Manner of United’s Win More Important than three points

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Ronaldo showed why he can infuriate as well as excite the United faithful with his double yesterday. He showed little in the first half to merit the hype about his credentials as among the world’s best. But still, Ronaldo, at half steam currently sits atop the league’s top scorer. This from a winger who’s been given a more orthodox wide role this season than last.

Yet, there he was yesterday, being his usual petulant self — giving the ball away, making a poor effort of trying to win it back. Of course, it would be a stretch to pin the blame on him for the second Villa goal, but he really seems to have lost the spark that made him so feared last season.

But at the end of the game, my feelings were best summed up by Rob Smyth of the Guardian:

That United go top of the table as a consequence is almost incidental: this will be talked about every bit as much as Steve Bruce’s 96th-minute winner against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993, and indeed Mark Hughes’s season-turning injury-time equaliser against Oldham in the FA Cup semi-final a year later. This was the day an unknown 17-year-old kid, brought on as a hunch, took the game, the season and his entire life by the scruff of the neck and decided: this is mine.

What happens between now and May could be anyone’s guess; United could still squander this from here. But the rush of confidence and belief that a late goal like this can bring is hard to rival any other emotion. United were in dire need of a win; a second wind to make the last lap of this title race. They were the bleeding giant that, by Sunday, had perhaps bled too much to survive. But the giant refused to die and Macheda’s goal made sure of that. Villa were stricken, and rightly so, like a fallen amateur boxer who should have killed off his opponent when he was down and out.

So are the boys back in town? Not really. (For the pedantically inclined, some of the big boys in Vidic, Rooney and Scholes will return for Porto, but we’re not talking the same thing, then). The win papered over defensive cracks that have been opening up alarmingly. In our last three games we’ve conceded 8 goals! And we can’t always excuse a changed back four because we broke clean sheet records when our back four kept changing. Hopefully, if Rio’s groin does not get better a Vidic-Evans partnership would surely be an improvement over yesterday.

Which brings us to Gary Neville. It utterly pains me to see a player who clearly has far too much pride to be cutting such a sorry figure on the pitch yesterday. There was a tinge of regret on his face in the post match interview when he hinted he wasn’t upto it in the first half. After having seen the start-stop nature of his season, I find it hard to imagine he’ll ever be galloping along our right wing at full pelt. More importantly, Neville will have to own up to it and admit it himself that he’s not even a shadow of his past self. Otherwise, I see Fergie preferring him owing to sentimentality, or the fact that he is our current captain.

Villa overran a poor United side in the first half, and had it not been for a mixture of bad luck (thanks to poor calls from the linesmen) or just the lack of a final ball, they would have been ahead of us. Instead, in the second half they appeared strangely content to let us back into the game. The last 20 minutes were entirely United, but one never saw how we were going to score until Ronaldo’s strike, which really came out of nothing.

Three points today, but more important will be the morale the players will be taking into Porto. It’s less than 48 hours away, but it’s a home game and with players returning fresh from suspension, our side should wear a more menacing look in midweek.

Or, at least, one would hope.

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221 Comments

  1. @Dan: Well Dan your quote about Welbeck is open to debate, and I will keep my money on Macheda for long term greatness. Still that is probably a long way off though, but who knows.

  2. @Beachryan: He certainly was the answer yesterday and I for one would have him on the bench the rest of the way as he seems like a player who could help us in any game we are tied or losing. He’s on;y 17 but he is also a forward. I am more concerned about inexperience and youth when it comes to defending, not attacking. Attacking is all skill and instinct. Let a player be himself and watch him score. I too would voice a word of caution for all of us not to expect too much, but I also feel as I did when Ronaldo had his debut as well as Rafael and to a lesser degree Fabio, that these are super youngsters that are very special and seem very mature in their makeup and abilities. Experience doesn’t teach a lad like Macheda how to turn on a dime and deliver a killer shot under great pressure. The lad was born with that skill and he sounds like he has the ambition and belief in himself to go far. That is half the battle already won. I say throw him out there more often as a sub and lets see what he has to offer. Anything has to be better than the scoring we have been getting from Berbatov and Tevez.

