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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. Darth Red Diablo

    21 April 2009 at 22:31

    @Grognard: Aston Villa Match! 3-2! 5 goals aint enough? πŸ‘Ώ

  2. Grognard

    21 April 2009 at 22:31

    @RedDevilEddy: Selling Silvestre to Arsenal has hopefully helped us win the three remaining games against them. It was a smart move if you ask me.

  3. Liam

    21 April 2009 at 22:34

    @Liam: Shit was meant to say any game that those players don’t show up for they are liable to lose

  4. Grognard

    21 April 2009 at 22:36

    @colver: I finally feel vindicated. I took a major slagging from many of you over Arshavin. All summer long I was pushing two names, Arshavin and Huntelaar. And both are absolutely monsters for the two teams that were smart enough to buy them. And what do we have? A vampire who has been defanged and some young fellow named Tosser. Right now I feel like telling Fergie to fuck right off. But that would be rude and disrespectful. So let me redirect to wards Rafa instead.

  5. Grognard

    21 April 2009 at 22:37

    @Darth Red Diablo: Aston Villa are a pussy outfit. I said Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool. Catch up on your reading skills mate. πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰


    21 April 2009 at 22:39

    well you cant have them all , but its annoying we always settle for 2nd best , its strange we play like shit and still be up there lol

  7. Darth Red Diablo

    21 April 2009 at 22:41

    @Grognard: Oh that! 😐
    These days United can never be encountered in a high scoring match. Its because MR. Ferguson is too scared that his team might lose! 😈

  8. RedDevilEddy

    21 April 2009 at 22:45

    @Grognard: Of cource I can. I believe we have one of the best attacks in the world when they all are on form, which have been rare this season. I see fear in our attackers this season, of taking a bad shot or making a driblle instead of a pass. That is why we have failed so miserably in attack this season, because the strikers seem afraid to take a pop at goal. Rooney does, and he creates a lot. Hence being our 2nd place top goalscorer, 1st if you count average goals per game(except for Kiko πŸ˜‰ ). Tevez shot from distance, almost from the half way line last season, but this season he lacks belief in himself and doesnt seemt o believe in himself when he shoots. Berbatov is afraid to shoot, because he wants girly “poetry” instead of manly bravery and violence towards goalies. 😈

    So yes, I think he was can manage to score 4 goals against Arsenal.

  9. Liam

    21 April 2009 at 22:46

    @Grognard: tbf we would’ve had to pay Β£30 million for him due to the United tax. If Arsenal get their defense sorted out in the Summer they will be there or there abouts next season

  10. Grognard

    21 April 2009 at 22:53

    @RedDevilEddy: Weird! πŸ˜• You say we can and we are one of the best attacking teams in the world then you give all the reasons why we can’t. So basically you agree with me then that we can’t, right? πŸ˜‰

  11. Grognard

    21 April 2009 at 22:56

    @Darth Red Diablo: You hit it on the button there young apprentice. Because the Boss is too much of a chicken shit to let the boys loose and allow them to express their inner most instincts on the pitch. Instead, he has instilled an Italian-English hybrid Cattenaccio.
    Fergie you timid gun shy prick. πŸ™„

  12. Grognard

    21 April 2009 at 22:59

    @Liam: We paid more for Berbatov so that is no argument against going after Arshavin. Arshavin suited our purposes much more to being versatile and able to play the left side of the field as well as the role of second striker or attacking midfielder. He is a greater loss to us than Torres, Ballack or any of the other close calls we have had. Fergie was brain dead not to see what this player had to offer. Just brain dead. Wenger was even more brain dead not to start him against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final. A couple of total nutters. πŸ™„

  13. RedDevilEddy

    21 April 2009 at 23:02

    @Grognard: πŸ˜† May have come out wrong. πŸ˜†

    I meant that when our strikers are confident and believe in their ability and follow their instincts, we are probably the 2nd best attacking team in the world behind Barca. But we rarely do that… πŸ˜• Still, I believe that a game is just a game, an opposition is just an opposition and a goal is more than a goal. If we have a good day, I believe we can score as many as we want to against any sid ein the world. πŸ™‚

  14. colver

    21 April 2009 at 23:06

    I don’t think our attack is that great. Last season most of our goals were coming from Ronaldo. There were hardly any goals from midfield and Rooney and Tevez’s goal totals were modest for strikers.

    This season there still aren’t any goals coming from midfield, Ronaldo is scoring half as many as last season, and none of our so called strikers have even broken double figures in the league and the season is almost over.

    Next season we have to sort this team out so that players like Berbatov and Rooney score the twenty odd goals a season they are capable of. If Ronaldo leaves then we are well and truly screwed as I do not see any goals whatsoever coming from midfield without him-and Rooney and Berbatov are never going to be prolific in our team.

    Actually there was an interesting stat in The Times today, I don’t know if anyone read it, but the basic point was that Rooney and Berbatov as a partnership suck and they don’t create any goals for each other or score many when they are both on the pitch.

