Connect with us

Match Reports

United do their Reading, but the lesson is not learnt yet.

Manchester United and Reading produced some of the craziest 45 minutes in Premier League history, as the Reds opened a three-point gap at the top of the table, after emerging winners of a seven-goal thriller.

While the result might suggest otherwise, this was not an encounter that will be talked about for years – not for the right reasons anyway – as United produced yet another performance of mind-numbingly sloppiness and would have – and should have – been punished by a Reading side that will be left wondering how they did not get anything out of this game, for there aren’t many newly-promoted side that score three goals against United.

Buoyed by results earlier in the day that had seen Chelsea losing at West Ham and City held to a draw at home by Everton, United traveled to the Madejski with only three changes in personnel from the XI that started the game against West Ham on Wednesday. Out went Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Javier Hernandez, in came Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Young and Darren Fletcher.

With less that eight minutes played United were back in the familiar territory of conceding an early goal, as Jonny Evans failed to properly deal with a cross, heading the ball towards Robson-Kanu, who chested it down before unleashing a swerving volley past Anders Lindegaard to put the home side 1-0 up.

United were level five minutes later. Anderson’s flick found Ashley Young out wide on the left, the former Villa man returned the ball to Anderson, who had continued his run in the box and smashed the ball behind Federici to equalise. United were quickly in front as Jay Tabb recklessly barged into Jonny Evans, sending the Northern Irishman tumbling in the box.

Rooney made no mistake from the penalty spot, sending Federici the wrong way, and United looked set for a comfortable win. Reading, and the United back four, though, had other plans. Four minutes after Rooney’s goal, Nicky Shorey’s corner found Adam Le Fondre unmarked in the box and the Reading striker made no mistake against his childhood team, heading past Lindegaard.

History repeated itself four minutes later, only this time it was Morrison who was left unmarked by Evans to head Reading in front, as United were again guilty of awful marking in the box.

As the old saying goes, an animal is at its most dangerous when wounded and United confirmed such theory on the half hour mark. Evra exchanged passes with Young before galloping towards Reading’s box, where he latched on Young’s perfectly weighted back-heel, before squaring the ball back for Rooney who slotted it past Federici.

Rafael was then replaced by Smalling, as Ferguson opted to bolster United’s physical presence at the back, withdrawing the Brazilian who hand endured a torrid afternoon up to that point, much to Rafael’s displeasure as he cut a grumpy figure back on the bench.

There was no sign of grumpiness on Robin Van Persie’s face as he put United in front with 34 minutes played, after evading Reading’s offside trap to receive Michael Carrick’s pass and beat Federici at the near post. The Dutchman should have had a second five minutes later, when the ball kindly fell for him after Federici had brilliantly denied Chris Smalling.

Van Persie’s shot was cleared by Shaun Cumming well inside the goal, but the linesman judged otherwise and Mark Halsey waved play on. It was a frantic finish to an absurd first half that saw Phil Jones replacing the injured Anderson just before half-time, as the Brazilian, one of United’s in-form players, made way for the former Blackburn man.

After such a flurry of goals in the first half, the second half faced an almighty struggle to maintain the same intensity. Indeed it failed to do so, Van Persie’s open-goal miss having dispossessed Federici the only highlight of the second 45 minutes.

United survived a few tense moments at the end, before emerging with another three points, while Reading were left ruing their missed chances against a United side that are miles away from vaguely resembling the quality normally associated with Fergie’s teams.

Sure they score goals for fun and they’ve mastered the old club tradition of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat – United have fallen behind 14 times in 22 games this season – but thinking that the “you score four, we score five” approach could possibly lead to a title, is at best naive and at worst downright deluded.

Still, with a week to go to the derby at Eastlands United have opened a three-point gap at the top of the table and have promised their fans that, while this season might not be successful, whatever the outcome come May it will have been a hell of a ride.

Dan (@MUFC_dan87)






  1. Moscow

    1 December 2012 at 21:00

    Fletcher and Jones should never play in midfield again. They were both awful. Why did Rafael get hauled off when it was Evans who was the culprit? Crazy game.

    • Traverse

      1 December 2012 at 21:35

      @Moscow: Rafael was heading for another yellow, and thus miss the derby next week. So I think Fergie was saving him from himself for that.

