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A Tale Of Two Halves: UNITED 3-1 Sunderland

Manchester United once again extended their 6 point lead over nearest rivals Manchester City with a 3-1 victory over Sunderland at Old Trafford. Roberto Mancini’s side had reduced the lead by half earlier this afternoon as they too won 3-1 against their north-east opponents.

Robin van Persie’s 12th Premier League goal of the season on sixteen minutes was the first in a three minute double salvo for the Red Devils as Tom Cleverley quickly made it two goals to nil. Wayne Rooney wrapped up the win with a second half tap-in before Frazier Campbell scored on his return to Old Trafford to keep up United’s miserable record of only two clean sheets at home so far this season.

United had a troubleless first half in which they dominated. If it had not been for some poor composure in front of goal it would’ve been a far bigger winning margin. Patrice Evra blasted over from fifteen yards, unchallenged and unmarked following a corner before the home side took the lead on sixteen minutes.

Phil Jones powered his way from right wing to left to find Ashley Young. Carlos Cuellar tried to stop the former Watford and Aston Villa winger from finding a way in to the box but failed to do so. Young staying strong to get away from the Spaniard and cross.

Robin van Persie benefitting as he calmly controlled before side footing past Mignolet. The lead was doubled three minutes later. Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick combining with a one-two. The move ending in Cleverley expertly curling the ball beyond Sunderland’s Belgian goalkeeper into the far corner.

A beautifully constructed goal which made certain that United had a firm stronghold on the game. Wayne Rooney then missed two glorious chances within a few minutes. The first a right volley just wide of the post after van Persie’s knock down. The second a header in to the side netting from Ashley Young’s left wing cross.

Sunderland’s only noteworthy chance in the first half came from James McClean. The left footed Irish international shooting at De Gea from a tight angle when passing the ball to Steven Fletcher for an empty net seemed the better option.

The second half started as the first half had. Within the first two minutes Wayne Rooney struck the bar with a deflected effort. Ashley Young lifting the rebound over the bar. The third goal came on fifty nine minutes. Wayne Rooney finally finding the goal he wanted against Sunderland.

Young passing the ball in to the feet of van Persie who sandwiched himself between and away from Carlos Cuellar and Titus Bramble to tee up Rooney for an easy tap in to an unguarded net. Other chances came and went, van Persie heading wide on the stretch the closest.

Sunderland pulled one goal back however. After De Gea had denied both Sebastian Larsson and Stephane Sessegnon, Martin O’Neill’s side found the net from the resulting corner. The ball coming back out for Sessegnon to cross. Frazier Campbell on as a substitute heading in on the line as United once again rued a lapse of concentration.

The win which should’ve been more comfortable was overshadowed by the change in performance which was plain to see as the second half grew old. Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley, who I regard as our best midfield partnership, is where the football began to decline.

Both played with fantastic energy, fluid triangular passing, breaking up the oppositions play. It was admirable to watch. But at the start of the second half the partnership was broken up as Carrick made way for Paul Scholes. The crisp passing, the quick change from defence to attack had now gone and it showed as Sunderland saw more of the ball and got at Scholes quickly to break up our rhythm.

After Cleverley was then removed for Giggs the whole tempo of the United’s game changed. It slowed and Sunderland saw more and more of the ball. The supply for Rooney and van Persie from the centre of midfield became non existent and Valencia was the only means to an attack down the right hand side.

Thankfully this was only for the last twenty minutes. We saw United at their blissful best this season in the first half and then how we’ve looked in other games, Norwich away, Tottenham at home, both felt similar to the last twenty minutes of today’s game.

But that’s something that can be better described later. Swansea are next up. A tough game of which I can see us winning comfortably. Providing that first half performance with Carrick and Cleverley can be repeated. For now, the Reds go marching on, on, on!



  1. Opti

    December 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Nice writeup Jamie. I must admit, I was VERY disappointed with the 2nd half — we were poor and waste many chances for improving our goal-difference. However, I am mostly disappointed with Fergie’s sentimental subs:

    Rio for Vidic: OK, I understand this one. Saw it coming and am realized that once we lead 3-0, it’s worth the risk to field an unfit captain in defense. No problem here.

    Carrick for Scholes: WHY? If Fergie is worried about Carrick’s fitness, then why not use Fletcher? But if he is worried about fitness levels in a dense winter schedule, why not worry about Persie or Rooney, whose fitness we need to keep pushing towards #20… yet, these guys play till they break, it seems. Surely a sentimental sub meant to bring on experience… and it didn’t help us at all.

    Cleverley for Giggs: WHY?? This is even worse than Scholes’ sub. Giggs is past it, so why not inform him of his new position in pecking order. How did we not put in Fletcher? Or Chicharito for Rooney? Or, heck, even Welbeck for Young or RvP? This sub made no sense and almost cost a couple goals when Giggs gave away possession time and time again.

    As much as I hate to say it, I understand why Pogba left. No chance to break into United’s midfield if you are behind 77 years of midfielders….

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  3. Andrew

    December 15, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    A good first half display and some excellent football. We should have been 3 or 4 up by half-time. Its incredible that we can score three goals but we are still wasteful in front of goal. We should have won the match 5-0 but instead we waste chances and concede again. It would almost be a shock if we did keep a clean sheet. De Gea is an unlucky goalkeeper because his performances doesn’t get the clean sheets it deserves. I agree Carrick and Cleverley were excellent and combined very well for the second goal. If I’m honest the introduction of Scholes changed the game and we actually lost control. Giggs probably made things even worse when he got on. Valencia is incredibly off form and he knows it. He is a frustrated player and its starting to show.