    I think Capello has the right idea when he builds the team around Rooney to bring the best out of him. And Berbatov, although a great player in his own right, isn’t the ideal partner for Rooney, and neither is Tevez for that matter-although I think Rooney and Tevez is a better partnership than Berbatov and Rooney.

  15. Liam

    21 April 2009 at 23:14

    @colver: The Roovez combination scored over 30 goals last season in the league, although it could’ve been in all competitions but still, they were no slouches

  16. NicoQB

    21 April 2009 at 23:26

    Bloody hell!!! I’ve been working on stuff for hours and was disconnected from football… Arshavin …
    Grog, I salute you!

  17. michael

    21 April 2009 at 23:39

    @Grognard: I think it’s more that Arshavin was a gamble that paid off for Arsenal at a point in the season where they needed an inspiring signing and he was the closest they could get. They got him on the cheap, but only because of contract issues and his wanting to leave. While I think he’d have been a great purchase, it’s not nearly as glaring an error as passing over Eto’o last summer, and at the Β£20-25 million that was being bandied around the risk wasn’t worth taking for many clubs.

    Added to that we have to bear in mind that he is at the beginning of his usual season and a lot fresher than players who’ve been starting in the league since August.

    I’m entirely in agreement with you about Silvestre though. My lesson for Arsene Wenger would be that if one of your closest rivals will sell you a player for less than a million pounds, don’t buy him.

  18. NicoQB

    21 April 2009 at 23:45

    The thing with Arshavin is that Zenit wanted to sell him for big bucks. But nobody was interested …except the infamous cheapskates at Arsenal. I bet that if we were seriously interested in him we would have bought him around 25million.
    The reason why Wenger got him on the cheap is that they were the only party interested and Arshavin wanted to go.

  19. NicoQB

    21 April 2009 at 23:47

    Did Silvestre play at CB? We all knew that he was a decent LB, but playing him at CB (despite his claims of it being his natural position bla bla) is just suicidal…

  20. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 00:26

    @RedDevilEddy: I think you are dreaming mate. You are living in the past. This present Man Utd is crap on a stick when it comes to attacking football. Scoring two goals in a game is reason to party in the streets.

  21. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 00:29

    @michael: There is no “gamble” in buying a world class talent like Arshavin. He is a fantastic player that had one thing going against him. That he had never left his country to play anywhere else and that concerned many managers because unlike Holland, Spain, Germany etc, coming from Russia is apparently more of a cultural shock than the rest. Again, more rubbish from the know nothings who had their hands in their pockets while Wenger stole from the cookie jar.

  22. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 00:32

    @NicoQB: The point is I would have paid 40 million for him because he is worth it. Berbatov cost us 32 million. How many games would it take that fangless vampire to score four goals? I say it would take 20 games. It took Arshavin one game. What is that now, 7 or 8 goals for the Russian? And some great play making too. Consider him a resounding success and lets all of you out there stop with the excuse making and the defending of Fergie on this one. He simply was asleep at the wheel.

  23. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 00:36

    A blasphemous article from Sam Wallace at the Independent directed at the Boss. Sad thing is….it’s true.

    Sam Wallace: Ferguson’s law states there’s one rule for him and another for those he hates

    “It is a talent peculiar to men like Ferguson to see things exclusively their own way”

    Monday, 20 April 2009

    As a student of American politics, and an interviewee of David Frost, Sir Alex Ferguson will be aware of the killer line in the recent Frost/Nixon movie. Pressed on his role in Watergate, Richard Nixon utters his self-serving justification that reveals his megalomania: “When the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.”

    Let’s take that theory and apply it to modern English football. How do we know when a Premier League manager is acting with arrogance and contempt? When Ferguson says he is, of course. Or, when Ferguson spots an innocuous gesture from Rafael Benitez, whom he happens to despise, towards Sam Allardyce, who has proved his unwavering acolyte. That is Ferguson’s Nixon principle: it is because I say it is. And how could we be so stupid as to argue with him?

    In applying the Ferguson/Nixon principle on arrogant behaviour between managers, suddenly things become a lot clearer. For instance, there was no arrogance involved when Ferguson picked Paul Scholes for a Premier League game against Middlesbrough in September 2002, having first withdrawn him from Sven Goran Eriksson’s England squad. It was by no means humiliating for Eriksson to be sat in the Old Trafford stand when this took place.

    Anyway, Ferguson was never contemptuous of Eriksson, especially not when he mimicked his Swedish accent and stock answers in a magazine interview in 2003. “He sails along, nobody falls out with him,” Ferguson said of Eriksson at the time. “He comes out and he says: ‘The first half we were good, second half we were not so good. I am very pleased with the result.'”

    Arrogant and contemptuous attitudes were right off the menu when Ferguson’s players and staff were aggressive, hostile, abusive and provocative in a confrontation with Chelsea’s groundsmen last April. That was not my description but that of the Football Association independent commission that found overwhelmingly in Chelsea’s favour in December over that incident. Presumably the QC in question, Nicholas Stewart, had not applied the Ferguson/Nixon principle. What the hell was he thinking?

