Posts Tagged ‘Giggs’
As the days go by, it looks more and more likely that we’ll be kicking off against Manchester City in 12 days time without Wesley Sneijder, Samir Nasri, Luka Modric or any other new midfielders in the squad. Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that there were targets, but that the targets are not available to us, which would seem to rule out the likelihood of our signing anyone at all. At the very least, there won’t be any more midfielders unless some unbelievable value becomes available.
This week, of all weeks, is off to a pretty bad start. With Ryan Giggs named in the House of Commons as the footballer who is suing Twitter and has a super-injunction out against Imogen Thomas, a war of words has erupted between rival fans desperate to belittle his achievements in the light of recent non-footballing revelations.
More insidiously, the media are absolutely desperate to wring every last column inch out of the story. If he’d just admitted to his wrongdoing and focussed on his own life, hardly anyone would have given a shit after a week or so. Instead, we have the Streisand effect on steroids, with everyone chucking in their two ABU cents like there’s no fucking tomorrow. Admittedly, according to some Mayan shit there wasn’t supposed to be a tomorrow at the weekend, but now there’s no excuse. We have a Champions League final to worry about, yet instead we have to deal with this shitstorm.
If we have learned just two things about football in the past 24 hours, they are that Javier Hernandez is human, and Manuel Neuer is not.
I have waxed lyrical on this blog about the ability of the Schalke number 1 beforeand, although I was becoming resigned to the fact that David De Gea was looking more and more like our number one target given Neuer’s apparent preference for a move to Bayern Munich, I hope that plenty more people will now see things my way.
I still hang on to a distant hope that, after he plays at Old Trafford, he will decide that he’d quite like to play there every week, especially given the Schalke fans protests at his desire to join Bayern.
Quite apart from the saves that Neuer made to keep Schalke from being utterly blown away in the first half, he has this massive presence in goal that I haven’t seen since Oliver Khan, and Schmeichel before him. You almost felt that Hernandez and friends were afraid to shoot in the first half, deeming it pointless.
It took us the best part of 70 minutes pure domination to finally get the ball past him, and even then it was down to the capitulation of a Schalke defence that was given an utterly torrid time by Wayne Rooney and, most criminally, Antonio Valencia, who was given so much space and time on the right wing he could have grown vegetables.
I’m almost more encouraged by Hernandez’s contribution overall, even though he didn’t manage to hit the back of the net. We now know how he reacts to missing a few chances; he goes out looking for more. He works his socks off, hangs off the last man, and looks a constant menace with his pace and sharpness. His finish for his disallowed goal, too, was utterly brutal.
Throw in an assist for Rooney on top, and you have a good night for the Little Pea, even if it wasn’t truly great.
Key to our ability to absolutely overrun a Schalke midfield was Michael Carrick, who shielded the back four brilliantlyand shifted the ball all over the pitch with the minimum of fuss. Where are the Carrick bashers now? Tweeting Gibson? If anyone wants to know why he’s been handed a contract extension, then they need to watch the DVDs of the Chelsea second leg and last night’s game, and then STFU.
Ryan Giggs has never won a game of football at Molineux. He’s now done everything else. Oldest Champions League goalscorer, United appearance record holder, most medals ever awarded to a British footballer… if you asked someone which player was 33 and which 37, and showed them Giggs and Raul last night, they’d wonder if you had made a mistake and meant 27 years instead.
It’s not difficult to see how Schalke beat Inter if you know your football. They come forward quickly, have a keeper that inspires confidence and seem to ride their luck. Italian clubs can, periodically, struggle with teams that play a fast pace and, alongside England and France, German football is the quickest there is. However, to Manchester United they’re just another team.
The second leg SHOULD be a formality, but of course there are no certainties in Champions League semi-finals. Ask Claudio Ranieri. Even so, I’m confident that we’ll be visiting Wembley at the end of May, for a crack at our 4th European title.
It’s 24 hours since the final whistle blew at Stamford Bridge, and I am still absolutely buzzing about the result. Winning 1-0 there was absolutely beyond even my wildest dreams. I don’t think I found a single United blogger predicting that we would win. Most of us seemed to go for 1-1, and the rest seemed to settle for a good 2-1 defeat with an away goal.
That we did it AND got to enjoy the Chelsea fans being totally shafted by the referee in the last minute makes it all the sweeter. How does it feel boys, how the fuck does it feel?
Of course, it would be folly to get carried away with things. I can’t see Chelsea going the whole tie without scoring, which means that we’ll have to get another at Old Trafford. I had visions of Nani clipping that 1 on 1 over Cech as he raced through, and at 2-0 it would have been a completely different proposition, but Chelsea still need to score twice to win. They’re not going to want penalties. They’re still shit scared of them.
