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Closing Thoughts on the FA Cup Semi Final and Looking Ahead

I haven’t actually written a match report on this but there was a pseudo report yesterday when Stephen Darwin wrote on Berbatov which also sparked off heated debate on his value.

I’ll try to touch on some of the things I didn’t talk about in the comments over the past couple of days.

The main issue that’s perhaps divided a lot of fans was team selection. Fergie has been criticised for picking a side with four teenagers and resting a huge chunk of our first team players. This has upset a lot of fans because they felt Ferguson had a responsibility towards the paying public and he had to field a strong side that could win.

Whilst I was surprised with the team selection when it came to fielding the twins at the same time, and handing both Macheda and Welbeck starts, I was actually looking forward to our young stars turn up for the game to see if they could cut it.

And I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really disappointed with either of the da Silvas or Macheda or Welbeck. They all showed enough desire and promise that was lacking in some other senior stars in the side. Ferguson sees these players in the training ground everyday and I suppose playing these boys in the big game against one of the better sides in England means he really trusts their abilities.

Did he take it easy in the cup? Well, if not having Rooney or Ronaldo on the bench is any indicator, the answer is yes, he did take it easy. But is he cheating the fans for fielding a weak team? Well that is open to debate.

It was a fact he clearly acknowledged in pre-game, which means he recognized that his selection may not have satisfied many fans. But what often many fans tend to ignore in the heat of the moment or perhaps justifiably in the midst of having spent a fortune to travel to the game, is the big picture. Ask most United fans to decide between winning the FA Cup or conceding the league title to Liverpool (thus letting them get to 19 titles) and you’ll get a stare like you don’t understand football.

Fergie’s decision was made on the grounds of pragmatism; United were going to be playing almost every three days for the next few weeks. If there was any time to make use of its squad, it was now. The league takes priority any day, and preventing Liverpool from taking the honours (and going level with them) makes this title all the more important. To hell with the FA Cup! (As blasphemous as that might sound to a lot of fans who spent a good part of the 70s, 80s, and even the 90s, bathed in the glory/romance/prestige of the FA Cup.) It was a hard decision to make, and really, we were one penalty call — even Moyes and Jagielka later admitted was penalty — away from going through to the finals. Had we done that, it would be interesting to see the tune sung in the media and sections of fans.

But if I had one selection concern, it was in the non-selection of Nani. When he seems so obviously not in Fergie’s plans for a first team slot in the league, the FA Cup could have been a nice place to throw him in. His delivery gives good service to our young forwards who stayed in the box more often than some other senior strikers in our side, who will not be named. Welbeck was wasted in a wide position when he could have better worked alongside Macheda up front. Although, for all Welbeck’s efforts, I feel his footwork seems very ungainly and indecisive for a striker.

Another player much understated for his performance was Darron Gibson, who more than held his own on the pitch.

What I don’t understand is the amount of stick Fergie got for this when managers like Wenger get hailed for their bravery to field young stars in the FA and League cups. While sections of media have questioned Wenger’s tendencies to pick young sides, by and large, fans and a good majority of the pundits have been gushing in praise and admiration for the French manager. It just seems all to convenient to link Fergie’s rant on Rafa’s arrogance with his fielding a weakened side. A part of the blame, of course, would have to go to Fergie himself for making such an unnecessarily, pointless rant.

Moving on, Liverpool play Arsenal today. We all know where our loyalties for the day lie. Keep your pins and Liverpool voodoo doll — if not a tranny Torres doll — ready. But I don’t trust Arsenal to do it. They are also missing Adebayor and van Persie with Easter Island Head having to play central defence. Looks doomed from the outset, but let’s hope they manage to snatch a draw to give us more breathing space.

Tomorrow we play Portsmouth. If Liverpool win today, they’ll once again put pressure on us. Our job, in theory, is quite simple: win next game, move on to next game, also win that game, repeat till end of season, take trophy home, get drunk with joy, enjoy the summer, declare desire to play for Madrid.

Meanwhile, the Guardian has an interview with the da Silva twins up. I must admit, I didn’t know Fabio was already married. Jeez! I feel so old.

Also, I must inform you that I was casually trawling through some youtube videos, and came across the Ronaldo screamer against Porto. I encountered a comment that was really eye opening, and I shared it on my twitter account with my twitter followers. So I thought it only fair that I also share it with my readers.

