come around during the “squeaky bum time” part of the season, interrupting the very important run in and leaving many feeling empty during the week and weekends as club football takes a back foot.
Fortunately this weekend does bring up a tasty fixture in the form of Wales v England, a few years ago I would have been hyped up about this fixture but now I'm finding it very difficult to get excited. Just so you all know I am Welsh but I don’t hate England like I'm supposed to, after all I support an English club so why would I hate England? I literally am a 30 min drive away from England
It hasn’t always been like this for me, Italia 90 was my first world cup I can remember in vivid detail, I remember watching many of the matches and getting all wrapped up in the excitement of the world cup.
USA 94 was the same again, although Wales nor England were involved you couldn’t help but get excited and drawn into the excitement, seeing the republic of Ireland beat Italy, or the magic of brazil spearheaded by romario and bebeto. The romance of the world cup was beautiful, a genuine excitement, but may I add it wasn’t only the big tournaments that brought around excitement, I used to look forward to the friendlies of England and Wales, seeing if our players would get the call up and just a chance of seeing foreign players in action.
Euro 96 was no doubt the pinnacle of international football for me, rushing home from school to watch the matches no matter who was playing, and getting caught up in England’s adventure and cheering on Gary Neville.
His assist for Alan shearer in one game, and seeing the way Neville celebrated it brought goose bumps to me.
I was absolutely gutted when England got knocked out but it was over this summer that the love I had for united took over.
Alan shearer turned united down, a man I had been cheering on in the summer, how could I do that? Steve mcmanaman although I never cheered him on I wanted him to do well, but he was a scouser, I don’t like scousers I'm a united fan!
I started to question my love for international football.
During this time Ryan Giggs was getting all kinds of abuse off welsh fans and the media for never turning out for friendlies, being a united fan I knew that 99% of the time he was genuinely injured but others didn’t see that, the abuse kept coming and I was starting to go cold on Wales.
It all came to a head at France 98, a tournament I enjoyed mainly because I got to see every match, it was the summer I had done my gcses so had a lot of time off.
Again I was supporting England and Scotland but finding it so hard to find it in myself to cheer on shearer or any of the arsenal players after they had pipped us to the post for the title.
Michael Owen broke onto the scene and again, his scouse roots stopped me from getting excited after he scored THAT goal.
It was in this match that my love stopped, Beckham getting sent off, actually not the sending off as it was the correct decision but the whole media furore and witch hunt against him.
Everyone was against him and against Manchester united, beckham was our lad, a proper united fan who never gave less than 100% for the shirt, the club and fans closed ranks and rallied behind him.
During the 98/99 season the international games that were played the united players got booed by England fans and got some proper abuse, Ryan Giggs continued getting it for Wales also.
I soon began to realise the love I had for my club far outweighed any feelings I had for the home countries, id rather see united win and do well.
The end of the 98/99 season we all know united won the treble, one of the greatest feelings ever, I had seen my team win the European cup, the club I followed week in week out and just gone and proved they were the best team in Europe, I didn’t need international football to get feelings like that, it couldn’t possibly match it.
As the tournaments went on it seemed a united player would be made a scapegoat for each country, Phil Neville in euro 2000 for giving away a penalty that knocked England out, Roy keane for his wanting the best for his country antics in 2002 and then the whole rooney/ronaldo situation from Germany 2006.
I still enjoyed watching the tournaments but now the players that you wouldn’t have seen a few years ago you can watch almost every week thanks to the champions league and sky TV.
As time has progressed I find it more and more difficult cheering on rival players for the country, Craig Bellamy for instance, I can’t stand him at club level, and my feelings don’t change when he pulls on a Wales shirt, maybe they should? Maybe I'm completely in the wrong but I'm a Manchester united supporter and that is far more important than any international team.
It was the same in the last world cup, how could I cheer Steven gerrards goal against USA? He epitomises everything I hate about Liverpool, I don’t like him, never have never will. It goes against the grain.
I'm sure it’s the same for other supporters, they hate Gary Neville so did they cheer him on? Of course they didn’t he used to get booed!
Owen Hargreaves another player who got booed by England supporters for no reason at all.
Ive been to see Wales play a couple of times, both have been pretty hollowless experiences, the 1st was against Argentina, I couldnt tell you the score or who played, the next was against Germany about 2 years ago, again I couldnt tell you much about the game. Ask me about a united game from say 10 years ago and I can probably tell you the score and who scored.
What doesnt help with the Wales national team is that all the games are in Cardiff, the complete opposite end of the country to me, wales games never come up north, and I know now that Wembley has been rebuilt its the same for England fans too, its very much a north/south divide.
Since 1999 I’ve been lucky enough to see my team win the European Cup, and it s a truly amazing feeling, 1 that I wouldn’t trade with anything.