    • tonymontanna4united

      December 15, 2012 at 8:03 pm

      @Andrew: Yeah valencia is seriously off form right now. Whats annoyed me about him lately is his dillying around, taking too long to deliver a cross in. Its a part of his game that he excels in, so not sure why hes seemingly now lost confidence here.
      Last week i lost count of the number of times he skinned clichy, could have put a ball in, but pissed about taking forever seemingly in 2 minds, which resulted in losing possession or actually putting in a cross that got deflected because the full back had got back to block it.
      Ive never been valencias biggest fan as i do find him too one dimensional, so right now that hes lost confidence to carry out his biggest strength ie his delivery, hes really not much use.
      Tbh i think he could do with some competition. Nani has been dropped for a lot less than this in the past, but with him firmly on the way out, i guess he’ll be left to it.

      • ForeverRed

        December 16, 2012 at 2:47 am

        @tonymontanna4united: Valencia should watch some clips of Andrei Kanchelskis in his prime to remind him what he should be doing when he gets the ball (and how effective he could be). Kanchelskis was a winger not afraid to use his pace to run at the defence and AV7 has the same capability. However, he seems to be devoid of confidence these days and as a result has become quite predictable to defend against. Stop bottling it AV7 – you’ve got the beating of most full backs!!

  4. tonymontanna4united

    December 15, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Yep, a game of 2 pretty much entirely contrasting halves of football it was.
    A nice relatively unchanged team from the one last sunday was what i was hoping to see and thankfully got.
    The result? Pretty much picking up from where we left off against city.
    It was a fantastic first 45. The passing was sweet, some of cleverleys passing was pure sex, and for once we pressed sunderland very high up.
    Should have been 4 or 5, but the 2 goals were sublime (especially cleverleys).
    2nd half though was unfortunately what weve all come to expect, and whilst its unfair to say this was solely down to scholes’ introduction (cleverley, smalling, young in particular seemed to lose interest, seeemingly thinking it was game over after the 3rd goal) it did definitely play a big part.
    A partnership of clev and scholes just does not go. Surely fletcher, or even powell would have been a better option?
    As a result our passing game deteriorated immensly, scholes’ passing was horrendous, and from being dominant and easily on top, we started to drop too deep and struggled with possession until we got the 3rd.
    Again not putting this solely on scholes’ shoulders, but the change was relatively startling, and the space in behind the midfield was evident.
    So why then after they pulled it back to 3-1 we decide to introduce giggs god knows.
    Scholes and giggs in a 2 man midfield together? Really?
    The result, an even worse showing for the final 20, where sunderland pulled off a few chances that could have troubled us.
    Its quite clear to everyone but fergie, that giggs and scholes no longer have the legs anymore.
    20 minutes here and there is fine, but they have to managed correctly coming on only as back up options (ie when younger alternatives are out, and only with the right personnel beside them).
    Well gone are the days they should be playing in the same team together thats for damn sure.
    What that leaves us with therefore, is obviously not enough strength in depth.
    I would love to think we’d go into january and bring someone in there, but unfortunately i dont see that happening. And with fergie and his tendencies to start his trusted lieutenants time after time, i fear that may cost us in the long run.
    As today showed, its telling how much certain players can influence games- in todays case (norwich, spurs games the same) for the worse.

    • Craig Mc

      December 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      @tonymontanna4united: Valencis is a TOTAL PASSENGER, he contributed zero, because he cannot get past the last man anymore, and on the few occasions he does he fails to put in a decent cross of any worth. He dallies until two defenders get on him, and then he can’t dribble, so he turns back and backpasses – rubbish mate. Jones was really good today and he should be in the MF sweeping in front of our defence, because he can’t have Rafael’s place, but he is a very tough tackler, and one of our very few players who will not let opposition bully him off the ball. He can play box to box, his weakness is his final product once he gets to final third. If he works on this and gets it right, he will be excellent for us. Jones bullies others and will not be bullied. Smalling had a good game, but for a big lad he gets bullied and pushed around too much, instead of him bullying the opposition attackers around him. He doesn’t have a tough tackle either, he kind of pussy footies around daintily. Get fookin stuck in Smalling, and start pushing back when attackers are pushing you off the ball. Man up like Jonesy does. We had so many chances today, and should have been well out of site, RVP is not prolific, but will always get the odd goal for us in a game. Rooney bullied of the ball far too often, which was unheard of at one time, and his first touch is still abysmal. What has chicharito done that SAF is being so fookin unfair to the lad. Hey Fergie chicharito needs games too, and believe me he would have had a bag full of goals today. Anyway pleased we won and scored three times, not pleased with our dropping off and being bullied for good portion of 2nd half.

      • Craig Mc

        December 15, 2012 at 8:38 pm

        Give the ball away Giggs and scholesy surrendered our MF to the opposition when they came on. Neither of them has pace anymore, and both can’t tackle to save their lives. Scholesy does really try though, but truly legends as they are their best days are well gone.

      • Opti

        December 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm

        @Craig Mc: I think he does contribute and can beat his man… it’s just (as Tony stated), he no longer crosses like he used to.

        But give him a break… he was our stand-out player last season, wears #7 for a reason, and has only hit a rough-patch in his form.

