Monday, 28 February 2011

United vs Chelsea Big Match Preview

Manchester United begin a pivotal week in their quest for a record 19th league title with a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Tuesday night. After an ultimately comfortable three points against Wigan on Saturday, the Reds will look to heap more misery on the soon to be deposed Champions ahead of a weekend battle with arch rivals Liverpool.

The match was originally scheduled for December but was mysteriously postponed more than 24 hours ahead of kick off due to snow. The decision was made a mockery by the clear streets outside Stamford Bridge which was cited as the main reason for the game not taking place. It also happened to coincide with a period when the Blues were in a shocking run of form so the conspiracy theories were given a good airing. It could be argued that this re-scheduled game sees Chelsea not much better off in terms of form after a recent draw against Fulham and loss to Liverpool. The addition of Torres and Luiz was seen as a statement of intent from Blues owner Roman Abramovich but could ultimately cost them even a place in the Champions League places if results do not pick up soon. 

The Opposition
Chelsea go into the game in 5th place with a record of eight wins and two draws from their twelve home matches. Their two defeats came against Sunderland and Liverpool when they failed to register on the score sheet.This time last year they had won 12 from 14 matches played at home. Of their last five at home, they have won only two.

Overall they have the best defensive record in the league with a total of 22 conceded but interestingly they have conceded more goals in the last five minutes of each half than at any other time in matches.

If they play their traditional 4-3-3 formation then expect the onus out wide to be on their full backs to provide the width. This may in turn mean that United's wide men will be detailed to keep a close eye on them and perhaps look to keep them their side of the half way line where possible. This was shown in the same fixture last year when Ashley Cole's attacking intent was nullified somewhat by the presence of Antonio Valencia.

Looking at this season's stats, Chelsea have generally struggled against teams in the top half, winning only 4 out of 12 games played. They have also won just twice when the opposition score first which emphasises just how vital in any game the first goal is.

Perhaps my favourite stat is this: If United win tomorrow, Chelsea will be18 points behind which is the same number as what separates them from the bottom of the table. Oh how the mighty have fallen!

I would expect Chelsea to line up with Torres, Anelka and Malouda up front which will no doubt make a certain Ivorian extremely unhappy. Even though they beat Copenhagen playing a 4-4-2, I would imagine they will revert to what they know for the games against United, so a midfield three of Mikel, Essien and Ramires is likely. As width will be key, I wonder if Boswinga will get the nod on the right ahead of the more defensive Ivanovic with Luiz and Terry at centre back. Alternatively Ivanovic could play there with Luiz wide.

Key Player - Nicolas Anelka
A few stats about the sulky Frenchman:

  • Joined Chelsea in Jan 2008 from Bolton for £15m
  • The 31 year old has 6 goals from 23 games in the league
  • He is Chelsea's overall top scorer with 16
  • Total career transfer fees = £66.5m including spells at Real Madrid, PSG, Arsenal, Liverpool and Fenerbahce
  • 37 goals from 107 games at Chelsea
  • Sent home from 2010 WC after row with boss Domenech and given 18 match ban


In my opinion, Sir Alex will revert to a 4-5-1 formation to take on Chelsea. The back five pretty much picks itself considering the injury to Ferdinand and the recent choice of O'Shea's experience at right back in preference to the youthful exuberance of Rafael. Chris Smalling will continue his education alongside Vidic in what will surely be another great experience for the youngster. Going into such a massive game such as this without the England captain would have been unthinkable until recently but the growing maturity of Smalling means that his loss is not so keenly felt.

The midfield three I have picked are solid if unspectacular and the manager may go for Darron Gibson once more ahead of Scholes if two games in quick succession are deemed too much for the veteran. Fletcher will once more be expected to support the attack when possible whilst keeping a close eye on Lampard when in defensive situations. The deepest lying midfielder will look to get the United attacks moving by spraying the ball wide whenever possible to try to keep the Chelsea full backs in their own half.

Up front I have gone for Nani right, Giggs left and Rooney up front. The return of the Welshman would be a big boost but it is by no means certain. If he does not make it then expect Rooney left and Berbatov to come in up front as happened in Marseille last week. If he is forced to play left then the boss will expect more discipline than was shown on Saturday from Rooney both in terms of temperament and team ethic.

Waiting in the wings on the bench will be Hernandez and Berbatov looking to make an impression late in the game if the need arises.

I am going to plump for a 1-1 scoreline which I think if it was offered now would be accepted by the manager. Chelsea will no doubt come out all guns blazing and look to get United on the back foot from the first whistle. If the Reds can keep the ball and look to impose themselves slowly as the game progresses then the impatient home crowd are sure to voice their anxiety. I actually think Chelsea would take a draw to save the embarrassment of effectively handing over the title at the end of the game. A cagey, dull goalless draw is a distinct possibility. However I feel there is enough in both attacks to warrant a goal apiece with United scoring through Giggs and Chelsea levelling via Malouda.

A share of the spoils and then onward to Anfield on Sunday where the challenge to finally knock Liverpool off their perch will become tantalisingly close to reality if three points can be won.

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Sunday, 27 February 2011

Wigan vs United Post Match Post Mortem

Manchester United obtained only their 4th away win of the league season on Saturday on what proved ultimately to be a comfortable afternoon. With the decisive second goal only appearing in the 74th minute, the previous action had been fairly even with the relegation threatened side holding their own against their title chasing opposition.

Ultimately there were various reasons for the eventual result and below are my thoughts on the main talking points.

Javier Hernandez - Baby faced assassin Mark II
Following his introduction onto the global stage during last summer's World Cup in South Africa, the "Little Pea" settled immediately into life in the goldfish bowl that is Manchester United on the pre-season American tour. He completed the rare feat of playing against and for United in the same game when he played for his old team Chivas in the first half and then swapped sides after half time.

What is impressive about Hernandez is the quality of his all round games at such an early stage of his career. He is adept with either foot, has immense pace, good spring for someone of 5ft 9" and the well used phrase "natural goalscorer" seems to fit his abilities comfortably. He also appears to have a fantastic attitude to the game. Stories abound how he is often first into training and the last to leave and it is very noticeable how he promotes the team ethic rather than concentrate on his own performances. All in all, it brings back memories of a certain Norwegian who arrived at Old Trafford as an unheralded youngster but left as a genuine club legend having beguiled everyone who encountered him with his sincerity and focus.