Still, when we look back on this performance we will remember it for one thing above all else – Michael Carrick’s emergence from the shadow cast by the boo-boys. Absolutely immense defensively, expansive, probing, and an absolutely perfect pass to Giggs in the build up to Rooney’s goal. If Michael Carrick isn’t the first name on the team-sheet in the run-in, then it better best be Nemanja Vidic.
I hope the irony of blaming the referee for the result is not lost on the Chelsea fans. They get the rub of the green match after match, year after year, and when they finally get one decision go against them, they all start bitching and moaning about how much of a disgrace it is. Well, sorry guys, welcome to our world. Besides, the foul was outside the box, even if no referee in the world is ever going to give a free kick in that situation. Penalties every time, as we saw against West Ham at the weekend.
Even without that, Chelsea didn’t really threaten beyond periods of extended pressure. their one flurry of post and two goal-line blocks just before half time, and the wonder save Edwin made from Fernando Torres.
Fernando Torres. The boy looks completely, utterly destroyed by the way his Chelsea career has started. Absolutely lost. The fans are on his back, he’s not sure that he has the support of his players or his manager, and he can’t even begin to see where his next goal is coming from. Since he last scored he’s hit the post, had goals disallowed, had shots cleared off the line, and seen Edwin claw out a header which, to be fair, was basically perfect. He must feel like going home every night, curling up into a little ball and dying.
His tepid performance made the decision to remove Drogba all the more puzzling. He was causing us all sorts of problems, and I was delighted to see the back of him.
Anyway, so what, he’s not our problem. Up front, we don’t have a problem. Wayne Rooney is once again firing on all cylinders, and looks almost back to his devastating best from last season. Dimitar Berbatov oozes class every time he comes on to the field and Javier Hernandez, even if he does struggle to make an impact in the more physical games, could score a goal at absolutely any moment.
Antonio Valencia doesn’t look like he’s been away. Likewise Park and, with Anderson scoring twice for the reserves this weekend, we have pretty much our full compliment of midfielders available. Just Fletcher out with his mystery virus.
This all bodes so, so well for the end of the season. Still, if we’re even going to start breating the t-word, we have to follow this up with a win at the weekend. However ecstatic I am with this result, I will be more pissed off than that if we drop points. With our fixtures, we simply cannot.
Our form is fantastic, though. I’m sure we won’t. Fingers crossed.
Thanks, Wayne Rooney, for scoring a brilliant hat-trick to salvage three lost points for us at West Ham. Considering how crap he’s been for most of this season, and the first 60 minutes of the game on Saturday, this performance helps to mend yet more of the damage that he did when he held us to ransom.
Not all of it, but more of it.
His reaction to his third goal exemplified exactly why I struggle to feel the same I used to about Wayne Rooney. Two moments of brilliance and a clinically taken penalty to turn a game we had done our best to lose completely on its head were immediately overshadowed by a juvenile, hostile and downright offensive outburst.
It’s not the swearing that I have a problem with. I don’t give a fuck what he says, although I appreciate that parents of young children may feel differently. I swear like a trooper on the football pitch myself. It’s the hate that fills Wayne, the hostility which he seems to reserve for absolutely everyone who isn’t Wayne Rooney, including his own supporters. He’s just such a hard man to love.
There is passion, and then there is aggression. Wayne’s celebration was so far over the line of aggression as to be almost untrue. Gone is the enthusiastic young goal machine from Liverpool who said he loved the club and did everything in his power to prove that to the fans. Instead, we have a self-interested, self-important snarling nutcase, rich beyond his wildest dreams and completely out of touch with the fans. He’s had a bad season both personally and professionally, but he’s started banging in goals again.
This is what makes the case of Wayne Rooney so difficult for me to get my head around. I want to love him again. I really, really do, especially after he single-handedly won us a game that we had no right to. I just can’t. I don’t feel like I have anything in common with him. Not even the love for Manchester United that we all take for granted.
The comparison between the classy, cultured and understated Dimitar Berbatov is staggering. Although Wayne snatched the headlines, both good and bad, the man that turned the game was Berba. I have never in my life seen a player so composed on the ball, so aware of his team-mates and so easy on the eye. Some of the things Berba does make me laugh out loud at the screen. As others have pointed out, there is absolutely no coincidence in that fact that all of our goals came with him on the pitch.
If the rumours doing the rounds today, that Berba will be allowed to leave for any offer over £20m, are true then I will break down and cry. I will literally fall to pieces where I am sitting.
Ryan Giggs was so good at left-back that, having missed the first minute of the second half when I flicked over to check the cricket score, I didn’t at first realise that Evra had gone off and Giggs had filled in. He was up and down the flank, an attacking outlet and defensively solid. Yet another top class performance from a player that I am going to miss so, so much when he is gone.
