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United in Danger of Bilbao’ing Out of Europa League

Manchester United welcomed Athletic Bilbao to Old Trafford for the first-leg in the Round of 16 in the Europa League. Manchester United advanced to this game by beating Ajax in the last round, while Athletic Bilbao overcame Locomotiv Moscow. This is the first meeting between these two teams in Europe since the quarter-finals to the European Cup in 1957. Manchester United are currently sitting 2 points behind Manchester City in the Premier League while Athletic Bilbao is doing much better than expected this year in La Liga, currently sitting in 5th. They have been playing very strong in La Liga this year, and look in good position to earn a Champion’s League spot next year if they can continue their latest form.

Starting Lineups:

Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson decided on a much stronger team then he did in the home fixture against Ajax, which United lost 3-1 and Sir Alex Ferguson said that he had played too many young defenders in that game. So he decided to go with more experience in this game, especially in defense but he also played most of his first choice attacking corps.

Sir Alex Ferguson decided to play in a 4-4-1-1 that has become their standard formation this year, with a striker up front, with Wayne Rooney playing behind them. Rooney tracks back to make considerable contributions on defense, but he also goes back to link up the play from the midfield to the striker up front.

With Anders Lindegaard still out injured, David De Gea got the start in the goal. There were some changes over the game against Tottenham on Sunday, including starting Rafael at right back. Rio Ferdinand was rested, so Chris Smalling returned from his injury that he sustained while playing for the England team against Holland just over a week ago. Helping at center-back was Jonny Evans, with Patrice Evra starting at left-back and also wearing the captain’s armband.

The biggest changes were in midfield, where Phil Jones and Ryan Giggs played as the central midfielders. Phil Jones did extremely well early on in the season in midfield, but it’s been a few months since he last played this position. On the left wing was Ashley Young, who scored a brace against Tottenham on Sunday. On the right wing, Sir Alex Ferguson decided to rest Nani and give Park Ji-Sung a start to help Rafael deal with a very attacking Athletic Bilbao side.

Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao’s coach, the Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, went with his strongest team in hopes of at least coming away from Old Trafford with a draw. The manager who is known as Loco Bielsa has transformed Bilbao since he took over the club in 2011. Since his arrival, he’s turned Fernando Llorente from a target man, in the vein of Andy Carroll, into a goal scoring machine who is as deadly with his feet as he is with his head. Athletic Bilbao’s preferred system this year has been a very attacking 4-3-3, and he stuck with it for this game.

Gorka Iraizoz started in goal for the Basque team, with Jon Aurtenetxe at left-back. The center-back pair was Mikel San Jose and the much watched and highly coveted Javi Martinez. At right-back, Marcelo Bielsa went with Andoni Iraola. In the 3 man midfield, Athletic Bilbao went with a pair of more defensive midfielders in Ander Herrera and Ander Iturraspe, with an attack oriented Oscar De Marcos in the middle. The line upfront is led by the 195cm tall striker, Fernando Llorente with 19-year old Iker Muniain on the left wing and playing on the right wing is Markel Susaeta.

First Half

The game didn’t start well for United as Athletic Bilbao came right out at the whistle playing a very aggressive defense, in which they were pressing the United center-backs when they got on the ball. This made controlling possession extremely difficult for United, and they often lost control of the ball before barely getting it onto Bilbao’s side of the pitch. The lions definitely lived up to their name as they were furious on defense, and fearless on the attack. They came out very sharp, putting well placed passes all over the pitch, and harassing United with superb movement off the ball.

Athletic Bilbao’s high tempo made it hard for United to defend, as Athletic Bilbao wasn’t afraid to bring players forward in the attack. Even their ‘defensive’ holding midfielders would come forward on the attack, with Javi Martinez coming into the midfield from his position in the back four. This left United having to defend against a quick team, who brought up to 6 players into the box on the attack. Athletic Bilbao’s front 6 is also extremely fluid, making frequent runs and moving without the ball to make it hard for United to mark them. To assist in the attacks, both of the Bilbao fullbacks were aggressive in supporting the attack, often playing up into the midfield area when the midfielders were charging forward.

United had several problems during the game, one problem that United’s back four would have all game was dealing with the size and strength of Fernando Llorente. This was shown early on, when in the 4th minute, Llorente was able to receive the ball in the box with Chris Smalling marking him tightly, and he was still able to turn and take a shot that went less than a meter wide of the net.