The one trait that has impressed me the most has been his movement. Both on and off the ball, he is never still, always looking to play on the shoulder of the last defender and then use his lightening pace to get away from the last man. Once through on goal, he seems to have ice running through his veins and invariably outwits the keeper to slot the ball home with either foot.

A perfect example of his movement to create goal scoring opportunities was seen at the DW Stadium on Saturday during the build up to his two goals.

Figure 1 below shows Hernandez on the edge of the box (circled) with the ball about to be picked up by Nani. At this point in the move, he is lurking behind Maynor Figueroa and about to make his decisive break. The defender will know he is there but will be happy that he has the danger covered.
Figure 1
Hernandez currently behind Figueroa heading towards goal anticipating a Nani cross

Figure 2 below is taken just three seconds later and look at the difference in positions of the two players. Hernandez has darted past Figueroa to the near post anticipating the cross from Nani while the defender was unable to react to the movement and is now a good distance away from the player that was in his pocket a few seconds ago.

Figure 2
Just three seconds later, he is at the near post applying the finishing touch and defender has lost him completely

The second example was seen in the Mexican's second goal. A long punt down field from Van Der Sar saw Hernandez deflect the ball off to Rooney and then he was alive to the prospect of a goal scoring opportunity as he darts towards the penalty box. Look at the distance at this point between the little Mexican and the last man Gary Caldwell shown by the arrow.

Figure 3
Laying the ball off and then "on his bike" towards goal

Figure 4 below is once again taken just three seconds later. By this time, Hernandez has collected the return pass from Rooney and is away towards goal with Caldwell struggling. A calm assured finish puts United two up and on the way to a valuable three points.

Figure 4
Three seconds later, clear of the last defender and on the way to his 2nd goal.
No doubt Hernandez will be back on the bench when Tuesday's match against Chelsea rolls around but he is certainly given the manager plenty of food for thought as he looks to how best to rotate his squad as the climax to the season approaches.

More United positives
Edwin Van Der Sar continues to defy the ageing process with yet another vital contribution. Key saves from Moses and McCarthy kept the home side at bay at a time when the destiny of the game could have gone either way. It could be argued that the giant Dutchman like a fine wine, is getting better with age. After a spell a few seasons ago when his powers seemed to be on the wane, he has recovered and is now arguably the form keeper in the league. His retirement will leave a massive void at the end of the season and he deserves a trophy laden end to a career that places him in the higher echelons in the world game.

Darron Gibson has been much maligned over the course of this season. Some of this criticism has been justified as he has struggled to make any impression but the last few games have offered a glimpse to a certain improvement. He clearly has ability and needs to capitalise on this over a longer period of time in the hope of winning over his critics.

Clearly the key to success this season is going to be based on our defensive solidity. Vidic has been a mainstay in the side and has visibly grown with the responsibility that being awarded the captaincy has brought. Smalling once more continued to show his composure and maturity deputising for the injured Ferdinand. The full backs Evra and O'Shea have been solid for the last few games and have done well to supplement the attack whenever possible. This solid base will be essential in the games to come as the ability to notch up regular clean sheets will result in victories in the vast proportion of matches.

Wayne Rooney - Elbow incident
If Rooney escapes without punishment for this incident then he will be a lucky boy indeed. To commit such an offence late in the game could be described as irresponsible but to do so as early in such an important game as he did is reckless in the extreme. He is on thin ice with many fans at the present time anyway and reducing his team to ten men would have brought a serious examination of his credibility as a United player seeing as he has been "rewarded" with the biggest contract in the club's history.

Obertan & Bebe

The image of Gabriel Obertan and Bebe in the stands at the DW Stadium seemingly more engrossed in an Ipod and a phone respectively, provoked a surge of messages to my twitter timeline. In some ways,the image was symbolic of many of the fears that the United faithful have in these two characters. The feeling is that they do not yet fully understand the privilege and responsibility that comes with being connected to Manchester United. It is widely thought that they do not have a sound grasp of the finer points of the game of football and that they would be well served taking the chance to listen to the observations of Ryan Giggs sandwiched between them. The image became even more iconic due to the presence of Sir Bobby Charlton in the row in front who would surely not have been impressed by their lack of enthusiasm for the match in front of them. I can give Bebe the benefit of the doubt as it may have simply been poor timing to catch him the exact moment that a message came through. There is however, no excuse for the Frenchman sat there in massive headphones looking distinctly bored. This is a player let's not forget, schooled at the much famed Clairefontaine academy in France that has produced numerous examples of quality over the years. I would imagine that the management will have a quiet word in his ear to explain the situation and why it looks disrespectful to his team mates. 

Below is a new addition to my match reviews. Following yesterday's game, I asked for some thoughts from my Twitter followers and the chosen few are shown below. Links to their Twitter profiles can be seen after their comments.

Tweet Bits
"Unconvincing yet effective! I say unconvincing on the basis of performance, although scoreline slightly flatters us to an extent. All in all happy with the win and looking forward to next couple of games against Chelsea and Liverpool" Sudheesh Marar

"VDS immense today, Nani was untouchable at times, Chicharito was clinical but Rooney lacked usual touch"  Jeff Harbert

On Hernandez - "A huge threat. Always an option in a tight/cagey game when we need a goal. Makes great runs to get in behind, finishes well"  UnitedinFocus

"Both he and Bebe might have benefitted from asking for advise on what it takes to make it at Old Trafford. #lackofrespect" Michael (Jaggeroonie)

"Both need to work their balls off to be truly considered United calibre players. Chicha is already there with his attitude"  UtdKidsWife

If you have any comments on anything mentioned above, please leave a comment below.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Wigan vs United Big Match Preview

After a midweek Champions League games in the South of France, Manchester United are on the road again on Saturday as they make the short trip to Wigan Athletic as the quest for the Premier League title resumes. This match marks the start of three quick fire away trips in the space of eight days that will go some way to defining the outcome of the coveted 19th league championship. Whilst many supporters will have their eyes on the glamourous trips to Chelsea (Tuesday) and Liverpool (next Sunday), three points at the DW Stadium must first be attained. With main rivals Arsenal looking to pick up their first bit of silverware for 5 years in the Carling Cup Final on Sunday, this fixture gives the Reds the opportunity to once again go 4 points clear at the top.

United will be looking to consolidate their perfect record against the Latics on Saturday afternoon. Twelve wins from twelve games have transpired since 2005. In that time, the Reds have only conceded four yet have scored 37.

