Scott at Republik of Mancunia made a valiant effort at throwing a positive spin on Saturday’s result. Of course, it was a win after all, so, really, what can be more positive than that? And he did a good job of trying to alleviate certain shreds of negativism that may have afflicted a lot of United fans.
However, if you were to ask me what I thought of yesterday, I’d say it’s among the strangest matches I’ve ever seen against ‘big four’ opposition. (Yes, even the 1-0 at Anfield, many moons ago, felt different. In that game the win tasted sweet. Here, I really don’t know what I’m having.)
Goal videos of the match below:
So here we are then. With just three competitive (if you prefer not to count the Community Shield as meaningful) games of the season played, we face our first big test in the shape of Arsenal.
While last season’s meeting at Old Trafford in the Premier League was hardly of massive significance, tomorrow’s encounter will certainly provide a decent benchmark to how we are shaping up in terms of our title credentials this campaign.
Sir Alex Ferguson has made a few things clear about his plans for our central midfielders today, and it answered some questions (and debunked some rumours doing the rounds lately).
When asked about Carrick and Anderson, he said, “there are no issues at all.”
“Michael wasn’t involved against Birmingham or Wigan because we played Burnley on the Wednesday and it was a chance to freshen up. That’s exactly what he did. We also had [Darren] Fletcher and [Paul] Scholes back [for Wigan}, so it was just a matter of freshening it up. Anderson was also left out. I read stuff about a dust-up with Anderson which is absolute rubbish. Absolute nonsense.”
He also spoke about Gibson, which should encourage the lad, and make us expect a lot more appearances from him this season. “We are also trying to push Gibson on as much as we can because the boy has improved at a fantastic rate of knots. We’ve been really impressed with him. That’s the reason. There’s no reason other than that.”
Other than a dramatic turnaround, that should put to rest any speculation on us making more signings in central midfield this summer. Speaking of midfielders, Hargreaves is expected to return in late September.
And finally, for sake of completeness on midfielders, here is an article in the Guardian on Darren Fletcher; Louise Taylor being the latest to latch onto the praise-Darren-Fletcher bandwagon — something we’ve banged on about for a long time.
You can read the live MBM reports here and here.
I am still unsure on the exact dates, but I can only hope we don’t travel to Moscow in December. It’s always tough at that time of the year. Either way, with Turkey and Russian clubs in our group, we have some serious travelling to do. Away from home Besiktas can be tricky, and CSKA Moscow formidable.
But in Wolfsburg, we have a free scoring opponent that can surely cause a lot of problems.
This is certainly not an easy draw, but by no means is it the worst one either. CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg are two genuine contenders from our group, and qualification will be a hard fight.
The Arjen Robben story continues to gather steam, especially now that Wesley Sneijder has reportedly agreed a five year deal with Inter.
Anderson spoke to Sportsmail putting an end to speculation that he may be heading for the exits at Old Trafford. This late in the window, with Ferguson saying “he won’t buy anyone”, it would surprise me if he were to boot someone out of the door. Anderson has gone down in estimation with some fans due to an inconsistent second season, and there were reports of a bust up between Ferguson and him over his non-selection in the Community Shield. Whether he’s rated by many or not, he still has a role to play this season, and considering we are a little thin on central midfield, the last thing we’d want is to be losing another midfielder and buying a winger.
This is what the Brazilian had to say to the Mail
‘I believed that I would play in the Community Shield but that is forgotten now. I thought that, without Cristiano Ronaldo around, I could to play more and that has been my challenge from pre-season onwards. But the coach decides the teams and to discuss this with him is foolish because he is the chief. I do not want to leave United. No.
‘Sir Alex Ferguson has demanded a bigger effort from me and I accept that. Because to get in to this United team is very complicated and difficult for any player.’
It does confirm there was a ‘bust up’, so to speak, and it’s good to see he wants to prove himself. But it does leave room for the possibility of other clubs being encouraged to bid for him next summer. (I wouldn’t be surprised — although, these days, not too many things surprise me anyway.)
There, so Anderson has spoken. It’s now time for Carrick — who normally opens his mouth to any hack within spitting distance — to put any speculation regarding him to bed, one way or the other.
The tale of Fletcher’s ascent is best sung to the familiar tune of “zero to hero.” The young Scot, originally billed as the next Beckham, experienced a break-out season last term, making 26 Premier League appearances for United. However, when I try to explain his rise, I find myself at a loss for words. What makes Fletcher so good?
As per usual, low expectations play a part. Sir Alex struggled to find the best role for Fletcher, and, when finally moved centrally, he languished in the shadow of Paul Scholes. Fans abused him mercilessly, decrying his game as boring and languid. But now the chorus has shifted tunes to shouts of “efficient” and “tidy.”