Hand on my heart I can honestly say id rather see my team win a trophy than England or Wales.
Club football is our bread and butter.
Just as I was about to post this blog some sad news broke this morning that Bryan Robson has had a cancerous tumour removed from this throat.
I'm sure we all send our thoughts and well wishes of a quick and healthy recovery to Robbo.
If there’s one person in this world that can fight off cancer then it will be our Captain Marvel.
The game with Marseille last night was a very nervy affair, although it started off in the best possible way.
With Hernandez upfront it gave Rooney the chance again to drop a little bit deeper and dictate play in the “Paul Scholes role”
Rooney last night put in another promising performance to add to the 1 against arsenal last weekend. Although he still has a long way to go to win me back onside (possibly never can)
He sprayed passes about and showed a creative spark between the striker and midfield that we have lacked for quite some time.
He admitted after the game this was the role he played when he 1st got into football so possibly this could be a long term position for him at united?
The inclusion of Hernandez meant berbatov was again benched for a big game, you really have to feel sorry for the Bulgarian. I know it’s easy to say he hasn’t scored in the champion’s league for 2 years but he’s had his best season in the shirt and to see him dropped is frustrating, especially when Ferguson stuck by Rooney no matter how poorly he played.
As for Hernandez inclusion I have no complaints, he deserves his opportunity now, 16 goals in all competitions in his 1st season is an achievement he can be very proud of, but lets not let his goal scoring record hide his other attributes such as his eerily experienced movement on the field for someone so young, his heading ability, his pace, he very much reminds me of Michael Owen when he 1st broke onto the scene.
Both goals you could argue you were very easy finishes, tap ins, and yes of course you would be right for thinking that, however if you have a look at clips of him getting into these goal scoring positions you can see his football brain is 2 steps ahead of defenders.
This little lad is fast becoming one of my favourite players at the club and with the probable departure of Michael Owen in the summer then I think that world famous number 7 shirt needs handed over to the Mexican.
Back to them game, I said earlier it was a very nervous affair, again our lack of killing teams off could have caused us dearly last night, when Gignac was put through that was a classic example of how 1 goal could have changed the game.
As we progress now I can guarantee that any striker that gets that chance will put it away 9/10. The quality of player we will be up against will increase ten fold.
1 player that caught my eye last night was Michael Carrick, although he didn’t do anything extraordinary I feel he played an important role, making a couple of vital interceptions and a completed pass rate of 90% plus, which was 4% more than Paul Scholes on the night.
Carrick looked like he had a point to prove last night and seems to double his efforts early on, however there were a few instances were I Felt he pulled out of tackles or didn’t commit himself fully into winning the ball and in the roll he was asked to play last night that was something he should have been doing.
The jury for me is still very much out on Carrick, I do like him as a player and wont forget his 1st 3 seasons or so at united but I'm concerned that his apparent dip in form over the last 2 years isn’t actually a dip but more of a decline in his talent.
The successful pass completion stat I provided is promising however I couldn’t find out how many of them were forward passes , and in that role you need a good percentage to be advanced balls.
It was good to see the return of nani last night and another cameo from Valencia. Nani looked a bit cautious at times when trying to dribble round players bit that was to be expected after the assault he suffered a couple of weeks back.
Valencia looked very confident and direct with his runs and crosses. The sooner both are these are back in our team with full fitness the better.
Finally we come to our defence, Edwin Van der sar was fantastic in goal again, using all his experience to slow the game down when needed and run down the clock, he had no chance with Wes browns o/g. If I were Ferguson id be trying to convince him to stay for 1 more season.
The rest of the back 4 struggled. The injuries to o’shea and Rafael are a blow but it will mean a switch to right back now for Wes brown.
In the papers this morning he’s been hammered for his performance, I thought he did ok actually. He had a player next to him still learning the ropes that as to be expected exposed Wes at times, but as they have more games together there understanding will grow. Also Wes took one for the team by scoring his o/g as just behind him he had that scouse wannabe heinze lurking who would undoubtedly get on the score sheet, so well down Wes brown!
As I touched upon smalling looked a bit nervy last night but ive seen nothing to suggest he isn’t a man utd player, ive been really impressed with him so far.
We then have evra who to me doesn’t look like his usual self this season. He had a few good overlapping runs but nothing to write home about and was very clumsy in his challenges. I'm not sure if his mind is elsewhere or the world cup debacle he was involved with is still hanging over his head.
Evra however is allowed a bit of a dip as he’s been nothing short of fantastic for us since signing.
All in all it was job done and was summed up perfectly by a couple of tweets I received below during and after the game
@dallasdavies: “halftime thought: Marseille should be equal, vidic absence is clear & berbatov looks thoroughly pissed off”
Without a doubt we do look shaky without vidic and Rio at the back, fingers crossed these 2 will be back for the quarter finals and the run in for the title.