The Opposition
Wigan Athletic currently sit third from bottom of the Premier League and manager Roberto Martinez faces an uphill battle to keep them in the top tier of English football. They have won just three and drawn six of their 14 home games so far with only 16 goals scored.

This lack of fire power can be best illustrated by their top scorer being Hugo Rodallega with just seven and Charles N'Zogbia with just five. Coupled with this, they have the 2nd worst defensive record in the top flight which ultimately points towards a long hard fight to keep afloat.

United fans will be encouraged by news that the infamous pitch at the DW Stadium has been re-laid but the quality of this has still to be determined. Wigan share the ground with the Warriors rugby league side and this constant battering along with inclement weather means that the pitch can often resemble a ploughed field! With a bit of luck the new surface will have bedded in well by kick off and will be conducive to the slick football that the Reds have shown their fans on the road this season!

Key Player - Charles N'Zogbia
The 24 year old winger was signed from Newcastle in February 2009 for a fee of £6million. The move to Wigan occurred after falling out with ex manager Joe Kinnear who famously "mispronounced" N'Zogbia's name as "Insomnia".

He arrived at St James Park after being spotted by chief scout Charlie Woods while at the Le Havre academy and was signed after a month's trial. N'Zogbia was the last player bought by the late Sir Bobby Robson.

Since joining the Latics, he has scored 10 goals in 72 appearances and has proved himself to be one of the most dangerous widemen in the Premier League. He turned down a summer move to Birmingham after a £9m bid had been accepted. N'Zogbia made his international debut for France in August 2010 against Norway after being called up after their World Cup debacle by Laurent Blanc.


With the news that Rio Ferdinand is expected to be out until next Sunday, Chris Smalling will again be given the chance to demonstrate his growing maturity alongside Vidic at the heart of the defence once more. I would expect Rafael to reclaim the right back slot after a few games out of the first team lineup.

With Anderson out for a few more weeks, I would imagine that Fletcher and Carrick will be handed the centre midfield berths for the Reds with Paul Scholes ready to come back in for Tuesday's trip to Chelsea. If Giggs is fit then he will surely play on the left with Nani on the right. If the Welshman does not make it then it is possible that Rooney will play there with a possible inclusion for Owen or Hernandez alongside Berbatov up front. The DW Stadium was where Owen scored his first United goal last season so he may get the nod as he needs match practice.

Score Prediction
I am going to go for a 2-0 away victory with goals from Berbatov and Rooney. The manager mentioned recently how he wants these two to step up their away performances so it will be interesting to see if this is heeded. United's class should prove too much for the Latics as the game drifts on and I would expect the two goals to come in the second half after some home pressure has been absorbed. Wigan will be dangerous with the likes of Rodallega and N'Zogbia and their current plight means they have to battle for every point.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Flair: The missing ingredient and possible solution.

If you looked in a hypothetical dictionary of football, under the entry for Manchester United you will find words such as flair, excitement, passion, spirit, will to win and never say die attitude. This philosophy is woven deep into the heart of the foundations of the club and is a set of unwritten rules that each generation of players must try their hardest to adhere to. 

Watching last night's drab Champions League match against Olympique de Marseille made me wish for some examples of the word that has always been synonymous with Manchester United - FLAIR. At one point I tweeted that I was longing for the threat of Ronaldo; the speed, the craft, the way he always gave the opposition defence something to occupy their minds with. Instead I had to observe the workmanlike performance on show that in all fairness, got the job done but as Alan Tonge observed, would hardly have the likes of Barcelona quaking in their boots. How refreshing would it have been to see an away performance this season that would have acted like a true statement of intent from United bouncing round the length and breadth of Europe but alas it was not to be. 
Back in tandem - flair personified

To be honest, a goalless away draw in the Champions League should not be classed in a negative light and most observers would make the Reds strong favourites to progress. True, an away goal would now put United in an awkward spot but any kind of victory will see us safely into the next round and our opponents did not give any indication that they possess the kind of threat that will worry the home team at Old Trafford.

Mitigation for last night's display will rightly come from the raft of injuries currently experienced but can anyone honestly say that the likes of Anderson, Park or Giggs would really have made a significant difference to the excitement factor on show? The point I am trying to make is that watching United this season has not been the joy that it has been in many seasons gone by. For years, onlookers would know that whatever the match, wherever it was played, Manchester United came to win. Not only that, they came to play you off the park, to impress their superiority onto you and they did so with pace, style and that significant word flair

Away performances were illuminated by the attacking verve of two wingers (Kanchelskis, Sharpe,  Ronaldo, Giggs) overlapping full backs and wave after wave of incessant pressure. And this potent package was supported by a midfield general and a solid uncompromising back line that did not give an inch yet was often the first line in a lightening counter attack that used to devastate our opposition.

For all the doom and gloom I have painted above, I actually feel quite strongly that the solution does not require major change or upheaval. It is quite simple in my opinion, we need that midfield general spoken about above. This is what would set United free. Free to counter attack with pace, free to pour bodies into the opposition box, free to bombard opponents from all areas of the pitch. They could do all of this safe in the knowledge that the back door is firmly shut, the insurance policy is in place and a breakdown in an attack would not automatically lead to pressure being exerted onto the back four.

The reassuring part of the current United make up is the solidity of our back four and the personnel involved. In Vidic, Ferdinand, Brown, Evans and Smalling, we possess a quintet of centre backs that when fit and in form are the envy of our rivals. The virtues of pace, power, composure and experience are all possessed in abundance by these players. And when you station a midfield general in front of them patrolling, breaking up play and supplying a simple pass to a forward thinking colleague, you have a potent defensive barrier. 
Thou shalt not pass - now start the attack !
The full back area is another position where the Reds are adequately covered. The youthful exuberance of the Da Silva brothers coupled with the all round ability of Evra, mixed in with the versatility and reliability of O'Shea (and Brown) mean that the outfield defensive positions are well stocked. A commanding goalkeeper along the lines of a Van Der Sar or a Schmeicel will be high on the wishlist in the summer but extensive research and planning will mean that this vacancy will already be some way towards being filled ahead of the main business required. Further discussion about summer reinforcements can be found in Tom Pattison's excellent post here.

