One down, six to go as RVP rescues United

992107-16144194-640-360In the end it wasn’t quite the leap towards the title United fans had hoped their team would take tonight, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are a point closer to a 20th league title and, considering the abysmal performance they treated the traveling supporters to in the first hour, they can be satisfied with that.

If United are to indeed lift the title in May however, it’ll be a case of limping over the finish line rather than racing across it for this side is running on empty, almost nothing left in their tanks after a campaign that had promised so much for so long has somewhat petered out over the last month and a half.

West Ham, though, deserved their point particularly for their effort in the first half. Forget the Academy and their tradition, these days West Ham epitomise the term “long ball merchants” – no wonder Andy “I barge into keeper for fun” Carroll finds himself at home there.

After being deployed in midfield against Stoke, Wayne Rooney returned to his usual position up-front, with Shinji Kagawa again wide on the left, as Phil Jones was given the nod to partner Michael Carrick in midfield. Rafael returned in defence, where Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were both confirmed despite having played only three days ago.

Tom Cleverely sat out yet again after being omitted at Stoke and one has to wonder what he must have done to deserve such a treatment. Admittedly Cleverley had seen his form deteriorate in recent weeks, but it speaks volume that Sir Alex has chosen Rooney and Jones ahead of what had been one of the first names on the teamsheet throughout the season.

Rooney, who had looked so comfortable on Sunday, was a shadow of the player we all know he can be. His touch erratic, his body language showing very little in terms of effort, the United number 10 will remember this trip to Upton Park purely for a spat with Andy Carroll towards the end of the first half and a delicate cross for Van Persie at the beginning of the second half.

Rooney’s attitude mirrored United’s throughout a first half in which they were, quite simply, not resembling a champions-elect side in any way or form. Having fallen behind to Ricardo Vaz Te’s goal after 16 minutes after some fine work from Diame and Matt Jarvis, United struggled to create any clear cut chances, with Kagawa again too isolated on the left and Valencia his usual, anonymous self on the right.

When, with half an hour gone, the Japanese and Van Persie combined on the left, allowing Kagawa to get past the Hammers defence before presenting Valencia with the simplest of tap-ins, United fans were offered a timely reminder of what the former Dortmund player offers. Imagine what he could do if played in his favourite position.

After the restart, Carroll briefly took a break from running into defenders to unleash a venomous half-volley from 25 yards out that threatened to fly past David De Gea,before Diame put West Ham back in front with 10 minutes played in the second half with a superb curling effort.

The goal finally seemed to wake United up, as they rallied looking for an equaliser. Rooney’s shot slipped past Jaaskelainen but was cleared off the line by Gary O’Neil, before the West Ham keeper superbly denied Van Persie, whose header had met Valencia’s cross.

There was nothing the Finnish could do though when, with 77 minutes played, Giggs – who had replaced Wayne Rooney – played in Kagawa whose shot ricocheted off the post and into Robin Van Persie’s path. The Dutchman made no mistake, grabbing his second goal in the last two games and salvaging a point for United.

A point might not seem much, considering City’s late winner that cut the gap to 13 points, but at this stage of the season is another small step towards the finish line, which is now only 6 points away.

Dan (@MUFC_dan87)



  1. A point is good.

    We could still celebrate winning the trophy at the Emirates.

    I didn’t like Andy Carroll’s strong arm tactics.

    I think you’re right the boys are tired. Its been a long campaign. Champagne, confetti, fireworks and red ribbons are beckoning.

    Valencia is hopeless. He isn’t gonna get better because he’s tired and aging. What he needs is to take a long holiday then maybe he might come back with a bit form. But he never was United quality for me.

    Play him at right back or sell him. End of.

    Yes Dan just imagine what Shinji Kagawa could do in his preferred position. I have been saying it for a while now. Sell/bench Rooney and give RVP and Kagawa a shot at a strike partnership.

    I really don’t like Ferguson’s midfield selections. Granted, tonight he was playing Jones as a counter to West Ham’s physical threat but its still frustrating to have to put up with a make shift midfield.

    Is Anderson injured? Why is he being left out of so many games as well? Cleverley still has time. But Anderson might be heading out if he doesn’t deliver value soon.

    • @The_Philosopher: Well you covered just about all the bases didn’t you. Not what I expect from a Philosopher, but hey, the nature of young Footy fans is fancy free and getting carried away with momentum. Be proud and be strong, because the club needs some folk like you.

      Your analysis is a little bit confused mate.

      Is Ferguson good or is he bad? Is the manager at fault, or is the the squad not up to snuff?

      There is a clear differential between this team and the ones past – the ones that had better success.
      We are not good at the back and we struggle to create consistent chances on goal. Squeezed between an ailing defense and a front line that doesn’t take its opportunities, we have a MF that will never be able to get a break from its developing nature.