@leekelsey “Done what was needed and nothing more. Still need more penetration from mid.also How many injurys do the twins recieve? Seems a lot”
Lee hitting the nail on the head there with “done what was needed”
The draw for the quarter finals & semis will take place on Friday, I have a gut feeling we will get real madrid or barca.
Like rooney said last night we should fear no one, but that is easier said than done.How far do you think we will go in the champions league this season?
I hate to say I told you so but, I told you so. Yet again we put Arsenal to the sword and comprehensively beat them even with 1 of the strangest midfield line ups we’ve seen in recent years.
No matter what Arsenal Wenger or jack Wilshere had to say after the game, we dominated the match from start to finish, ok they forced Edwin into a couple of really good saves but that was it.
They looked dejected and really not up for the battle with us (Wilshere aside) and I can honestly see them sliding away in the title race now as their heads seem to have gone.
The only plus side for arsenal is now they only have the league to concentrate on and put all their efforts into, however what we saw of them on Saturday effort is something they are lacking.
Enough on Arsenal what about us?
The midfield we selected on Saturday was pure shock, seeing o’shea and Gibson in the middle with the untried twins playing on the wings left me thinking we were treating this game as unimportant, however yet again Ferguson got everything spot on!
When we took the field Rooney dropped deep almost into the Paul Scholes role a position I have been craving for him to play for a few seasons now.
In this role Rooney put in his best performance in the shirt for a year, he looked hungry, sprayed a few passes about, looked creative and of course scored a goal.
The twins were a constant threat to the full backs of arsenal and because of their defensive talent didn’t really allow Gibbs and sagna a chance to attack us.
I love seeing our chicarito playing, his movement upfront is fantastic and his heading ability for someone so small is unbelievable. It wasn’t really analysed that much after the match but the way he altered his body and got so much power and accuracy onto the header to set up Fabio was amazing.
The cup win has set up a delicious semi final against our noisy neighbours and another chance for us to stop them getting their hands on any silverware.
Some people have said they would prefer this to be the final, personally I'm glad we have them now as I could stomach to some degree losing against them in the semi but defeat in the final to them would be unbearable.
It’s a game that’s over a month away so should be put on the back burner until then.
Bit of a strange one this year is the champion’s league, similar to the league actually, we haven’t played that well at all yet find ourselves making very good progress as “squeaky bum time” gets ever closer.
If I take off my red tinted glasses for a second I have to be honest and say I don’t expect us to win it this year, it wouldn’t be a total shock to the system if we get knocked out on Tuesday.
Seeing the way Barcelona are playing at the minute I can only see them winning it so if we can avoid them and get to the final then whose to say what would happen in a 1 off game against them. Although we really need to focus on the game in hand before we start dreaming of another trip to Wembley.
This weekend saw our young lads yesterday, coming from 2-0 down against Liverpool to win 3-2 and reach the far youth cup final.
Ravel Morrison grabbing the headlines for the right reasons this time so much so he even became a top ten trending topic on twitter!
We all have our opinions on this lad off the field, you can read mine HERE however we must all agree that he is a supreme football talent when he gives us his all.
That could be fergies final masterpiece at united – taming the beast that is ravel Morrison.
His celebrations kissing the united badge in front of the kop is hopefully 1 we will be seeing in the not to distant future.
A side note on united fans behaviour yesterday – totally disgusting from the minority that sung them songs, thankfully it was a minority but it still reflects badly on the rest of us.
The reporting on this morning was needed believe me, however Liverpool fans were no angles yesterday either yet this hasn’t been reported and been glossed over.
You only have to go back to January when Liverpool fans were caught on ITV during the cup game, chanting Munich with their arms out wide gesturing aeroplanes.
Appalling from both sets of “fans”
Finally, in yesterdays Sunday rags a lot of the headlines were saying Mourinho is planning his return to these shores in the summer and is deal place to work is going to be at united.
Mourinho splits opinions like no other, but ask every player that’s played under him and there’s only 1 answer what they think of him and that is that they love him and would do anything for him.
My own opinion on Mourinho at united goes from yay to nay quite often.
I think he’s a brilliant manager with a fantastic record and like I've said players love playing for him, so you really can’t ask much more.
He’s got a winning mentality much like Ferguson’s and he’s publicly admitted his love for united.
Having said all this I'm not sure if he’s quite suited to us, wherever he’s gone he’s always had money to spend something that no matter what gill lies to us about isn’t there at united. His style of football that he gets his teams playing isn’t the united way, us fans don’t like going out to win games 1-0, we like attacking play with the wingers providing skill and great goals. Something that although not lacking from the typical Mourinho team isn’t there in the abundance that we have become accustomed to at united.