  3. Typical response to the Nani criticsm; ‘He was good last season’; ‘He doesn’t get games’; ‘He’s better than Park’ etc The fact of the matter is Nani, given even the limited amount of games he has played this season always manages to – especially in consecutive games – undo the good work or progress he’s made in previous games. He would get his focus and decision-making perfect in one game and when he’s picked for the next, it’s back to shambles. That is what grates with me and I suspect Fergie too. There’s no need having all the skill/talent in the world if you don’t know when/how to apply it. Nevertheless, I would like if he was played more, he is still a threat and as far as he isn’t a liability to the team, I say stick him on the wings for the remaining PL games at least.

  4. @Dan: All Gerd Mueller did was score goals. Other than that he did nothing. 😉 Also, Macheda did lots more than just score the goal. His great diving header attempt earlier should have been rewarded with a penalty as the defender was all over him. His control of the ball and distribution after holding the ball up was also very impressive not to mention the fact we have not had a predatory presence in the box like that since RVN.

    Come on Dan, we know that Welbeck is your boy and now you are hurting because the Italian kid might have leapfrogged over him in the pecking order. Lets not look for ways to put down the lad in order for you to build up Welbeck. Seriously though, would you like Welbeck as much if his name were not Dan? 😉

  5. @Gabriel: My point exactly, the few chances he’s been given, he hasn’t done much to make Fergie want to play him again in the next match.

  6. @Rd: I do recognise that after certain games, fans come on a blog full of emotion, and say things about Fergie and others, that in cold light of day, they may feel differently about. That’s disappointment, passion, anger etc etc. You will always get this on a good blog, and whether you prefer other blogs to this, to a lot of us here Red Rants is a great blog, and fun as well as moan and groan. If you find some comments laughable, then good, because we find some games and team choices and substitutions laughable. So if you feel free enough to call some things a joke, why can’t others have that freedom to laugh at what they see as laughable. I can’t answer for the posters who said they think Fergie’s time is up. I may not agree with it, But Fergie himself states quite often that he feel his time is in the autumn of his career. Some peeps agree with him obviously, but that is just their opinion, and we may disagree but nobody’s opinion can be called invalid. It may be shite opinion, and derided, but it is still their opinion, liked or disliked. I dislike the opinions on Nani, you dislike the opinions on Rooney, so what mate, that’s FANDOM 😆 .

  7. @Craig Mc: Well said mate. I think Dan is being a little too optimistic with both Welbeck and Macheda’s goal potential. Instead of 25 to 30 goals and 30 to 35 goals, try 10 to 15 and 15 to 20 as more realistic numbers

  8. @Gabriel: well he was good in his carling cup run, played a couple of FA cup games to didnt he? he was decent in those games…

    The fact that he has started 5 of our 30 premier league games this season really says it all, he hasnt played enough games, cup games are months apart.

    You cannot expect a player to go out and perform everytime he puts the jersey on, especially when he hasnt played for ages, you just cant. Tevez plays like shite every match he plays and people come out with the most ridiculous excuse for him.

  9. @Grognard: Im talking about in the future, in all competitions, not now, in only the premier league…

    Key word [strong]develop[/strong]

  10. @Gabriel: Lets not forget Campbell boys. A great talent in his own right. And Welbeck has scored some great goals but none came under such pressure and circumstance. As Neville said about Macheda, the boy is cold he has ice water running in his veins and is incredibly composed for his age. Something Welbeck isn’t…..yet. Not at the top flight that is.

  11. @Karl: I think we have shown plenty of trust in our youngsters mate. The fact we don’t go silly and mental over them the way the Pedophile at Arsenal does, is credit to Fergie and a response to the fact we are playing for a lot silverware where they aren’t. They can afford to take the chances of playing too much youth, we can’t. Still, we took a chance on Ronaldo, on Nani, Anderson, Evans and Rafael. I think we have shown quite a bit of confidence towards young players.

  12. What about ManUcho?????? Bloody brilliant, the best you’ll ever see. He is magnifico, and scores millions of out of this world goals – well he would if Lord Fergie would give him some games 😉 . Now that is what you call LAUGHABLE Rd, but very possible also.

  13. @Grognard: No grognard, you dont know how wrong you are! ive seen these lads play multiple times, welbeck is NOT my faviourte youth player at all, i love him just as much as i love macheda, but the fact is most of the people claiming he should be ahead of welbeck have never seen them play for the reserves or the u18s.