    It is a talent peculiar to men like Ferguson, to see things exclusively their own way. When Ferguson described Benitez’s “game over” gesture against Blackburn Rovers on Friday, he said it was “beyond the pale”, as if the Liverpool manager had sneakily executed a Nazi salute in Sam Allardyce’s direction. At most, Benitez just looked like a harassed supply teacher trying to restore order.

    Remarkably, Ferguson claims that he spotted Benitez’s gesture towards Allardyce himself, which must have taken a lot of rewinding and pausing of his Sky+ as he scrutinised Benitez’s conduct for something that could be considered controversial. Not since Mary Whitehouse has the television age known someone so easily offended.

    The more obvious explanation is that Allardyce told Ferguson about it, largely because Allardyce is a very enthusiastic disciple. Other managers such as Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce, Roy Keane – even yesterday’s opponent, David Moyes – have sought to put some distance between themselves and Ferguson. They are well aware that however chummy, if Ferguson wants something – your best player for instance – then it will be business as usual.

    Perhaps the most laughable aspect of Ferguson’s justification for his attack on Benitez: that Allardyce was undeserving of it because of his sound work for the League Managers’ Association, as if that organisation was – at that very moment – endeavouring to solve Africa’s poverty and bring peace to the Middle East. Perhaps with Big Sam in the vanguard, uniting warring factions through lectures on ProZone stats and the necessity of having a club nutritionist.

    The LMA doubtless does much good work, but membership of it does not alone necessarily confer righteousness. It has, like any professional organisation, its own self-interest. The great irony is that the serving England manager is given the honorary title of LMA president and when all the backslapping is done, that same LMA president has to fight against the LMA’s leading members withdrawing their players for international friendlies.

    It is not impossible to discern why a foreign manager such as Benitez feels an element of distrust towards the LMA, especially when it is used against him by Ferguson in arguments such as the one the United manager ignited on Friday. Ferguson may have a polite tradition of writing to every new young manager who joins the profession, but that avuncular style is not exclusive to him. In the only interview he has given since leaving Sunderland, Keane singled out Benitez as a manager who had been generous with his time.

    Contempt, arrogance – these are every manager’s stock in trade when the moment requires it. When Ferguson refused to shake the hand of Claude Puel after United’s defeat to Lille in the Champions League in 2005, the French manager might well have regarded that as arrogant. Ferguson’s dismissal of Manchester City this season – “still lingering in mid-table” – was not dissimilar to Benitez’s “small club” jibe at Everton.

    What Ferguson is attempting to do is to isolate Benitez because he clearly senses a hardening of feeling towards the Spaniard among his managerial cronies. It also suits him to do so as the season reaches its conclusion with Liverpool still very much in the running.

    It is all the familiar mind games, the usual nonsense. But let’s be clear about one thing: giving Big Sam a bit of stick does not make Benitez arrogant. Even if Ferguson proclaims it so.

  24. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 00:38

    I would generally condemn Wallace for the above article and stick up for our Fergie, but all his claims are painfully true and besides, I am pissed off over him not buying Huntelaar and Arshavin. DAMN! 😑 It’s actually refreshing to see a man of the Press that isn’t scared to say it as he sees it. Too many just pander out of fear.

  25. michael

    22 April 2009 at 01:03

    @Grognard: We know that k=now, perhaps, but there is a huge gamble in splashing 20-25 mil on a player who had a good Euros (despite flopping in his last game) and has only ever played ina what is a far poorer Russian league. There was hardly a guarantee that he’d be able to cope with the pace and unrelenting schedule in England, and to be honest there are still doubts about that. As I said, his off-season only ended two months ago.

    He is top quality but hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to forget the level of risk that would have been involved in splashing out. And who’s to say that he’d have been able to live up to being a huge transfer? Maybe the wait for a transfer and the lower fee removed some pressure. Nothing is certain in football.

    And yeah, that article is spot on. Of course Fergie says whatever suits his purposes at the time, to try and unsettle any team that could affect our season. Everything anyone involved in sports says should be taken with a pinch of salt: look at Ali, he told people he was the “Greatest” so often that people believed it. If you win, you can cheat and manipulate as much as you like, only losers feel consequences.

  26. Red Ranter

    22 April 2009 at 02:49

    @Grognard: The thing is, the transfer market, scouting etc is not an exact science. Berbatov was proven in the premier league, yet is having trouble adjusting to us. Veron was the greatest midfielder before moving to OT. Fergie has made a lot of good transfers in his career, but he’s also burned his fingers at times. Which makes him unsure about buying overseas talent that’s not under 23 years of age. If it’s a star buy, he tends to go for those that are proven in the league. Arshavin, while now proving to be a good buy, is not spring chicken either. Which made Fergie think several times perhaps.