    • Daniele

      1 December 2012 at 21:45

      @Moscow: Fletcher looked way off the pace, as for Jones i’m not too sure which is his best position. Anything bar Ando-Carrick or Cleverley-Carrick in midfield next week and we’re doomed.

    • Quis

      2 December 2012 at 21:57

      @Moscow: Reading never scored again after Jones came on… that should say something. They took Rafael off cause he’2 ft nothing and they needed Smalling’s height.

      It’s not Evans, watch Ferdinand get tangled up in every one of his assignments inside the box. Evens is trying to cover both CB positions (not doing too well unfortunately)

    • Chucky

      3 December 2012 at 09:07

      @Moscow: He was taken off purely for strategic reasons, he is not the tallest hence smalling was brought in…. i can understand why he was angry, no one likes being substituted in the first half however; shows that Fergie isnt afraid to make those hard decisions

  2. Traverse

    1 December 2012 at 21:34

    I look forward to ending next week 2nd on goal difference.

    • Daniele

      1 December 2012 at 21:43

      @Traverse: If we defend like we have done this year, that is going to be the only possible outcome. Can’t go there expecting to sit back and defend for 90 minutes, take the game at them and we might get something out of it.

      • Traverse

        1 December 2012 at 21:56

        @Daniele: They’ll kill us if we defend like we have the past… 6 or 7 weeks? All season? No way we’ll beat them. We’ll Van Persie could drag our asses to a 6-7 win but we’ll need that. Scholes and Giggs’ll start in midfield.

        • The_Philosopher

          3 December 2012 at 08:33

          @Traverse: Why on earth does Ferguson play Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in the big games?

          Those guys are horribly lacking in pace and general fitness to take on the likes of Yaya Toure!


          If experience is all you need then why don’t we bring back Roy Keane?

    • Moscow

      1 December 2012 at 21:59

      @Traverse: City will dominate the midfield, Toure and Silva always have a field day against us. Usually a 4-5-1 wouldn’t get us anything better than a draw, but our lone striker is RVP this time, so the 5 man midfield does indeed seem to be our best bet. I’m very encouraged by Anderson’s progress, he can hustle for a good hour.

      De Gea
      Rafael Rio Evans/Vidic? Evra
      Valencia Cleverley Carrick Anderson Rooney

      We will need all of RVP’s hold up play and clinical finishing. He is our best player.

      • Daniele

        2 December 2012 at 09:12

        @Moscow: Anderson is out for 4 weeks mate.

        • Moscow

          2 December 2012 at 14:07

          @Daniele: FFS

      • Opti

        3 December 2012 at 05:28

        @Moscow: Is valencia still injured?

        Also, you forgot Giggs and Scholes in Midfield. In all seriousness, perhaps “Big-Game-2009” Fletcher will swap with “Always-Injured” Anderson. Otherwise I agree… I do feel like we need Smalling’s pace in central defense, but City are not the speediest bunch…

        Also, RvP needs to have a great game for United to get anything from this (assuming City show up)

  3. Andrew

    1 December 2012 at 21:40

    It was a crazy first half but a truly terrible defensive performance by Man Utd. Its a massive shame having come off a clean sheet against West Ham, and some good performances from Rafeal, Smalling and Evans. However today against Reading the defending was at its worse. The only change was Ferdinand coming in for Smalling, so on paper you would have thought we would be stronger. It didn’t work out that way and we looked worse than ever. I’m not putting the blame on Rio. He was just part of an unorganised back five. Ferguson did well when he brought on Smalling because it made a difference. Rafeal was having a bad day and we couldn’t risk being at 10 men.

    Ferguson looked angry from the bench and it will be frustrating for him. Its a question of how do we fix this problem. Evans and Rafeal go from looking like world beaters one match, and then the next game they can look like amateurs. It might be a case of patience now because I’m sure Ferguson is thinking and waiting for Nemanja Vidic to come back. He doesn’t want to rush him, but this team need its captain back and we need a true leader in the defence. I really hope the medical team has done everything correct by him and he can finally return. A game against Cluj is hopefully on the agenda. If he comes through that well, then who knows, maybe the Manchester derby next week!!!!