      Too many holes in the squad, too many excuses from philosophers!!

      • @Redrich: Thanks Red. I appreciate your kind words.

        Sir Alex Ferguson is a very good manager. One of the best in the history of the game. Certainly the best in the modern game.

        What stings about Sir Alex is that he is unorthodox in his approach. He sees things that us mere mortals don’t see. He makes decisions that boggle the mind and yet are effective in achieving success.

        Its this unpredictablity that makes him so good.

        Its just that as an armchair manager, sitting infront of the TV, you look at a 60th minute situation and think to yourself that this player or that player should be introduced now. And Ferguson can be counted upon to do the exact opposite of what seems like the right move. He regularly rejects conventional wisdom and thats where it hurts.

        But thats also why he has out-witted so many of his opponents.

        He has old school values. Hard work, struggle and principle. He believes that character is just as important if not more important than skill.

        And thats where he beats his opponents. He tests their character. He tests their resolve more than their footballing prowess.

        Ofcourse he recognises that at some point you have to match your opponents talent, so he goes out and buys someone like van Persie to tip the scales.

        He is great at motivating his players. He is great at applying pressure and forcing his charges to give their absolute best.

        Sir Alex will look at a player and push him to get them playing well. He believes that humility, discipline and adversity are the crucibles in which championship performances are forged.

        He is not into fads or the latest fashions.

        He infuses his charges with grit and determination and teaches them to press on no matter the circumstances.

        I just wish he would add some art to his mix. Artists like Berbatov found his grinding regime repressive.

        Creatives like Nani struggle to come to terms with the rigors of discipline and consistent work.

        This is where Ferguson frustrates. His stubbornness.

        He frustrates when he sticks almost unthinkingly to the principle that someone with the pedigree and experience of Ryan Giggs, inspite of his advanced age, should still have something to offer in midfield. In theory you can give some credit to that view but in practice it has not worked out very well. Despite evidence to the contrary Ferguson holds fast to his belief because in his mind he knows better. Usually he is right when he takes such eccentric views, but when he’s wrong its hard to watch.

        He doesn’t strike me as someone who is open to criticism either.

        He frustrates when he refuses to buy a central midfielder of world class quality and choses rather to play Michael Carrick to exhaustion and give bit part roles to Rooney and Giggs and Jones who don’t play in midfield as their primary role, because he can’t find anyone that he likes in the market.

        That hard line approach smacks of sticking to principle more than adapting to the situation. This is where old school mixes with a prideful superiority complex and it stinks. You don’t have all the answers Ferguson! Try something new!

        I’m not suggesting that Ferguson deal with players that he doesn’t want. The mutual appreciation between player and coach is very important. But what I am saying is that it would be nice for Ferguson to have a little bit more of an open mind. The sink or swim approach he took with Berbatov was uncalled for.

        I’m not saying he must mollycoddle his players but being a little more accomodating to players who aren’t as soldierly as the other players isn’t a bad thing. Not everyone responds to the same stimuli. You never know you could find an artist out there that can complement the grit and grind of the squad.

        He frustrates in a lot of other ways too. Hanging on to players that should be sold, etc and the list goes on.

        The squad line up is a reflection of Ferguson’s ethos and style. He determines the cast. I think it would behoove him to cut a few talentless soldiers and replace them with some complementary artists.

        But he always wins. That he never compromises on. He always demands and gets excellence. And on that count I value him and appreciate him greatly.

  2. I think if tonight’s game confirmed anything (aside from the fact that were going to unspectacularly crawl over the line to the league title)its that the wayne rooney and manchester united relationship
    really needs to be brought to an end this summer.
    I think weve all known for some time now that rooney can no longer perform in the role hes being asked to play at this club any longer.
    His touch and control is appalling, his passing pathetic, he looks out of shape and atleast a couple of pounds above his usual weight (aint that concerning considering its 6 weeks to the seasons finale).
    He quite simply doesn’t have the game to play where he plays anymore, but whats perhaps more startling is his seeming lack of hunger and appetite for it anymore.
    Hes strolled through the season, becoming more and more anonymous as times goes by.
    His reaction to his substitution today confirmed that. He just walked off no complaints, seemingly without a care in the world.
    Contrast that to his reaction here a few years ago, scoring the winner in that 4-2 win, screaming into the camera, eyes bulging like a fucking mad man. The wayne rooney we knew for 7+ years.
    Sadly hes just not that wayne rooney anymore.
    I really doubt the rumours to be true, but honestly if PSG are willing and ready to hand over £30m+ for him, they can have him.
    At 27, with his game having declined the way it has, and with his lack of concern to taking care of his body, or working on improving his game, I have to say I doubt hes going to go down the ronaldo, forlan, rossi route where he has an upturn in his fortunes after leaving us.
    Controversial I know this will be, but I have to say I think hes finished. Sad after all hes done in his 9 years here, but everything comes to an end at some point, and in my view, his time has well and truely come.