    In that sense he’s been consistent in his transfer strategy.

  27. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 04:54

    @michael: That’s you unfortunately being misinformed and short sighted on this mate. Unlike you I have followed the Russian team for a few years now and I watched nearly every game that Zenit played in the UEFA Cup last season. In other words, I have seen Arshavin play at least 20 times before he even showed up at the EUROS. So many of you who don’t watch or know anything about players always base your limited knowledge on what they did in the EUROS and the World Cup. And this bunk about the Russian League doesn’t wash either. Take a look at who won the UEFA Cup last season and what teams are in the semis this season. The Russian League is full of local talent and they also have the dollars to buy some unheralded Brazilian talent like Jo and others who end up building their reputations. Russia doing so well in the EUROS is an example of how far their league and their talent pool has come. So I’m sorry if I am poking holes in your theories but they hold no water compared to the facts.

    Arshavin is truly a gifted player with finishing ability, passing ability, dribbling ability and incredible pace and vision. Today three of his goals came from also possessing a poacher’s instinct. Say what you want, I have proof behind me and the sad thing is I knew it and was behind the player well before he showed up in England. There is no 20/20 hindsight here. I was singing his praises last year. Nobody was listening. I’ll bet they all are tonight. And one thing is certain in football. You snooze, you lose. Fergie was caught snoozing or second guessing and missed out on both Huntelaar and Arshavin and instead has had to settle for a square peg for his rather small round hole.

  28. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 05:11

    @Red Ranter: You tell me after watching Arshavin play today and change positions and utilize his pace, instinct and adaptibility and tell me he wouldn’t be a perfect fit for our team. Take a look at the fourth goal. A clinical counterattack where Arshavin’s speed made that play as he caught up to Theo from nowhere. When was the last time you saw United exhibit that kind of calm, speed, finesse and killer instinct on a counter? You don’t think a player running that hard and finishing with lethal precision wouldn’t be awesome for United? Can you not see how linking him up with Ronaldo and Rooney in 4-3-3 would be absolute dynamite. He has all the tools that Fergie could ever want and he was seen tracking back and defending as well, despite the fact that Arsenal’s goalkeeping and back four are a joke.

    And spare me with the spring chicken BS RR. That’s just excuse making. Check Berbatov’s birth certificate before you bark down that road. For that matter, you may want to check Scholes’s, Giggs, Neville’s and EVDS’s also. At 27 Arshavin is far from over the hill and has 5 to 6 excellent seasons in front of him. I seriously doubt that he would have come here on a ten year contract so that argument does not wash. Bottom line is Wenger won this battle for Arshavin not by his guile or ability to negotiate, but by Manchester United’s disinterest in a player who so perfectly suited our style it disgusts me to even think about it. Instead we buy a fangless Count Berbatov who is so out of his element it has become the thing of comic legend. Enough already, I’m right on this and deep inside your heart and mind, you know it. And so does everyone else.
    Stop raining on my day of vindication. I was right, and I am going to swim in my pool of tears and party like it’s 1999. I knew he was great and I knew he was perfect for us and a natural fit for the EPL, and we did nothing about it. BOLLOCKS!

    Right now I just hate Fergie and all the bullshit he has served up since stealing the Champions League Final. The moment John Terry slipped taking that penalty I am sure Fergie sold his soul to the Devil just seconds before that moment and guaranteed to the dark one that we would become Italian in our football. The closest thing to Satan is Italian football and we are it. We’re more Italian than Serie A. The reason no Serie A team went after Arshavin was that he was too fast and pacy for that league and would be hard to reign in. Have we become such a bore and such a slug of a team that we cannot afford or benefit from a player that is one part Ryan Giggs and one part Ruud van Nistelrooy. Think about that talent combination for a second and then ask yourself if Fergie wasn’t smoking something when he spent 32 million for a sloth and could have had Arshavin for under 25 million. πŸ™„

  29. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 05:16

    @Red Ranter: Oh and yes, he has been consistent. Consistently bad. Anderson, Nani, Tosic, Berbatov, Tevez, and the list continues to grow. Right now he is batting about .300. Sure he has had some major successes but let us not forget that Cantona and Ronaldo literally fell into his lap. He did nothing brilliant himself.

  30. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 05:36

    I just spent time watching the Arsenal vs Liverpool match again and I was truly amazed at the appalling mess of both club’s defenses. But despite their terrible clearing and defensive lapses, both teams exploited each other because they were aggressive offensively. There you have the number one reason why when we had a defensive off day against Liverpool, we never ended 4-4. Instead we lost 4-1 because frankly, we are not aggressive enough on the offensive end of the park. We don’t force opponents into defensive errors. Nope, instead we sag back in that piss poor god awful zone defense of ours and just soak up pressure in our end. We so often let teams off the hook because we never press and we never go for the jugular after we get them down 1-0.