The only other thing for me is that he doesn’t seem to stick with the same team for long, 3 years max before swaning off looking for his next challenge. At united I think its important to have stability to find true success like has been evident in the Ferguson era.
Those are the only 2 negatives I can think of for Mourinho coming here and when compared to the likes odd David Moyes as other muted successors to the Ferguson throne then there is only 1 winner.
Can you see David Moyes telling the likes of rooney,ferinand,vidic,scholes,giggs what to do? No disrespect to him but he hasn’t got the experience of European cups and trophies won to even begin to think about coaching our lads that only know winning.
For me Mourinho is the man to replace Ferguson, with the question being when not if.
With the FA cup game against Arsenal approaching both teams are going into the game occupying the top 2 positions in English league football but at the same time on a bit of a slump.
For us we all know the past week or so has been a bitter pill for all united fans to swallow. The poor 2nd half performance against Chelsea getting masked by martin Atkinson, the same can also be said of the Liverpool match on Sunday although we did play slightly better.
Arsenal of course failed to capitalise on our slip up drawing against Sunderland at home, a point gained on united the media and gooners harked! Although you could argue drawing at home to Sunderland should be seen as 2 points dropped. The previous week they lost the carling cup final against Birmingham which as I predicted started Arsenals wobble.
The champions league this week saw Arsenal get taught a football lesson for the entire 90 mins. I don’t know that many arsenal fans been that I'm from “up north” but I cant see that they would’ve taken anything positive from Tuesday nights game except now they have less fixtures during the run in (something we can easily experience also with a score draw/defeat to Marseille)
So they crash out of Europe and yet again “The Best Manager Ever” fails to win the European Cup for “The Best Team Ever”
See my January archive for my thoughts on Wenger.
It is likely that Fabregas will be out injured on Saturday and possibly for a few games in the run in.
I like Fabregas as a player but like with many players from London clubs (Bale, Nasri who's had 1 decent season, Adebayor when at Arsenal,) I often wonder if he actually is that good or if it’s the media trying to make us believe he is. I certainly can’t think of one game against us that he’s controlled?
Back in the mid 90’s/early 2000’s the united Arsenal games were lets face it, war! The Roy Keane/Patrick Vieira battles were nothing short of mouth watering and you just never knew what the outcome of the match would be. We really did have some titanic battles with them over this period. I remember literally shaking with nerves before some of these games (I was a teenager at the time!!) as you knew you were in for 1 hell of game.
Roll on 10 years or so and the united arsenal games for me anyway have lost their spark, sure this season we are both 1st and 2nd in the league but arsenal don’t hold that fear factor anymore. Going into every single arsenal game I'm confident we will win and my feelings are no different for Saturday’s game.
I think we now know how to beat arsenal and it’s been that way for a few good years. The way we tore them apart in 2009 European cup semi final was something that would never have happened back in the day under Wengers mostly inherited team.
They are now dodgy at the back with a dodgy keeper in the sticks (presuming Almunia plays) their midfield (although ours is nothing to write home about at the minute) lacks a Vieira or any kind of player that can rough up the opposition, ok you have jack Wilshere but is he another example of OTT reporting from the media? Still young and learning the ropes.
Upfront of course they offer danger in the form of Robin Van Persie and earlier in the season Chamak so it’s important to close down their midfield to stop RVP supply.
Without sounding like we will go out there and foul them the answer to beating arsenal is the same as its been for a while, get at them and go in hard but fair.
Around this time of the season arsenal always implode; it’s as sure as Christmas in December and valentines in February. To be fair they’ve managed to get into early march but I think the signs that the wheels are coming off are there, if we can beat them this weekend and end their FA cup hopes then I can see the beginning of the end as far as any trophies won this season goes.
It could be argued that united are in the same boat with back to back defeats however we have the points in the bag at the top and don’t really tend to go on too bad of a run at this point in the season, so if we are looking at history and past form it all points to us recovering from this blip and going on to better things.
If we win the league this season then we will do with a whimper, slowly dragging ourselves over that finish line. It’s a reflection on how poor/competitive depending on your viewpoint the premiership has been this season with so many teams not performing to anywhere near their best.
We are just lucky there are no other teams near us that can realistically mount a title challenge now.
If we beat arsenal this weekend will that have any bearing on where the title ends up this season? It’s a question I've asked here on mufcblog and the majority so far seem to think it will and I’m in agreement with them. If you havent voted do so now here.
If we didn’t have to play them again this season then I don’t think it would, however if we win on Saturday that will put a seed of doubt in their mind about them being able to beat us, a seed that could well possibly grow as the season draws to a close and bear fruit for us when we visit the emirates.
Also how nice would it be to win the FA Cup again? Can’t remember what it feels like!