    I am pleased we won today though because it was important, even if the manner of the victory is not too impressive. Rooney scoring was a massive positive and I hope its just the start of his goalscoring run. We have a busy Christmas and New Years period coming now, so we need Rooney, Van Persie and Hernandez scoring goals. Anderson was a bright spark in all the craziness and scored a very good goal. It was a shame he got injured and subbed. I do hope he is fit for the Manchester derby because in this form he would be a starter.

    Young looked a lot better, although for me he should still be doing more. I felt considering the opposition, and no disrespect to Reading because they played very well, Ashley Young should be beating his full back more often and looking more dangerous in front of goal. We need more goals from the midfield and the wingers have been poor in contributing goals so far this season.

    An important win but not a good performance and we must do better next week against Man City.

  4. Opti

    1 December 2012 at 22:21

    Wow. What a first half! What a mediocre 90 minutes.

    I feel bad for Rafael, but can lie to myself and say that Fergie saved him for the Derby… Who really thinks Rafael will start after frowning at Fergie and on Camera. Also, Fergie is an awful liar claiming he did not notice any disrespect from Rafael. Will cost him his starting spot and United the chance of a point at Emirates. To be fair, Smalling did play well, I though, and provided somewhat reasonable attacking prowess going forward.

    I had almost forgotten (and forgiven) Jones for his weird season last year when he went from super-star to “19 year-old average” . However, today he reminded me why I found him so average. He has great speed, passion, physicality, BUT he cannot perform the simple things right: runs, passing, shooting, decision-making all are way below that of any half-decent (defensive) midfielder. He should ONLY be used as RB or CB when Smalling or Rafael need rest or we lead by 2 goals. Nice guy. Young player. He has time and I will give him 5 years before branding him a flop. PS: can you imagine (if) Mourinho selection our squad — would he keep Phil Jones? I doubt it…

    Rooney scoring is big, especially with his previous slump and the upcoming Manchester derby. BIG! RvP is not injured is great too!!

    Under the guise of a proper defensive performance, we can snatch a couple points from the Emirates. If we play as we did today, we might just ask for 6-1 again!



    • Craig Mc

      2 December 2012 at 00:31

      Before the goal that Andi scored, I just thrilled over the way he received the ball and just played one touch football pass out to the wing, and ran on to receive the ball back again, and scored the most exquisite goal. That my friends is pure football samba style. Pity that he never stays fit long enough, because that lad is so aware of players around him, and loves FAST free flowing, forward going football. If he could stay fit. and get a run of games, we could eventually get some genious from him. Yes I really believe it lads. I feel a bit hopeful that we have got our defensive nightmare game over and done before the Wastelanders game. Better to have got that one out of the way, because can’t get any worse than that, well not if we keep 11 players on the field. That shower at City are very adept at getting non existant penalty kicks, and getting players sent off. I was raging when SAF sent Welbeck on, and once again he contributed NOTHING. How he is still getting on the pitch I have no idea, and think Fergie should surely be seeing it. Young is another waster, and how we paid 19 million for him – well the mind boggles. We still scored 5 goals though, before the numptees came on that is – 😆 😆 😆

      • Johnnos

        3 December 2012 at 11:23

        @Craig Mc: Very well put. I remember a couple of seasons ago when we beat Rovers 7-1 and Ando was the man running the show. He really has a footballing. brain on his shoulders….

  5. Sahal

    1 December 2012 at 22:37

    Lindergaard offered no security in the air so what’s the bloody point of dropping De Gea,honestly I see no advantages of this keeper rotation policy.The keepers don’t get a chance to form a relationship with the back 4 and thus we’re vulnerable

    We gave the ball away like 6 year olds.Do that at City and watch David Silva make you whistle through your arse.

    Dear Phil Jones,no matter how much you imagined it in front of your mirror,you ain’t Zidane,so leave the advanced role to someone else eh?

    The performance has to improve ahead of the derby.The team owes the fans something after last years performances against the neighbours.Play like we did today and we”ll probably concede 5 and score 1.
    City have the best defence in the league so scoring won;t be as freely as it has been.And if the defence is struggling to cope with Roberts,than Imagine what Aguero,Tevez and Silva could do.

    Next week is a great opportunity to increase the lead at the top and hopefully United can do it.