        Sometimes, we are too rough on our players… with that in mind, how can I criticize Welbeck if he never plays… COME ON FERGIE, LET ME SEE Welbz!! 😆 😆

        • Craig Mc

          December 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm

          @Opti: I was reading late last night that Valencia has had a back problem hindering him for about a month, and has had to have injections. The medical team are really worried about it, because it is not clearing up. So that must be the reason Antonio is not playing as he would be flying if he was not having this mystery back problem worry. So I can understand now, and cut him a whole lot of slack. Don’t think he should be playing though with an injury, because it is better to play somebody who can fully play to capacity, than playing with Tony struggling and at half capacity, until he gets clear of his back probs anyways!

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  6. The_Philosopher

    December 15, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Great win for the lads.

    I was glad to see van Persie on the score sheet AGAIN.

    I’m also very happy about our 6 point advantage. We need to hold on to it as long as possible because I believe it will test City’s resolve.

    I still think they’re a bunch of posers and the longer we stay ahead of them the more the worms of doubt will eat at them.

    I am not naive enough to think that we will have this advantage for the whole season. So we must use it as a tool for as long as we can. A tool to drain City.

    United are always gonna be there or there abouts when it comes to the title race. So we don’t need to worry overly much about maintaining the lead. I just want City to start questioning themselves.

    I would like to see Mancini play his “oh no United are too far ahead of us, we can’t win the league” angle the same way he did last season when we went 8 points clear. This time luck won’t come and save him like it did last time around.

    This season City are gonna get exposed for what they really are… plastics.

  7. The_Philosopher

    December 16, 2012 at 12:17 am

    I’m pleased with our squad. The variety we have is actually amazing.

    With our squad blighted by injury we have managed a 1st place spot in the league with 6 points separating us and our closest rival.

    Imagine the havoc we will wreak with a full squad.

    Jones came in for Rafael at right back and did a decent job. Jones can turn out to be such a vital player for us. He can play right back and should be given a shot at defensive midfield as well.

    He wants to be a centre back but I actually think right back is his best position.

    Vidic is back. Thats massive.

    Van persie just keeps scoring. Somehow Craig Mc reckons RVP isn’t prolific. Ok just because he isn’t scoring 2 or 3 goals every game doesn’t mean (baring injury) he isn’t on track to collect +/- 25 goals in the league this season.

    Thats prolific enough for me.

    Chicha can score on any given sub appearence.

    Welbeck is a decent striker when given a proper run in an actual strikers role.

    Rooney has the energy, drive, skill, the will and fighting spirit to turn our games around for us.

    Anderson showed great form before he was hit by injury yet again. Cleverley and Carrick are doing an exceptional job in midfield now. With Fletcher available as back up.

    Scholes and Giggs must retire. Although Scholes has more value in him than Giggs.

    Nani will most likely return in the new year.

    Rafael and Evans have proven themselves to be two quality defenders of late.

    Kagawa starts full training on Monday. Fergie will have so many options.

    • Craig Mc

      December 16, 2012 at 4:01 am

      @The_Philosopher: When I say RVP isn’t prolific, I mean goals to chances ratio he misses some very good chances. He had several very good chances today but only took one of them. He is good for some vital goals though, and the goal he scored today, and the free kick at City were brilliant goals. I love RVP, but he does miss very good chances mate! We have to think of goal difference, especially with us not being able to keep clean sheets like we used to do. RVP is not alone on squandering some great chances though. Still he was a fantastic buy for Utd.

  8. Redrich

    December 16, 2012 at 1:08 am

    When Van Persie’s 6 point shot deflected off Nasri, did any of us really think that a switch had been thrown and that all the shite that had been dished up previously had been instantly exorcised?? Anyone, really??
    That win last week was a great win, no doubt, and it proved that we do have it in us to play to a high standard. We played to a high standard for about half that game and today we did just a little better than that.
    You can talk all you like about how Scholes and Giggs slowed us down but in truth, they weren’t the only suspects. Last week we didn’t call on either of them, and still our pace and desire ebbed and flowed like a car stuck in the mud. There is just still something missing from the equation, something that would give us the traction to play all 90 minutes like the 45 – 60 that we get now.
    It’s probably the MF that’s relying on a combination of under-experience and over-experience. It makes perfect sense, but I think it’s a little more than that. We just don’t have a General on the field. A man that can impel the passion and the desire of the entire team by his own example and will.
    If we were to get another CMF’er, he is the one we need, and so I wonder if that’s the difficulty that Ferguson has found when deciding who to throw the money at.

    • ForeverRed

      December 16, 2012 at 3:10 am

      @Redrich: Completely agree Redrich and have been saying the same about lack of an on-field CM leader for quite a while. Today showed us that bringing on Scholes and Giggs for the last 20-30 minutes does NOT serve to see the game out because of their ‘experience’. In fact is was plainly obvious that we looked a lot more vulnerable to a fairly impotent Sunderland side after they came on. So what purpose do they serve? I have been among their biggest admirers since they emerged 20 years ago, but they are now, sadly, an impediment to our side’s progress.

      In terms of what we’re lacking it’s a tackling, ball carrying CM. Cleverley is good at moving the ball quickly, but when Anderson’s out we lack anyone who runs with the ball through the midfield. And whenever anyone does this it creates havoc in the opposition ranks and creates space for other players to exploit. Anderson is the only player we have with this ability, and as we know, he’s injured more often than not. So this is the kind of player we need to recruit.

