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Hurt Pride (Park) and Looking Ahead to Chelsea

I happened to give the game a miss — not intentionally, mind — but it turns out, from reports all over, that my decision was far from ill-advised.

On the surface there couldn’t have been a bigger mismatch; a side that just attained its zenith of footballing glory was pitted against one that had plunged to humiliating depths of footballing failure. But as the cliches go with cup games like these, form books are usually ripped to shreds.

But — yes, there are plenty of buts here — while it’s understandable that a team can have an off day, displaying the sort of ineptitude (apparently) that belies the vast array of talent available certainly isn’t. Again, my lack of game watching time prevents me from passing judgements on our performance on Pride Park, but when Fergie himself said we were lucky to escape with a 1-0 defeat rather than a 4-0 thumping [not to mention, our ‘phenomenal’ two shots on goal], then it’s a case for worry.

Not that this sort of a result was a bolt from the blue. All season we’ve been as disjointed as I can remember from recent memory. We’ve shown as much grace in our general play as Godzilla in a figure skating competition and, for most part, the finishing ability of a blind folded archer. Blame this decay, from a deadly, high speed counter attacking menace, on something systemic, or on Sir Alex, or on a side that’s seemingly reached its peak — but the answers are not that simple. There are problems in the side, but I can’t pin the blame squarely on one person. Anyway, mine is not to mull on the negatives extensively, but talk about what lies in store, which leads me to the final part in this meandering piece.

Teams can pick themselves from a rut when there is enough motivation. Mental attributes are never to be underestimated especially when the ability of players is not in question. And a situation presents itself beautifully, over the weekend, with the Blue Russians driving up to Old Trafford. Both teams are currently looking for a corner to turn, a tonic for their respective illnesses. Chelsea, after a belligerent start to their season, have fallen on bad days. United have never really seen bright days this season — there have been a few good performances, but never a string of them to strike fear. A win for either side would be the shot they so badly seek.

What I am looking forward to is a performance from the lads to make a statement to the rest of the league. I know, a win would be great. But performance is something I’d be looking for over the end result. Of course, I’d be gutted if we lost. But I need the giant that is United to wake up from it’s slumber and I need Sunday to be the day they stir — and a stirring performance is what I ask.

But, from recent history, we have been attritional against the top four sides (barring some Arsenal games). So it is going to be a big ask of us to go gung-ho against a side of Chelsea’s stature. But we must play to win, and it should be reflected on the pitch. Full stop.

There has been case for optimism at times — Berbatov and Carrick against Southampton, Rooney’s cameos at times, Ronaldo’s road rage on his Ferrari… er, scratch that last one. But we need it as a collective force and I hope the Chelsea game is the one that kicks our season to a higher gear — to say the least.

Meanwhile, a couple of other things that I thought of penning down along with this post:

1. The Tevez PR machine is on a full-fledged damage limitation exercise. There is only so much that can be lost in translation. But Tevez’s reaction was to newspaper reports [i.e., quotes attributed to Fergie], which are alleged to be the work of a mischief making journo. Despite all the charm from his agents et al, there certainly is something to all this — mischief or no mischief. The bottomline: Tevez will feel frustrated if United continue to stall on his contract, and this story will make an appearance again. So watch this space.

2. We keep stalling on Tevez’s contract but we’ve snapped up a defender who couldn’t make it to the first team at Stoke. Here’s wishing the lad all the best to his United career.

240 Comments

240 Comments

  1. weezy

    10 January 2009 at 21:16

    haha….yeeees!!!! it ON!!! Come on you reds!!! :mrgreen:

  2. colver

    10 January 2009 at 21:21

    YESSSSS now mathematically if we win our three games in hand we can go top! Lets start with a win against Chelsea which will put us one point behind Chelsea with two games in hand and five points behind Liverpool with two games in hand.

  3. Fred The Red

    10 January 2009 at 21:24

    @Nino: sorry it took me so long to respond to your question mate, but the answer is Staam, he was an absolute beast of a player and the best central defender that Ive ever seen.

  4. Grognard

    10 January 2009 at 21:40

    A lot of good all that ranting did for Rafa yesterday. Perhaps he should have spent that energy and time teaching the squad how to beat the parked bus known as Stoke. Thanks for the favor Rafa. Don’t expect us to pay it back anytime soon, you Spanish piece of crap.

  5. Traverse

    10 January 2009 at 21:59

    @Grognard: Fergie must have got a Humidor for christmas, cause he definitely has a cigar on!