If Fergie can refuse to speak about Sundays game and brush it under the carpet then so can I… well actually no I can’t.
Writing a blog so soon after yesterdays performance isn’t possibly the best idea as I must admit at times I am a fan of the good old knee jerk reaction, however what I'm about to rant about today is far from knee jerk, ill come to that later.
So yesterday’s performance was poor, not as bad as the 2nd half against Chelsea as we did create chances, 2 I think? Hitting the post, clearance off the line but against you’re biggest rivals (not in terms of league positions) you want to see fight from your players and a will to win, something we didn’t see yesterday.
Before I get my teeth properly into the real problem of yesterday I just want to touch on this myth that united get all decisions and that refs are on Uniteds side.
The coverage (or lack of) of Carraghers horrible tackle yesterday is almost as disgusting as the assault itself.
MOTD 2 debated the tackle for a mere 8 seconds and showed 1 replay of a tackle that could easily have broken Nanis leg. The panel then decided Carragher “could” have been sent off for that.
A late lunge, over the top of the ball halfway up Nanis shin, slicing it wide open with blood pouring out “could” have been a red card offence.How is this injury not a red card?
Rewind 1 week previous when Rooney elbowed McCarthy, numerous replays, both in slow motion and full speed, calls to ban Rooney for 10 games and a full on debate for 10 mins plus about how thuggish it was.
Carraghers, a potential career ending tackle, Rooneys not. I must stress I am not condoning Rooney here just merely pointing out the facts, nor am I slating Liverpool, it’s the whole media/supporter perception that we get away with things and bias reporting.
Rafael later committed a bad tackle, and should have been shown a red, however no one seems to mention what rattled Rafael into making that tackle, the waist high kick from maxi as Rafael was making the run, no reporting either of suarez grabbing Rafael by his hair after it or another Liverpool player grabbing him by the throat. All red card offences by the way.
Finally, seeing the carargher tackle reminded me of something, do you all remember roy keanes autobiography? He stated in that he intentionally set out to hurt alfie inge haaland and rightfully keano got suspended for those comments. Carragher in his booked also admitted doing the same, that went unpunished. ABU.
The ref aside what went wrong yesterday? It’s the same problem that’s been sneaking up on us since getting destroyed by barca in 2009. Our midfield or lack of!
The lack of a Darren fletcher in the center yesterday cost us big time, meaning we got over run and basically gave the back 4 no protection which was needed with the untried combo of brown and smalling.
In my opinion we miss 4 vital components in that area, Pace, Strength, Leadership and Creativity.
What im about to say about 2 of our greatest players isn’t intended as an insult and is in no way in any shape or form saying we should get rid of them but I think playing scholes and giggs from the off in these bigger games isn’t an option for us any longer.
Scholes has never relied on pace in his game, hes always been 1 step ahead in his mind a bit like sheringham was, however when he gets closed down so quickly in these bigger games by tough hard tackling midfielders you begin to see that rightly so he isn’t as quick as his younger days and maybe these bigger games are beyond him. Especially when he only has 1 other center midfielder around him as his best days now are involved in a 3 man midfield.
The same can be said of giggs, hes changed his game these past few years due to his pace going, but again, in the bigger games we need slightly more than what ryan can offer from the start.
Scholes and Giggs no matter what they do now or how they perform to a certain extent will always be loved by us united fans and are legends in the world of football, but I think they may be better suited as impact players in these bigger games from now on.
We then get to Carrick, a player that splits fans opinions as much as berbatov did during his first couple of seasons.
I’ve always been a fan of carrick, his 1st 3 seasons bringing a hat trick of titles, league cup titles and a European cup and the 2009 final and that’s pretty much where things went wrong for carrick. Im not sure if it was a confidence thing but that carrick got torn apart by barca that night in rome and has never recovered his confidence since.
He likes to play the safe pass these days rather than attempt a defence splitting ball or spray a pass out onto the wings. A side or back pass he has become a master of.
Im not sure if im being harsh on him here but he seems to lack mobility recently also, whether hes playing with an injury im not sure. As for aggression, well that’s gone too! Whilst he’s never been the quickest he seems more pedestrian on the ball than ever, encouraging opposition on to him as he dilly dallys on the ball.
Worryingly Ferguson doesn’t share the concerns of almost every united fan when it comes to carrick, rewarding him with a new contract when he hasn’t played well for 2 years, add to that Anderson getting an extension it seems like hes happy with the midfield we have.
Neither him or scholes are known for tackling, so sticking both beside each other in a game against your rivals knowing that tackles will be flying in wasn’t the best move of fergusons. A fully fit owen hargreaves would’ve flourished in our midfield yesterday.