    All eight goals tonight game from defensive errors and seven of them from terrible giveaways. And we though our defense was bad for a three week period. Well it was but our poor back four never had an attack that could bail them out of a bad performance. Liverpool has. In their last eight games played the Scousers have scored at least 4 goals 6 times. 6 FUCKING TIMES. Twice they gave up 4 goals and in both cases they never lost those games. They are +38 despite having a far inferior defensive record to us.
    We went 11 games without giving up a goal and yet we had given up the same amount of goals before Liverpool’s defense imploded today. How the Hell can that be? Because we absolutely suck offensively. How come we do not press opponents more? We have a super pest in Rooney and players who are capable of winning the ball in the defensive end in Park, Anderson, Tevez and Fletcher but we choose to fall back and play that lazy zone. And are we any less tired for it? NO.

    Arsenal and Liverpool put on a show of opportunistic football with a dash of lethal finishing. Something else that is sorely lacking on this club. Arshavin didn’t need 12 shots to score 4 goals today. He took 5 shots that I can remember and scored 4 goals. All clinically taken and with pace and accuracy. Not the joke shots Berbatov has been dribbling to goalkeeper’s feet or the rugby field goals Mr. Anderson has been serving.
    Arshavin’s second goal was a thing of clinical poaching beauty. His fourth goal was everything our team had when we destroyed Roma 7-1 but have not seen since. A fast counter attack with rapier like passing and lethal finishing is just a fantasy around OT these days. Christ, do I have to say it. I’d rather watch the hated Arsenal than United if all that mattered to me was getting my entertainment dollar’s value. But unfortunately I bleed Red Devil red and Fergie is making sure he drains me of every red blood cell I have this season. πŸ™„ 😑 πŸ™ πŸ˜₯

  31. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 05:38

    I don’t know how many of you recorded today’s game but if you did, I have news for you. Arsenal won the game. Yes they won it when Fabregas scored in the 95th minute but was ruled offside. I played that goal back time after time after time and freeze framed right at the moment the pass was made to him and for me he was even with the defender and on side. It was a bad call yet again and the another one in the long list of disallowed goals that should have stood this season in the EPL. Fuck me, Arsenal won that game. We should be one point ahead with two in hand. πŸ™„ 😑 😑

  32. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 05:43

    I’m ranting and complaining about the team and Ferguson but when it’s all said and done, we will win the EPL title because unlike the rest of the League we are by far the best defensive side in the League. Sure we had a hiccup but defensively we just do not fall apart at the same rate these other clubs do defensively. And isn’t that a sad statement in itself. United wins because of their defense exclusively and not because of their offense. That disgusts me and sends a very negative message to the rest of the league to copy our methods and make the game even less palatable than it already is. Thanks Fergie……thanks for nothing. πŸ™„ 😑

  33. Jon

    22 April 2009 at 06:12

    @Grognard: I don’t follow the Russian league, but when I watched some of the UEFA Cup matches Zenith played in, it was crystal clear that the prime factor behind their success was Andrei Arshavin. The moment I laid my eyes on the way he unlocks defenses, I was bought. I knew he’d be a fantastic buy for United.

    Then came Euros and I had bet my bottom dollar on Russia exceeding people’s expectations of them. Well a reason was Guus Hiddink, who seems to have the magic touch when it comes to mediocre teams in big tourneys, but another was the quality of three very special players in the Russian team: Pavlyuchenko, Akinfeev and Arshavin. My insticts proved right, as the Dutch team were themselves whipped apart by stunning football.

    When Arsenal snatched up Arshavin at last, I was really distraught as I knew that United let slip of a player that could supplement their attack far more than Berbatov could. Wenger saw what Arshavin was made of as a player, and not because of the hype surrounding Zenith’s and Russia’ ascension in the footballing spectrum. He made the buy for him long after the hype of Zenith’s stubbornness to part with anything less than 25 million, and in doing so, poached a very good player for a very good price.

    It took Andrei awhile to get started, but I think Arsenal suits his style of play, and he can slot right into the team and conjour some of his stellar performances that we didn’t see after his injury. That said, I’m extremely glad and buzzing that he’ll have to watch from the bench next week, as we could be dealing with a player that not only has the abundance of individual skill, but the ability to read football and playmake a counterattacking move as we saw last night. What’s more, he looks like he has nerves of steel…to go to Anfield ans score 4 goals. Who was the last player who did that?? I’m really gutted that I’m buzzing all over a Gooner player now…he should have been ours…what a gem of a player.

  34. Jon

    22 April 2009 at 06:14

    @michael: The scenario you mentioned is exactly like Fergie splashing 30 million on two 19 year olds, Nani and Anderson, also playing in a much inferior league, and even not doing so regularly! Why did he do it with them and not Arshavin? I don’t think Fergie is chicken to invest in a promising transfer…Arshavin is approaching his peak, and showed that he has what it takes not only in Russia but on the big European stage. Think of it this way: if he can play well in ‘poorer’ sides like Russia and Zenith, imagine what he can do in our team! I think Fergie was way too caught up with a certain Dimitar Berbatov, and missed out on a target everyone was buzzing about, but stopped doing so once he fell out of the limelight. Unfortuantely, Arsene didn’t, and now he’s reaping his rewards.

