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Blackburn in no mood for presents on Fergie’s 70th

Blackburn produced arguably the shock of the season so far by defeating Manchester United 3-2 at Old Trafford in an unexpected set back for the champions.

A Dimitar Berbatov brace wasn’t enough to rescue United as goals from Yakubu and Grant Hanley sealed a famous victory for under pressure manager Steve Kean.

On his 70th birthday Ferguson chose Javier Hernandez to partner the in-form Dimitar Berbatov up-front, with a very odd looking midfield featuring Valencia and Welbeck on the wings, with Nani and Park operating through the middle. Carrick and Jones were the makeshifts centre-backs with Rafael and Evra the fullbacks and DeGea in goal.

United, on the back of two consecutive 5-0 wins, started at a very subdued tempo. The game burst into life after 16 minutes, as Berbatov tugged back Samba in the penalty box.

Yakubu made no mistake, sending DeGea the wrong way to give Blackburn a shock lead. 

United twice went agonizingly close to restore parity. After 27 minutes Jones saw his close range shot cleared by a timely clearance from Hanley, then, two minutes leader, Hernandez sent his effort fizzling wide of the far post, with Bunn all but beaten.

Bunn then produced a fine save to deny Nani just before half time and send the teams back to the dressing room with the visitors 1-0 up.

Anderson replaced Hernandez after the break to give United a more familiar 4-4-2 look, with Welbeck moving up-front and Nani shifting out on the left. United’s fans might be growing disillusioned with the Brazilian but, at this time of the season, any player welcomed back from injury is a blessing for Fergie.

Six minutes into the second half Yakubu stunned Old Trafford again as he put Blackburn 2-0 ahead with a compose finish.

Steve Nzonzi’s throw looked unlikely to trouble United’s back four until the big Nigerian pounced on it, shrugging off two challenges before drilling the ball past DeGea.

United were shocked but were quickly back in contention as Dimitar Berbatov headed home from close range after Rafael’s cross had been poorly cleared, to score United’s 1500 Premier League goal.

Berbatov was on the score sheet again six minutes later as he converted Valencia’s cross to score his sixth goal in the last three games. Valencia, again one of United most positive performers, zipped past Henley before squaring the ball back to Berbatov who calmly slotted it home.

Blackburn have dropped 14 points from a winning position this season – more than any other Premier League club – and looked poised to continue their dreadful run.

To their credit though, Kean’s men continue to adopt a brand of fearless attacking football and went close to regain the lead as Hanley got on the end of Pedersen’s cross but saw his effort finishing just wide of DeGea’s post on 74th minute.

Six minutes later Hanley did find the net as he beat DeGea to Pedersen’s corner to head the ball into an empty net and shock the Old Trafford faithful.

United could not stage one of their famous late comebacks and have missed a great chance to go top of the league with City playing away at Sunderland tomorrow.

Defensive frailty seemed to have been an issue of the past for Fergie, but problems have surfaced again. Obviously the absence of a nominal pair of  centre backs is a big issue and Evra has become something of a liability in the past few months – some fans would argue he has been so for a season – and he struggled again today.

The goalkeeper issue is not to be taken lightly either and Fergie might be forced to ditch DeGea for Lindegaard, as the pressure on the young Spaniard grows given the Dane excellent form.

Home form was crucial last season as United celebrated their record breaking 19th title, and they better not lose any more points at Old Trafford from here to the end of the season if they’re to be confirmed champions.

Fergie didn’t get the present he craved and for United fans and players it was an inglorious finish to a superb year.

 

Daniele (@MUFC_dan87)

45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Yang

    31 December 2011 at 20:49

    Nah, We didn’t have center half so team is very venerable at aerial attack since nobody can mark tall opposition players. Center half is so important position that you have great chance to lose the game due to set piece chance.

    We are working on it back five line but it is not yet finished I guess.

  2. Yang

    31 December 2011 at 21:01

    Team really need new wing-back. Evra could do with rest from time to time and One big guy can be very useful against team like Blackburn. You have problem when you ask your striker marking out opposition player at set piece chance.