  6. Fred The Red

    10 January 2009 at 22:02

    @Grognard: I have no beef with you my friend and your team is a great one, my picking my greatest United side was a bit of fun and was not meant to provoke a negative reaction from you.
    But one point I will strongly debate with you is Maradona and Cruyff over Best, particulary Cruyff. Anybody who thinks as you on this topic is quite justified and I would not deny that from a certain perspective it is understandable to place both above him, but in my opinion, the small window of time when Best was shining, which for reasons that you mention was only about 4 years [1966-70], he showed himself to be the most talented player ever.
    Grog, he was only 24 when he started to decline and the greatest footballing tragedy next to the premature death of Duncan Edwards was that Bestie was still 3 to four years away from his physical peak as a footballer and its my opinion that if he had stayed on the right path for even 4 more years, he would have shown without a doubt that he was the greatest of them all.

    I remember Matin Oniell, who played with him for Northern Ireland, telling a story about him playing against the great dutch team of the 70s that included Cruyff, Repp and Neeskens. Danny Blanchflower coaxed Best out of International retirement to play in the Euro qualifiers and at this stage Best was a shadow of the player that he was at United, but for for 60 minutes gainst the Dutch Oniell said that he tortured them, and Neeskens in particular had a torrid time, Thats how talented this guy was, playing at fifty percent of your capacity, with second rate players, against one of the best international sides ever, and still shining takes a special kind of talent.

  7. Craig Mc

    10 January 2009 at 22:04

    Rafa the Basher – hahahahahahahahahah, almost came a crash-er. Shawcross our great lad from United, played a blinder, and nearly DID that scouse shower for us. Shame his goal was disallowed.

    O’Niels Villa are really having a good run, one point behing Chelski I believe. You know what guys, if Man United are not going to get the league this season, then I wouldn’t mind at all if Villa did. I would rather them than Arses, Chelski, or Scousers. But if we can hit some kind of form, SCORING form, then we can DO IT 😀 . Come oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooN. you Red Devils.

  8. Craig Mc

    10 January 2009 at 22:11

    @Fred The Red: I agree with you about Bestie Fred, he has turned up at OT blind drunk, didn’t sober up til half time, and still murdered the opposition, and this was against the best teams, British or European.

  9. phoenix red

    10 January 2009 at 22:32

    sign on sign on
    with your pen in your hands
    you’ll never work again
    you’ll never work again 😆

  10. Fred The Red

    10 January 2009 at 22:32

    @Craig Mc: I know, Harry Redknapp told a story about playing for West Ham at OT and being lifted at the rumours of Bestie being a bit under the weather from the night before, he destroyed them and scored a hat trick along the way.
    I live a mile away from where he was raised by his parents, in the house where his father still lived up until his death 2 years ago, so maybe Im biased, but what a senstional footballer he was, and it angers me when people dont give him the credit that he deserves.

  11. Grognard

    10 January 2009 at 22:47

    @Fred The Red: No arguments about Bestie. He was truly fantastic and may have gone down as the best ever had he not destroyed his career as well as his life. But the fact that he had only four years at the top before he began his decline cannot allow me to put him in as a starter with players who not only were all legends, but who all had healthy and highly successful careers for club and country for over ten years. Longevity has to count for a lot. Cruyff has been acknowledged by many experts and FIFA as well as being the greatest ever European player. I disagree with that because for me Beckenbauer was because he totally revolutionized a defensive position and made a strong offensive position as well. It’s a debate that can go on and on but the overall consensus of experts sides with Cruyff. I was fortunate to see many games with him and I even saw him live as he played with the LA team in the NASL when they visited my old stomping grounds in Edmonton. He was truly brilliant and highly composed and quick to react.

    And when I asked you what your beef was with my team, I never meant it as if I was upset. So no worries about that mate.

  12. Grognard

    10 January 2009 at 22:59

    @Fred The Red: Mate, just remember that I gave him lots of credit. He made my subs bench based on only four years at the top. Other greats like Zidane, both Ronaldo’s, Zico, Euesbio, DiStefano, Puskas and Figo never even made my team. I think I showed him a lot of love and respect. But I could not in good conscience and with the evidence in front of me pick him over the players I selected. And I dare say that if you picked a panel of football experts who were not from the British Isles that they would all agree with me. It’s really the UK that has a fond and lasting memory of George. In Europe he is well respected but his short career is a strike against him as is his relatively few international caps.