Going back to the lack of a midfield general since the loss of Roy Keane (and injuries to Owen Hargreaves), the switch to a defensive 4-5-1 formation in almost all of the perceived "big" matches has in fact been a subconscious admission by Sir Alex that we do not have the strength in this area to persist with an attacking 4-4-2. For those who say United play 4-3-3, I would disagree as the two wide players chosen in this system are invariably selected for their work rate as much as their attacking flair. This can be shown by the regular inclusion of Ji Sung Park (in a 4-5-1 formation) who is famed for his non-stop running and energy rather more than what he adds from an attacking perspective. Look at the role employed by Wayne Rooney in the Champions League final in 2009 against Barcelona as a case in point. We all know the ability that he possesses but it was his work rate and willingness to assist his full back that saw him selected on the left rather than as part of a traditional attacking 4-4-2. This left the real attacking threat in the hands of Ronaldo playing up front on his own and a midfield of Anderson, Carrick and an ageing Ryan Giggs (supporting Ronaldo) was hardly likely to put the fear of God into their Spanish counterparts!

The question should also be asked just how many quality attacking performances have been seen when employing this 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation. To be fair, it is a ploy that seems to work perfectly when used against Arsenal. Memories of box to box counter attacks at the Emirates Stadium come flooding back with the likes of Ronaldo, Rooney and Nani involved but apart from these glorious exceptions to the rule, it is hard to think of many others. What the addition of a quality midfield general would also provide is the option to play a narrow three when the opponents demand a tighter away display. At the moment, United simply go for 4-5-1 out of necessity amid a fear of being overwhelmed in this vital area and bearing in mind the quality of personnel available. Safety in numbers you might say but it is simply masking the problem rather than being a solution.

There is a great deal of excitement currently over a number of youth players that could soon be knocking on the first team door. The likes of Ravel Morrison and Robbie Brady certainly look to possess the necessary flair and Tunnicliffe and Pogba show an abundance of steel and determination but all are at age where it may be 18 months to 2 years before their true ability is ready for the big stage. United's need is now but would the club risk blocking the path of such talented youngsters by signing talents such as Jack Rodwell and Jordan Henderson who are slightly more advanced currently in terms of age and experience?

The other slot I would like to see filled is a versatile attacking midfielder which would certainly bolster the creative flair amongst the current squad to help balance out the "water carrier" attributes that so many present incumbents possess. It was a tag famously awarded to current Marseille manager Didier Deschamps by United legend Eric Cantona who felt he only existed to give the ball to more talented colleagues. Many names have been banded about for this role but my preferred choice would be someone who can adjust between playing behind a central striker whilst also having the ability to play wide when required. Such players are hard to find but if the right one could be identified then it could go a long way towards raising the bar in terms of excitement provided by the first team in the years to come.

Best, Charlton, Cantona, Ronaldo, Giggs - these are players from United's long history that exemplify the very definition of the word flair. Style, Elegance, Imagination. It is present in this and all United teams of the past but to release it and show its true value, other vital cogs in the wheel must be available. Let's hope that in the remaining weeks of the season, the United fans are treated to glimpses of such fantasy to help round off what will hopefully be our record 19th league title, 12th FA Cup and 4th European Cup/Champions League!

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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Sexton Years - Part 3 : August to November 1978

Below is the third part of Tony Park's look back over "The Sexton Years". You can find the first two parts by clicking on my Blog Archive down the right hand side.

With a full season behind him and a better understanding of what was required to take Manchester United back to the top of the 1st Division, manager Dave Sexton was upbeat in the opening day’s programme notes.

“This is the moment we have all been waiting for…the first battle of the campaign to try and win the League championship.”

“We feel we have the resources and players at the club to make a determined bid for honours. Last season was something of an anti-climax after two successive years of reaching the FA Cup final, but it was my first year with the club and there was a lot of work to do getting to know one another and discovering the strengths and weaknesses of the team.”

“As you know, early in the New Year I embarked on a major rebuilding process with the addition of a top-class defender in Gordon McQueen and an equally outstanding international in Joe Jordan.”
Joe Jordan
“It was too late by the time the new players had settled in to influence our challenge for honours, but we did complete the season in much more impressive form.”

"We lost only three of the last thirteen games, and of the five we won four. I think we were beginning to see the results of our first season in action together, and now I hope to see us build on that foundation.”

It makes interesting reading thirty years later.  Sexton still had faith in Jordan and McQueen even though we conceded 63 goals and Jordan only hit the back of the net three times during 1977/78.

The summer saw United celebrate their 100th anniversary with Real Madrid coming to Old Trafford for a Centenary match and the Reds showed excellent form winning 4-0. On the playing front, Stuart Pearson was once again injured, this time playing for England, as was Stewart Houston, while Stepney and McQueen were all doubtful for the season opener versus Birmingham City.

With no major signings to talk of, Tom Connell, Tom Sloan and Phil McCandless all arrived without much fanfare and hardly caught the locals attention.

With Paddy Roche in goal, a back four of Greenhoff, Albiston, Buchan and McQueen it was not Sexton’s preferred defensive line-up. The midfield contained Steve Coppell, McIlroy, Macari and David McCreery who filled in for departed Gordon Hill. Up front Jimmy Greenhoff partnered Joe Jordan. United opened the campaign with a 1-0 win over Birmingham City, courtesy of a Joe Jordan goal in front of 56, 139 fans. Four days later a tricky trip to Leeds United saw the Reds come away with a 3-2 victory with goals from McIlroy, McQueen and Lou Macari. A 0-3 reverse at Ipswich Town gave a fair indication that the defensive problems of the previous term had not entirely been rectified. With Arnold Muhren pulling the strings in only his second start for Ipswich, Bobby Robson commented that United could do with someone of Muhren’s quality!!! The final instalment of the month came in the shape of a League Cup tie with 4th Division Stockport. Originally drawn away, County agreed to the switch to Old Trafford in order to improve their gate-keepings.  A nervy United squeezed through 3-2 on the night with two goals in the last two minutes.
League: Won 2 Drew 0 Lost 1