    • @tonymontanna4united: I’ve been saying it, mate. Rooney has lost his mojo and it’s a big deal because this whole team has been designed around him.
      RVP is neutralized with the bad-chem, and we are a far worse team when we have a keystone that gives the ball away on a regular basis.

      Please bench him or sell him!!

    • @tonymontanna4united: I say we should sell Rooney or play him in midfield (at a reduced wage).

      Its Shinji Kagawa’s time to shine now.

      We need a world class left footed winger for our left flank to complement our first-class arsenal (no pun intended).

      Robin van Persie aided by Shinji Kagawa, an outstanding left footed left winger and Wilfred Zaha (cause Valencia is also finished) should be the way forward now.

      A replacement striker like Lewandowski would also be welcome (assuming we sold Rooney).

  3. And so the struggles continue!

    Away at WHU hasn’t been been that easy for us, even when things are on the line.
    The Hammer’s tactic was, and usually is, to press hard on a smaller pitch than we’re used to. They do it each time we play there and it works equally well every time. Simple but effective.
    They put pressure on players that don’t perform well under pressure and it exposes our very soft under-belly. We have many players that struggle with that and that would include almost every soul wearing a United shirt.
    It’s not because they’re wimpy or anything like that, they are mostly not very good players and they can’t deal with that pressure.

    In the end it’s a struggle to clinch and a struggle to dominate lower teams. It leaves us with a spurious pedigree whilst claiming a title we
    won weeks ago.
    Congrats to the lads and Ferguson but, honestly, this is not a huge achievement given the possibilities of 1 month ago.

    Last 4 games:

    WON 1
    LOST 2
    DRAWN 1

    What a shame for a potentially great season.

    • @Redrich: In my view we’re one point closer.

      Its been a long season.

      We will get there.

      Crossing the line (whether limping, crawling or running) is all that counts.

      If we win at Aston Villa the fans will start getting giddy.

      Scarves and shirts with the number 20 engraved on them will start appearing etc.

      Thats all that counts. Crossing the line.

      • @The_Philosopher: If I said United have been bloody awful since Nani got sent off against Madrid would I be crossing the line with you?? 😉
        We have done very little to expunge our overachiever tag and that is a no overstatement! Perhaps the very worst PL team to run away with the spoils since Blackburn did it in ’95.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love United to death and always have, but this new era of competition is not a sneeze nor a sniff. The quality of your squad will be always matched or bested by a handful of like thinking clubs.

        If you can maintain a status quo or even a paltry trophy here or there, the perception makes success seem acceptable and understandable to the adoring masses.
        However I am not adoring nor am I understanding. I do not consider myself one of the masses and, for the life of me, I will never be party of a movement that shimmies United’s success with enduring devotion.
        United needs to pay back the fans with a clear sign of intent – ditch the old and splash some cash (earned by all OT attendees) on the players we need for the future.

  4. De Gea is really growing in stature, he was brave and was given a torrent of abuse by the Wet Ham supporters, well done.

    Rooney looks like a player who needs a move, he was poor last night but I would have kept him and Kagawa on the pitch.

    Jones was anonymous last night, he is a real Fergie favourite, WE NEED TO BUY AT LEAST ONE MIDFIELD PLAYER THIS SUMMER.

    Mohamed Diamé is a very good player….

    West Ham’s tactics are disgraceful, I felt I had gone back in time 30 years.

    Vally was better again last night, at least he was getting crosses over which he has been struggling with lately.

    Rio seemed to scared of Carroll, man up! He is a cart horse and what is wrong with the progress of football in England.

    Nolan is a c*&t.

    We have ground to a halt, buy we all would have given our left arm to be in the position at the start of the season.

    • @Stephen: Finally somebody who agrees with me on Vally about last night. He was better than he has been all season and I thought he has been getting better in the stoke game as well. Criticize Valencia ll you want but the guy is tactically astute and is capable of pulling the full backs, and last night Joey O’Brien who i think is an underrated defender and some excellent play from Jarvis helped keep their discipline and is why we were stuck in the mire on that side. It took almost an overload of Valencia, Rafael and Jones to get a good cross in.

      I thought Jones got away with Criticism last night. It was easy to see why he was picked which was to counter WHU physicality but he offers absolutely nothing more on the offensive side with virtually no movement and guile which unsurprising since he is a defender and was shocked when kagawa and rooney came off instead of him at the end.

      • @RMJ: @RMJ Tactically astute he may be, but good enough to be Manchester United’s first choice right winger he certainly is not.

