Portsmouth Preview

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Yesterday was a mad game. Sky Sports pundits love to call it a classic; most pundits love to trot that out when they see a rare occurrence of a high scoring game. I thought it was a rubbish game because of some appalling defending. And mainly from Arsenal who made back pass after misjudged back pass to tease Liverpool into scoring goals. The Chelsea-Liverpool tie over two legs was a better contest, despite poor defending. But what do we care? It was a draw, a good result (although an Arsenal win would have been better) and we have something today that could make yesterday’s result count.

It’s Pompey who have problems of their own. But abject as teams might appear, they suddenly seem to run around like energizer bunnies when they face us. Either that or we have been generally shite going forward. It doesn’t take the Scotland Yard to work out which. I’ll leave that you.

In team news, Rooney, Ronaldo, Carrick, Fletcher and EVDS would surely return to the starting XI having played no part in the weekend defeat. I can’t really predict the starting line up, but Fletcher and Carrick should pair up in the middle, with Ronaldo and A. N. Other on the wings, while Berbatov and Rooney will resume their partnership upfront. The back four would be Evra, Vidic, Rio and O’Shea. (I don’t have any updates on Brown, and Rafael had a long day out at Wembley.)

Tevez would once again warm the bench with his mate, Park, and so will Welbeck and Macheda.

There, I’ve done the preview. This is a very short one because I have to run. My prediction for this one: 2-0 to United.

Come on you reds!

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277 Comments

  1. @Vivek: No question about that, Portsmouth were so poor it’s hard to assess our performance, but it was certainly no more than average.

  2. Anderson seems more confident right now. His pass for our first goal was exepsional, and he worked his socks off. He made some bad passes, but Im kinda getting used to it. He will have some bad “easy-passes” during a game, but he makes up for it with a great performance in total.

    Glad to see him start 3 games in a row, looks like its given him a real confidence boost at just the right time. I dont think he will play on Saturday, but its nice to see him getting a run and showing what he has got. 😀

  3. @Vivek: Fair enough, but I still wouldn’t swap our defence for either of theirs. But I thought this performance was a breath of fresh air compared to the plodding displays of late. As for Scholes, I still believe that he should be playing most of his games against minnows, hence pompey was the ideal opposition. He gets caught too often in a high speed game, but his slowing down of the game and keeping of possession allows us to let our class shine through sooner or later.

    Spurs are definitely a tougher piece of meat, but I’ve taken heart from this performance personally. If we get half the number of chances that we’ve got today, I still fancy us to get the 3 points.

  4. @RedDevilEddy: I think anderson has looked excellent every game since hes been back. Hes been a breath of fresh air since hes returned and his ball today to giggsy was brilliant. This is what im talking about when i say he should be a starter each week, his link up between the front 2 or 3 and the midfield at times is world class he just needs to be a bit more consistent.

  5. @RedDevilEddy: from richard jolly at Soccernet…

    “MAN OF THE MATCH: Anderson – Following a fine showing against Porto and a decent display against Everton, the Brazilian capped one of the finest weeks of his United career with a starring role tonight. If his season has been underwhelming, recent games have provided reminders of his excellent start to life at Old Trafford.”

  6. @Vivek: we just went top of the league and all you can do is moan? So if we dominate Spurs for 90 minutes we wont beat them? Kind of confused by that assessment tbh

  7. @Liam: thanks Bro for the info, didn’t work! But thanks anyway, my shit slow connection doesn’t help!@m34ch: Thanks Bro! got something going,but again my shit internet didn’t help things, appreciate your links 🙂

  8. @johnsom33: I much prefer the old way the European Cup was run. I only believe the previous year’s European champions and all the defending champions from each country should be involved. Why should a Spanish, English or Italian side which finished 4th in their domestic league have any right to compete for such a trophy. It’s bollocks and nothing more than a money grab by UEFA. How does a team finish in 2nd to 4th in a domestic league look at itself in the mirror when called a “Champions League” team? It’s ridiculous.