God and Man

I spent the next hour trying to put my puny brain to test. I came to the conclusion that since this was under a video that displays a glorious Ronaldo goal, it refers to Ronaldo as God. So I take that this means Ronaldo the God, tries to talk to man. Which seems quite plausible.

So let me try to explain some of those lines to lend it some context.

Speaks the Kings English […] my land of David of England.

If people in London speak the Queen’s English, I can only assume the proud northerners/Mancunians/foreigners, in a show of defiance, would choose to speak the King’s English. The usage of the word king, however, remains hazy. It may refer to a king Cantona that ruled England in the 90s A.D, to whom God, Ronaldo, is being compared with. Land of David England could refer to another Manchester United player, who captained England and has the last name Beckham.

The second paragraph talks about sins which could be cynical tackling from defenders or temptations faced by God himself, in the form of Real Madrid, that’s a part of the axis of evil.

I am not a man drop the he

Now this is tricky. It could mean, he is not he-man referring to his humility, or that he can’t score 42 goals every season. Or perhaps, he’s not even a man, in literal terms. But in literature as dense as this, that is highly unlikely, however much his sweat pants try to convince us otherwise.

I am Creator Life

Little doubts over that, I am sure.




  1. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 09:24

    @Red Ranter: Correct but despite all that, in the final moments they actually won the game. Take a look at the goal if you have a chance and better yet if you recorded it. I froze it right at the moment the pass is being made and Fabregas is even with the player and the grass line shows it well too. More may be made of it if we end up losing the league on goal difference or buy one point. I never noticed it myself the first time but watching it afterwards I was able to slow it down and pause it and it really upset me. Liverpool get all the breaks at Anfield. It’s unfuckingvbelievable. 🙄

  2. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 09:27

    @Darth Red Diablo: Sorry mate, Homey don’t play that. I am not a blind and conformist follower. I was given a heart and soul but above all I was given a mind to question and ask questions. I do not blindly follow as I am not a member of the sheep family. Fergie has pissed me off this season more times than in twenty years he has manged the team before this season. Will I turn on the team? Never but I am not happy with the direction the team is taking and the change of attitude and direction the Boss is taking the team. Consider me a rebel with a cause.

  3. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 09:31

    @johnsom33: Buying any player is a leap of faith. Playing a 36 year old Giggs or a 34 year old Scholes is a leap of faith. I seriously doubt that a talent like Arshavin’s is that much of a leap. He is as world class as Aguero, Messi and Ribery. He is in the top tier of world talent, not in the second tier that is much more risky.

    And yes I do feel vindicated but most of all I feel pissed off because the team I love teased me with these two player but never really had them in mind. Instead we settled for a mistake. And you know who I am talking about. A player I really like but a player Is till feel was much more of a risk than Huntelaar would ever have been.

  4. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 09:33

    @Dan: Yes Dan, you are batting .000 right now, might as well stay consistent. You keep your Huntelaar thing going. As if you haven’t already been proven wrong on that one too. Oh Yeah, I forgot, La Liga is shit in your eyes. 🙄 😛 Honestly mate, where do you come up with your theories?

  5. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 09:37

    @johnsom33: What really bothers me is that despite the league he scores in, Dan never takes into account the quality of his goals. The skill required to score many of his goals is world class and is the same no matter how bad the competition is. A bicycle kick goal from ten yards out that catches the top corner is the same thing in any league, as is a 30 yard thunder strike that catches the corner and is impossible for a great keeper yet alone a crap keeper to stop. This is the nature of many of the Hunter’s goals. He is quite simply incredible.

  6. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 09:41

    @johnsom33: I still stand by Berbatov. I think he is a very good and classy player but his style is not suited for us. He actually would have fit in well with us two years ago when we were much more run and gun. It’s not Berba’s fault entirely but his confidence has been shaken and as his slump got bigger and bigger, his fear and unwillingness to take chances and shoot the ball or turn on a dime and let one go has suffered. He is a shadow of the player he is capable of being. This is 90% Fergie’s fault and it’s a shame. None of us expected the team to fall into the gutter of Italian Cattenacio this season like we have. I’m sure Berba has severe second thoughts about choosing us. He has been betrayed by Fergie as well.

    And Scholes would not have gotten in Arshavin’s way. He would most likely have played wide where Park and Nani play.

  7. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 09:54

    @Jon: Zhirkov is actually left midfield player and a winger. Hiddink used him as a LWB in the EUROS and that was a strategic plan that worked well. Zhirkov is a great dribbler and excellent overlap player who can deliver great crosses, corners and even free kicks. A real delight to watch. Do not be shocked if you see him playing for Chelsea next season instead of Malouda. Especially if Hiddink stays.