Arsenal are bottlers, pure and simple. Chelsea have now dropped one point too many and nobody else is even in the hunt. It’s a little premature to claim 19, because it could still all go horribly wrong, but this weekend’s results could barely have gone any better for us.
Bring on Chelsea. Surely it’s time to beat them again?
The last thing I wanted to be discussing this morning was the loss of yet another defender but, no sooner does Jonny Evans get himself fit and back into the team than he picks up a likely three-match ban for a red card.
Evans had, up until his dismissal, looked far more solid than he has otherwise this season, but now we are sweating on the return to fitness of Ferdinand, Vidic and friends after the international break. The worst case scenario seems to be that Wes Brown will be partnering the omnipresent Chris Smalling at the back, with Patrice Evra at left-back and Fabio or, perish the thought, Hargreaves at right-back.
The tackle itself has been done to death over the weekend, with all of the ABU’s lambasting “filthy” Evans, but anyone with two rational brain cells to rub together seeing the tackle for what it was; two comitted players going for the same ball. Neither challenge was exactly textbook, but Evans got plenty of ball before getting Holden’s knee.
Holden’s challenge was very similar to Evans’, and the injury could easily have been the other way around. It’s a red card because Evans got the tackle wrong, but there was no malice. The fact that televisions biggest ABU Alan Hansen agrees with me should speak volumes. Jamie Carragher take note.
More than ever, I would like to ask what the fuck people’s beef with Michael Carrick is? Carrick works hard, makes countless interceptions, keeps the play simple and keeps posession. He ticks our midfield over like nobody’s business. Against Marseille in midweek, Carrick completed 54 of 58 passes. That’s 93.1% of his passes. Only Scholes completed more passes, but at a completion rate of just 84.8%.
Twitter was full of idiots after the game slating Carrick and demanding to know when we were going to sign [insert world class defensive midfielder / Football Manager starlet here]. These idiots cannot have watched the game or, if they did, did so with the sole intention of slating Michael Carrick for failing to unlock the Bolton defense.
I hate to disappoint you clowns, but that’s not Carrick’s job. Carrick is there to break up play, pass the ball to the better players (Rooney and Nani) and hold his position and his discipline. If you want to turn around and blame someone for not unlocking the defense, then Rooney and Nani should be your scapegoats because that’s their job.
Of course, Nani came good in the end, his shot being spilled for Berba to snatch the points, but Rooney swanned about all game looking vaguely threatening in a non-threatening way. Giggs, unfortunately, looks like he’s slipping slowly but surely toward the knackers yard, and Valencia was quiet.
All these players are, for one reason or another, beyond reproach. Giggs has given us years of service and is one of our greatest ever players so, of course, we can’t blame him. Rooney is the children’s hero, and so will always be cheered regardless of any off-the-pitch antics which the kids probably don’t even understand. Valencia is just back from a horrific injury so patchy performances are to be expected. Berba gets loads of shit too, despite being the league’s top scorer.
So, given the above, why should it fall to Michael Carrick to win the game single-handedly for us? It’s not Carrick who went to the manager crying about ambition and demanding a vast pay rise to match the wage offered to him by City. It’s not Michael Carrick who is picked to torment wingers with pace and ability before providing a killer ball.
United kept Bolton at bay, rarely looking much like losing their clean sheet. THIS IS CARRICK’S JOB. If Manchester United do not conceed a goal, then Carrick has done what he is paid to do and is selected for. If Manchester United do not score a goal and you’re into your scapegoating, then you have to turn to look at Nani and Rooney and Valencia and Hernandez and Berbatov and find your scapegoat there. Don’t come to the defensive midfield looking for one, because you will leave either disappointed or looking very stupid when you open your mouth.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to deflect blame away from anybody towards anybody else. We played badly against Bolton but came away with a win. We should be happy with this, and praising our players for their determination and never-say-die attitude. Instead we’re slating our own players which is so fucking small time as to be almost untrue.
Teams do occasionally struggle. Hell, even Barcelona sometimes lose, but I’ll bet you one thing. I bet none of their fans go slating Lionel Messi on twitter or calling for Sergio Busquets to be replaced as soon as the game ends.
I cannot even contemplate losing to Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool within what feels like mere days. FA Cup or not, this one is a must-win for us.
I probably sound like a broken record saying that every single week, but in this case it’s absolutely true. If you asked me normally, then I would say yes, games against Arsenal are always important but in this instance, we need to take a look at the bigger picture. Read the rest of this entry »
Transfer deadline day is almost always quiet for us. Other than the Berbatov deal a few Augusts ago, I can’t really remember us making a big signing on deadline day. This is testament to Fergie’s ability when it comes to getting deals wrapped up before the start of the brinksmanship season and prices go sky high. Read the rest of this entry »