Blog: Well after the most hyped up, over the top, “we’re right, you’re wrong” build up to a game in many a year, we go out 2-1 to the Scousers after what was a fairly controlled performance, undone by a single moment where our defence and one Patrice Evra went to sleep, handing Kuyt the winner on a plate.
I for one am just delighted the game is over, the media led hand wringing all of last week was getting unbearable. Both tabloids and broadsheets did their utmost not to be seen to be stoking the fire before the game but you could tell that both were hoping for the worst both on and off the pitch on Saturday so they could then preach from on high to both clubs supporters about how to “act properly”. Considering the s**t the UK print media has been involved in the last few months, they as an industry should be winding their collective necks in….but anyway. As for the whole Evra/Suarez thing? My view is that LFC should just accept the verdict, the longer they harp on about the supposed injustice of the decision, the more ridiculous they look. Their fans didn’t cover themselves in glory at the weekend either and as the United end reminded them, why is it never Liverpool’s fault and always someone else’s? No wonder its labelled the European city of self fucking pity.
As for the game, I saw very encouraging performances from Tony V (predominantly in the first half) and from Rafael (his full throttle 50/50 with Gerrard being my favourite moment of the match). Other good shifts were turned in from Carrick and Scholes. As for De Gea, I’m willing to persevere. Still young, I see huge potential in him but I will say this…if they cannot get him to command his penalty area then he has no future in England, end of story; my approach would be to have an hour of non stop crosses every day in training and have the likes of Smalling, Rooney, Berbatov, etc. batter him non stop - trial by fire…then again I’m not Fergie…but if you’re reading Alex, you can thank me later! We have to remember that he is just 20, still getting to grips with playing in England and also trying to learn a new language. Its a huge task for anyone, even worse when you’re between the sticks for United and every JCL on twitter wants you to be shot after making a single mistake. If you are one of those said JCL (read: Johnny Come Lately) twitter dopes, I pray to god you decide to p**s off and support the bitters in a few years. You’re supposed support we can all do without.
So we’re out of all cup competitions by the end of January. Who’d a thunk it? Well that’s football for you. And as I’ve said before, its never dull watching this club. We’ve a huge couple of weeks upcoming, I for one will be very surprised if we’re still in contention at the end of it, purely based on the injuries we have. It will take Cleverley coming back in at full throttle and Rooney taking up the goal scoring slack for us to have any chance. We shall see.
Blog: And there was me forecasting a nervy 1-0 win at eastlands or my new favourite name for the ikea flatpack shithole, the Emptyhad….anyways it turned out to be a somewhat “eventful” game after all. City controlling most of the possession early on, then before you know it, United are out to a 3-0 lead! Rooney showing some great form after one of his usual 6 week gaps. I thought we looked very purposeful in the first half and we were rightly rewarded with our lead at half time. I was particularly pleased for Danny Welbeck, took his volley brilliantly and nice to know there was one Manc lad on the pitch in a derby. As for Kompany and the red card, any player diving in with two feet into a tackle in plain sight of a referee these days leaves the door wide open for this kind of reaction. Lesson learned then? I doubt it.
With us facing 10 men into the second half, I honestly thought we’d put at least a couple more past whats his name…ah I can’t be bothered to even look up the spelling of his name. What we got was one of the nerviest 45 mins of the season, to the point that I could almost sense city getting an equaliser if we had played another 10 minutes. We even went retro, bringing in an unretired Paul Scholes into our midfield (I’ll save my views on this & Fergie’s decision on it for another post). However, we hung on (just) and dumped the holders out. Although they do have the comfort of having secured a well earned moral victory…is it any wonder it was 35 years between trophies?
Bolton at home on Saturday which means an early flight to dirty Leeds for me first before hopping on the transpennine express to Piccadilly, pints then round to W16. Roll on the weekend.
Well, the performance at home to Wolves was mostly encouraging. For the first time in weeks we had that fluidity going forward and genuinely looked threatening every time we got into Wolves half. That being said, the defence gave away a shockingly soft goal early in the second half, Paddy Evra somehow ended up trying to outjump Fletcher at the back post, talk about an aerial mismatch. Smalling also didn’t cover himself in glory by not getting in any kind of challenge on the cross but hey ho, he’s a young lad and far from the finished article. Should be one he will learn from.
Nani and Rooney bagged a brace each, always good to see Rooney get back to scoring ways as his goals generally tend to come in bunches/streaks. Nani too looked very sharp and direct. The one troubling thing for me is Rooney’s body language. Although back to scoring ways, he hardly celebrated either. I’ve noticed his lack of overall usual zest for the game over the past couple of months, especially when he’s been forced to play in midfield. There is something going on there, not sure what it is. Hopefully he snaps out of it, I mean he’s hardly going to hand in another transfer request is he……
Other things that attracted my attention this weekend were the New York Giants come from behind win vs the Dallas Cowboys, 37-34 and a mass brawl in college basketball between Xavier & Cincinatti. The Giants, still hanging around in the NFC East. Doubt they’ll make much progress if they do make the playoffs but there still alive. Made my first visit to Giants Stadium (for an NFL game, saw United v Milan there in 2004) last year. Great experience and one I will definitely do again. As for the brawl between Xavier and Cincinnatti, if you haven’t seen it (I posted a link on twitter earlier @watpoae), go to Espn.com and have a look. It all breaks out at the end of the game and tension had been simmering all week in the lead up to the game with players from both teams taking shots at each other in the media. It starts off looking like the usual bench clearing brawl until Yancy Gates from Xavier blindside punches Xavier’s Frease on the side of the head. To make things worse, as Frease hits the floor another Cincinnati player thinks it a wise decision to stamp on him. Nice. Anyway, there has been the usual outrage from the US media, the NCAA, etc. Will be interesting to see what actually happens in terms of punishment bar the standard suspensions. From listening to the Cincinnati head coach in the post match press conference, he sounded as if one or two may never play basketball at the university ever again.
And I suppose I have to give a mention to the Madrid v Barca game on Saturday. Very entertaining game played at a ferocious pace throughout. From reading the usual lavish praise from all quarters, you’d think Barca had battered Madrid for 90 mins. Maybe in the second half but in the first half Barca gave away the ball countless times and Madrid did a very good job harassing them in midfield and winning nearly all of the 50/50 balls. Second half however, Messi really took the game by the scruff of the neck. They got lucky with their second goal through a nasty deflection but the changing point had to be Ronaldo’s shocking headed miss from about 8 yards out, with a huge gaping hole to the left hand side of the Barca goal. You know what happens next, Barca go straight back downfield and cut Madrid to shreds, Dani Alves playing in a great cross for Fabregas to head past Casillas. Game over. I genuinely think the only way to beat Barca would be to hire a sniper to shoot Iniesta pre game. Then you may have a shot.