  9. @Jon: I don’t know what hitman you contacted but it worked. That shot to the foot got him out of the game. Well done mate. 😉 😆

  10. @Matt: Yes we did and Anderson still sucks, OK. 🙄 Frakken bandwagon jumpers. As if one play is going to redefine the way some of us think about that useless bag of energy.

  11. My prediction was 4-0 and although I received some flak for that bold prediction had we had a little more finish we could have scored 5 or 6. That said we still played boring football and to think we are living in days where United would field a team in a 4-5-1 formation at Old Trafford. Just ridiculous. I was totally bored by the game and by the pedestrian starting lineup. Nice pass to Giggs for the first goal. I’ll give him credit for that. Too bad that is all I’ll give him credit for. In the second half he was total shite as usual.

    Beautiful second goal by Carrick well taken and the single moment of excellence for Paul Scholes in the game. He sucked. Giggs misses three great chances, O’Shea’s header is cleared from the line and Anderson narrowly misses a shot in the first half…….and that’s it. Pretty fucking boring. I really hate watching this team right now. Every week it’s 90 minutes of my life wasted that I will never get back. Good professional win and it’s great to see the defense and primarily the back four playing well again. Much improved performance from Evra today. But lets all remember folks, this was Pompey. We’re supposed to beat the Pompey’s. Lets see how we do against Arsenal.

  12. Just watched the game which It aped while I slept. We played pretty well, although we lacked the final ball to kill them off. Funnily enough I think that was exactly the type of game that Berbatov would have dominated: a lot of passing around the penalty area and a lot of retention of possession.

    And Grognard, in one of the first comments you asked why we didn’t opt more frequently for the attacking approach against big sides a la Arsenal, and I just would have thought the answer was pretty self evident: our approach has us first in the league with a game in hand while Arsenal were, until recently, struggling to make 4th.

    I do miss the buccaneering days of pre-treble football though, it’s just that you can’t afford to take those risks when the game actually means something. Look at Arsenal away at Villareal, fairly conservative team and approach, they got a 1-0 win.

  13. I thought I’d take this opportunity, while everyone is deciding whether or not they like Berbatov, to ask what people thought of Veron. Personally, I think he suffered from Keane’s injuries and RvN’s apparent dislike for playing up front alone, preventing us putting out a Keane-Scholes-Veron midfield trio as often as we liekd. I mention it because the injuries to Hargreaves have, IMO, jeopardised Berbatov’s success and the situations could end up sadly similar.

  14. @Grognard: I agree about the champions league. It severely under values the competition when non champions are invited. I say let the Uefa cup be the runner up tournament, and bring the prestige back to the Champions league. I also think it would help spread the money around.

  15. @michael: Veron was undoubtedly one of the most talented “true” midfielders that have ever graced the OT pitch,. Unfortunately, Veron himself was dogged by injury and, not forgetting that we already had just about the perfect midfield four a manager could ever want. Before he was even linked to united he was one of my favourites players, and when his transfer was announced I was overjoyed but at the same time baffled as I coudln’t see him fitting in.

    I sincerely think Fergie screwed up as even with veron in the team, I preferred the magic midfield four. Nowadays his strategy is to have undoubted starters and good enough players to deputise. At the time it was not always the case.

    But anyway I kinda get your point. If we had a dominant enfocer in midfield, maybe our strikers wouldn’t have to drop deep to get involved and play more normally. I really hope that Anderson will carry on his recent form in the final turn of the season – he could play Nani’s part in being the X-factor that makes the difference when all is said and done…

  16. @johnsom33: You must tell me more about your “reverse jinx routine”. If it works it could make me some money. 😆 😆

  17. @Grognard: Well to tell you the truth, I thought we looked quite good tonight. Without the key misses by all and sundry I’d say we dominated the opposition handily. With a conservative estimate of probably, 4 sitters I’d say that the game plan and the tactics were OK, but we just couldn’t put the game away at the individual level.

    It was good to see that SAF went with a team that he knew would fight hard for a result and for their positions. Anderson had an impressive first period, showing why he should probably be playing in a “pressing” midfield slot more often, and Fletcher, although untidy, made up an urgent performance in midfield.

    Rooney played in and out of the game really, and I did think that a lot of his support play was careless! He and Ronaldo consistently made vital passes that may have found their target if only they’d bothered to raise their head and actually aimed the ball!

    Evra, again, played like a creature out of Cirque du Soliel, very stylish and acrobatic, but really he was useless as a full back. This man needs to take off the mask and start playing like a professional football player and not the artiste he seems to think he is!!

    Giggs was a monster and showed just why he is our best player. Always alert, always active, always in a good position to threaten. I just hate to think what it will all be like when he’s gone!!

    Lots of room for improvement, have to say, but 3 PL wins in a row is a good sign of intent, and if I had any money at all to bet on this, I’d take any odds and still come out with profit!!

  18. @michael: I hate to say it, but how could you use the words Berbatov and dominate in the same sentence?? 😆 😆

  19. @Redrich: It was a positive result especially because our defense although not spectacular, seemed to control Pomnpey very well. It seems we have no problem controlling the game but we still struggle to create enough opportunities. We should have scored more today but still, for a team to score 3 or more goals in a game, it needs to create around ten chances. Law of averages say that the keeper will stop half of them so creating 5 good chances in a game is just not cutting it.
    But I think that’s what Fergie wants. He wants us to get that lead and then play keep away. I for one don’t like it but it is going to win us the EPL in a butt ugly manner.

  20. @NicoQB: I think that one point to bear in mind, is that SAF is from the UK, spent his entire career playing and managing in the UK and has absolutely no appreciation of the subtleties that surround the needs of a player from overseas!!
    It’s not that he doesn’t care about them, he just doesn’t know about them.
    He saw Veron, as you did, as a midfield general, that could do dominate the way Viera did for Le Arse and with a small stretch of the imagination, you could go along with that. But the chemistry wasn’t there, neither were the support systems for a player so alien to his natural enviroment.

    I guess what I’m saying is that SAF doesn’t really get out of his field of expertise. If he doesn’t know about it, then he won’t bother about it. He will to only do what his instincts tell him is right.

    Of course, this is absurd, given the PC’ness of modern day society, but the older he gets the more assured he is that his way is THE way. With the track record written down for him, I think he will stay on HIS course until he retires.

  21. @Grognard: I don’t know, grog, lots of op’s but really no finishing power. How I miss the Dutchman. Ruud would have made a whole season out of yesterdays opportunities!!

  22. @Grognard: Absolutely agree. If you can’t write a sentence, you need a sentence.

    Six months in grammar school!! 😆 😆 😆 😆

  23. @NicoQB: Paul Scoles had his 600’th game today. I thought he played well enough. It’s a poor time to nitpik his performance and because of that, your comments, here, seem to be classless!!

  24. @Redrich: I don’t know if I will ever recover from the loss of Ruud and Becks for that matter. Ruud was a monster in the box. Something we have not had since his departure.

  25. @RedDevilEddy: Yeah, Anderson is getting better.
    But he needs more games. His stamina looked like it was waning in the second half and only a few more extended appearances will fix this. Gotta think SAF will use this approach with other young players too!, but whats with the Nani thing?? I have to wonder why he hasn’t got a sniff lately!! Fucking weird!

  26. @Grognard: I recover from the “becks” thing when ever I see his underware ads!! But the big goal hungry striker, oh my, just cant wait for that to come around again!!

    I want to replace some of that “finesse” with some strait forward finishing power.

    When someone says “Berbatov is making good link-up plays”, I think to myself that the better “link-up” would be; him-and-the-back-of-the-net!!

  27. @Grognard: well i think ando has been reading your stuff n in the first half he was out to prove u wrong 😛
    Think the terrier stuff has rubbed of on fletch the way he haggled the opposition ws great to see. n RRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYY

  28. @Alex: Yes but Anderson once again ran out of gas in the second half. Which just confirms what I have always said about him. He’s a short little fat assed gas bag who runs out of gas very quickly because all he has to offer is hard running and the occasional long through ball. I’m sorry mate but I expect more from a player who plays midfield for Manchester United. More like what Carrick offered up when he came in. With four midfielders already out there it was interesting seeing him in a more advanced attacking midfield role and look what the end result was. A beautifully taken goal. I’ll be watching three hundred games in the future and still be waiting for Anderson to score his first. 😆

  29. @Grognard: I see your point but I never “signed up” I was born a United fan and agree our football this year hasn’t been exactly thrilling and maybe I am a sheep but I will follow and support my side through thick and thin, through the great times and through the bad, but I do understand.