Then we have the leadership problem, gone are the days when roy keane would be constantly talking to other players in the midfield, handing out bollockings when needed, flying into tackles when we were against the ropes, just basically making the other players feel unbeatable knowing they had roy keane in the midfield.
Vidic may have the captains armband but realistically we don’t have ANY leaders in our squad, the closest I think is Rooney but even he doesn’t seem up for the fight anymore.
So where does our midfield mess leave us? As I touched upon earlier with the new contracts being dished out it doesn’t look like its going to change much if at all. With the Glazer regime firmly in place raping the clubs profits here, there and everywhere we just don’t have the funds to bring in the quality we need.
I still stand by my previous blog and insist we are 2 world class signings away from being the finished article, a midfield enforcer (would’ve been Hargreaves)to play alongside fletcher and a midfielder with creativity and an eye for goal (meant to be Anderson)
Unfortunately we need to face facts, we don’t have the money to bring these players in, those thinking the ronaldo money is there need a reality check, its paid for some glazer houses over in florida and has long gone.
During my lifetime ive lost count of the number of times ive heard that the united empire is crumbling and that fergies lost it. Whilst I still have complete faith in Ferguson, the financial position we are in and the lack of much needed investment into the squad not there it does make you wonder if this really is the beginning of the end.
Liverpool home or away, fa cup, league cup, european cup or even a pre season game is always THE game most united fans look forward to the most. They are the team we love to hate, everything about them gets to us, its in a uniteds fan DNA from the day you become a red, you hate liverpool, you hate scousers, you hate the city, you despise everything about them.
Beating Liverpool comes 2nd only to winning the league for me, the feeling you get beating them will put you on a high for weeks, the flip side to that is of course defeat.
The 4-1 hammering we got back in 2009 still rates as my worst moment as a match going red, however that defeat made winning the league all the sweeter "you did the double over us but still won nothing"
Fast forward 2 years on and liverpool arent the same team since then, whats happened to them? well my little question and answer session with 3 liverpool fans will put to rest that question as well as an interesting insight as to how the scousers view us.
Finding 3 liverpool fans isnt hard for me, where im from youre 1 of 3 teams, Liverpool,Everton or thank god United!
In my work place im the only male united supporter, whilst we are winning things its an easy position to be in but I do dread the day (if) the balance of power shifts over to mersyside! quitting work is the only answer to avoid all that!
Matt, Andy and Gaz are the 3 lads that answered the questions.
1- whats you earliest memory of united v liverpool?
M - It's probably got to be the first Liverpool-Man Utd game I attended, which was the 2-2 draw on the 5th may 1999
A - Watching with my dad when I was little - nothing of importance to me but my dad was into it
G - Liverpool 3 Man Utd 3, January 1994. Coming back from 3-0 down.
2- to you, is beating united more important than beating everton?
M - Yes, Always more important to beat the 'big teams'. Having said that, I can sort of stand being beaten by Man Utd, Mainly because United fans dont make a big deal out of it, but being beaten by the Bitter Bluenoses is a nightmare. they dont shut up about it for about six months and usually bring out a DVD to celebrate the occasion.
A - Beating Everton means beating a team that think they are bigger than you, beating United is about Pride as they are one of the world biggest clubs - it has to be United
G - Yes, although if I lived in Liverpool itself I may feel differently.
3- what do you think went wrong after the season you challenged us for the tile and came close (08/09 season)
M - I think that summer Hicks and Gillet really started to tighten there belts, the club needed to reinforce and build on what it had already achieved that season, but that never came, the loss of Alonso was huge, bigger than I thought it would be and i still think Liverpool miss him now, theres no-one really in midfield at the moment who has the ability and discipline to dictate the tempo of play. Also from what i've heard Rafa took his eye off the ball that season and was concentrating more on what was going on behind the scenes and trying to fight for the good of the club as a whole rather than just on the pitch. Plus I don't think enough is made of the fact that Liverpool had a lot of injuries that season especially to Stevie Gerrard and To**es.
A - We didn't buy any players after we got rid of Smicer, Hamann, Hyypia (too old), Owen, etc
G - Might sound a little simplistic, but the sale of Xabi Alonso had a bigger impact on the club than anyone could have imagined. Everything ran through him, he got the ball and always looked forward, giving the ball to Gerrard and Torres to attack the oposition. Without him in the team, we were left with midfielders who passed sideways or backwards. The lack of a top quality back up striker to Torres was also a problem. This was all compounded by having the worst owners in the world who promised much but failed to deliver on anything. They failed to invest in the club, with the net spend on players being close being close to break even (i.e. we only spent on player purchases what we made from player sales).