Everton were the visitors on the second of the month and came to Manchester with an unbeaten record. It took a rare late goal from Martin Buchan to equalise for the Reds in a 1-1 draw when he let fly from a full 30 yards. It was a similar story at Loftus Road as Jimmy Greenhoff scored the Reds equaliser in another 1-1 draw. The next two games at home to Forest and away to Arsenal saw similar results with Jimmy Greenhoff and Steve Coppell scoring respectively. As so to the derby and 55, 301 hard-core supporters watched a tense affair with Jordan scoring United’s single goal and ultimately the winner after Gordon McQueen’s header was saved in the 89th minute. It was hardly championship form.
League: Won 1 Drew 4 Lost 0
Jimmy Greenhoff (courtesy of
Watford arrived in town early in the month for the next round of the League Cup and Graham Taylor fancied his chances. He had every right to as a poor United failed to impress and lost 1-2 and were subsequently knocked out of the competition. In league action United were still trying to find any kind of consistency. A 3-2 home win over Middlesbrough saw Lou Macari hit a brace and Jordan the other before a trip to Villa Park. Two down at half-time, United did well to fight back for a draw thanks to McIlroy and Macari. The following match saw unfancied Bristol City take United to the cleaners, and a Kevin Mabbutt hat-trick saw him take home the match ball. It was the first time an opposing player had scored three goals at Old Trafford since the early 1970’s. Jimmy Greenhoff scored United’s consolation. The final match of the month saw United take the M6 down to Wolves and for once things clicked. Jimmy Greenhoff (2) Jordan and Brian Greenhoff were all on the scoresheet. Meanwhile behind the scenes, Stuart Pearson was recovering from a cartilage operation, Alex Stepney had broken his finger and Gary Bailey was waiting in the wings. Additionally, Dave McCreery and Ashley Grimes had both failed to impress at outside left and Sexton was looking externally for options. 
League: Won 2 Drew 1 Lost 1

Dave Sexton’s matchday notes for the visit of Southampton talked about grit, determination and battling. While important qualities of any team, it was hardly characteristics first associated with Manchester United.  However, after 12 league games the Reds were in sixth place, six points behind leaders Liverpool. On the surface it didn’t seem too bad, but Liverpool had a goals for and against ratio of 35:5 while United’s 19:18 looked embarrassing in comparison. Jimmy Greenhoff notched his sixth goal of the term as United drew 1-1 at home once more.  The natives started to get restless and all was not well on the terraces. The following game saw United visit Birmingham City who were without a win all season. A 1-5 reverse at St. Andrews was hardly the confidence booster Sexton had talked about. A lone Jordan goal was all United had to show for a terrible defensive performance.
Sexton decided to make changes. Gary Bailey was brought into the team for the visit of Ipswich, the club his father had played for in the early 1960’s, Lou Macari was replaced by Tom Sloan and Sammy McIlroy moved to the left wing. The changes brought good fortune as the Reds kept their first clean sheet in eight games as Coppell and J. Greenhoff helped United to a 2-0 win. Just when Sexton thought a corner had been turned, a 0-3 reverse at Everton in the next match was clear evidence that United were just not good enough.
During the week, Sexton entered the transfer market and signed Mickey Thomas from Wrexham. It was a much needed left sided player…..but not who the fans expected. Dave Thomas and Leighton James had been discussed in pubs throughout town so the arrival of Thomas left supporters a little fazed.
The arrival of a new face gave fresh impetus and United went to London to record a 1-0 win over Chelsea courtesy of another Jimmy Greenhoff strike.
League: Won 2 Drew 1 Lost 2

In the next installment, follow United's run to Wembley in the FA Cup and the climax to a poor league season.

Please leave any comments below and Tony will reply or you can follow him on Twitter

Marseille vs United Big Match Preview

Manchester United resume their Champions League campaign on Wednesday night when they take on Olympique de Marseille in the first leg of the First Knockout Round in the Stade Velodrome. The Reds will be looking to banish memories of their poor display on Saturday against non-league Crawley although precious few of the starting line up will be in action in the South of France. An away goal will be the aim to help set them up for the crucial second leg to come at Old Trafford. Didier Deschamps' men should not be underestimated in what will be an intimidating atmosphere. They have already beaten Chelsea in the group stages of the Champions League this season and sit well placed in Ligue 1.

The Opposition
Olympique de Marseille, to give them their full title, were founded in 1899 and have won the French Ligue 1 title nine times in their history. Their defining moment came in 1993 when they became the first French winners of the Champions League defeating the might of AC Milan in the final after a goal by Basile Boli. That winning team contained such quality as Barthez, Desailly, Deschamps, Boksic, Abedi Pele and Rudi Voeller. Ironically in that final, one of their all time great players Jean-Pierre Papin came on as a sub for Milan after leaving for Italy a year earlier after a stunning record of 134 goals from 215 games.

L'OM's darkest hour came in 1994 when they were relegated to the second tier of French football following a match fixing scandal involving club president Bernard Tapie. Several players from opponents Valenciennes were instructed to let Marseille win and not to injure them ahead of the Champions League Final.

They currently sit 3rd in Ligue 1, trailing leaders Lille by just three points. This season's home record includes seven wins and four draws from their twelve games. Their solitary defeat came against newly promoted Caen on the opening day of the season.

This year's Champions League campaign got off to a disastrous start with defeats in their opening two games (at home to Spartak Moscow and away to Chelsea) but four straight wins without conceding and scoring twelve saw them safely into the knockout phase below Chelsea.

Random Marseille facts:
  • This is the third match in history between the two clubs.
  • Both teams have one win apiece after meeting in the group stage in 1999/2000
  • William Gallas scored the winning goal for L'OM in their home leg
  • André-Pierre Gignac is their top scorer with 8, Lucho Gonzalez and Loic Remy have 7.
  • Marseille is the birthplace of Eric Cantona who played 40 times for the club between 1988 and 1991 and also had loan spells at Bordeaux and Montpellier during this time.
  • L'OM have not reached the last eight of the Champions League since they won the competition in 1993
  • Former great Abedi Pele has two sons who play for Marseille - Andre and Jordan Ayew.

Formation and team selection
Marseille play a 4-3-3 formation which United will surely look to match in the away leg. The good news is that leading scorer Gignac will be missing after picking up a groin injury that will sideline him for a couple of weeks. Remy and Brandao were also substituted in their weekend game against St Etienne but both are expected to play.

It is possible that L'OM could play both defensive midfielders on Wednesday in former Hammer Edouard Cisse and Charles Kabore who hails from Burkina Faso. A definite starter in the midfield three will be Lucho Gonzalez who is their play-maker.

United's front line on the night will be faced with a familiar foe in ex Red Gabriel Heinze. The Argentinian left Old Trafford under a cloud after trying to force through a move to Liverpool. The former crowd favourite has played both centre and left back for L'OM this season and must be seen as a potential weak link as age starts to catch up with him.