      • Redrich

        December 16, 2012 at 4:07 am

        @ForeverRed: Beyond the immediate advantage of spurring the troops, a leader on the field will be a beacon for the youngsters trying to find their way.
        I think it’s vital for any great team to have that kind of individual – United hasn’t had one for some time now, and I think it shows!!

    • The_Philosopher

      December 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    • The_Philosopher

      December 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm

  9. Warzycha

    December 16, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Buy Fellaini and a proper left back.
    Sell Nani and Evra.

  10. ash is the man

    December 16, 2012 at 10:28 am

    watching the first half yesterday got me into an orgasm 🙂 we played wonderful football and sometimes it was breathtaking. It looks like we have found our formula and i hope kagawa doesnt mess up the rooney and rvp axis as they have a true understanding now and it is immense. All we need is tiote in the engine room 🙂

  11. The_Philosopher

    December 16, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Redrich: I also agree with the lack of leadership in the middle of the park.

    Thats why I was touting Rooney as our new midfield general because he has all the qualities of a general. Only problem with Rooney is that he isn’t a midfielder. He is just a great footballer who can do a job in midfield.

    As he matures further I do see Rooney as our club captain when Vida’s reign comes to an end.

    Anderson, Cleverley and Powell are the future of our midfield. Powell might have some leadership qualities that would surface once he settles into the squad I believe.

    We need to buy a replacement for Carrick. He is so critical. He’s been a key cog in our midfield machine for about 3 seasons now so we need a younger version of him in the squad as well.

    I would like to see more of Davide Petrucci. I suspect he might be a quality midfielder.

    I like Ryan Tunnicliffe’s spirit. He looks like a fighter.

    Other than that we should buy a +/-24 year old midfielder to bridge the gap between the younger and older midfielders

  12. The_Philosopher

    December 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    It might be very interesting towards the end of next season to see a maturing Nick Powell play along side a matured Tom Cleverley.

    They could be a potent combination. And especially if Ferguson is still in charge we could be on the verge of yet another golden era.

    Angelo Henriquez is another one in the pipeline and Ferguson will polish him into another great performer. Henriquez looks like he has the talent.

    With RVP and Rooney to learn from who wouldn’t want to be a junior striker at Untied.

    Chicha is an asset in attack. So is Shinji Kagawa. Rafael is coming along. Jones is also looking like a rough diamond.

    If we signed someone like Victor Wanyama and he lived up to his promise he could be the perfect replacement for Darren Fletcher.

    Then we would need to replace Nani with someone who has a natural left foot.

    James Rodriguez perhaps. Rodriguez has a natural left foot so I would fancy him to play on the left. But Rodriguez might be more in the mold of Kagawa than an out and out wideman.

    One out and out wideman on the right as well to deputise for Valencia.

    One quality leftback and one quality centreback to replace Evra and Ferdinand and we’re good.

    Thats 5 signings. And I believe that would be enough. We’re 5 players away from being a genuine threat in Europe I think.

    If Ferguson can serve for another season after the current one I will be very pleased with that.

    The youngsters will have matured a bit more. Scholes and Giggs will have moved on (surely they can’t play on for another season after this one). And the likes of Cleverley, Welbeck, Chicha, Smalling, Rafael will start becoming senior players.

    The future looks bright.

    • Craig Mc

      December 16, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      @The_Philosopher: I watched the reserves playing thie week, and Buttner went off injured, and the young lad who came on to replace him – MAN DOES HE HAVE A HARD AND FIERCE TACKLE. He reminds me of Ryan Shawcross, he takes no prisoners on his tackling, I like that. Anybody know this guys name, I believe he was a CH but they got him playing LB now.

  13. colver

    December 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Philosopher, our midfield looks unbalanced without a holding midfielder such as Carrick.

    Ferguson has ruled out signings in January. So I expect Anderson and Cleverley to fight it out for a place alongside Carrick and perhaps Powell will get a few opportunities as well.

    But I think we are worryingly reliant on Carrick. Fletcher was good back in the day when he was used as an extra man to break up play in the big games but I have never rated him in a 4-4-2 and as a holding midfielder his ability to win the ball is nullified by his tendency to give it away immediately! Losing Pogba for me was a massive blow and if Ferguson has any sense he’ll stop buying wingers and strikers and buy a proper defensive midfielder.

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  15. James V

    December 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Isnt Strootman a DMF? might be a good buy as backup to Carrick and for long term.

    If Nani leaves we will definitely need a winger to back up young/vally or even to replace one of them in the starting 11 🙂

  16. James V

    December 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    speaking of steals, isnt Benteke looking one at 7MM ? He killed Pool on Sunday!

  17. Opti

    December 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Let the games begin! Balotelli takes City to court over 2-week suspension of wages from last season. All we need now is for AFC to begin, Tevez to sod off to Argentina for an extended holiday and Joe Hart to question his team-mates. Mercenaries!

  18. johnsom33

    December 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    It bothers me that people are just now seeing how much a liability Giggs and scholes are now. Giggs has been poor for close to 3 seasons, and scholes has been struggling for the past season and half(both rough estimates). Scholes is still one of the best passers in the world but thats literally all he has left to offer.

    It also bothers me to see the flak that the younger players have taken like Ando, Cleverly and welbeck. These are all dynamic players and they need to be surrounded by players with the same mentality. Scholes just doesnt have the legs to link up with play further up field and play 1-2 touch football. Giggs doesnt have the skills to play in midfield, and sadly either does fletcher. I Know he is a fan favorite because he plays his heart out every single game, but he is nothing more than a midfield destroyer. He is a relic of the past era, in todays games midfielders have to have fairly versatile and technically sound. Giggs, scholes and fletcher are all static players and are fairly easy for well organized teams to sort out.

    I am still sick to my stomach about Pogba leaving, because I believe that he would still be here had scholes not come out of retirement and Giggs wasnt a sentimental pick of fergies. I never understood why Fergie would look to squeeze the old guard into games when he has so many youngsters chomping at the bit for experience.

    One of the worst myths in football is that United have a horrendous midield, its really quite baffling to me. Fergie has just been choosing teams with his heart instead of his head. I hate hearing pundits say “Uniteds MF was over run against some mid table team, but Scholes passing was sublime”.

    I know people are going to jump all over me for “disrespecting club legends” which is simply not the case. Saying they are poor in the twilight of their career, is not the same as saying they were poor for their entire career. Anderson and cleverly will most likely never come close to matching the quality of these two at their respective peak, but they are better players than them this season and atleast last season.

    rant over

    • Opti

      December 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm

      @johnsom33: Pogba may turn into one of Fergie’s biggest mistakes.

      I was just looking at Scholes/Giggs appearances in EPL and notices that Scholes has 11 and Giggs has 8. What’s the limit for min games needed in EPL to collect winners medal? I am thinking that Fergie will get them that minimum level [hence their inclusion against Sunderland at 2-0 and 3-0] and then sit them down and tell them that they’re done. FA Cup maybe and random subs… at least that’s my hope.

    • godzilla

      December 18, 2012 at 5:00 am

      @johnsom33: Completely agree. Shows that there was cowardice last season in prefering the golden oldies over the young brigade!

  19. johnsom33

    December 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I also have to hold up my hands and say I had no idea RVP possessed so much quality. He is out of this world and its jaw dropping that Arsenal would let a players like that walk out of the club. If there was ever a player who was good enough to break a wage structure its him. The thought of him making around 70k a week is insulting when compared to other top PL players. I can understand the arsenal board cashing in on Song, but if I was Wenger I would have told the board “sell rvp and Im stepping down”. He has to be one of the top 5-10 players in the world and we are lucky to have him.

  20. Ismail N

    December 18, 2012 at 4:37 am

    “After Cleverley was then removed for Giggs the whole tempo of the United’s game changed. It slowed and Sunderland saw more and more of the ball.” A welcome headache for Sir Alex to have so many quality players in midfield. Giggs and Scholes replace Carrick and Cleverly in the second half and we still got Fletcher, Anderson and Kagawa to play. GGMU.

  21. The_Philosopher

    December 18, 2012 at 5:46 am

    I wouldn’t be too quick to blame Ferguson for the exit of Pogba.

    Ferguson took a long term view with Pogba. He saw him as someone who would be key for the first team eventually. Ferguson saw Pogba as a life long player. Thats how our club works. We develop youngsters.

    Pogba wanted to play immediately. It was a difference of opinion.

    Fergie felt like the kid still had lots to learn and needed to develop quietly on the sidelines before being thrown into the first team.

    Pogba wanted to learn it all on the job with the first team. Again not Fergie’s policy. Ferguson plays youngsters when they are ready. If they still have rough patches then he won’t field them in first team action to learn their lessons. Fergie believes they must learn the lessons elsewhere.

    From Fergie’s perspective the kid didn’t want to get in line and wait his turn like all the other players.

    Pogba thought he was a super star already.

    And thats fine. I understand that if you’re a talented footballer you have to believe in yourself.

    Pogba just wasn’t patient enough to let Fergie develop him the way Fergie wanted to.

    It hurt to see him go. But he also wasn’t prepared to commit his whole career to United. If he was then he wouldn’t have left. I thought it was very short sighted of him to leave. If you can’t wait for one more season to get your chance what does that say about your character and mental fortitude?

    Its like Cleverley this season. I was baffled by Ferguson playing Scholes and Giggs ahead of Cleverley and Anderson for the most part of the start of this season.

    But after Cleverley’s up tick in form, since the Manchester derby, I realised Ferguson was holding him back while he continued to develop in training.

    Same goes for Anderson. Cleveryley and Anderson started last season well as a partnership before being derailed by injury. Ferguson hadn’t forgotten that. But they just were not ready to be fielded together like they were last season. Ferguson held them back while they built up their form yet again. Although arguable Anderson was ready from day one.

    It wasn’t an accident that Cleverley was fielded when he was. Ferguson had been watching him develop the whole time. Earlier in the season Cleverley had a few bad games and so to protect him Ferguson pulled him out of first team action while Cleverley finished his homework on the sidelines.

    Thats how Ferguson handles his players. He can’t play everyone all the time and if Pogba can’t handle being developed on the sidelines like Ferguson likes to do then he is the one who didn’t fit with the club.

    Ferguson was too proud to bow to the whims of a kid… is that a crime?

    What was criminal, however, was the sentimental selection of Giggs in midfield when Fergie had other options last season.

    • johnsom33

      December 18, 2012 at 8:47 am

      @The_Philosopher: I could understand if he had to wait one more season for scholes and giggs to retire,that would make sense. But when fergie starts Rafael and Jones in MF before you then there is something else going on. Pogba has already got into the Juve first team 9 times this year. I have a hard time believing he was a worse MF than 19 year old Phil Jones last year, but this year he is good enough to be second choice at Juve behind Pirlo.

      I wouldnt be surprised if fergie was hell bent on trying to teach Pogba a lesson and he took it too far. Watch the highlights for the Bolgna game. Do you honestly think the kid was that far off from the first team? Or was Fergie just hell bent on not caving into the agent?

      The kid just oozes class.

    • Opti

      December 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      @The_Philosopher: If it rains and your policy is not to use an umbrella, you still get wet.

    • tonymontanna4united

      December 19, 2012 at 12:46 am

      @The_Philosopher: Tbh, i just dont buy that pogba was wanting to be a first team player week in week out, and fergie’s refusal was the reason he left. I just think he wanted some football that was above reserve level (which he’d long since outgrown).
      That could have come by way of a loan deal or 10 games here and there, with say 10-15 minute cameos.
      Towards the end of the season, that was actually what pogba was getting, and as such was probably the reason why he was still in 2 minds, and no deal had been done with juventus up until end of may time.
      The thing was, the damage had been done by then, from fergies refusal over the course of the season to give him some game time.
      I mean look at it from pogbas viewpoint. Your head and shoulders above everyone at reserve level, you’ve got everyone singing your praises, the manager even coming out with comments about how one of the reasons the club passed up on sneijder was because they dont want to halt your progress- i mean how exactly are you gonna be feeling?
      Your gonna be absolutely buzzing.
      And yet 3/4 months into the season hes not even being shown enough faith to start in a game at aldershot in the league cup, because we chose to go with that midfield colossus, park ji sung 🙄
      Very much park the winger in cm > pogba “the rising star” in fergies mind.
      And that pretty much continued throughout the season.
      Preferring park and a RB (rafael) over you against a 20th placed team.
      Seeing gibson getting game time over you when everyone knew he was on his way out, so why the need for game time.
      Not even getting on the bench some weeks because we prefer to waste a spot by picking diouf, again a player everyone knew was on his way out.
      I mean, honestly what must you be thinking.
      All he needed was some game time, full stop, and that could quite easily have come by way of a loan for a few months.
      But no, leaving him to grow stale for a season was the way to go obviously.
      At the end of the day, its now ancient history, but it is still something that angers me to this day.
      Im not naive enough to think that money also played its part here, but tbh there are still a number of questionable decisions, that fergie was responsible for here.

      1- Why did we leave his contract to count down. Why, after singing his praises that summer, was his contract not extended. We all knew what a talent he was some 18 months back, and yet we left him on the same contract as the one he had arrived on as a 15 year old?

      2- Why make a bold statement about someone and how their talent was one of the reasons you passed up on a then world class talent like sneijder, when you obviously have no intention of playing him in anything other than reserve outings. Why not keep quiet to avoid looking a little bit bloody silly, and also keeping down unwanted media attention to a minimum.

      3- It was obvious for a long time that pogba had outgrown reserve football- why was he not loaned out? I mean a championship loan for 6 months couldnt have been anything but beneficial surely?

      4- What goes through someones head to pick a by then past it park, and totally inexperienced midfielder in rafael ahead of one of our brightest midfield talents, at home to a team then bottom of the league?

      As i say, its in the past now, but those i just find indefensable.
      In my mind it was just a clear example of fergie showing his continued loyalty to his golden oldies, and for the sake of getting another year or 2 (or 5 as you now start wondering) he was more than willing to lose a young talent or 2.

      • Ian

        December 19, 2012 at 9:11 am

        Tony, how can you outgrow a level of football in less than one season?

        Pogba actually struggled in the reserves to begin with, then improved, then switched off because he wasn’t happy.

        IMO the lad formed an attitude problem thanks to a mixture of not being picked for 1st team games and wanting to play in the 1st team. To be fair, a player desperate to play at the highest level has to be praised for having the *right* attitude, but if he then spits his dummy out when it doesn’t happen – well actually the lad’s got the *wrong* attitude – therefore you can’t blame SAF for not playing him. It was a no win situation in the end for SAF, what message would it send to others if he played him after stropping? He was also asking for more money than anyone else had ever been paid at his age/level.

        He is a good player, he certainly stuck out the year I spent following the U18s in their youth cup year, but managers make decisions and don’t players need to accept that? The manager is the most important person within a football club, Pogba and United just weren’t meant to be…..because of SAF and because of Pogba himself.

        • Ian

          December 19, 2012 at 9:17 am

          And of course – Pogba’s agent

        • tonymontanna4united

          December 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm

          @Ian: Last season by his own standards, without a doubt was a write off for him, but the previous 15 months odd id seen watching him, yes id say he was pretty much head and shoulders above his other team mates, the majority of the opposition (apart from ravel maybe who was blessed with the most natural talent ive seen) to the point where id say he needed the chance to make the step up.
          Now just to get my point across, im not saying, nor was i last season, that it was time he was thrown into the starting line up every week, ending the season with 30 /40 appearances to his name.
          But it was time, he was atleast integrated into the first team squad by way of a dozen or so appearances throughout the season (like welbeck was for example), if anything just to get him noticed and his name in the shop window (for a future loan deal).
          As i said above, in the 2nd half of the season, fergie to be fair to him, did actually start giving him cameos here and there, but by then pogba had already probably realised that he was never going to get a real crack of the whip, not after being passed up in any number of games he should have featured in, and seeing scholes’ return (which everyone knew was going to end up in atleast another 1 year extension in the summer anyway regardless of how well he performed), so he decided to look elsewhere (some would probably say quite rightly too).