    De Gea need to be more vocal and communicate with defenders. It seems like they are confused. Does De Gea fluent at English? It will take a while though.

  3. colver

    1 January 2012 at 04:13

    No real need to explain this result. Whenever our defence is missing Vidic or Rio we look vulnerable. Yakubu on his day is as good as any striker in the league and no doubt he smelled blood when he saw Jones and Carrick in centre defence.

    I have no idea what Ferguson was thinking about our midfield. In defence our hand was forced. But he could have done a better job with our midfield. Ferguson must be regretting not making more of an effort to blood Pogba in the domestic cups as he could have slotted into our midfield today and helped us a lot. Also I have no idea why we rested Rooney. He can do a job for us in midfield.

    All I can say is that only Manchester United manages to have four central defenders and four central midfielders missing. No other team in the world gets these sort of crazy injury crises.

    And these recurrent injury crises are only really a feature of the last five years or so.

    Someone explain what is behind all of this

    • RedDevilEddy

      1 January 2012 at 10:12

      @colver: I can’t write my usual tactical analysis as I didn’t get a good look of the game, I haven’t been able to do my usual “watch-it-afterwards-so-the-heat-of-the-moment-doesn’t-affect-you” kinda thing so this one will stay out.

      But I can give some reactions!

      We lost this game because of our defence, simply put. We created enough chances to win, and we actually looked good when we went forward against Blackburn. Nani wasn’t his usual self and when he doesn’t have a good day we all see how it affects us. It was even more costly given how we had Welbeck on the left in the first half, meaning we only got width on our right. We need width on both flanks for opponents to suffer, or at least genuinley fear us, and give them THAT and our defence and I’m not too surprised Blackburn were confident. Welbeck is good as a roaming striker, but as a left winger he isn’t what you can expect at this club. I mean he’s got skill and pace, but he’s not the natural “ghost past your opposition” kinda player and he is too willing to get involved in the game to play out wide. He can’t cross either, so starting him on the left is totally dumbfounded if you ask me. If I was Fergie I’d go with Welbeck in midfield together with Rafa, and Park on the left. At least I’d give us some natural flow! 🙄

      You win or lose a game based on your strikers and defence, but whether you dominate a team or not is decided by the midfield. To be honest, we totally dominated Blackburn, especially in the second half. I felt Rafa and Park did a good job, then Anderson was magnificent when he came on. Pushing Valencia up gave us a threat on both flanks, and we saw how that turned out. We need width on both, and we created more than enough chances to score plenty. But this game was lost in defence, and when you make errors like that in the Premier League you will be punished. Stoke, City, Basel and Benfica have punished us for defensive errors this season, and now Blackburn joined the list. A stupid as fuck penalty to give away, Carrick sliding in on Yakubu when passing it to Jones or De Gea would have been a more natural choice, and when De Gea makes his best Roy Carroll impression, you can’t win the game. One of those mistakes would be criminal, what can you say about 3 in one game?? It’s incredible, but to be fair it’s not surprising.

      Our currently best winger started on right back, our best midfielder started in defence, the most attacking centre back in the League started next to him, and we’ve got a pretty off-form/shite player on the other full-back. Play those 4 in front of a 21 year old keeper with the world on his shoulders, people waiting for his every mistake while still trying to fit into a new country/environment, and that is what you get!! I’m all for going attacking, but you seriously can’t win football matches when your defence plays like that. Criminal!