4- whats your best and worst memory of a united v liverpool game
M - Best memory has to be in 2001, Sat at the Kop end watching John Arne Riise nearly take the net off with 'That Freekick' dont think i've seen anyone hit a ball that hard before. Was unbelievable. Worst memory has to be being sat at the Kop End watching that tool Jerzy Dudek drop the ball right onto Forlans boot, was painful and horrible to watch.
A - Best - any victory, worst - bloody Diego Forlan getting a hattrick
G - Best - Beating Utd 4-1, with Torres & Gerrard on fire that day Worst - '96 FA Cup Final Defeat (Cantona's Late Goal)
5- what do you think the result will be on sunday
M - Always tough and tight games between Liverpool and United, Both teams have come off disspointing results. Liverpool were awful against West Ham, but i'd like to think we'll massively raise our game this weekend, be interesting to see if King Kenny will stick with 3-5-2 formation or resorts back to more of a 4-3-3. I'll go for a Liverpool win, 2-1
A - As much as it pains me to say, 1-0 to United. Probably a dull game
G - 2-1 to Liverpool
6- if you had to pick 1 united player from the present team to play for liverpool who would it be and why
M - Patrice Evra for me, Liverpool havnt really got a relaible left back and Evra would fit the bill. Going forward hes quick and can cross the ball well and definsively hes sound aswell.
A - Smalling holds a lot of promise but if Giggs was younger it'd be him every day
G - Vidic, despite the trouble he's had with Torres in the past, he's a top quality centre back
7- Now Torres is a chelsea player, What would pain you more, seeing him win the league with chelsea this season/next season or United making it 19 league titles.
M - It would definatly hurt me more seeing United winning Number 19, no doubt about it. El Judas is just another player that has come and gone, Whatever El Judas does now with the Plastic Flag Brigade is un-important to me.
A - United winning titles. Torres is like any other player who moves on and accomplishes/fails - a rival club will always have the history
G - United making it 19 league titles. The rivalry with Utd runs longer and deeper than our anger and upset with Torres.
8 - what position do you think you will finish this season
M - Said at the start of the season we'd finish in 6th, Think thats the most realistic position we can hope for. Think if we finished sixth and maybe win the Europa League or go close, then it will be considered as a fairly successful season, considering where we were in October/November time.
A - If we'd have had Woy all season, bottom 10. Now though I think about 6th
G - 6th
9 - thoughts and hopes for next season
M - Alot of Next season depends on this summer, The summer for Liverpool is possibly going to be the biggest in our illustorious history, theres currently alot of dead wood at the club which need moving on. NESV have come in and made all the right noises so far and alot will depend on how much there willing to spend, because in my eyes this is a massive rebuilding job. Plus theres also the manager situation to sort out, i think it would be foolish for NESV to hire King Kenny without first making sure theyve looked at every option first. Dont get me wrong I'd love Kenny as manager but i wouldnt want the owners to make a rushed decision about it. In terms of next season I think our main aim will be to be challenging for all honours and making sure we get back into the Champions League. The latter being the most important of all.
A - To strengthen the squad and concentrate on our playing rather than new managers and owners (and torres)
G - With some more investment in the team in the summer (hopefully a winger (possibly Young), creative central midfielder (possibly Adam) and a left back) and Carroll and Suarez having had the rest of this season to work on their partnership up front, a top four finish should be our goal (a goal I believe we will achieve). The investment should also ensure that the other top quality players we have such as Reina and Agger don't think about leaving. There are however players that I would like to see leave as they simply aren't good enough to play for the Club, Jovanovic, Poulsen and N'gog to name three. Cole has had a bad first season and I would hope that he stays injury free and shows us the player he can be. Despite the need for more investment, I can still see the policy seen this season of youngsters being given a chance (i.e. Shelvey, Kelly, Wilson) continuing next season with possibly the likes of Sterling being given a chance (I can't claim to have seen any of our youngsters in action, but through the medium of twitter, I have heard good things). Dalglish will be given the job full time and hopefully Clark will be signed up on a permanent contract. Despite some people believing it to have lost its appeal, I personally would love to see us win the FA Cup
10 - what 1 liverpool player do you think would walk into the united starting 11
M - Easy, Pepe Reina. On his day THE best keeper in the league no doubt about it in my mind. But he won't going anywhere near your lot ;)
A - It has to be Gerrard but after this season I'd say Reina
G - Just 1? Gerrard
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The title of the blog really is the best way to describe last nights result and performance. Maybe it’s a little too soon to be analysing the match, especially when the wounds are yet to heal but again it could be the best time when the option to turn a blind eye to Uniteds problems isn’t an option.
The 1st half from united last night was majestic, not only our best performance away from home but probably our best performance all season.
When the team sheet came out I think all united fans were happy with it, Hernandez getting a start and our most experienced midfield all getting their starts.