Key Player - Lucho Gonzalez
L'OM dangerman
The 30 year old Argentinian was signed from Porto in June 2009 for a fee of €18million. He has played 44 times since then and has scored 9 goals. He is well know for his work rate, good passing skills and possession of a powerful shot.

He played in each of Marseille's six Champions League games to date this season, contributing two goals and one assist.

He has been capped by his national team on 43 occasions, the last coming in 2007. He was a member of the 2006 World Cup squad that went out to hosts Germany in the Quarter Finals.


Following news this morning of the full squad that will fly to the south of France, the United team almost picks itself. Giggs, Anderson, Ferdinand, Evans and Owen all failed to make the trip but there was the welcome sight of youngsters King and Tunnicliffe travelling and with a real chance of making the bench.

I would expect O'Shea to play at right back although Wes Brown did his chances no harm with a solid performance on Saturday albeit in a central role. The Da Silva twins are both available but after coming off early against Crawley will probably have to settle for a place on the bench at best. Chris Smalling will be stationed alongside his captain and will look to build on his composed performance against City.

As mentioned earlier, MarseilleScholes, Carrick and Fletcher almost pick themselves with Gibson and Tunnicliffe as back-up. These three will look to control the central battlefield with Scholes as quarterback and Fletcher the most likely to try to break into the box with late runs. The Scotsman has had a mixed season and it would be good to see him deliver an all action, energetic display in one of the most important games of the season. Keeping the ball in a tough away environment will be key and it is hoped that this experienced trio can step up and see United through to an acceptable result ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford.

The front three almost certainly will be Rooney, Nani and Berbatov. Whilst the role on the left flank will not suit the Englishman, he will undoubtedly work hard to not only assist the attack but also give some support to Patrice Evra from a defensive point of view. Berbatov will need to hold the ball up and look to bring others into play as otherwise the home side will dominate the possession and territory statistics. Nani looks to be the primary creative spark in a workmanlike line up for United. He will no doubt be nominated by the opposition as key to our attacking hopes and may well end up having two men watching him closely. He must ensure that he does not react to any intimidation whilst making the most of any opportunity to run at the Marseille defence. 

Score Prediction
With all the absentees and considering the high stakes, I am going to go for a hard fought 1-1 draw which would be more than acceptable at the Stade Velodrome. I would expect it to be a tight match with chances at a minimum. It could be that our best chance for a goal will come from a free kick or corner which is why I will plump for a goal from Chris Smalling to cancel out a home team strike mid way through the second half.  Whilst a clean sheet would be a great achievement, scoring a vital away goal could prove the key to the tie in the second leg. A scoreless draw is a decent result for a home team in the first leg and this result must be a distinct possibility looking at our poor performances in away games this season.

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Sunday, 20 February 2011

It's all in the mind - a key to success at Old Trafford

After the disappointing performance against Crawley last night, I tweeted the following question out to my followers:

"Are certain squad players blocking the path to the first team of some talented youth players?"

The response was almost entirely in the affirmative but this got me thinking some more into what is required to make it as a United player.

Clearly you have to possess a great deal of talent to be spotted in the first place but I have come to believe that the key trait to become a true United player is "all in the mind".

The player that helped bring me to this conclusion was the subject of much of the discussion following the debacle witnessed at Old Trafford. 

Gabriel Obertan was signed from Bordeaux in July 2009 and what is striking about his stats prior to his move is that of his 69 league appearances, only 14 had come from the start of the match. That's to say that nearly 80% of the time, the Frenchman came off the bench when playing for his club . This is hardly compelling evidence pointing towards a certain transfer to the world's biggest club but clearly the scouting network spotted something to work on.
Obertan in his Bordeaux days

The two quotes below came from Laurent Blanc about Obertan after his transfer to United was confirmed:

“He has the potential, but he must overcome psychological and mental challenges so he can express his true value.”

“Manchester have been tracking him for a long time. They certainly hope to advance him, something that Bordeaux and Lorient have failed to do."

It is clear that Obertan has talent, after all he was a product of the famed Clairefontaine academy and has represented his country at every level except as a full senior international. What must be debated and is an unknown quantity is his mental strength. It is well known that (Bebe apart) the powers that be at Old Trafford tend to carry out extensive homework on each player they wish to bring to the club so they obviously felt that here was the club to bring out the best in the 21 year old. 

This is what brings me to the main point of this post. What United like to do with players is get them to the club at an early age and this is when the real work starts. Not only on the training pitch but perhaps more importantly, off the pitch on the mental side of the game. This will be part of the amazing legacy that will be left by Sir Alex Ferguson when he finally departs Old Trafford. The next incumbent will have a tough job continuing this philosophy and is why many United fans would like to see someone with experience of this to be the one appointed. The name of Mourinho has been mentioned as a possible successor to the great man from Govan but his managerial career has been somewhat nomadic thus far (albeit highly successful)  which is hardly conducive to a continuation of the Ferguson legacy. 

The philosophy cannot be summed up in a few words but is that innate will to win and that never say die attitude that is intrinsically instilled in all those that are lucky enough to graduate from the Carrington academy. Any player that does not have this quality is swiftly dispensed with and will have to settle for a career at a lower level. Bringing me back to the likes of Obertan, this mental edge is very difficult to teach at such a late age which is why so many foreign players join United and then fall by the wayside. Of course there are exceptions to this rule as the likes of Ronaldo and Nani can testify to but every one of these gems, one could also mention Manucho, Djemba Djemba, Kleberson and Tosic. These players were identified as United class but were found wanting when it came to combining their footballing talent with the mental capability to adapt to life in the spotlight.

This is what is so exciting about the current crop of youngsters knocking on the door of the first team at the current time. The likes of King, Pogba, Tunnicliffe and Morrison not only have fantastic talent but you can also be assured that they possess that unique United mental edge. In the case of the latter, patience has been supremely tested after news of off-field misdemeanors became public. It is clear that a last chance scenario has been spelled out to the player who would be foolish to risk throwing away this unique opportunity in favour of an uncertain future.
Members of the famous class of 1992 with mentor Eric Harrison

This present batch are arguably the most exciting to progress through the ranks since the famous class of 92. The likes of Giggs, Scholes and Beckham were always likely to graduate to the first team after being earmarked as truly exceptional from an early age. The lesser known names among those currently trying to break through should take heart from the example set by Gary Neville. Never blessed with the outstanding natural talent of some of his peers, he made an outstanding career out of making the most of his talent coupled with that instilled United mental edge described earlier. He quickly learned what it was to be a United player and that if he wanted to succeed, he had to forgo most of the normal things experienced by his non-footballing peer group as they grew up.