  35. Darth Red Diablo

    22 April 2009 at 07:12

    @Grognard: Respect the Italian Groggy.
    They have their own system and they’ve perfected it.

    Italy is second in the list of World cup winners
    Milan is second in the list of UCL winners

    Man Utd have been knocked out by italians almost a gizzilion times!

    To Beat the best! YOU HAVE TO BECOME THE BEST! 😎

  36. Red Ranter

    22 April 2009 at 07:12

    @Grognard: Well done Grognard. Next time fucking read my post before you jump to conclusions.

    Let me explain what I wrote again:

    I agree Arshavin is amazing. Did I tell he’s crap? No. But you as usual misinterpret me, because well, you love to twiddle your thumbs the moment you read a comment without taking the time to read it again and, in the process, end up calling what I’ve written BS.

    Here’s what I was trying to say and I’ll spell it out so that you understand.
    My previous comment was an analysis of Fergie’s transfer policy. I was making an analysis, not passing judgement on it.

    Fergie’s strategy since making a fair number of transfer gaffes (Klebersons, Djemba2’s) has been this:

    • If looking abroad for foreign talent, look for a player under 24/25 who can be given time and moulded into our system. Read: Ronaldo, Evra, Park, Vidic, da Silva twins, Macheda, Petrucci, Possebon.
    • If looking for the finished product, who can slot into our side and start right away, look for someone proven like, in recent times, Carrick, Berbatov, Ferdinand who have some pedigree in the Premier League. The exception being Hargreaves but he’s English, had some excellent games in the Champions’ League.
    • If he takes an expensive gamble (in the over £25m range), then he’d look for those from within the league again: like Rooney, and even Tevez who was an expensive loan.
    • If you see the above there is a pattern here. Young foreign players under a certain age: good to gamble on. Expensive buys on finished products (like Berbatov/Arshavin): they have to be proven in the league in order to make a splash.

    This seems to have been Fergie’s transfer policy and I think the arrival of the Glazers may have made him have a more considered approach towards buying big names. (Arshavin could be classified as a big name because of his Euro/UEFA Cup heroics.)

    My comment above was to say what Fergie has been doing. Not defend it. I don’t agree with some of his buys and I think he should have gone for Arshavin. He was consistent in his policy based on the analysis, although it’s debatable whether he was consistently average or consistently good. And that is a matter of opinion made based on how the team played over the past three years in general and how many trophies they won.

    My intention was neither to rain on your parade, nor to steal your thunder, nor provide a dampener for your vindication. I couldn’t give a toss. I was stating what Fergie was doing, neither in defence nor attacking him. There was no opinion there.

    The only thing in that comment of mine that remotely came close to opinion was when I said transfer strategy is not exactly a science. And I stand by it. What guarantee is there that Fergie would buy Arshavin and yet destroy him by not using him the way he was meant to be? You were quite happy with Berbatov and stuck by him (and he still is an outrageously brilliant player) but we seem to have not got the best out of him.

    My point is, yes, there are tons of brilliant players in the world and we could buy a good few of them. But what if we don’t use them in the way they’re meant to be used? Just see Tottenham, and Real Madrid as examples. In 22 years of running a club you are bound to make not one, not two but several gaffes in the market while also unearthing gems. A manager would have to be weighed with the good vs the bad while judging him. Of course we are all human and will still have the odd childish rant at the manager when he fails to buy the player we so covet.

    Today you are vindicated in that Arshavin is outstanding. I applaud you for it. I’ll probably go out and drink to your health for that if it makes you happy. I’m on your side on the sentiment of getting pissed off on the manager for letting a favourite player slip by. But next time read someone’s comment before calling it BS, because you end up alienating people who actually do agree with you. πŸ™„

  37. Red Ranter

    22 April 2009 at 07:14

    @Grognard: They would have won the game if the defence didn’t try to commit suicide a gazillion times. It fuckin does my head in when I think of the countless times Silvestre makes a misjudged back pass only for Fabianski to save their bacon. And Denilson was entirely by passed the whole game.

  38. Darth Red Diablo

    22 April 2009 at 07:17

    Enough said!
    Probably in the end we all will be saying Fergie knows best again! And when he truly does fuck us when Berba scores the winning goal of the UCL semi final or final, then we will be like fucking mad!
    OR not! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜†


    22 April 2009 at 07:47

    but thats a good thing Red Ranter , i hope they do the same against us

  40. johnsom33

    22 April 2009 at 07:50

    @Grognard: Say what you want, but arshavin was a gamble. no body denied his talent, but it still a leap of faith to pay a 28 year old who never played out side of the russian league. The only reason Arsenal got him for so cheap is cause Zenit had zero offers for the player, because nobody was willing to take the gamble.

    having said all that, hats off to you for sticking with your convictions regarding him and huntelaar. at times you were the sole person campaigning for them and in the end the old grog pulled another one over us πŸ˜†

  41. Dan

    22 April 2009 at 08:04

    @johnsom33: Ill give grognard arshavin, he was right about him, but huntelaar will always be rubbish in my eyes until he plays in the premier league.