    Evans and Welbeck,I’ve seen Trees head better than you two :mrgreen:

    TOP OF THE LEAGUE(it’s a “fact”)

  6. John Tring

    2 December 2012 at 14:13

    It’s not a surprise Utd conceded three against a relegation-bound team. The surprise is : SAF can’t or won’t accept the simple fact: Utd do not have any decent defender. Period. Evra, Evans, Rafael are not even Championship-level let alone Utd-class. And why A Young is still in the team is a great mystery. With a 3rd-rate defence and pathetic midfield, the real and only surprise is Utd are at the top of the league. Wait till next Sunday though.

  7. Stephen

    3 December 2012 at 07:31

    crazy game of football,Rafael was having a nightmare game, but Fergie could have changed him at half time. Evans was awful, he got totally dominated and will never be good enough to be anymore than a squad player.
    The keeper situation for me is a real worry, Lindgaard isn’t good enough to our number 1. De Gea as I have said before is too young and is struggling with the physicality of the Premier League. For me we should bring in a stop gap, like Shay Given who can give us experience until De Gea is ready.
    The midfield situation against City is a big concern, Fletch was poor as was Jones who isn’t a midfield player, he is a defender.
    Ashley Young was poor again, great touch for the goal but he is so out of form.
    We do have great character which Arsenal, Chelsea and even City can learn from, imagine if we had a World Class midfielder, keeper and defender?!

  8. Stephen

    3 December 2012 at 08:54

    One of the great wonders of this World is how does Danny Welbeck play for Manchester United?
    I was enjoying a nice glass of wine when Fergie took off RvP, out best player and brought this buffoon on.
    For the life of me I fail to see what he offers, 1 goal in 17 games tells a stort, so does the fact that he has only scored 18 in 80 games. Jonny Evans has scored 3 in 12….

    • jos

      3 December 2012 at 14:15

      @Stephen: somebody tweeted on BBC that Danny boy is to Fergie what Torres is to Roman!

  9. Pingback: Old Futbol Buffet–Long Live the King « Soccer Nomad

  10. jos

    3 December 2012 at 14:14

    Another Fergie masterstroke? Mourinho is our next manager no doubt!

    Moscow should be so happy today.

  11. colver

    3 December 2012 at 20:15

    Agree totally. We need some steel in our defence. Chris Smalling and Evans are Bambis on ice and Rio while still very classy was never one to impose himself physically. Vidic couldn’t come back sooner. As for Jones we need to give him another go in central defence because he is useless in midfield and for all his indiscipline he is at least a strong stocky lad.

    Fletcher is finished I don’t think he’ll ever get back to the level he reached in 2008 and the kindest thing would be to let him play regularly for a midtable club and buy a commanding midfielder as his replacement.

    Anderson I’m impressed by if he can stay fit I think this could be his breakthrough season. He offers far more than Cleverley who is the definition of average.

  12. RMJ

    3 December 2012 at 21:30

    If we learned anything from the start of this season, it is that Scholes, Giggs, Fletcher and maybe even to a certain extent Rio are being carried through by the side. These guys no longer have the physique to cut in the league anymore. Rafael got a lot of stick against Reading but he was having a torrid time cause he was overexposed back there due to lack of support back on there by Fletcher. Our defensive solidarity didnt come into play for me till Jones came on cause this meant either he would protect the wing back when he wasnt trying to be the next Zidane so to speak. Fergie’s sentimentality of late is killing us and I dread who he will pick for the Shitty game.

  13. Jay wire

    3 December 2012 at 23:09

    I think it’s fair to say consistency pays off. Okay, we conceded 3, but those were 2 set piece goals, so we can’t fault the system. We played same system for 2 games in a row, and that’s a milestone. I don’t believe 4-3-3 is the perfect system for us given the players we have, but it’s good enough and I won’t complain if we stick to it. It’s the next best thing to a 4-2-3-1 which in my opinion, is the perfect system for us. But the main point is, we played right formation, correct roles, a reasonable degree of consistency in team selection. The result? Good football. Great movement, gorgeous passing and moves. I really have to say, the passing was brilliant, particularly in the first half. I believe in giving credit where it’s due, and I have to say Young and Evra were a joy to watch. That left passage was a great outlet and produced some of our best moves. For me Evra was MoM,by some distance. Rooney was great too. I have to savour these moments because they never last. I know, we’ll probably play 4-4-2 next weekend to accomodate Valencia. Also with Anderson’s luck, we’ll probably see him again next preseason. The pattern seems unbreakable. I’m thoroughly disappointed for him. He really makes United a different machine and has been improving with every game. What a goal. Of course I don’t expect his critics to ever admit,that he’s good enough. He played excellently for the first 8 or so games of last season and got injured. This season in his very limited appearances, he has played better than all our midfielders and in the same limited game time, he has scored 2 goals, 3 assists and has been averaging nearly 90% pass rate. But what do I know, he’s crap. Others elsewhere are doing far much better than that.