  30. @Liam:

    This was the easiest game of our run-in. The other games are against relegation strugglers (Hull, Boro) who will battle for every point, Arsenal, shitty, and Spurs, who are all better than or will battle more than pompey did. We have to step up our performance if we are to win 5 of the 6 matches

  31. 2-0 is not a true result of the game if you take a look at the stats you will see that united had 14 shots on target and 6 off compared to 2 on and 3 off for pompey. I just do not know why our strikers cannot put the ball into the back of the net. when we scored after 8 minutes i dais to my son this is going to be a high scoring game to united but come half time i was pissed off going inot the break at 1-0 up. we couold have easily wiped out liverpools goal difference last night if only we took our fucken chances. My man of the match without a doubt is mr ANDERSON what a performance. some of you will not agree to this and i am not here to get into an argument with my fellow suporters so everyone will have to keep to their own opinion and not assume that because it is their opinion they are right. Surely you can see that he is improving and what i liked about last night is that Anderson was used more as an attacking midfield which is his best position and i realy thoughy he would have scored his first goal from open play so it was ashame that he was substituted. The only thing about the substitution is Carrick scored the goal that settled our nerves. I wonder what his goal celebration will be.

  32. @Matt: I bow down to your superior knowledge mate, you were right Andy had a superb game, even if some of his passes were a little off key 😳 😀

  33. See how Fergie should use Anderson? He is a monster if played in an advanced role and its a shame he didnt score,but there is light at the end of that tunnel.
    The game against spurs is a must win,and fingers crossed Hull might get a result because i know Liverpool’s morale must be low and they are panicking each passing game.Do us a favour Manucho.
    Am more worried about the way we dont finish off games however good our defence is.Arsenal have a midfield and front line that have plenty of goals in them so the only way to beat them is to outscore them.

  34. @Stephen: I’m like you Bro, this isn’t a fashion parade. You pick your colours and stick with it through thick and thin, i always wanted to be different, most of my peers were scouse or Leeds or Arsenal fans (early 70’s!) So United picked me! Thats the way i see it anyway! God forbid, but if we went the same way Leedscum went, i’d still support UNITED Through thick and thin , in sickness and in health, till the day i die.Here’s a reminder for all those who either weren’t born! or cant remember!
    “Don Revie marked his last season as Leeds United’s manager by guiding them to league championship glory, before taking over from Sir Alf Ramsey as the England national football team manager, with England having surprisingly failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup. Revie’s conquering side had a two-horse race with Liverpool all season but won in the end, taking the title for the second time in their history by five points. Newly promoted Burnley adopted to life back in the top flight well, finishing in sixth place.
    Manchester United were relegated from the First Division just six years after winning the European Cup at the end of a traumatic season which had seen goalkeeper Alex Stepney as joint top scorer with two goals at Christmas. Their 36-year stay at the top was finally ended with a 1-0 home defeat against Manchester City in the last game of the season – ironically, former United striker Denis Law scored City’s winning goal. But Birmingham City’s win on that same afternoon would have sent United down even if they had beaten City. Despite this the board kept faith in manager Tommy Docherty as the man to regain the club’s top flight place.
    Joining United in the Second Division were Norwich City and Southampton. This was the first season in which the League introduced three relegation places from the top division.” Ah Mcllroy, Stepney, Greenoff, Buchan,Pearson,and Macari, not really all time greats but i remember them with fondness.

  35. @phoenix red: I think we are two peas in the same pod mate ❗ 😆
    Also I cannot bring myself ever to tell Giggs to fuck off, call me old fashioned or loyal I don’t know but I remember that semi in 99 at Villa Park and will never forget what a servant he has been for my club.