    The fact is, fergie has even come out and said that he only picked him over welbeck yesterday because of a deal he agreed with macheda and ole.

    You love macheda more then welbeck simply because he is your faviourte type of striker, he hasnt leaped frogged him at all, and thats not my bias, i can see it how it is, i know their abilities and i know who the better player is.

  14. @Craig Mc: definitely not you bro… 😆 was just playing devil’s advocate with regards to little man Nani. I just wanna know what everyone thinks of him and the best way they think he can be developed, cuz i’m next to clueless. 😀

  15. @Dan: We shall see mate, we shall see.

    @Liam: Luca Toni is not a bad comparison but I think he has better over all skill with the ball as well as speed than Toni.
    I’ve also seen him score from outside of the box with both feet and that’s something Toni cannot do. Where he is similar is in his predatory style, height and apparently, finishing. Although, I still think Macheda really reminds me of Totti.

  16. Grog I would love to be manager for the day, and here is who I would have in my team to take on Fergie’s team.

    My team – Foster, Eckersley, Evans, Brown, Fabio,

    Nani Darren Manucho Anderson

    Macheda Welbeck

    Fergie can choose his best team, and my team WILL kick his arse good and proper 😆 😆 😆 .

  17. @Dan: You are right, he was good when he played in sporadic games, why? Because he was determined to make a good impression and his focus was spot on. However, whenever he was subsequently chosen for the next game, he always performed poorly. It’s like he can’t keep focus for an extended period of time. Even O’Sheasy said it in one post-match interview after Nani had a brilliant game, that, ‘the whole squad knows what Nani is capable of when he’s focused’.

    This is something Fergie is trying to work on and I think by limiting his playing time, is trying to make him adapt to being more focused anytime he’s fortunate to be on the pitch. I believe that’s the one thing that Nani lacks and what is holding him back and if Fergie can iron it out, we definitely have a great player in our hands. 😀

  18. @Karl: All the reason you are against 4-5-1 are all the reasons why we needed to play that. Our defense was in shambles so we needed that extra body in the midfield. We had two forwards out of the game so what was Fergie supposed to do? Start Macheda or Welbeck alongside Tevez while leaving our midfield more exposed and our back four in even worse shape?

    I have been very critical of Fergie lately but I am in full agreement with his tactical selection yesterday. Injuries, suspension and inexperience up front left him no other option. The fact that Macheda did what he did was as big a surprise to Fergie as it was to us. At no time did Fergie even consider starting the lad or Welbeck. That would have exposed us at the back much earlier and more frequently.

  19. @Grognard: Grog wait until my team plays Fergie’s and we will see. You will be EATING your words on ManUcho, the warrior mate, the great warrior. See how much I would have my team believing, BELIEF is everything, you are what you believe 😆 😆 😆 . I will have ManUcho thinking he is Arnie in the Terminator 😆 . And Nani thinking he is Usain Bolt 😉 .

  20. @Grognard: Honestly, it’s gonna be tough for Campbell, especially if we decide to keep Tevez(something which i’m against). Campbell is amazing in his own right like you say and I would honestly like it if we kept all three of them young kids in addition to Berba and Roon and rotated them in all our competitions next season. Campbell does have that pace and if supply is there, would always shine upfront for United.

  21. @RedAllTheWay: Benzema is nothing more than overpriced pig slop. Why buy another striker when we have three in waiting. It’s time to give these young players their chance. Time to bleed them and see what they have. I too would like Aguero but we can’t afford him. I’d rather spend what money we have for a central midfielder or Franck Ribery. I too am supremely disappointed in Berbatov but perhaps yesterday’s cameo of Macheda will do for both him and Tevez what playing time hasn’t done. That’s wake them up and make them realize that they are paid to score goals and be much more predatory and aggressive. I wouldn’t bet on it though. Berbatov is a sleeping pill addict it seems and Tevez, well lets just say his fear of the box is similar to my fear of authority figures telling me what to do.

  22. Btw, what’s with this Rio bashing? 😕 It’s not like he expected to do his groin while playing for England. If it was a recurrence of his back problem, then i’d have questioned his motives but it was a completely different injury. You can’t knock a player down for wanting to play for his country, i’m sure if some of you had that chance, you would do whatever you can to always feature.