          Its all speculation on my part, but i do like to think that had the guy been getting some football above reserve level, he’d still be here by now.
          Again though, that didnt even necessarily have to come with us, but surely he was ready for a short term loan move to a championship club at the very least?
          I mean we only need look at tunnicliffe. I know from talking with you last year, that you rate tunners very highly (as do i), and i remember you saying once that out of the trio of pogba, tunners, and morrison, you reckoned young ryan was the best of the lot, and was the most ready for a chance in the first team.
          But like pogba, that chance is still yet to come. Ok he got 20 mins at chelski and a cameo against newcastle, but whens ryans chance going to come?
          He is another one i am now starting to worry about, ever getting the chance to make the grade.
          Someone who has also now outgrown reserve level football, and now needs to be given his chance to sink or swim. Again that doesnt have to be with us, another loan deal would do, but it is time he is given his chance somewhere.
          And this is my biggest gripe right now, and one of my issues with fergie these days.
          Where he was once so willing to throw players in and give them a chance, he now seems to think that waiting until they are 22 and have been waiting for their chance for 3 years is the way to go.

        • Ian

          December 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm

          did actually start giving him cameos here and there, but by then pogba had already probably realised that he was never going to get a real crack of the whip

          The thing is though mate is it was his own fault stroke attitude that caused him not getting a look in in the first place – before he was ready to get his chance. His refusal to do things he was asked in training was a real problem. He’s also a very big baby when he doesn’t get what he wants both on and off the pitch. Remember the youth cup 1/4 final at Anfield? 1st minute he fanny’s about with the ball on the halfway line, loses it cheaply and to be fair tracks him back all the way to the box but then needlessly trips the player who took the ball off him (and made him look a bit of a twat in the process) when he didn’t need to. He got yellow carded for that. Then he got a 2nd yellow for fannying about with taking a penalty, trying to be a smart arse doing the stop-start routine. Do you remember his childish reaction to the sending off? Took him 2-3 minutes to leave the pitch and even when he did he was flailing his arms and pulling faces that you knew meant he was feeling sorry for himself. And please no one give me that old ‘Gaelic passion’ nonsense, he’s a prima-donna who should’ve wore a fecking blouse and skirt not shorts and socks!

          He was good enough to warrant his chances but unfortunately he wasn’t patient enough and that left SAF with no option. Once the obvious ommissions of him (Blackburn New Yrs Day the most obvious) then there was no way the Pogba/United relationship could work. As for Tunners now outgrowing Reserves football…..are you kidding me? He’s just recently started to look something like he should ie dominating/bossing games. After his loan to Posh he returned overweight and with an attitude of ‘right, I’m Tunners, who the fook are you?’ attitude……that’s gone now and he’s being patient and that’s proving to be a benefit to his game because he’s getting his down and working hard.

          How many players have made their debut’s for United at 16-17? Off the top of my head I’d say Best, Edwards, Giggs, Whiteside. Pogba isn’t in their league mate, these kids need to start washing the first teams boots and cars and being 16-17yrs of age rather than having their own boots washed for them and sharing physio rooms and facilities with the first team, until clubs start to do this again to ‘children’ – no matter how talented they think they are – the sooner players like Pogba will realise that there’s a lot of hard work to do before earning a place in the first team. Problem is, if we asked the youth to wash players boots like they used to have to it would probably be classed as child abuse or an infringement of their human rights! What a load of old shit. There’s a lack of respect at youth level and Pogba and Morrison are examples of it (both for different reasons but both examples).

          Look at those 4 names who made their debut’s at 16-17. What does that tell us? You have to be an exceptional talent to make it then (or even at 18-19). How many CM’s make it by then? Wilshere maybe, other than that there won’t be many down the years. Rooney’s another example but do you think Pogba could’ve done what Rooney did and have the impact Rooney did both at Everton and then with us when he moved here at 18-19? Not a prayer mate, not in my book anyway.

          None of this btw is me saying he isn’t good enough at football and won’t go on to have a good/decent/great career, but at a time he should’ve got his head down, kept his mouth shut and been patient – he acted/talked his way out of the biggest club in the world – for a few extra quid. Muppet.

        • tonymontanna4united

          December 19, 2012 at 4:23 pm

          @Ian: He only started throwing his dummy out of the pram and acting like a bit of a brat after continuously getting passed up every week, even after his manager had been singing his praises and promised him game time just a few months earlier.
          Im not sididng with the millionaire footballer here, but tbh its human nature for anyone that young to get carried away with such praise.
          Personally i just think fergie should have said nothing, if as it was shown, he had no intention of keeping his word and following through on them by giving him some football with the first team.
          Those comments in the end did seem to come back and bite him on the arse, and made him look a bit silly imo.

        • Ian

          December 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm

          You’re missing it mate, the comment about Pogba imo was an attempt to say to him ‘be patient, you’ll get your chance’. But Pogba wasn’t patient.

          The comments did make him look silly but do you really think SAF would’ve said those things had he not meant em? He’s been doing this long enough to know; when you say things like that; you have to do it or – like you say – it’ll bite you on the arse. Therefore it’s obvious something happened after that.

          And why would he keep his word to a petulant little 18yr old prima-donna if he isn’t behaving the way he should?