Chelsea looked nervous right from the offset; add to that we looked like a team with the wind in our sails. Darren Fletcher on the right of midfield was causing Ashley Cole problems, our midfield dominant, Hernandez making some very intelligent runs upfront off the ball and when Chelsea did ask us questions Edwin Van Der Sar was more than capable of answering them.
We deservedly took the lead, a superb goal from Wayne Rooney who again wasn’t having the best of games but my god what a strike, hit with venom and accuracy.
It was what we deserved; we didn’t look like coming away from there with anything less than 3 points. Rooney however was then guilty of missing a chance that last season would’ve seen the net bulging (how many times have we said that this season?) mis-timing his header the ball hitting his shoulder and drifting wide of Cechs goal.
As half time came and went our united 2nd half away team came out to play, you know the ones that sit back, don’t kills teams off and just encourage the other team onto them.
It would be rather harsh to blame this 2nd half all on united, as we know the referee was nothing short of diabolical last night, but as united never have decisions go against them this makes it all ok.
Luiz was allowed to make 3 bookable offences but only receive 1 yellow. 1 of these being an off the ball incident with Hernandez. Jamie Redknapp in the sky studios described it as “assault” but again because Wayne Rooney got away with it on the weekend its ok for that to happen. I wonder if there will be a witch hunt from the media on luiz now a la Wayne Rooney? Of course not? Henry winter tweeted about luiz but apparently didn’t even mention it in his match report! A fine example of ABU if I ever did see one.
Also sky were and still are reporting Chelsea having a disallowed goal last night, they really need to look at the rule book to see what consists of a disallowed goal. The ref blowing for a foul a good 5 seconds or so, most players stopping play before the ball goes in the back of the net isn’t a disallowed goal. Andy Gray come back all is forgiven!
The Vidic red card was stupid of him, he knew he was on a yellow so to hold a player back with that ref about then there was only going to be 1 outcome. If he was wearing a blue shirt however he could have pulled the lad back all day long and got away with it.
The penalty he awarded Chelsea I think could be seen as 50/50 its one of those were you aren’t sure if the player has dived over an outstretched leg or has genuinely been taken out. Chris Smalling has been superb for us so far in his very short united career and for someone so young you cant blame him for his naivety for sticking out a leg like that, literally asking for someone to fall over it.
Whilst on the subjects on penalties it’s nice to see everybody’s favourite ex England captain can get away with handling the ball in the penalty area.
Not accusing Martin Atkinson of anything here of course as we all know the referees in this country are the best around and aren’t dodgy in the slightest. But here are Chelsea’s results when Atkinson has been in charge of their match.
P-17 W-16 D-1 L-0 F-40 A-3
Moving away from the referee as he’s had enough limelight on this bog but I think we need to take a serious look again on why our 2nd half away performances and the root of the problem I think is our midfield, shock horror!
For the 1st half last night they did a superb job, Scholes controlled the game, Carrick was cool on the ball and Fletcher had his bite back with Nani providing the creative spark.
Then the 2nd half came, Chelsea decided to put up a fight, Scholes faded as you would expect from a player in his mid 30’s Carrick stopped being calm on the ball, was rushed into passing and then the game just passed him by, and you had Fletcher stuck out wide when we really needed his fight in the centre.
It’s a problem area that needs addressing in the summer regardless if we win the league or not, it should have been sorted in 2009 after we got a hiding from Barca but Ferguson still refuses to speak about that night and by looks of it refuses to accept it needs work.
I honestly feel we are 2 top class signings away from being the finished article, we relay far too much on Scholes and Giggs when we are up against it, and unfortunately Carrick seems to have gone backwards, it’s a real shame as he’s been a great signing for us and very much underrated but his confidence and general game presence has vanished. It makes you wonder how a Juan Sebastian Veron would’ve fitted into our team playing the Carrick role…. Mouth watering!
So where does all this leave us in the title race? Currently we are still top, 4 points clear but arsenal have 1 game in hand. They face Sunderland this weekend, a team that have a good record against the bigger teams this season and arsenal do have some players out injured so fingers crossed the black cats can take something from them.
Chelsea I think are still too far behind, I honestly don’t think they are better than us so when the time comes from them to play us at old Trafford hopefully they will still be in a similar position.
Sundays game against Liverpool now takes on greater meaning if possible for us. We need to hope that the defeat to Chelsea won’t effect the players mentality, if we had won last night id be more confident going to Anfield and getting all 3 points, now I'm not too sure. With Vidic and Ferdinand out it’s a good job that Liverpool don’t have that great of firepower at the minute although Wes Brown coming in is more than capable of keeping them out.
Again it will be the midfield that’s a worry, the 2nd half performance last night from them can’t be brushed under the carpet, Ferguson will need to use every ounce of managerial experience he has the next few days.
This weekend won’t be for the faint hearted that’s for sure!