        You can’t tell me that the best a club like United can do on the right wing is Antonio Valencia.

        I would keep him for all his great and wonderful qualities as back up. Back up for right back and occasionally back up for right wing.

        But he can’t be our first choice.

        Put your best foot forward. There’s no way you’re gonna convince me that Valencia is our best foot.


      • @RMJ: He seems to be the new whipping boy. He hasn’t had a good season, but people keep saying he isn’t United quality, but forget he was our player of the season last year.
        All our wingers have been off colour, Nani’s performance against Chelsea was disgraceful, Young seemed to be finding a bit of before he got injured.
        Kagawa had a decent game on Wednesday, I hope this isn’t a flash in the pan and he can build from this as he has struggled with the pace and physical nature of rhe Premiership.

  5. I don’t get this Rooney “sell him off” story line that’s featuring all over the news and on united forums. hell I lost a bit of respect for him during his wage demand saga debacle but fact is the lad is still our number one player. This season he has been often injured, managed to score in the Manchester derby, our leading assister, and all this while putting up numbers that have been consistent with his regular annual tally bar his 2011 season.I also agree that its pretty obvious to see he is suffering from fitness issues and its no surprise since he has been playing top flight football since he was 16 and its of little doubt he is looking knackered. Just to refresh people’s memory, Giggs went through this phase as well but he took up yoga and other reinvented himself so to speak. I think Fergie will probably give him a new contract but get him at the same time to rejuvenate himself. I think we were potent this year despite our defensive frailties due to the fact that we have the most potent attacking front men in the league and maybe in the top 5 in Europe. Unless we replace Rooney with someone of similar quality, anybody is a step down. Actually more than RVP, I hope Fergie will play Rooney and Kagawa as the front two at least once more this season. To me they compliment each other the best and their interplay against Norwich was a sight to see.

  6. Rooney is finished. He can go pretend to be a midfielder at PSG. However, PSG have quality midfielders so I have a feeling Wayne would benefit from the move, paired with Ibrahimovic up top.

    Kagawa should be played in the hole from now on as part of a 5 man midfield, with RVP as the lone striker. Play Nani and Young/Giggs on the wings. Anderson and Cleverley are both average so their failings will be much less exposed in a more crowded midfield.

    It is now quite obvious that we are the same team as last season with the same deficiencies, we simply bought the best striker in the world which replaced a bit of the Ronaldo factor. We won’t get away with it next season.

    • @Moscow: I couldn’t agree with you more.

      Kagawa needs to link the midfield to the lone striker and push the ball around as needs be.

      He is too good to be playing out of position.

    • @Moscow: What happens if RvP gets injured? Would you be happy with Welbeck and Chicharito starting? I certainly wouldn’t. For me Rooney is an out and out striker, he should be rotated with RvP. The Dutchman looks out on his feet and should have been rested more.
      Saying Rooney is finished is a little premature, I think he could do with a move. Kagawa was bought primarily to play behind Rooney. Fergie then got a sniff of the fact he get get RvP and the rest is history. Rooney for me gets far too much stick, he has been brilliant for us and is a victim of his versatility. He is a striker and should be only played as one.

      • @Stephen: Welbeck and Chicharito put together aren’t fit to lace Rooney’s boots but I’ve lost hope that we’ll ever see Rooney played in his position up top again. I am resigned to him leaving. PSG will play him up front with Ibra and they will reap the rewards.

      • @Stephen: Rooney used to be a gnarly little shit whose aggression and desire made him more special than most. Since Coleen got hold of him, he’s way too polite and PC. I wish he would rant and rave and kick prats like Nolan from behind, and steam at refs and, fuck it, get sent off once in a while.
        The man was born to fight and to solve problems the pugilistic way.
        Rooney on Prozac is not what we need, we need an amped up lunatic that is a threat to all and sundry!

  7. i wouldnt sell rooney ,there are more candidates in the line for selling before him..i dont beliefe that a 27 year old cannot find his form,he is 27 not 37..i agree that he was not good enough against whu but so was half of the team…he has to drop to the midfield all the time,to conect the game.,last night jones was a bit lost in midfield ,and the other players of course are feeling it ,it would be a relief for eweryone in the team if there is good midfield player ,who is comfortable with the ball and always will be looking for the ball to help the team and in the same time to search for the ideal will give confidence to the rest of the team..the oposite is when the midfild player is not that good and comfortable in his position ,he sucks up the confidence of all a bit. luka modric would be my ideal player

  8. Ashley Young is injured for the rest of the season.

    Oh boo hoo.

    Whatever shall we do.

    This is a massive blow.

    I’m not so sure about the title anymore, we really needed him.

    Now we’re doomed!

    Oh football can be so cruel sometimes.

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