  22. Jay wire

    December 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    @Johnsom-finally someone who gets it.Last season I made so much noise about Pogba and how Ferguson was screwing up.Its clear now because Juventus midfield is probably 3rd best in Europe yet Pogba has been a big regular in it and is being tipped in Italy to become one of the world’s best just months after rotting away at United.This is a clear indicator that we do have a midfield problem. Ferguson.Our 3 best midfielders over the past 3 seasons are Carrick,Anderson Cleverly,yet only one plays regularly.Whenever we partner them we get good performances.But we rarely play them.We have youngsters like Petrucci making waves in the reserves but like Pogba,thats all they will achieve here.We dont lack quality in midfield,we lack direction.I always state and still bet everything on this.If these 3 become our first choice midfielders,we will not be crying for new signings.Imagine if Pogba had been part of this.Its time Fergie trusts in the right players and stops chopping and changing.

    • RMJ

      December 18, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      @Jay wire: I think our last few games are a testament to what Fergie’s football philosophy is. He prefers that attacks transition from defense to attack bypassing midfield. We saw it against City and Sunderland and Fergie would be content if we played a ball playing central defender instead of a midfielder preferably which he has already done more often than not.

      As for Pogba from what i have seen so far this season, he had couple of moments of brilliance against Bologna but other than that his basic ball distribution is almost pathetic. He is more often played to protect Pirlo and in conjunction with Vidal does this well albeit in a limited fashion. For me, he has got some talent(not like whats being said) but he displays all the terrible qualities you can expect from a midfielder coming through our system. We make good defenders and strikers but are dreadful in this department and I think here too reflects Fergie’s mentality. Fletcher still has this problem and I thank god that Cleverly went to Martinez early on in his career.

      • Redrich

        December 18, 2012 at 9:12 pm

        @RMJ: Yeah what’s all the fuss on Pogba about. He hardly stole the show in the few cameos he had with our first team and yes, he has yet to do anything special at Juve.
        Seems like everyone thinks he’s the big one that got away, and he may well be, but I really don’t know what they’ve watched to make that assessment?
        Just sounds like the Ferguson haters are using this as reason to have another moan!!

  23. Owen

    December 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    That Vidal Guy is probably the best midfielder in Europe right now along with Iniesta and Busquets..

    I hate to say but watching Barca makes me admit Busquets is their most important player after Leo Messi.

    Most Underrated one – Vidal by Miles with Alonso coming second.

    Most Over-rated – Well here Gerrard has no competition. 🙂

  24. Jay wire

    December 18, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Im sorry,do you even watch Serie A?Pogba has been named MoM twice in the league and once in CL.Before the Bologna game you mentioned,he was on fire against Napoli.He was the biggest threat in the Turin derby also.He has been hailed as one of the signings of the season so far.I dont even have to say anything beyond this.Pirlo,Vidal,Marchisio.If you can hit it toe to toe with these guys,then you way beyond good enough.Pogba should have been 1st choice ahead of all our CMs bar MC.Its clear to anyone with functioning eyes.If you have seen him play this season you know he has the ABILITY not potential to break into,even City’s midfield.Forget Chelsea,Arsenal and most definitely United.Thats how high a level he has been playing such that in under 6 months,he has played over twice the time he played for United as Ferguson trusted the likes of Jones,Giggs,Park and freakin Rafael ahead of him,none of which can even dream of playing 60sec in a Juventus midfield.If you dont see a problem there,you never will.

    • Redrich

      December 19, 2012 at 2:11 am

      @Jay wire: His water has flowed under our bridge mate. Maybe one day he’ll make the big time and your gut feeling will be proven right. Frankly I could care less. He tried to hold Ferguson hostage over his wage demands and he, quite rightly, turned him down because of his lack of established playing time.
      It was not to be, but it is juicy grist for the Anti-Fergi mill isn’t it. Perhaps we can lose a few games in a row and then you can be resplendent with more “I told you so” diatribes that actually mean something.

    • RMJ

      December 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      @Jay wire: While I disagree with you in regards to pogba and his quality, I agree with your issue on midfeilders and Fergie and like i said before it is a problem within our club culture as a whole. Our system doesn’t produce good enough midfielders and we ignore the issue in our first team as well and I agree its a serious problem within our coaching hierarchy.

  25. Redrich

    December 19, 2012 at 5:30 am

    Is it actually loyalty to Giggs and Scholes, or is respect to the manner in which they they approach the game and who that might rub off on, more to the case?
    If Ferguson is true to his past years, the idea of playing them to make them feel “needed” or “appreciated”, or the idea that he just doesn’t have the heart to ax them instead of putting forth his best winning effort, seems like science fiction to me.
    There is no better way to bring forth young talent than to have them compete with the best that ever was. Let them learn how to train better and then let them learn how to play better. If they can do that they have earned their boot laces, and at that point I have no question that Fergie will move on to pastures new.

    You just don’t discard the likes of Giggs and Scholes with a gay abandon. Even if you wanted to they would have much to say about it and much to do about it. Old warriors do not die, they just fade away!!

    We, who with the patience of temperamental little brats, need to let them fade away and not seek their final demise.

  26. Owen

    December 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    It is laughable to criticize Fergie for not bowing before an 18 year old guy…These are reasons why United is still not having the culture of Chelsea and City.The treatment was an example for coming generation which Fergie has always used at particular intervals…

  27. AndyCR7

    December 20, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Madrid vs United

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