  23. @Stephen: I agree about Tevez being a hard worker and playing with a lot of heart but one must ask ourselves, after all that effort, how many goals does he score and how influential is he in others scoring goals? Not as much as you might think and certainly not even close to last years decent number. I appreciate work ethic but often it is overrated by a blue collar public that believes footballers should work as hard or even harder than they do. I am not a fan of this mentality. I prefer skill and tempo and the ability to deliver when you are expected to. All the running around and being a pest might look nice but what you do with the ball at your feet in the critical moment that a goal is being constructed is the vital part. And in that case, Tevez fails more often than he succeeds. I’ll take Cantona’s laziness and ability to produce when given the chance over Tevez’ imitation of the Tasmanian Devil any day of the week.

  24. @Grognard: True, i’m beginning to want Benzema less and less at United now. We have three younglins who seem to have a bright future if given playing time, we should spend that cash in central midfield. More specifically, a creative, goal-scoring attacking midfielder. I believe if Fergie just let Cazza move forward, he could be that guy but as usual, Fergie has chosen to exploit the lads’ versatility and use him more defensively. Look at yesterday when Cazza moved forward, he was pulling the strings and provided Ronnie the pass for his second. We just have a weird combination of central midfielders tbh and I really don’t know what system would get the most out of all of them. I really do not envy Fergie sometimes 😆

  25. @Rd: Hang on mate. I am far from anti Rooney. I love the little bastard. I just can’t handle his temper and petulant attitude because it hurts the team. Other than I think he is a tremendous footballer who we cannot possibly go without. So why I am being lumped into a group of supposed anti Rooney blokes is beyond me. The fact that I spout the truth about the lad does not make me a hater of the lad. 🙄

  26. @Gabriel: The problem with Rio is that he was not able to play the friendly game, because he injured either his back or groin in training with England. He was a massive doubt for the game against Ukraine 3 days later, but when asked by the press which game he thought more important, he said, and I quote, “This England game”. He stayed on the field for over 80 minutes, knowing he had a problem. So he chose to play for England in preference to making sure he was okay, at a terrible time for our club when we were up against it. I saw where is loyalties lay and it wasn’t with our club, so I lost all the great respect I had for him.

  27. @Craig Mc: You have me all wrong mate. I too prefer Macheda way over Welbeck but Welbeck compares to a young Henry in terms of skill set and versatility. He can play wide, he has long gangly legs etc. Macheda reminds me of Totti. I much prefer Totti as a player and his style to the style of Henry. Therefore I prefer Macheda to Welbeck, but I do believe Welbeck has some great skill. And it’s 85% proof Ouzo mate, in case you are wondering. Gives me a buzz every time. 😀

  28. @Dan: wow, u r randy today aren’t u mate? I recommend a night out with a bird or maybe a lad’s mag, coupled with some vaselne and a box of kleenex; whichever u prefer. 😛

  29. @Rd: Talk about having taken things I said out of context. 😯 😮 I may rant about Fergie from game to game and I have suggested that perhaps he should consider retirement if he does no longer want to get down and dirty with poorly performing payers, but at no time do any of my comments come across as a definitive movement against Fergie where I truly want him to be sacked or retire. We all say things in the heat of the moment and i am no different, but I know when I made those statements, other things were said by me that brought them more into proper perspective. Jeez, now I know how Paul Newman felt in the movie “Absence of Malice”. 🙄 Amazing how all the positive rants about him are not used in your quote hungry post.

  30. @Craig Mc: Well said Bro, I totally agree. Man I hate it when somebody goes back into the archives and quotes me out of context.

  31. @Craig Mc: It was his back that was hurt before the friendly and he recovered in time for the qualifier. The groin strain was completely unrelated to the injury concern he had before going into the game. It was just happenstance. Which is why I would not knock him down. He is a professional dedicated to doing his best for club and country. If he knew there was a massive chance he would have been injured in the qualifier, hence preventing him for featuring for United, i’m pretty sure he would have opted out and let Upson or Jagielka fill in. This is what drives these guys to the top mate, that will and determination to play and succeed. He is no Jamie Carragher who would chicken out on his country just because he’s not good enough to compete for his natural playing position. 😆

  32. @Dan: That’s still a lot of goals to expect when a player like that only comes around once or twice in a generation. You say we have two waiting in the wings. If thats the case, one will probably cancel the other out anyway because two strikers on the same team are not going to score over 25 goals. Just not going to happen. It never happened with Cole and Yorke or Hughes and Cantona etc.