  13. Selectabet

    10 January 2009 at 23:38

    Rafa had that coming tonight. 😀

    I don’t see many goals tomorrow though. Neither team have been firing on all cylinders but home advantage should see us sneak it.

  14. OllieY

    10 January 2009 at 23:51

    liverpool dropped points!!!

  15. Fred The Red

    10 January 2009 at 23:54

    @Grognard: yes mate, I know you respect him, it was others that I was thinking about, like the English people who voted Kevin Keegan as a better player and Graham Taylor, who on a tv show about the top fifteen players of all time was making the case that Best did not deserve to be there, which probably goes a long way explaining why his English team was so rubbish.
    The old he didnt play long enough argument is the one retort that is the hardest to argue against coz it is valid and if people deny him his place at footballs top table because of this then so be it, that is why I call him the most naturally gifted footballer and not the most successful player of all time, coz all the players that you mention are brilliant players who deserve thier place in the elite category, but none of them were as complete a footballer as George Best who had no weaknesses in his game at all, left foot, right foot, heading, tackling, close control, balance, speed of thought, bravery and the ablity to run with the ball as fast as he was without it make him in my opinion, the greatest. Some of the attributes I mentioned he used more than others, but if you listen to the players that played with him, they said that he could use all of them to a high standard and it is this for me that sets him apart from all others, coz the rest had a weakness some where in thier game that Bestie didnt, and the only one who could seriously rival him was Pele.

  16. Grognard

    11 January 2009 at 00:18

    @Fred The Red: Kevin Keegan was a great player, especially in his three seasons at Hamburg where he won the European Player of the year award twice. But to compare him to Best is no right because Best was Keegan on steroids. Best was so much better that it’s laughable to compare. But Keegan did have a long and successful career. Best was a complete player but I don’t buy the argument that he was exceptional at every aspect of his game. Just on the games I have seen of him I see no greatness in tacking, marking, heading and his passing was good but not great. And you know, he was not a good goalkeeper although, he was probably as good a Almunia. 😆 No player has ever been perfect at every aspect of the game but Pele was close. What I love most about Best is how simple he kept things. One on one confrontations weren’t filled with show pony antics that did nothing but frustrate and piss off. No he would get by a defender on speed and just strong ball control skills. No smoke and mirrors like Ronaldo. In fact, I have see in a few games George Best beat opponents one on one than i have ever seen Ronaldo do in his entire career. And not one step over was used. Genius in simplicity. But that also was Cruyff’s mantra.

  17. Fred The Red

    11 January 2009 at 00:34

    @Grognard: Im not saying that he was exceptional in all areas, but he was more than competant, for example, Maradona had no right foot, and couldnt head the ball, Cruyff was technically brilliant, but didnt have Besties rapid movement and balance With the ball at high speed and the same goes for Distefano who was more of a goal scorer with good technical ability than anything else, all fine players, but George was more complete than them all with the exception of possibly Pele.

  18. Fred The Red

    11 January 2009 at 00:39

    @Grognard: As for Cristiano, hes not in the same league as Best.

  19. the three Rs

    11 January 2009 at 02:15

    @Fred The Red: Bestie also lost out by having a poor international team to play for. In a Dutch, Argentinian or Brazilian side he would have had other gongs that would have better reflected his ability. When he got the ball, the anticipation in the ground was tangible. He could ride a tackle like no-one I’ve ever seen.
    Big Jaap had mnore pace than Vidic and was at least as hard. Brucey wasn’t in the same league in my opinion.
    Fergie comes out with his ‘wouldn’t sell them a virus’ quote and the manic scribbler stutters red-faced through a crap speech. At least Keegan’s was off the cuff.

  20. Craig Mc

    11 January 2009 at 03:09

    According to Sky Sports news online, Jose Mourinho has come out on Fergie’s side in the Rafa Rant issue. Jose says that he has visited at OT for few years, including times his teams have won, and he has never spotted anything untoward at all. He said, that the ref’s are bound to feel pressure just naturally though, because they are performing in front of crowds of 80,000. Good ole Mourinho, appreciate that support for Fergie mate. 😆

  21. Fred The Red

    11 January 2009 at 03:37

    @the three Rs: some good points there mate

  22. Craig Mc

    11 January 2009 at 04:23

    Mmmmmm – some of the press online are reporting that Benitez could be in trouble with the FA for his rant. What’s the betting he won’t get punished for it. I mean Woodgate, and other England players awaiting court cases weren’t able to play for England until the case outcome was resolved, but Stevie me me Gerrard is allowed to play, and has been painted a saint, and had his halo polished by just about everybody. Rafa talks thru his backside, and its a big one at that 😆

    Graham Polls comments supporting Rafa against Fergie – WTF. Fergie was the Manager who telephoned him after his absolute bloomer in the 3 yellow card incidents in the world cup, and persuaded him not to be hasty and not to retire whilst he was smarting over his mistakes. Now here he is stabbing Fergie in the back.