    As for Pavlyuchenko, I have always like this player’s aggressiveness. Yes he can squander chances but you have to love the fact that he is not gun shy and that he has been known to have double digit shots at goal in a game. In his last game against United he had more shots on goal than all of United had at the Spurs goal. I think that says a lot about him as well as a lot about us. He also has a very hard shot and likes to keep the ball low. I like strikers who keep the ball low because low shots are tougher to stop for keepers. When was the last time you ever saw Tevez score with a low shot? Pavel Pogrebnyak of Zenit is also not that far behind Pavlyuchenko in talent. A real poacher.

    As for Fergie, I’m sorry but I have lost faith in the man regardless of what we win. I feel he has sold everything this team stands for down the river for his selfish personal gains. He will leave this team in shambles when he leaves without having found proper replacements for our older players and he has left us playing a style of play that is just not tolerable to a true United fan who knows better. I refuse to pander to him out of respect. He has pissed me off and i for one have the balls to stand up and call him out. Some might say that’s easy for mew to talk like that on a blog but by doing so, I am incurring the anger and wrath of many die hard supporters who follow Fergie and jump when he says jump. I stand by what I say. I admire the man and respect him for all he has done but I am also a believer of the old saying “What have you done for us lately?” And I for one am not impressed with what he’s done for us lately. I have been bored to death for an entire season and I am sick of it.

  8. phoenix red

    22 April 2009 at 11:01

    @Grognard: ABU BOLLOX

  9. colver

    22 April 2009 at 11:24

    RedRanter I think you can add to Fergie’s criteria: played a blinder in a one-off game against us. But in general I think it is an accurate description of Fergies transfer strategy.

    But Im starting to question Fergie’s strategy and I think it needs revision.

    We play very differently from the typical English team. I think that explains why Berbatov who was great for Tottenham, is so indifferent for us. So for that reason I don’t think England is the hunting ground it used to be for us.

    What we need to look for is players who fit into our system. Fergie has a tendency to go for players he fancies, without any regard of what they will add to our team. Veron and Berbatov are typical examples.

    Im all for developing youth. But the problem is that there is a youth premium. If a player is a decent standard by 20 and displays “potential” clubs automatically demand a fee for 20 million, even though “potential” does not always translate into developing into a good player. Nani and Anderson are classic examples. We got lucky with Ronaldo.

    Id rather go for players who are good at 23 or so and have the potential to become world class. Ribery a few years ago would have been a perfect buy.

    If we are going for young players Id rather we got ones that were dirt cheap such as the twins, Macheda etc. That way it is win win. If they don’t develop as planned we can sell them for a few million. If they do we save a ton of money. Spending 35 million on Anderson and Nani was crazy.

    Every signing is a risk. But when we go for what Fergie thinks are “sure things”, we get hit with a 10-15 million premium. Then if the signing doesn’t pay off we get mud on our face.

  10. Craig Mc

    22 April 2009 at 15:20

    @Grognard: I agree Grog totally with this post, AND although you and I are saying it on a United blog, that is what Blogs are for to state your opinion. I would like to say though, that what I say on here, I would not BE AFRAID to say to Fergie’s face, no matter how much he pouted. Neither I suspect would you Grog.

  11. Craig Mc

    22 April 2009 at 15:21

    @phoenix red: Phoenix Bro, I don’t think that’s a fair comment Bro! 🙂 .

  12. Craig Mc

    22 April 2009 at 15:36

    @johnsom33: Held accountable for all his decisions – I fucking wish. He is answerable to no fucker, and I am surprised you don’t know that. As for Grog having differing opinions on players, according to form, input, or whether they have gone backwards and forwards SO WHAT. You are not trying to say that you are consistently constant on all your thoughts on players on players? That your opinions on anyone, anything doesn’t change? Because you must be the only person in the world who is, if that is the case, and the same kind of monotomy as our monotomous football this season.

  13. phoenix red

    22 April 2009 at 15:37

    @Craig Mc: Well, i disagree Bro. I’m sick of reading Anti United Bias Bullshit. Although i might agree with some of the points raised, the tone of the article is ABU 👿

  14. Craig Mc

    22 April 2009 at 15:45

    @Red Ranter: Wowzer 😯 😆 , I see I’m not the only one who is all FIRED up with passion and lets it all hang out at times 😆 . Nothing like a good THUNDERING rant to bring about a marvelous relief from built up tensions – A GREAT RELIEF 😆 . You keep the thunder coming, I love a good storm.