  36. @Grognard: dats y i mentioned first half 😉 n i guess carrick also scored since evryone was saying no goals from midfield…. but agree andy to score will have to be in the charity match after he retires

  37. Without doubt our last two games have been so much better than 1 month ago. I think we can only improve and we can no draw vs. Arsenal AND Tottenham and still be on top.

    I think, if we win our game in hand and go 6 pts clear at the top that the title is ours. here is why. Being a Math guy, in the last couple of years I realized that once a team get ahead with X pts when Y games remain and X > Y (so they lead by more pts than games left), they win the title.

    1. We had a chance to go 10 pts clear with 10 games left but lost to liverpool.
    2. We now have a chance to go 6 pts clear with 5 games left (after our game in hand).

    This means, one more win and we are champions, theoretically 🙂

    I have totally forgotten the FA Cup loss and am happy we are back to playing more fluid football and keeping clean sheets.

  38. @Stephen: Very True Bro! I saw that comment, and sighed DEEPLY. Was gonna reply but thought my language wouldn’t be appropriate on this forum! Have to do quite alot of that recently 🙄 some of the comments are laughable to say the least, but everyone is entitled to their opinion, so lots of deep breaths 😉
    As for THAT goal, i was in a Gooner pub in Hackney, North London!!! The place was covered in Arse Flags and fat soppy gooners, in the whole pub there was only 5 of us shouting for United, one lad from Manchester, another Irishman and 2 Spurs fans! We were sitting at the bar up the front of the pub(near the door!) Now we were pretty quiet for most of the match, but as soon as Giggsy got the ball, i was stood up,shouting at the telly at the top of my voice “Go on Giggsy”. I’d forgotten all sense of reality, and i went ballistic when he scored, screaming like a mad cunt and hugging my very few new best mates! Now how i didn’t get killed is beyond me!! I’m not a small lad, and the irish accent combined with the madness and brass neck must have put them off. I think the gooners were in too much shock over the goal anyway!
    Bro, I’ll never forget that GOAL! Ryan Giggs, What a man, What a player, what a Hero! There’s been no greater servant to our club, or any club 😈 “Giggs will tear you apart, AGAIN”

  39. @phoenix red: Ha ha what a quility story bro 😆 😆 😆 I was was watching that game at one my mates houses and when “Veria gave Giggsy the ball and Arsenal won fuck all!!” I remember leaping round his living shouting what a goal in a rather high pitched voice, although not sure about the chest wig he wore that day! 😆 😆

  40. @Redrich: Calling my comments classless is a bit uncalled for, mate. 👿
    I was replying to Vivek, who called him the worst player on the pitch on the night, and I was disagreeing with him on the grounds that he brings us something positive – slowing the game down can be in certain cases – to our game. Also there’s no denying that in certain uptempo games, Scholes has been left wanting – the 1dt leg against Porto if I’m not mistaken was just painful to watch, especially as we love the legend that is Scholes and hate to see him struggle like this.
    Next time you reply to someone’s comment make sure you know about what he was talking about in the first place.

  41. @Stephen: I too am a sheep when it comes to following Man Utd but lets just say I am the black sheep of the family. I stay loyal but I also question the status quo and challenge my team to do better and play like I know they can. 😀

  42. @donibrasco: @Redrich: 600th game or not scholes was useless out there. His assist was single positive pass he made all game. And since when did it become off limits to state the truth about one of our greats? Fact is, people get old. It’s called life, and scholes is no different. He is a shadow of his former self and any honest fan can see that. Sentiment is the only thing keeping him in the rotation.

  43. @Madschester United: Lets also not forget that Liverpool and Chelsea still have to play their games and they have tough fixtures to go through. Also lets remember that both teams took very serious mental blows to their ego’s with draws this week which may have left them low and psychologically defeated. To expect them to run the table and win all their games is asking far too much of them. We have six games left. I feel if we draw one and lose one we still win the title. But lets not take any chances. Win them all and don’t give the Scousers any glimmer of hope.

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