  33. @Craig Mc: Unlike you I am more ambitious. I would want to be manager for the next 20 years and I would demand a transfer kitty that would make my team look like this;

    GK – Adler
    RB – Rafael
    CB – Rio (although he is now on Grog’s famous Double Secret Probation)
    CB – Vidic
    LB – Lahm
    RMF – Ronaldo
    DMF – Hargreaves
    CMF – Carrick
    LMF – Ribery
    ST – Rooney
    ST – Huntelaar

    SUB – Foster
    SUB – Evans
    SUB – Fabio
    SUB – Nani
    SUB – Macheda
    SUB – Possebon
    SUB – Fletcher

    Now if I had no transfer kitty my 18 would be;

    GK – Foster
    GK – Rafael
    GK – Rio
    GK – Vidic
    LB – Fabio
    RMF – Ronaldo
    LMF – Nani
    DMF – Hargreaves
    CMF – Carrick
    ST – Rooney
    ST – Macheda

    SUB – Pig
    SUB – Tevez
    SUB – Evans
    SUB – Evra
    SUB – Fletcher
    SUB – Park
    SUB – Welbeck

    I also like Eckersley and Gibson but on the way out would be my beloved but failed Berbatov, Anderson (sorry Eddy), Tosser….I mean Tosic, Neville, EVDS, Giggs and Scholes. And Evra would be hanging on by a thin thread as would O’Shea.

  34. @Craig Mc: Manucho is slug boy. We agree on Nani, but we will never agree on Not Much Manucho. He is a sloth. Manucho reminds me of Jabba the Hut and not as good looking either. 😀

  35. @Gabriel: I would be all for a complete youth movement up front. Sell both Berba and let Tevez go and take the money made and saved and buy Ribery. Then lets watch the goals pour in from two sides of the field as Franck sets them up on one side and Ronny scores them from the other and the youngsters benefiting up front from the improved service and speed in attack.

  36. @Gabriel: His groin was bothering him before the first England game and he sat that game out. Feeling the pressure from Upson, he decided to risk it all to maintain his England place and simply put Man Utd in the dumper by doing so. He thus aggravated the groin again and now we lose out on him not only against villa, but Porto too. Selfish and not getting his priorities right. He put his England ambitions above those of Man Utd.

  37. @Grognard: 😮 Fosters in both your squads! you should see the grin on my face! i look like the joker 😆

    That lad is something else! he play is so un-english its uncanny!

  38. @Gabriel: Spend the money on the LMF/LW position. Carrick will be all you want of him if Hargreaves returns 100%. Hargo is the glue and stability we need in the center and Carrick’s role would change with Hargo there. Well it should, but Fergie has a mind of his own and I could see him playing both Carrick and Hargo back as duo DMF’s. Either way, adding a Ribery along with Hargo is all we need. That an perhaps a goalkeeper who isn’t flat footed every time a shot or header is headed for our goal.

  39. @Dan: I have no problem with Foster as a backup but if I was to pick on our present keepers totday, I would choose him because I have been disgusted by EVDS over the past few weeks. Flat footed and slow to react. The free kick Liverpool scored made me sick to my stomach and Abundleofwhores goal yesterday really stuck in my crotch not to mention his flat footed lame attempt at Carews header. I concede that he probably would never have stopped the Carew goal but have a go at it anyway you old lazy bastard. If he was positioned better in terms of having the wait on the balls of his feet rather than on his heels, he may have had the spring to touch it. We’ll never know since he was taking time out to have a hot dog. Foster has issues and holes in his game but at least he is young and ambitious. Give him a chance if the old man doesn’t have the hunger for it. What really gets me about EVDS is he sees relatively few quality shots in a game but he seems to let in two out of every three of them. We need a Casillas type who will stone them when they get a chance, end of story.

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