  15. Red Ranter

    22 April 2009 at 15:49

    @Grognard: I saw the whole game live.

  16. Craig Mc

    22 April 2009 at 15:50

    @phoenix red: 😆 😆 😆 , but its great Phoenix Bro, and hard to get out of a storm to shelter sometimes. Some people like to stay under cover Bro, but some like to GIVE IT SOME WELLIE 😆 . Your e feckin great Irishman, you know what I mean. But I respect that you do your own bit of ranting, and it makes things very interesting. Come on you Irishmen 😆 . That’s my excuse for the fire in my belly, grandparents as Irish and patriotic as they come, yet Grandad was an out and out Orangeman and Grannie a Catholic. You can imagine the boxing bouts in their home can’t you? 😆 😆 .

  17. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 17:10

    @phoenix red: Hey, I didn’t write it. Don’t shoot the messenger, even if he sort of agrees with it. 😀

  18. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 17:20

    @Craig Mc: Absolutely mate. I have respected and loved Fergie for two decades but he is not blood nor does he even know I exist. So if the opportunity came to tell him just what I think of this year’s team and the way he has run it, I’d give him a royal piece of my mind. I’d shake the Sir right out of his name. Honestly, he reminds me of a cynical and bitter employee at a car factory who one day says I am going to sabotage the whole production line by breaking the conveyor belt.

    He has lost the plot and has turned our beloved team which he originally turned into a thing of beauty, into an ugly, unattractive waste of time. And I feel sorry for thse who can’t see two feet in front of them and who tolerate his billshit and garbage. It’s bad enough when employees and the media pander to him, but when paying supporters who have been ripped off royally this year pander to him, that is the last straw. I don’t care if we are up for a quadrupkle of trophies. Even if we win the Champions League and the EPL, it will have been one the Italian way and not the United way. And that for me is a sickening feeling. I may be in the small majority on this but it has never been just about winning. It’s been about entertaining attacking football and holding our heads up high with pride. Today I have to make excuses for how poorly we play and how ugly we look in the process. When Liverpool and Chelsea play more exciting and attractive football than us. Did you ever think you would see the day? To see Liverpool…..FUCKING Liverpool score at least 4 goals in 6 of their last 8 games, it makes me sick to know that we struggle to score 1 goal a game. Ah Bollocks! Sorry Bro, just feeling really upset, especially with the Arshavin thing. What might have been had the grognard been listened to. I know, I need a stiff drink of reality cider. 😀

  19. Red Ranter

    22 April 2009 at 17:30

    @Craig Mc: Exactly. Finally you agree with me! If someone has to be criticised, a blog is the best place to do it. To hell with ‘a time and place for everything’ and ‘some United players read this blog’ then, eh? 😀

    Don’t worry, I know you want to let out steam on the players, that’s the craig I know 😀

  20. Craig Mc

    22 April 2009 at 18:49

    @Red Ranter: Now Now RR, don’t be a disbelieving minnie, the players do read this blog, and I’m sure about that. As for the time and place for everything, I still believe that when we play THE TEAM, but we didn’t for the FA cup did we 😆 ?

  21. Craig Mc

    22 April 2009 at 18:53

    @Grognard: My Gosh Grog, imagine if those scousers buy a great defence in the summer, that is one scary thought mate, because that is where they have LOST the PL this season, if indeed they do lose out 😯 .

  22. phoenix red

    23 April 2009 at 13:15

    @Grognard: Just saw your reply, over the years Grog, Fergie has had many detractors, especially in the press, so forgive me if i dont greet an article like this with the same enthusiasm that you do. To me its disguised ABU Bullshit,thats how i and i’m sure many other United fans will interpret it. This by the way, doesn’t mean we’re SHEEP.
    Know who Sam Wallace is, a fucking Scouse cunt who helped Peter Crouch do his autobiography! So i wont be quoting any of his Scouse Bile to make an arguement. You might be pissed off at Fergie for his brand of football at the moment, but be carefull who you get into bed with 👿

  23. phoenix red

    23 April 2009 at 13:25

    @Craig Mc: So the Peace Process started early in your family Bro, and the dividends speak for themselves, namely Yourself! My family has a very proud Ulster heritage for over 2000 years, so i obviously have a soft spot for everything ULSTER, all of it by the way 😀 all 9 counties! not just the 6 that were robbed off us 😆

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