In conclusion, never underestimate the importance of the mental edge that is instilled in our players as they have made their way through the ranks at firstly The Cliff and now Carrington. No other club possesses this extraordinary ability to overcome the insurmountable odds that hail from the days of the Busby Babes right through to the glorious reign of Sir Alex Ferguson.

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Friday, 18 February 2011

United vs Crawley FA Cup Preview

Manchester United will take to the pitch on Saturday against non-league Crawley on Saturday with more than one eye on the resumption of their Champions League campaign next Wednesday against Marseille.

This tie is almost the perfect one for the Reds as it will allow the manager to rotate the team once more and ensure that the key players are well rested and focused on the task that awaits them in the Stade Vélodrome. It will also mean that the squad players will get some valuable match time as the team prepares for their busy schedule in the coming months.

There is also an outside chance that certain members of the FA Youth Cup team may be drafted into the match day squad following their victory against Newcastle on Wednesday evening. In my view the best that one or two could hope for is a place on the bench though it would be an exciting move to have the likes of King, Pogba, Morrison and Tunnicliffe involved in some capacity.

Both teams are nicknamed the Red Devils although Crawley have been called this since their formation in 1896 whereas Manchester United only came into existence in April 1902 after the name change from Newton Heath. The Red Devils nickname started to be used in the 1960's after Matt Busby heard it in connection with the Salford rugby league club. The devil was incorporated into the United club badge in 1970.

The Opposition
Crawley Town currently lie second in the Blue Square Bet Premier table with a haul of 61 points from their 28 games, trailing only AFC Wimbledon.

The underdogs go into the game unbeaten in their last 12 games, having won 3 and drawn 3 of their last six in all competitions. Their away form is decent having only lost once on their travels and will come to Old Trafford with nothing to lose.

Their dream FA Cup run began back on 23rd October in a qualifying round against Newport County. Since then Guiseley, Swindon (after replay and Extra Time), Derby and Torquay have all been dispatched by the non-leaguers in their run to the 5th round.

Some would describe Crawley as the Manchester City of the non league arena. New owners have come in, cleared around £1.4m of debt and have spent big snapping up the best talent. To say they are unpopular in their league is an understatement.

Another reason for this unpopularity is their manager Steve Evans who will be overseeing his 200th game managing Crawley since joining from Boston United in May 2007.  

Crawley manager Steve Evans and "friends"

Since being forced into early retirement as a player in his mid twenties, he has had a controversial career as a manager. Various misdemeanors include being suspended by the FA for "contract irregularities" in 2002 and a further suspension and fine for other goings on at Boston. The most high profile was after pleading guilty to conspiracy to evade tax. On 3 November 2006, Evans received a one-year suspended sentence and a £1,000 fine. Numerous touchline bans have also been dished out to the fiery Scot who will hopefully be on his best behaviour at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday teatime!

Crawley's key player is Matt Tubbs. Their top scorer has 28 goals (3 in the FA Cup) and was signed from Salisbury in August 2010. His two year deal was a club record fee believed to be around £70,000. The 26 year old began his career at Bolton but was unable to make an impression before moves to Dorchester and Salisbury helped to make his name at this level. His overall career record of 193 goals from 307 games is impressive and the United back line will not want to give him too many sights of goal.

Once again, predicting the United team will be very difficult. As mentioned earlier, thoughts will already be turning towards the meeting with Marseille and you can bet that Sir Alex will have already picked his preferred team for that game and then will decide on who best to select for this tie.

After making his debut in the previous round, I would expect Anders Lindegaard to be given a taste of the Old Trafford atmosphere unless the boss feels that Kuzscak needs a game. The Pole has been conspicuous by his absence over the last few weeks and it could be that he will be leaving in the summer and the boss wants to give some much needed experience to his new goal keeper.

The rest of the defence is likely to contain O'Shea, Brown, Evans and Fabio. If Rafael plays then it would suggest that he will not play next Wednesday. With Ferdinand still out and Vidic and Smalling penciled in for next week, there are very few other options available. Injury doubts over Evans and Fabio mean that a spot for a reserve or youth team player cannot be ruled out.

The midfield line up is once again very difficult to select. Surely a certainty is Darron Gibson who has not been seen in a red shirt since the poor performance against Southampton in the last round. The identity of his centre midfield partner comes down to a bit of guesswork and I am going to go for Anderson. Having gone off the boil a little recently in terms of performance, I would like to see him given a run out and told to stamp his authority on the non-league outfit. As he tends to struggle away from home, I would have him on the bench on Wednesday and play Scholes, Carrick and Fletcher.

On the wings I am going to go for Obertan and a rare start for Bebe. Both of these two need games and surely a match against this type of opposition is perfect for them to make their mark. If one or both struggle to impress then you would have to worry about their long term capability of holding down a place at Old Trafford.

Up front I am sure will be Javier Hernandez and I am going to have a punt at the full debut of Josh King alongside him. If Michael Owen had stayed fit then I am sure he would have started but the cupboard is pretty bare in forward areas with Berbatov and Rooney likely to be rested. This speedy partnership should cause Crawley no end of problems with their movement and if the service is good from the wide areas then United should be capable of a convincing victory.

I am sure Crawley will enjoy their day regardless of the result and the tie is said to be adding around £1million to their bank balance. Their worst nightmare would be to concede an early goal and offer up the possibility of a high scoring defeat. No doubt they will get men behind the ball but they have shown on this cup run that they can play good football and the likes of Torres and Tubbs will have to be kept an eye on. However, one would hope that class will show in the end and United should progress without too much bother and I will predict 4-0 with goals from Hernandez (2), Obertan and Bebe.

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Monday, 14 February 2011

View from the North Stand - Manchester Derby Talking Points

I was lucky enough to attend the derby on Saturday lunchtime and had a great view of the action high up in the North Stand. It allowed me the opportunity to watch players off the ball and to see their movement.