      We created more than enough chances to win though, so I won’t blame THAT nor the midfield too much. Will Keane and Chicharito both blocked shots on the line, Jones headed just wide, Valencia fired just over and Evra, Welbeck, Jones and Dimi all had great chances to score. Our attack is alright, no doubt about that, but our defence looks shit and despite injuries forcing Fergie’s hand he should have been smarter. The defence I would have gone for would have been:

      Lindegaard
      Rafael Carrick Fryers Evra

      Lindegaard has experience and is a real tough nut, a mental cookie that would have screamed his head off if anyone had just let an opponent have a shot on goal. De Gea is too soft just now, so Lindegaard would have been a more natural choice. Oh, and start Fryers! At least he knows how to defend, Jones has seeminly forgotten how that is done…

      • Craig Mc

        2 January 2012 at 02:03

        @RedDevilEddy: Sir Ferg should stop pissing around with his positioning of players – Nani should have played Lt Wing – Valencia Rt Wing, Welbeck in just behind strikers with Park and Giggsy on the field. Fryers in natural CH position with Carrick and Jones in front of back 4. Anderson looked very fresh when he came on, and maybe he could have been in from start with Giggsy coming on later. When Fergie finally clicked on and moved Valencia to Rt wing and Rafael to natural RB position we were STEAMING – so I put most blame down to Fergie for his square peg round holes which wasn’t necessary, and to FUMBLER De Gea who gave away goals to B’Burn as Christmas gifts!

    • Stephen

      1 January 2012 at 11:10

      @colver: No one can mate, he made a total fuck up. De Gea should be loaned out for the rest of the season and Lindegaard should be our number one, it is obvious.

  4. RedDevilEddy

    1 January 2012 at 09:52

    Let’s make 2012 our bitch! 😈

  5. Traverse

    1 January 2012 at 13:50

    We played our best CM pairing this season at CB. That’s why we lost. No midfield, again. Same old story we’ve been dealing with for 3 years. A CM pairing of Rafael & Park is embarrassing, and we got what we deserved.

    Anderson was good when he came on I thought, added some pace and energy in the middle. If he was playing with Carrick in CM then we’d have probably been all right.

    What’s more worrying is that it looked like a deliberate thing to put Berbatov on Yakubu instead of Jones. Jones was clearly not 100% but still he was our best defender on the pitch, stick him on the big man! No wonder Berbatov pulled him over for the penalty, he’s not a bloody defender.

    What was he even doing back there? We set up like a team full of players who didn’t know what position they were meant to be playing. Couple that with the usual ‘United at OT is our cup final ,lets play better than any other game of the season’ syndrome and we’ve given Citeh a great boost to moral. Great.

    Who wants to bet they murder Sunderland?

    • RedDevilEddy

      1 January 2012 at 14:32

      @Traverse: Fergie admitted after the Wigan game that Berbatov started because he needed height for defensive set-plays, and to be fair our team against Blackburn was full of midgets. Welbeck and Berba must have been the tallest men on the pitch? Berba on Yakubu and Welbz on Samba, don’t forget that Jones is actually pretty short for a centre-back!

      • Craig Mc

        2 January 2012 at 01:48

        @RedDevilEddy: Welbeck should NEVER and I mean NEVER get stuck out on the wing, because he is useless there, and one only had to look at his lack of contribution in the B’Burn game to see that. Nani mi man – WTF is the new hair style and the letter N stuck in the middle. We know your name begins with N – but most fans country wide think the N stands for NUMPTEE as it is oh so ridiculous Mr Nani! 🙄 🙄 🙄

        • RedDevilEddy

          2 January 2012 at 17:53

          @Craig Mc: Must be going to the same hairdresser as Balotelli

        • Craig Mc

          2 January 2012 at 18:29

          @RedDevilEddy: 😆 😆 😆 😆 – Do you think we will see him with a ciggie stuck in his mouth next – a la Balotelli 😉

        • RedDevilEddy

          2 January 2012 at 20:40

          @Craig Mc: I doubt it mate, after all he isn’t as cool as “The Berb” just yet 😉

          I miss his fireworks though, I thought with it being new years eve he would be dazzling! Need him back to form, he’s been poor against both Wigan and Blackburn now. 🙁 Maybe he needs a rest, seriously can’t remember the last game he stood out. Hopefully we’ll have our defence back and can rest him against Newcastle, we need him for City!

        • Craig Mc

          2 January 2012 at 23:42

          @RedDevilEddy: You can’t remember the last game he stood out – then you have a very SHORT memory – tut tut! Think TWO assists and TWO GOALS!