  42. johnsom33

    22 April 2009 at 08:04

    @Red Ranter: Thanks for posting that video of the 3 amigos πŸ˜†

    It was interesting to hear Evra speak, I always pictured him with a french accent but was suprised to hear his west african roots come thru. I know he was born in Senegal, but didnt he grow up in france?

  43. johnsom33

    22 April 2009 at 08:07

    @Dan: Part of me wanted to say the same thing, but at the end of the day the world doesnt start and stop with the EPL. Is messi or kaka rubbish? I am satisfied of a players skills if he can score in England, spain and italy, with germany not far behind. So you can hold out hope that he will eventually be a flop in the EPL, but from what he has shown at madrid I wouldnt hold my breath.

  44. johnsom33

    22 April 2009 at 08:11

    @Jon: “Think of it this way: if he can play well in β€˜poorer’ sides like Russia and Zenith, imagine what he can do in our team!”

    I wouldnt consider either of those teams poor. Russia did well in the euros(a final that England didnt qualify for) and Zenit had their way with us in monaco. They may not have the depth as the big english sides, but on their day like porto they can be very hard to deal with. The Zenit team that won the uefa was cup was far better than there super cup side, and on form they would have given any team trouble.

  45. johnsom33

    22 April 2009 at 08:23

    @Grognard: “Consistently bad. Anderson, Nani, Tosic, Berbatov, Tevez, and the list continues to grow.”

    I love how your views on players shifts to support your current arguments. Within this past season who have either defended or praised each and every one of the players you mentioned. not to mention you were more than behind fergie in his pursuit of Berbatov. The difference between you and fergie is that he isnt playing with imaginary money and that he is held accountable for all his decisions. Its easy for us fans to say what he should have done in hindsight. We all know Fergie has made some horrific decisions in the transfer market but overall he is still one of the best around.

    beside all this is a moot point, at the end of the day we all know Arshavin wouldnt get a game because fergie would never prefer anyone over Scholes πŸ˜›

  46. Jon

    22 April 2009 at 08:25

    @johnsom33: I was being sarcastic dude, hence the inverted commas.. πŸ˜† was quoting Micheal’s comment. πŸ˜‰

  47. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 08:48

    @Jon: Jon I swear you and I think very much alike. I too felt the very same about the Russian team with or without Hiddink and the three players you mentioned were on my list of must have talent along with one more. Can you imagine how good our left side would be with Yuri Zhirkov. Russia and Zenit bot played the game with pace and artistic endeavor. I love their pace, quick give and goes and one touch football that would break down the most hardened of defenses. Take for example the way Zenit humiliated Bayern last year in the UEFA Cup Semi’s. The completely tore open their defense and Arshavin was the main culprit.

    Arsenal does suit Arshavin’s style of play because they like to move the ball quickly with short precise passes and the key is how players move off of the ball and find space. Something our team has forgotten. I was gutted when we never even tried to go after the player. Instead, Fergie went after a square peg for our round hole style of play. So why isn’t he answering for his mistake. Nobody ever challenges this man. Instead most of the media panders to him and are scared shitless of him. He’ll have a tantrum where his words become even more difficult to understand then he will black ball them.

    Fergie has become to big for his britches and I have to reluctantly agree with Sam Wallace’s article on him. Too bad for Sam. It will be a sad day in Hell if he ever is given access to OT or any interviews with staff or players again. His honest assessment of the man has in fact caused him to professionally shoot himself in the foot. Fergie holds a grudge like an old lady who’s been divorced a dozen times.
    To actually approach him and confront him honestly by questioning many of his decisions is not done. So we all sit here in frustration and wonder why we have no say or insight when it comes to the way the team is run. Talk about mega god powers. I love it when Fergie would say that no player is bigger than the game and the club. But apparently one manager is.

    I hate to say it but Fergie has upset me far too often of late and I am getting very sick and tired of his attitude towards the media and towards the fans. He doesn’t owe us anything and he knows it. Problem is I do think he owes us more than he believes. Above players and managers, the supporters of the club are the heart and soul of Manchester United. And I for one am sick of him ignoring us and taking us for granted with his disrespectful ways. All he cares about is adding to his trophy case and at any cost. Leaving the team in shambles on retirement day may be the end product of this desire. I’m sorry for the rant but I am truly upset and disappointed in a man that I have had a lot of love and respect for twenty years. Like the last fe episodes of Battlestar Galactica, I feel totally betrayed and let down. πŸ™

  48. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 08:50

    @Darth Red Diablo: Nothing you can ever say will ever make me respect the anti christ of football, Italy. I love the country for it’s history, beauty, culture and cuisine but they are Satan spawn for everything they have brought to the game of football. Cattenacio, 0-0 1-0 and sleeping pills. Nuff said.