Rooney looks for redemption from the Old Trafford faithful

Here are my key talking points from the game:

  • Wayne Rooney payback - it was a great goal, that cannot be denied and it will be a moment when in years to come I will be proud to say "I was there". However, I was glad to hear Wayne say in his post match interview that he felt that he owed the fans that goal after all the shenanigans earlier in the season. There is no doubt he has damaged his reputation with certain sections of the United faithful and it will take many more goals and great performances to bring true redemption. You get the feeling that in the eyes of many that he has already been forgiven but in my opinion you cannot disrespect the club the way he did and expect to be back in the hearts of the supporters straight away. Good start Wayne but let's see it continue until the end of the season.
  • Anderson - I am frustrated with his inconsistency and Saturday was another case in point. As part of a midfield three, he was given licence to roam the attacking areas and get up in support of our lone striker. Not for the first time, he did not take his chance and was once again substituted mid way through the 2nd half. The Brazilian was one of the players that I watched closely from my vantage point in the North Stand. My conclusion is that he can be prone to laziness as numerous times when he got ahead of the ball. He was not willing to "bust a gut" to get back and assist his teammates. His running style does not help alter this perception. I know he is short and stocky but this is not the first time that I have noticed this. In addition, his range of passing is not quite as impressive as it should be. The other odd thing I noticed was in the warm up when shooting practice was being undertaken. It appeared to me that he struggles to really put his foot behind the ball and give it any power.It almost looks like he side foots it and tries to ease it towards goal which perhaps helps to explain such a poor goalscoring record. You would have to wonder if he has become a touch complacent since signing a new contract. I am sure if this is the case then Sir Alex will pick up on it and have a quiet word! Maybe, playing in a midfield three gives him a sense of freedom which makes him think that those behind him will do his dirty work - I truly hope this is not the case.
  • Lack of a holding midfielder - At times on Saturday, the centre of midfield was so open even though United had it populated with Scholes, Fletcher and Anderson. What we were crying out for was a midfield general, patrolling the back four, breaking up play before supplying a simple ball to a forward thinking colleague. Since the demise of Owen Hargreaves, United have been in desperate need of this kind of player and it will surely be an area that the boss looks to strengthen in the summer. The key point to emphasise here is that in my opinion, the lack of a holding midfielder is the main reason why we cannot afford to play 4-4-2 in the big games. It is almost like the boss is admitting our weakness by filling it with an extra body which in turn unbalances the team thus affecting performance. Many names have been mentioned on who would be ideal to fill the gap and this is sure to continue until the position is filled. It is an area that could cost us, especially in Europe, as we move towards the climax of the season.
  • Paul Scholes, still a joy to watch - Arriving in my seat early gave me the opportunity to watch the players warm up and the man I really came to study was the Ginger Genius. Even at an advanced age, it was clear to see how much ability he still has in those magic feet of his. Passes were being "pinged" at him from a distance of about 15-20 yards and with each one, he was not only controlling the ball but cushioning it out in front of himself. In the space of around five minutes, not one went astray and you can imagine how, in the heat of battle how he would replicate this and allow himself the opportunity to get his head up before spraying out a pass to either flank. The esteem that he is held in by his peers is legendary and I would advise a read of this post by jouracule which lists the high praise lauded onto Scholes by the great and the good of the beautiful game. In an article with Sid Lowe, the great Barca player Xavi not only eulogised about Scholes but also talked about the use of the game "piggy in the middle" as a training tool and how it promotes so many key facets of the game. As shown on Saturday, when the United first team were playing a similar version, the ginger one is still the king of this particular game and is never rushed or flustered. His quarterback role in the derby, while not one of his best games still allowed him the opportunity to show he deserves his place in the first choice United midfield.
The peerless Paul Scholes

  • Nani is world class - what a great statement to write eh? Who would have thought it when just over a year ago, when he appeared to be at the cross-roads of his United career. His friend and mentor Ronaldo had left for the lure of Madrid and ever since he had struggled to step out of this giant shadow. But then the penny dropped. He tore Arsenal apart from his favoured right wing position when he scored one and set up a sublime counter attacking goal for Wayne Rooney. This season he has clearly benefited from an extended run down the right flank in the absence of Antonio Valencia. To such an extent that when the Ecuador international returns, he may remain in his favoured slot or return to the left wing knowing his opponents have little idea which way he will move. His high tally in both assists and goals this term mean he has undoubtedly been United's MVP. This can mainly be attributed to his decision making which has improved beyond all recognition. While still prone to shooting at the wrong times, this has become less prevalent.  He is now able to lift his head and try to pick out a team mate with a  deadly cross leading to special assists seen recently against Villa for Rooney's second strike. The brilliance of his goal against City will predictably get missed amongst the acclaim for Rooney's wonder strike but on second view on Saturday night it was worthy of high praise. Another noticeable improvement in recent weeks has been the way he has cut out the histrionics when coming into contact with his opponent. One would imagine that an experienced player has had a quiet word to Nani explaining the wrongs of these actions and how they can be counter productive to his display.
  • Best chance ever for City to win the league wasted? - I came away from the match with a feeling that although our three point haul could prove vital, City had missed a trick to put one over on us. Even die hard United fans will admit that this current crop of players is not the finest in the long line nurtured by our manager. And this made me think that do City realise just how big an opportunity they have missed to end their 35 year old trophy drought this season? Thinking about it logically, the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and ourselves are all likely to be stronger next season and the sight of numerous dropped points is going to happen less frequently. Looking at them closely on Saturday proved to me that although they possess some high quality players, they are not a "team" and do not have the necessary team spirit currently to push them towards the winning post. After the final whistle had blown, I was expecting to see their players drop to their knees in frustration and disappointment but all I saw were pats on the back for their opponents and a complete lack of emotion. No doubt they will spend heavily in the summer once again, but what would they give for the untouchable spirit that is held deep in the soul of Old Trafford? But in all honesty, who cares?!
So, in conclusion, hardly a convincing display once more but the reliable grinding out of results is currently seeing us through. It was interesting to hear Sir Alex's remarks about the necessity for Rooney and Berbatov to step up their levels of performance away from home. This was a clever ploy from the boss who would instantly of brought Rooney down from the clouds and got him thinking about other things. Fergie knows that if these two fire away from home between now and the end of the season then the title is surely coming home. Our toughest assignments left are all on our travels, so this gentle reminder will be placed firmly in the minds of our key front men as they prepare to shoot us towards domestic glory.

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