        • RedDevilEddy

          3 January 2012 at 00:22

          @Craig Mc: Misspelled it mate, I apologize! 😆 😆 My head must have been somewhere else, what I meant to say is that I’m surprised he went from totally amazing against Basel, Wolves, QPR and Fulham, only to be one of the worst on the pitch against Wigan and Blackburn! It’s odd really, he seemed to have gotten his consistency sorted. 😕 I just hope that tiredness is the only factor, we really need him in top form again!

        • Craig Mc

          3 January 2012 at 02:11

          @RedDevilEddy: You should watch the Wigan game again – he was well above average in that game. The B’Burn game I will give you – wasn’t one of his best, but his head didn’t go down, and when he lost the ball he did he chased it down and oft regained possession. His passes did keep falling short of target though, and his shooting hit most of the lads in the Stretford End instead of the goal 😆 😆 😆

        • RedDevilEddy

          3 January 2012 at 02:23

          @Craig Mc: I actually felt he was pretty poor against Wigan as well. It was the kind of game that was made for him, but he really dissapointed. I’ll give him one thing though, his team-work is massivly underrated. His movement created tons of space for Valencia against both Fulham and Wigan, a really unselfish behaviour that is rare to find in such a brilliant individual. He did that pretty well against Blackburn as well, he got into great positions and created space for Evra especially in the second half.

          But that’s really the thing that surprises me. His overall team-game has been brilliant, but his individualism has faltered a little the past two games. It’s odd! Really odd. He’s been a real team-player the last two years, but he’s improved massivly in that department this season. But his individual game has gone a little off the boil, he had a pretty quiet period between October and late November and now again for two games. Of course it’s too early to say if it’ll last as long, I definately hope not!, but I think all this rotation makes it difficult for him. Every player that bleeds for the team will suffer when it gets fucked with every game. He’s had to play with Smalling, Valencia, Evra, Park, Rafael and even Fryers in just the past three games, covering for them and basing his runs on their movement. Squad rotation seems to hurt him more than anyone, so I think this is a definate factor.

          And he needs a rest! 😆 The last game he stood out was the Everton game way back in October, I know he wants to play every game and everyone wants to see him on the team-sheet, but for his own sake he should get a game off. I’d rather have him sit out Newcastle’s game and be fresh for the City encounter rather than the other way around, but we’ll see! 😀 Go on Lil Man

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      4 January 2012 at 06:29

      @Traverse: you mean Samba right?

  6. colver

    1 January 2012 at 14:47

    Yeah psychologically it would have been great for us to finish the year on top of the league (even if technically City would have a game in hand). We blew that chance.

    Stephen, what central defence would you have gone with? It is nonsensical that Rio, Vidic, Smalling, Evans were all out. I guess we could have gone with Fryers or one of our youngsters. I agree it would have helped a lot to have Carrick in midfield. I also think we screwed up not blooding Pogba earlier in the season so he could step in at a time like this.

    Ultimately I’d prefer an inexperienced player in his natural position than an experienced player completely out of position but Ferguson does not seem to see it that way.

    If I could have picked the team last night I would have gone with:

    Lindegaard-Rafael, Jones, Fryers, Evra-Valencia, Carrick, Park, Nani-Welbeck, Berbatov

    Every single player in that team is playing in position (Park plays CAM for his national team)

    We would have still been bullied by Yakubu and their defenders at set pieces but Lindegaard is much better in the air and Carrick would have helped us control the game and shield the defence a lot more as well as keeping Blackburn on the backfoot.

    But with Rio close to retirement and Vidic out I am very worried at our lack of height and strength in defence.

  7. Craig Mc

    1 January 2012 at 17:00

    How the fook did City lose that game – DONE IN THE LAST MINUTE – 😆 😆 😆 😆 . Oh if only I was confident that we can do Newcastle – but unless we get defenders back – I fear the worst, while hoping for the best, WTF is going on with Rooney – in Fergie’s doghouse, but I don’t care Fergie if Rooney was FIT he should have played! Discipline him in some other way not at the teams cost – if that indeed was the case!