  49. Grognard

    22 April 2009 at 09:20

    @Red Ranter: Sorry RR but you are making far too much over what I said. First of all I am not illiterate and I did read and comprehend your comment. But as I start to reply to many I also get other thoughts that are related and I will go off on a rant that may not have as much to do with the reply to you as it should. Unfortunately it looks like a reply because it has your tag on it.

    I was speaking to everyone who questioned my wisdom on this player and others. What got me started was the exact science thing. Bottom line is I too know Fergie’s policies but at the same time youy say all this he has tried to go for players that put this theory in the toilet. Michael Ballack is a key example of him going for somebody older than 25. Fergie has shown himself to be a major coward when it comes to buying players of late and the idea of buying proven EPL talent has no basis for being a correct and successful formula. Did Torres have experience in the EPL, how about Arshavin, Arteta, Drogba, Essien and the hundreds of other stars who were bought and thrown into the fire. Age is a small factor in his thinking and I believe his move to young players was prompted by the success of Ronaldo and Rooney. It injected energy and fire into the old man’s soul and he needed that to go on.

    Bottom line is his policy is a joke and despite it we have had success because he is a damn fine manager. As far as being a scout or even a good judge of talent, I don’t think so. He likes veteran players with EPL experience because only then can he get a good look at them. He’s old and lazy and he can’t be bothered to watch Zenit play a team in Russia on tv even. Carlos Tevez was well known before he ever showed up at West Ham. And he could have been bought for far less then. Instead Fergie waits for players until they make it big and he has to pay five times what they were worth when he should have gone for them. So help me if he tries to by Huntelaar in the next two years I will go ballistic in condemnation of the man on this site. You have been warned. I am truly sick of his tunnel vision and lack of bollocks in terms of buying and paying the proper rate for the kind of player that suits his ridiculously dull and Italian style of football.

    As for Arshavin, he would have fit our style well due to his extensive skill set and versatility in the midfield and up front. Fergie got it wrong and I’m just too upset today to be lectured on my temper and my going half cocked on you and others. Sorry for the hostility, even though it was not really intended for you but to some others on this site who gave me a lot of grief about both Arshavin and Huntelaar. And right now I feel like bitch slapping a few out of vindication and a little payback.

    I’m not always right but I do have an arrogance and high opinion of my judgment of talent. And today I was proven right again. So when I get excited about players like Marin, Kroos, Boruc, Adler, Neuer, Zhirkov, Akinfeev and others, I feel I really know what I am talking about. So when they do make it and I feel vindicated, I do tend to swim in my own champagne and I get miffed at the thoughts and comments of muppets out there who questioned me and accuse me of having no eye for talent and that I am full of shit. And this arrogance and confidence also goes for my condemnation of players like Anderson, Foster, Gibson and others I don’t think have what it takes. Sure I could be wrong but I have a sneaky suspicion that through time I will once again be proven right. Just like I was when I first saw young players like Rummnenigge, Giggs, Beckham, Riquelme, Matthaus, Klinsmann, van Basten and Gullit when they were just breaking in. I knew they would be great after just a few viewings.

    I’m just a little frustrated and hypersensitive because the Arshavin performance really pissed me off today. I mean I really wanted that Russian to be a United player badly. To see him on the hated Arsenal has just made me lose it so please forgive me for my tantrums today. πŸ˜€

  50. Jon

    22 April 2009 at 09:21

    @Grognard: Oh YES, Yuri Zhirkov…I think he plays more of a left wing back role? Perhaps an ideal replacement for Evra, if we can’t get Lahm… I buy Zhirkov and Arshavin everytime I play Football Manager: they are great bargains and Zhirkov gets me some good goal returns!

    Although Pavlyuchenko is a clinical finisher, I feel he squanders chances far far too often than a leading striker should. He has the ability to miss a lot of sitters and although I think he is good, perhaps he is not United quality: we would bash him week in and out for the glorious chances he threw away. However, what is he doing on Redknapp’s bench at times, I don’t know. How can he refuse to use a very gifted player??

    As for Fergie, I respect the man, and still have faith in him. I believe he has proved us wrong time after time, and is able to conjour up miracles just when we were about to turn our backs on him. But you are alot older and wiser than me, so perhaps your take on a man that has seemingly lost his way would be in better judgment.

    However, I do agree that Fergie’s “dictatorship” over the squad is rather unflattering. I do not know to what extent he has crossed the line between discipline and tyranny, but I do know that everyone in the club has a godlike fear of the Gaffer. Even Patrice Evra said so after he lost the Red Devil’s Kitchen challenge to the Boss! “Everyone’s afraid of the boss, eh?” πŸ˜‰ But I guess that most of the time that Fergie puts his foot down, people listen…and I do hope he puts his foot down on the whole Ronaldo issue and shows some REAL fury over the matter, as we all know he is capable of.

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