    Rafa Benitez – you lost two points, NOW that’s A FACT 😆 .

  23. Grognard

    11 January 2009 at 04:53

    @Fred The Red: Maradona never needed to use his head. He was God and so his arm was more than adequate. 😆

  24. Grognard

    11 January 2009 at 05:04

    @Fred The Red: Fred, did you really ever watch Cruyff play for an extended period? Because to say he never had Best’s balance at full speed is just not true. In fact no player could turn on a dime better than him except for Gerd Mueller. Cruyff could change direction at full speed like it was nobody’s business and his ball control was sublime. I get you point when it comes to Best and I don’t doubt his skills but most of the players on my team are fellows I got a lot of opportunities to watch. For example, in Canada we got a lot of German football and got to see Germany in a lot of their international games frankly because they usually made the final. I got to see a lot of the Dutch throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Cruyff wasn’t a footballer, he was a magician and an maestro all in one. He is thought of as a God in Europe and especially in Holland and Spain because those two countries got to see him the most. Perhaps you should find a copy of the Dutch 2-0 win against England in a friendly in 1977 to get a better feel for that entire team but also how much of an influence Cruyff had on a game. Best was great but dare I say, you view is a little bit biased. And that’s fine, you have that right. I on the other hand am in the corner where the majority of football critics throughout the world are. And they all prefer Cruyff.

    As for Maradona, to say he had no right foot is an error. He had a good right football but his left was clinical. He was not about shooting anyway. His game was running dribbling and passing. And lets face it, he also scored the greatest goal in World Cup history. No mean feat. My God he was voted with Pele the greatest players of all time and you think he’s not worthy. I just don’t know how to answer you mate?

  25. Grognard

    11 January 2009 at 05:06

    @Fred The Red: Not even close. Although he probably thinks he is. In fairness, today’s game is far more defensive and oppressive. Less space to do things than in Best’s day.

  26. Grognard

    11 January 2009 at 05:07

    @the three Rs: I have news for you mate. The Dutch were bloody horrible until Rinus Michels showed up and brought Cruyff and “Total Football” with them. So that’s no excuse for Bestie.

  27. Grognard

    11 January 2009 at 05:09

    @the three Rs: Brucey wasn’t in the same class? Are you having a laugh mate? 😯 Bruce was outstanding hard and gritty and played with great heart and passion. He also scored at least a half dozen headers a year and some years he was in double digits. He was fucking awesome.

  28. themec

    11 January 2009 at 05:27

    Ha Ha Ha . The casual genius of Ferguson puts a whole team in disarray. That and Gerrards (hands in a transfer requests) scally past. I ask you.. Have you ever known such a bumbling stupid cunt play into the hands of the greatest manager in the history of world football?

    Even tho its all a bit boring at the moment trust saf to liven things up. Lets remember that Fergie actuallly said from the beginning when UTD were the archetypal sleeping giants and Liverpool won everything due to the pass back… I want to knock them off their..and here is the interesting word…roll of drums please FUCKING perch”. 18 is the number and even tho we aren’t playing that well what better way to galavanise the players than to take their negative history away from them and once and for all say that it is better to play honest and true attacking football than play around with numbers on a board.

    Fucking helll. That cunt Benitez has really been coaxed out of his maths classroom. He has taken Keegans crown of falling into a dumbfuck trap.
    If someone is talking to you and you feel they may be repeating themselves and becoming boorish for whatever reason you sometimes have the right to say,

  29. Grognard

    11 January 2009 at 07:57

    @themec: I’d say that he has fallen on his sword but that would mean Rafa was a warrior. More like he fell on his butter knife. Benitez is everything that is wrong with the game today. He honestly feels he can get under the skin of manager that has one more trophies than Rafa can count in English. Fucking tosser. The English game will be better off when he fucks off back to Spain.

  30. ROOOOONEY

    11 January 2009 at 10:57

    I AM EXCITED!! ARE YOU?!?!?

  31. RedDevilEddy

    11 January 2009 at 11:29

    @ROOOOONEY: YEEEAAH!!!! LETS KILL THOSE BASTARDS!!! 😈 😆

  32. Nino

    11 January 2009 at 11:36

  33. RedDevilEddy

    11 January 2009 at 11:43

    Chelski, Chelski, Chelski… God I hate them! I wish them no good and all bad and I hope they end up like Leeds. They have great players, no doubt, but they truly suck. I can honestly say that I never had anything against Fat Frank or Mike Essien, but Tiny Tears Terry, One-Eyebrow Bosingwa, Donkey Drogba and Neanderthal Cech(up 😆 ) are the players I hate the most. We face a team that we not only hate, and that are our rivals, but who are ignorant, cocky, dickheaded twats! I could critisise every player for something I hate them for, and that is not very easy. Carvalho looks like he had a really unlucky plastic surgery, Cashley Cole is Cashley Cole, Joe Cole is a dick, Lampard is fat, Mikel is a cunt, Deco is a traitor and Malouda is the most horrible left winger in the whole wide world. How can they be so fucking good then?! I mean, they are drawing against huge teams like Everton, Fulham and West Ham. And they did lose at home to Arsenal in their worst period and Liverpool without one single chance. Enough about that, simply put I just hate Chelsea. Fuck Stalins Bitches!!!

    We face them at Old Trafford. We beat Chelski here last season, in their first game without Morinho. They lost 2-0, Tevez and Saha getting the goels. That was September(2007), this is January(2009). We have played all three top sides away so far this season. Record is 2 losses and 1 draw. Draw was against Chelski, a game we should have won. I will not be staisfied with a draw today. We simply need to win, because Chelski could have a really good advantage if they win, and Liverpool may still lead the table if we only draw. The latter team is only 8 points ahead of us now, with 3 games more played. Can we win the League? Of cource we can. But then our home form has gotta be good. We have to win every game, and we have to do it in style. Teams will come here defending with 10 men usually, but now we face top teams at home. Teams that come to Old Trafford to win. We need to take our chances when they come, because Aston Villa, Liverpool and Chelski will want to score. I expect a hard game today, but I also think we can win. If we keep a clean sheet we will win, because at Old Trafford we have not played a game without scoring since August 2007(Reading).

  34. Nino

    11 January 2009 at 11:48

    @Grognard: Sorry mate but I disagree about Becks. Sure he has good passing, crossing and free-kicks…but he didn’t have much else in his locker did he? He couldn’t change a game with a spectacular dribble or outrageous piece of skill like Giggs and Scholes respectively could he? A great servant to United no question, but Beckham at his peak still wouldn’t have made the top 30 footballers in my (humble!) opinion. Essentially he was just a better, more accurate version of Park Ji-Sung. I’m not sure I can forgive you for such a cardinal sin mate, but hey…it’s your team. My all time United team would, coincidentally, be exactly the same as yours but with Giggs in place of Beckham, and Gary Pallister ahead of Buchan.

  35. dan(u-ol)

    11 January 2009 at 13:27

    @RedDevilEddy: chelseas your second favorite team i see 😆

  36. colver

    11 January 2009 at 13:54

    Chelsea are good away from home this season so I do not think home advantage will count for much. Both of us have had poor form lately but these sort of games are more like cup matches….form goes out the window.

    I’d love to say that we’d win convincingly but it is more likely this will be decided by a bit of luck. I just hope the gods are smiling down on us today.

  37. Traverse

    11 January 2009 at 14:12

    @Grognard: He dropped table 18’s order on his foot…

  38. Red Ranter

    11 January 2009 at 14:44

    Match thread is up folks. Emigrate. 🙂

  39. the three Rs

    11 January 2009 at 15:32

    @Grognard: loved his attitude and he certainly came up with big goals but Pally’s pace looked after him. He got away with fumbly, obstruct type fouls because of his honest persona. He shares my name but it’s not enough to put him ahead of Rio, Vidic, Pallister, Buchan. Then of course there was the marvellous Paul McGrath. He was real class, proving a number wrong at various times in his career.
    ps What wouldn’t we give for Robbo in our midfield at the mo.

  40. Grognard

    11 January 2009 at 18:03

    @Nino: In his days with United his contributions were massive. How you can say that makes me wonder if you were watching the team back then. He made Yorke, Cole, RVN and even Ole with his service. Take away half 35% to 50% of their goals without his great service. He offered the team a smart alternative direct approach when the short passing wasn’t working. And it was a tossup between Pallister, Vidic and Buchan for me. I went with Buchan because I thought he was a great leader in his day.

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