  8. BabyFace

    1 January 2012 at 18:31

    We love you Sunderland, we do…

  9. RedThru

    1 January 2012 at 20:02

    Yeah, injuries in defence and midfield are a disaster. But you have to wonder if Fergie has lost it. Look at Arsenal, they have all five of their full backs injured and still manage clean sheets. We paid 20M for that Tosser De Gea and they get that Polish guy for nothing and he’s brilliant. And they’re missing their two best midfield players with Wilshere and Diaby out and they’re still climbing the table without Fabregas and Nasri. Maybe we should try to get Wenger when Fergie goes?

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      4 January 2012 at 06:30

      @RedThru: they’re playing an easy patch of games… let us at them and we will expose their frailty.

  10. Yang

    1 January 2012 at 20:08

    Big let off ;). SAF didn’t have much choice but choosing that CM pair. Need to recruit temporary CB otherwise we can consider title going to city. I think that it is difficult to bring in CB so just pray that we get some luck until Rio comeback.

  11. colver

    1 January 2012 at 21:32

    We are lucky Manchester City lost. Still I would have preferred to be three points clear at the beginning of the year.

    With Anderson back and Cleverly soon to return and Carrick fit we have enough midfielders now to survive till the summer.

    But as none of our central defenders can stay fit we really need to buy a central defender in January as a matter of urgency. I never want to see Carrick wasted in central defence and I am much happier seeing Jones either in midfield or at right back, never as a central defender.

    • Stephen

      2 January 2012 at 12:26

      @colver: Colver, I think Jones’s best position is centre back, for me he will be United and England captain playing there in 5 years time. He has the ability to play anywhere but for me he is a natural defender,

  12. Craig Mc

    2 January 2012 at 01:51

    Trav – did you hear anything around Carrington as to whether any of our FB’s are fit enough to return for the N’Castle game??? I heard that Rio and Smalling may make it – did you get any knowledge regarding this mate?

  13. Craig Mc

    2 January 2012 at 01:53

    Jones so bloody unlucky not to get an equaliser for us against B’Burn – Will Keane lying prostrate – the dozy git – stopped Jonesy shot on the line!

  14. godzilla

    2 January 2012 at 09:45

    haha…i found that actually funny while watching the game. Jones shouldve got 2, Hernandez came in way for one in the first half i think and then the keane guy! Jones shouldve punched both of them! 😀

    So relieved City lost though. Gives us a ray of hope.

  15. Spizzy

    2 January 2012 at 10:45

    We really shouldnt win shit,what with the 6-1, out of europe n now blackburn,but with fergie in the helm i wouldnt bet against a PL n FA double.
    But i have to point out fergie’s willingness to accept defeat as a concern. Is the fire still burning? Is he trying to prove a point,that you dont need superstars to make a winning team? I hope it’s the latter.

  16. Gabriel

    2 January 2012 at 11:06

    Macheda joins QPR on loan for rest of season. Right team for him, technically sound players/coaches, hopefully they teach him how to control a ball; should probably send hernandez down on the weekends as well 😛

    http://football365.com/news/21554/7406080/Mach-speeds-in-for-Rangers-loan

  17. colver

    2 January 2012 at 14:20

    Stephen, I dunno man. For a natural defender he sure likes to spend a lot of time out of position. Some may enjoy his forays forward. But I would rather he stayed in central defence when he plays there and focused on keeping clean sheets.

    Also it is concerning that he is vulnerable in the air. In the modern game especially in the Premiership the best defenders are well over six foot. Rio and Vidic are both 6 foot 2. Gerard Pique is 6 foot 4 (and I have no idea why we let him go!). Chris Smalling is 6 foot 4. Even Johnny Evans is 6 foot 2.

    It is not an insurmountable obstacle. As he can work on his jumping and timing. But it will require a lot of work and until then I am sure other Premier League teams will take advantage at set pieces and so on.