    Well, at least I enjoyed this game, I’m thrilled for some of the players like Evra who has been one of the better players this season. I’m glad I didn’t spend the evening watching ridiculous wingplay, and useless passing. This was actually worthwhile. Credit to the technical team for getting it right. I’ve always maintained that the only way we can play an organised and cohesive form of football, is by consistency of players and system. Wednesday night everything was perfect except for the lack of cohesion in the final third. Of the midfield and attack only 2 changes were made for Saturday’s game, but the system was the same. Better final third play, and the passing in the 1st half between Rooney,RvP and Anderson was quality. They seem to be developing an understanding. I really hope and pray that it’s a minor injury.

    I think there’s a bit much being made about the defenders. They had an embarrassing start but the exaggeration of the score was born in 2 set pieces. First, those guys took their set pieces exceptionally well. Almost freak like. We generally ought to do better at defending set pieces and high balls in general. I thought Anders was a bit off in attacking the ball for the corners. But also, only in the Premiership can you get away with harassing the GK and defenders like Roberts did. The problem sometimes is, everytime we concede, people look at GK and defenders. If we fail to score, it’s the forwards. Sometimes, it’s true. A defender’s error can cost you as well as a striker’s wastefulness. But sometimes it’s not as clear cut. A striker playing wide, finds it difficult to score. If the midfield is not set up properly, it puts both the defenders and forwards in a very tough position. Same occurs for the forwards, if the creative elements are having a poor game. But against Reading, I think we played well apart from the goals we conceded. It’s much better than conceding and still playing crap. The attack was on point and the passing was fluid, particularly in attack. Something that has been lacking throughout this season. Reading were bold and correct to attack with energy and their wide players were really a handful.

    But I think on the whole, Ferguson got it right and his substitutions were alarmingly the right ones. I’d have preferred Cleverly as a straight swap for Anderson, but Welbeck for RvP,made perfect sense. First because Robin has played almost every game and we do have an all important game next weekend. Also,Welbeck plays deep, and though not on Robin’s level, he’s the same player tactically. Smalling for Rafael was obvious. Rafael is a livewire and doesn’t believe a player should get past him. Same as Scholes. Sometimes you get beaten, let it go.

    • Opti

      4 December 2012 at 01:31

      @Jay wire: Using your analysis, I don’t see how you explain the slow second half. I don’t think we created ANYTHING worthwhile in second half, except beefed up defense with added defensive cover from Jones and Fletcher.

      There were maybe two event in 2nd half that resembled an attack: Jones sprinting out wide but misplacing pass and Smalling running up and shooting barely over. Other than RvP’s robbery of Reading GK that was it.

      I don’t see how the 2nd half was any good from United, except not giving up silly goals…

    • The_Philosopher

      4 December 2012 at 08:03

      @Jay wire: Well written Jay.

      Anderson certainly does turn United into a different team. Why Ferguson doesn’t rely on him more often baffles me.

      I too hope his injury will have cleared up soon and maybe we’ll see him back by January.

      Speaking of January, I would love to see a marque midfield signing. (Dream on dreamer)

      Young played a good ball in for RVP’s disallowed goal. He actually beat his man to get the ball across, so I have to say he isn’t all that crap. But we can get better wingers at United.

      Having RVP in the side is a dream. He is so good and I hope he is the difference at the Etihad.

      This team is doing well (what with being 3 points clear at the top and all) but we need to get into our stride and be more consistent.

  14. The_Philosopher

    4 December 2012 at 10:39

    Get this: the italian ref, Daniele Orsato, for the Cluj game is 37.

    He is younger than both Giggs and Scholes.

    Just saying.

    • The_Philosopher

      4 December 2012 at 10:41

      @The_Philosopher: I guess he will be able to sympathise with Giggs when he gets tired.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest News