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Lone Penalty seats United firmly on top

A ridiculous red card ensured Liverpool gain the upper hand and win (although just barely) against Chelsea, and get a lifeline to hang onto. Meanwhile, a Ronaldo penalty ensured we saw off Everton without much trouble.

The game as such wasn’t particularly remarkable (we live-blogged it here) and I think the best way to summarize this should be with by pointing out the good and the bad.

The Good:

1. Michael Carrick: The man’s become a giant in United’s midfield. Not literally, but in terms of his influence. His passing in the past, while good in parts, was always dogged by criticism that he didn’t make many probing ones of significance. While he has been steady from the start of the season, the turn of the year has been excellent for him. His link up with Berbatov has been catching the fancy of many observers, and whilst his last England performance warmed the cockles of observers, his recent form is sure to give Capello loads of headaches. Simply ran the show yesterday, and was clearly my man of the match. I mentioned his ungainly running with the ball in yesterday’s live blog which, at times, gives me the impression that it may be a factor why he seems unable to possess a consistently good shot. But that bit of ungainly movement earned him the penalty — which was a good decision, for the record.

2. Park Ji-Sung: Continued to underline his importance with ceaseless running. His lack of end product may frustrate, but yesterday was good. Was unlucky not to score, only denied by an excellent save by Howard.

3. Vida and Rio: Both had unremarkable outings, but were peerless in the early exchanges in the first half when Everton looked to threaten. After that they could have brought their PSP’s to resume playing season 2012 of FIFA ’09.

4. United in the first half: We attacked with purpose, and were unlucky to go only one goal ahead. The impressive part was that we were fluent for most part and were creating genuine chances. It was a shame that we had to rely on a penalty to go ahead.

The Bad:

1. Gary Neville: While he’s been rightly criticised this season, he’s also had performances that he can be proud of. Yesterday however proved that he’ll struggle to play two games a week. Got skinned too easily, and Wes Brown’s introduction settled matters for us.

2. Darren Fletcher: He will struggle to be taken seriously if he does not improve his consistency. True, he raises his game against the big teams, but so do Arsenal, only to be dragged in dirt on a cold, damp night in December at Stoke. I wouldn’t be overtly critical of him because he’s shown genuine effort at improving aspect of his game (like making more forward runs into the box) but yesterday he made glaring schoolboy errors.

3. Carlos Tevez: It would be unfair to class him in the ‘bad’ category — average would fit him better. But while he’s enjoyed excellent form recently, he showed sluggish first touch, questionable decision making on the break and a tendency to go for glory when a simple pass might have helped. I still think he’ll do fine for most part this season. Fergie sign him up!

4. The second half: Dead. No ambition from Everton apart from some brief threats. United were content sitting on their lead (I hope this attitude won’t haunt us in the future.)

My Sunday has started poorly with Nadal overcoming Federer and the Liverpool-Chelsea game not ending in a draw. Let’s see what the Super Bowl holds — not that I can be too arsed about either teams. Beckham’s continued good form for Milan though, has been impressive.

Update:

Meanwhile, we are also on Twitter now. You can follow us on twitter by clicking here. For those who are not aware, Twitter is a product of the new wave of social media that’s sweeping the internet. It’s a micro-blogging platform where each post is limited to about 140 characters. We’ll use it primarily to post United related news/links, or make some think-aloud comments regarding United and football in general. So you could also follow us there. [Our twitter link]

181 Comments

181 Comments

  1. Red Ranter

    3 February 2009 at 18:53

    @Grognard: Agreed in terms of skills etc… but the funny thing is I’ve seen plenty of interviews with United players and if they’re asked who’s the best player in training — in terms of skill etc — the answer spontaneously comes (even from Ronaldo): “Scholes”. So saying Scholes is not a patch on Ronaldo may be exaggeration because his skill set is different. In his prime he was the most technically gifted player in England and perhaps the world. You could say Fletcher is not a patch on Ronaldo, Scholes is good, perhaps does not possess the skills that Ronaldo has but this talk of one not fit to lace the other’s boots (from both parties) is a bit cheap.

  2. Grognard

    3 February 2009 at 18:53

    @tevez: Yes and you base this on incredible piles of evidence or is it crappy bias? Honestly, you sound like every dad who believes his ugly as a mutt daughter is the most beautiful girl in the world. They aren’t lying, they believe it too. Jeez! 🙄 How can you debate with a person who does not base their argument on logic or on facts?

  3. Gabriel

    3 February 2009 at 18:55

    Scholes or Ronaldo? Hmm, tough one, not least because they play in different positions that require different sets of skills….

    Ronnie has wonderful athleticism, determination, dribbling, pace and a superior physique, in addition to his vast array of tricks and flicks, plus an eye for goal, either by penalty, free kick or in-direct play. All in all, he is as close to a prototype for the complete, versatile forward.

    Scholes has an excellent footballing brain, a wonderful passing repertoire, brilliant close ball control and the capability to dictate the tempo and flow of a game, in addition to his little array of tricks and flicks, also not forgetting his eye for goal too, what with those trademark runs of his into the box. Like Ronnie, you could say he too is as close to a prototype for a complete, versatile central midfielder.

    To compare both, it would be most appropriate to compare both at their primes and it is safe to say Scholes has past his while Ronnie is pretty much very close to his. Having said that, which player at his prime would you rather have in your team? Personally, I would love both but Scholes for me was just amazing at his prime, playing constantly in Man Utd’s 1st team for the better part of 14yrs and counting. You are nothing short of excellent if you can feature consistently and prominently for a team of our stature for that long. Imagine Carrick at his current level of performance, but three times better!! That’s how good Scholes was at his prime.

    Obviously, my personal bias – mainly due to external factors such as watching Scholes for longer, hence more sweet memories 😆 – has clouded my judgment. Both are excellent players and i’m sure everyone prefers different traits in their ideal player(s) but we at least got to have them both and not a choice of one or the other. 😀

  4. Grognard

    3 February 2009 at 18:56

    @Patrick: Finally, an honest statement from one who sees things as they truly are. Well said Patrick.

  5. Wink

    3 February 2009 at 19:03

    @phoenix red: the comments were not directed to you, they were infact supporting your statement, against grog’s comments. that the best 11 are all subjective choices… and i was not butting in, if u read upward in the comments, u will see that i was in the conversation

    now, about rudeness, you, yourself are arrogant and foolish enough to think that the comments are directed at yourself. while i might have done better to direct my comments, i reckon u can take that broom outta your arse and chill…

    about arrving late in a conversation. this is the fucking internet…. unless u think we live on ONE time zone with no one following working hours, you can take your own advice and keep your swarmy comments to yourself..

    not everyone can troll this site and harress commentors like you do. the only thing to come out of this was u made me learn how to reply to certain comments to avoid confusing tools like you…

  6. Grognard

    3 February 2009 at 19:08

    @Red Ranter: The debate will end the next time FIFA announces their top 100 footballers of all time. Ronaldo’s name will be in the top 20 and Scholes won’t even be on the list. Because what you do in training and how you are with the blokes or how loyal you are and loved you are by the fans doesn’t mean anything to a an unbiased committee who will be basing their opinions on facts, proof and just plain good eyesight.

    Ah shit, I just put my foot in it. Did I just claim that a FIFA committee would be unbiased and that they had plain good eyesight? NUTS! Anyway, you know what I mean. Scholes is a local hero and a Manchester United legend. He’s not a footballing legend as he hardly made a dent in his career with England. He’s a very good and very tidy player who at one time could be counted on for 12 to 15 goals a season. I do not recall him ever hitting 42 goals a season or strip defenders naked with moves that undressed them for all to see. Ronaldo has just started to show his class and he has ten more years to add to his legend. Already World Player of the Year and all the accolades that come with being the best player in the world. And yet Scholes supporters are delusional enough to compare their Ginger Ninja to one of the true greats the game has ever seen? Mind boggling! 😯 That’s the equivalent to comparing Mark Hughes to Gerd Mueller. One was a good striker who scored plenty a big goal for United and the other is arguably the greatest and most prolific goal scorer in club and international football history. Thats how wide the gap is to me and I’m sure to most of the Planet outside of the greater Manchester area.

  7. Red Ranter

    3 February 2009 at 19:32

    @Grognard: my point is not about the debate about who’s better. It’s about the pointlessness of this particular comparison. Chalk and cheese if you ask me. A central midfielder should not be compared with a forward in my books. Riquelme or Zidane will never score 42 goals a season nor will they make defenders giddy by running at them, but one can’t deny their technical gifts and making comparisons between them and forwards like Messi will be a futile exercise. To me it’s no different than trying to compare Roger Federer in his prime and Tiger Woods.

    And just because the majority in the world may not think highly of a player does not mean we can’t think so of him. I’m sure you’d agree Riquelme was among the greatest players, but hardly won accolades on a global level now did he? That still doesn’t lessen your regard for him as a player. If I were to say he didn’t win anything of note and didn’t win a world player of the year I’m sure you’d tell me what you really think of these awards.

    I am with you on the Scholes thing as far as him being not as good as Ronaldo goes, but I won’t call people who regard Scholes better as blinkered — just because I don’t agree.

  8. RedDevilEddy

    3 February 2009 at 19:33

    @Grognard: They are so stupid they are funny so I canlive with him. 😆

    And for me Anderson is “The one and only”! 😉

  9. Stephen

    3 February 2009 at 19:41

    @Red Ranter: Read the post before you type, I said as a man not a footballer.

  10. Red Ranter

    3 February 2009 at 19:41

    @RedDevilEddy: You mean he’s a Liverpool fan. I’m sure the word Scouse applies to a certain class of people from the city of Liverpool. Not Norwegian Liverpool fans 😀

  11. Red Ranter

    3 February 2009 at 19:43

    @Stephen: I read before I typed. I was generalizing. Don’t make this about you. 😆

    Some people can be so self centred 😆 😆

  12. Grognard

    3 February 2009 at 19:47

    @RedDevilEddy: Still, it’s your duty as his friend to beat the Scouse right out of him. You will be doing him a favor that he will eventually acknowledge one day and thank you for it. 😀

  13. RedDevilEddy

    3 February 2009 at 19:48

    @Red Ranter: Yeah, he is a Norwegian Liverpool fan. Calls himself a Scouser for some reason and I have got used to it. He aint that bad and doesnt knwo shit about footy! At least about history. One day he realised he knew less about Liverpool than I did, so I guess he went home going throught the history books! 😆 And before someone come to shoot me, no I do not know a lot of Liverpool history. Only football history, which I have like some kind of passion.

  14. RedDevilEddy

    3 February 2009 at 19:51

    @Grognard: 😆 Nah, could have done if I wanted to! But its funny the way he adresses that “this is Liverpools year” after every win they get. Hell, they beat Bolton at home one day and it was back to the “year” again. You cant help but laugh at that! 😆 And as his friend it is my duty to make fun of him and keep telling him Liverpool are shite. I cant decide his death, but he knows that if he says anything badly about Anderson he will not see the next sunrise. 😉

  15. Stephen

    3 February 2009 at 19:58

    @Grognard: Wasn’t Scholes the first English player to score a hatrick at Wembley? He hardly made a dent on his England carrer?
    He is regarded a great player in this country, just doesn’t whore himself in the press.

  16. Stephen

    3 February 2009 at 20:00

    @Red Ranter: Lampard isn’t fit to lace his boots! 😆 😆

  17. Grognard

    3 February 2009 at 21:18

    @RedDevilEddy: Have you tried getting a very smelly dirty sock and filling it with manure and then shoving it in his mouth. On second thought he might actually enjoy since he’s used to scouse. Disown him and tell him to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s bad enough he is a Scouser, but to actually share their delusions of nothing is just inexcusable. It tells me he is low on intelligence and in terrible need of good taste. He brings you down in class mate. No matter the fact that you are a United fan, you cannot elevate them up to your class, and if you do, they’ll probably rob you in the process. 😆

  18. Grognard

    3 February 2009 at 21:22

    @Stephen: He has hardly got an international pedigree that I would call impressive. Please! Take off your heart shaped glasses and see things as they are. A great English player but not in the class as a Charlton, Robson, Lineker, Shearer, Matthews, or what I would call the true greats of the British game. Hell, most of the time he was a sub for England because he had a hard time cracking the lineup with many of their past managers. Unfair but the facts. Ronaldo on the other hand has done incredible things in his last two and half seasons with the club and has taken a weak Portuguese team as far as humanly possible considering they haven’t had a striker since Eusebio. World Player of the year isn’t given to just anyone and it’s not been given to anyone playing in England since George Best. Take the hint mate. 🙄

  19. phoenix red

    3 February 2009 at 21:35

    @Wink: i think if you read the 2 comments together you’ll see the ambiguity, so i obviously missed your subtlety!! I myself dont have hours to troll therefore i didn’t read past posts. If you’re directing comments at someone, be MAN enough to address them in the first place. You might find that this will avoid future mixups

  20. JB

    3 February 2009 at 21:51

    @Grognard: If you are going to run down his England career you could at least check your facts first. Scholes made his debut in 1997 and in 66 appearances he only ever came off the bench twice. And that was in 84 matches from his debut to retirement. He was pretty much a fixture under Hoddle, Keegan and Eriksson. He had a goal ration of 1 in 3 until Sven arrived and he started to be shoved about more and more in the vain effort to shoe horn Lampard, Gerrard and Beckham all into the one midfield.

    He may not have had the best international career in history but it was a lot better than you are making out.

  21. Grognard

    4 February 2009 at 00:22

    @JB: Perhaps, but he seemed bloody well invisible to me when he played for England. And he hardly should be considered in the same category as Ronaldo, regardless of what some of us may think of Ronaldo. It’s like the morons who thought my placing Maradona on my all time team was ludicrous. You see, I stuck Best in as a sub because I could not justify starting him over Cruyff Mueller and Pele in my 4-3-3. So the cry came out to either get rid of Maradona or Cruyff. Well with all due to George Best who I absolutely loved and who would be a starter had he not thrown away half of his career, I think my picks were justified and correct. Some of our fans have to understand that the game of football and the history of football does not revolve around Old Trafford. That there has been greatness on display in other regions of the world, and that some of those displays are even greater or more plentiful than those of Best, Charlton, Cantona, Law, Scholes and company.

    I often get into debates with United fans where I am trying to justify the superiority of the worlds greatest players over some of United’s greatest servants. Because if they were great for United, that makes them better than having been great for Milan, or Bayern or Juventus, or Madrid, or Barcelona etc. It’s this kind of attitude that makes most intelligent football fans hate Liverpool fans and yet I am finding more and more United fans that cannot see outside there own house and beyond their garden. Close minded and ignorant to the rest of the world’s achievers.

    Sorry for the rant JB but the thought of Paul Scholes being made to be a world great is just making me sick to the stomach. He’s a United great, no doubt, but his career has not been so incredible that I would place him in the same company as the world’s greatest ever players. But that is a category I have no problem placing Ronaldo. His awards alone justify that selection and the fact that he has had more than just one great season. People forget that he probably deserved the Balon D’Or the season before as well when he scored a more humanly respectable 24 goals. Instead he lost out to Kaka who although being a great player one that award for his play in the second round of the Champions League alone. Paul Scholes has never nor even been considered for the Balon D’Or. And has he even won the PFA Player of the year? It’s an absolutely ludicrous comparison of epic proportions. To compare a player who will be ranked with Pele, Maradona, Beckenbauer, Zidane, Platini, Cruyff etc with a player whose greatest personal honors has been PFA player of the month three times. 😆 I’m sorry but I cannot contain my laughter.

    I’m sorry but like religion, I am not one who adheres completely to blind loyalty. I like cold hard facts and Scholes has delivered an argument for himself as one of the great United players from a point of longevity, not because of tremendous individual achievements and awards. And unfortunately that is the basis by how the greats are compared. What have they done individually and how well they have done it in the big games.

  22. Grognard

    4 February 2009 at 00:31

    @JB: His England career is better than I remembered. But then again that’s the whole problem isn’t it? As good as I remembered. Because frankly, he never left my jaw drooping down in amazement over any of his England performances. Because he was so often invisible that I thought he either didn’t play or was a sub. On the other hand I can remember many great games from Robson, Beckham and even Hoddle (who wasn’t great for England but was massive for Spurs). I honestly don’t dislike Scholes. I like him but I have never been one who fancied his play. He just hasn’t turned me on as far as his football is concerned. Individual taste perhaps, but more non biased supporters of the game would probably agree with me more than find agreement with die hard United supporters who raise their players often to status that is not deserved. I feel no guilt when I say I am very hard pressed to find a spot for Scholes on my subs bench for my all time United team. And it’s not due to my dislike for redheads either or short people either. 😀 One does not attain greatness for being clean and tidy and making a hundred safe back passes in a game. One attains greatness through courage and taking chances.

  23. Wink

    4 February 2009 at 11:10

    @phoenix red: like i said, i LEARNT how to operate this option, of replying to specific comments, through this unpleasent experience. it has nothing to do with being enough of a MAN to do anything. chalk it up to ignorance of functions of the site, as i chalked your outburst to that broom of yours….

    then again, maybe it is that broom that helps you be so manly on this internet setting… e-thuggery isnt as manly as many people might think…

  24. phoenix red

    4 February 2009 at 11:48

    @Wink: this is pathetic! throw your toys out of the pram, whatever! As i said ALREADY, this was a misunderstanding, lets leave it at that, shall we. Because i’ve better things to do than argue with you

  25. Stephen

    4 February 2009 at 12:05

    @Grognard: I appreciate the advice but I am capable of thinking for myself and forming my own opinions mate.

  26. Wink

    4 February 2009 at 15:26

    @phoenix red: and yet here u are again… being abrasive and arguementative and trolling-y… yes yes, im the baby in this bust up, im not man enough, and anything else i missed?… totally 🙄

    full of contradicions. btw, u nvr said anything remotely consilatory, just various offensive statements… how about you keep your “swarmy comments” out of your reconsilatory addresses. “You might find that this will avoid future mixups”

    well this is definately the last time ill address anything to you..

  27. phoenix red

    4 February 2009 at 16:46

    @Wink:
    consiliatory mmmmmmm i’m responding to being called arrogant, having a broom shoved up my arse and a cyber bully! A little over reaction here i think. I made a mistake, this i acknowledge.
    If you think the path to reconciliation is still open then i’ve no problems there. I’ve no malice towards any fellow posters here on Red Rants, i admit that i jumped down your throat a bit but i thought i was responding to a hostile pisstake post.As i said your post was ambigious, surely you can see this? I regret this misunderstanding and further correspondance

  28. Wink

    4 February 2009 at 18:55

    im fully open to it. I apologise for the rude rebuttals too. glad we can move on from the misunderstanding… now that i know how to reply to comments, i doubt it will happen again..

    have a good one

  29. Grognard

    4 February 2009 at 20:24

    @Stephen: Not meant to be an insult mate, just telling you how I view your comments from where I am. If I’m wrong in my assumptions, then so be it, I apologize. I am certainly more than aware that you are capable of thinking for yourself. I was just stating my opinion on your views the way you and many others have stated their opinions on mine numerous times. Sorry if you took it in the wrong manner. 🙂 Lets also not forget that what we were doing was debating. That lends itself to friendly disagreements.

  30. phoenix red

    5 February 2009 at 01:13

    @Wink: likewise i apologise for jumping the gun and my replies, nice one 😈

  31. Stephen

    5 February 2009 at 14:30

    @Grognard: Sorry mate.

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