    • Eddie Griffin

      2 January 2012 at 17:40

      @colver: If Pique hadn’t left when he did, he’d have left the summer after, or the summer after that, or the summer after that. He’d be where he is now. My only wish is that United had been able to get more from Barcelona for him, considering how he’s gone on to do so much for club and country.

    • RedDevilEddy

      2 January 2012 at 18:16

      @colver: Jones reminds me of a winger playing in central defence. Really! Positioning is shit and he always tries to get in situations where he can use his pace, and when United have the ball he is too eager to get forward. It’s not his duty really, look at the second goal we conceded. He made it difficult for Carrick there, had he been more defensive and just been 2 yards closer to De Gea and it would have been much easier to play us out. It’s easy to forget he is 19, and to be fair he is too good a footballer to play in central defence at the moment. As soon as he gains experience he’ll be a great centre back, just don’t think he’s quite ready yet.

  18. RedDevilEddy

    3 January 2012 at 02:25

    So Rooney has missed “a couple of training sessions” the past few weeks, no wonder he hasn’t played any of the last two games! It’s not like he’s been injured as well, at least I don’t think so, and to be honest despite scoring a great goal away to Fulham, that must have been his worst game all season! 😕 Get your head right Wazza!

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      4 January 2012 at 06:32

      @RedDevilEddy: Rooney is white trash……. a Gascoigne in disguise… watch him retire early from football, get fat, and hit his women…

      I AM VERY DISAPPOINTED WITH MR. ROONEY! Shameful act…

      • Stephen

        4 January 2012 at 11:23

        @[OPTI]Madschester United:With supporters like you mate, who need rivals….. 🙄

        • [OPTI]Madschester United

          4 January 2012 at 19:30

          @Stephen: I support him a United shirt…but I don’t support his thrashy acts outside the pitch (contract+cheating+missing practice).

          I mean, he purposefully acted in a way that made him sit out of a game (or two) during crunch-time of the season — DOES ROONEY SUPPORT UNITED?????

          United > Rooney

        • Stephen

          4 January 2012 at 19:35

          @[OPTI]Madschester United: Giggs, Evra, Ferdinand, Nani have all cheated on their wives/girlfriends, Keane behaved poorly when his contract was up, Anderson is an awful trainer….. Rooney is no angel but really, are many players? He was dropped for Blackburn I doubt he didn’t want to play.. He also did not miss training, Fergie felt he trained poorly, but lets not get facts in the way of YET another Rooney bash should we? 🙄

        • [OPTI]Madschester United

          4 January 2012 at 19:46

          @Stephen: then why was he fined?

          Also, rooney did what ALL those players did during their career — combined. But let’s not get carried away.

          You love Rooney, I think he is a great player with massive family/personal issues that are detrimental to the team in the long term.

          He will be off to Madrid in a year or two…

        • Stephen

          5 January 2012 at 11:04

          @[OPTI]Madschester United: Trust me mate I don’t love Rooney anymore than any other United player. Calling him “White Trash” 😳 is unfair mate, yes is is a working class lad, like Rio and many others. His personal life has settled down, so speculating about things which are unfounded is fruitless and simply stupid mate.
          Also he would more likely sign for City than Real, he couldn’t handle playing abroad.
          I support all United players…

      • Stephen

        4 January 2012 at 11:24

        @[OPTI]Madschester United: With supporters like you mate, who need rivals….. 😯

        • RedDevilEddy

          4 January 2012 at 11:40

          @Stephen: Chelsea and City apparantley, they’ve been that way for as long as I can remember!

  19. AndyCR7

    4 January 2012 at 19:08

    Lindegaard
    Valencia, Jones, Ferdinand, Evra
    Nani, Carrick, Giggs, Park
    Rooney, Berbatov

    Subs: De Gea, Anderson, Hernandez, Welbeck, Rafael, Pogba Lingard

  20. Traverse

    4 January 2012 at 19:10

    Team News

    Lindegaard
    Valencia Jones Ferdinand Evra
    Nani Carrick Giggs Park
    Rooney Berbatov

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