As for United, Phil Jones played as the deep holding midfielder while Ryan Giggs tried to play more forward. It wasn’t unusual to see Ashley Young cut in from the left side while Giggs would drift out to the edge. Wayne Rooney didn’t have the best first-half, as his passing wasn’t as sharp as we’ve come to expect from him this year. An early example of this was in the 28th minute, when Rooney misplayed an easy pass to a charging Rafael who was moving to splitting between Aurtenetxe and San Jose with a clear run at the keeper. Unfortunately, Rooney’s misplaced pass found Jon Aurtenetxe instead and they were able to make a quick counter-attack. With Rafael caught out of position, and slow to get back, Aurtenetxe was able to take the ball down United’s right side and played a cross into the box. David De Gea saw the cross, and stepped forward to intercept it before Llorente was able to head home an easy goal.

United were lucky to score first in this game. The goal started when Athletic gave away a silly free kick. A pass to Ryan Giggs off the free kick, he passed it up to Chicharito who had his back turned about 25 meters from the goal. Hernandez flicked the ball into Giggs’ path as he ran into the area. Once in the penalty area, Ryan Giggs played a pass right onto Hernandez’s feet and he took a shot that Iraizoz managed to get a palm on, but the deflection fell right to Wayne Rooney who was able to slot home an easy goal. While this goal was definitely against the run of play, United were happy to get it and hoped that they would be able to defend better and get more chances on the counter-attack.

Even after the goal, Athletic continued to control possession and cause problems for United’s defense with the strength and pace of their attack. Athletic players had several chances in the first half when they would play a ball over the United defenders to Susaeta or Muniain. On the 33rd minute, Herrera played a beautiful pass overtop of Evans to Susaeta, who was able to gather the ball up and tried to chip it over David De Gea. Luckily for De Gea, who was off his line, the ball went just left of the goal.

In the 44th minute, Athletic were finally able to tie the game. Muniain started the play on the left side, running the ball towards the penalty area without any United player providing a challenge until Phil Jones confronts him on the edge of the area. Muniain passes the ball to the top of the area, for Fernando Llorente. Llorente is well marked by Chris Smalling, and Smalling is able to force Llorente away from the net. He plays a pass out wide to Athletic right-back Iraola, who is so far forward that he receives the ball within 20 meters of the net. He moves the ball down the right side towards the byline for Markel Susaeta. Evra was caught slightly out of position, and Susaeta was able to cross the ball before Evra could get over to challenge him. Fernando Llorente was able to easily lose the man marking him, Phil Jones, and headed home the ball.

Susaeta’s cross for Llorente’s goal:

This goal was a prime example of what plagued United for the first 60 minutes of the game. With United allowing the Athletic midfielders plenty of time on the ball, they were able to bring people forward. In Llorente’s goal, by the time Susaeta kicked the cross in, there were 7 United outfield players in the box and Athletic had 6. With Athletic able to bring this many people forward, United was going to have problems defending. With Athletic playing the balls to Muniain and Susaeta overtop the back four of United, they ended up having to defend deeper. United ran into the problem that when they defended deeper, Athletic’s midfield had more time on the ball and this allowed them to bring more men forward. One of the most potent players going forward for Athletic had to be Oscar De Marcos. He would surge forward from the midfield and caused problems in the area for United’s defenders.

At the end of the first half, United should have considered themselves lucky to go into the locker room tied at 1-1. United managed 4 shots during the first half, with 3 of them on target, while Athletic Bilbao took 7 shots, but they only got 3 of them on targets. Athletic controlled possession during the first half, and were extremely sharp in their touches, passes and movements, but their finishing let them down.

Second Half

Coming out from halftime, Athletic Bilbao continued the play they had established in the first half. They continued to overrun United’s midfield with Phil Jones having problems all game.

In the 55th minute, Chris Smalling opened up his head wound again and was bleeding heavily. He was subbed off for Michael Carrick, who the manager had intended to give the game off. With Smalling going off, Phil Jones was moved back to center-back with Jonny Evans while Michael Carrick played as the holding midfielder. Once Michael Carrick came in, he provided some steel into United’s midfield that they’d been missing all game. Giggs and Carrick did better in the midfield when United had the ball, and Carrick did better defensively then Jones had done.

Coming up to the hour mark, Athletic’s pressing and pace started to slow down as they started to look tired. This gave United’s midfield more time on the ball, and this improved United’s offensive play. While Phil Jones wasn’t really effective with the ball in the midfield, Michael Carrick was steady. He helped United control more possession, and move the ball forward.

In the 61st minute, Sir Alex Ferguson subbed Anderson on for Park Ji-Sung. There were some unusual player movements after this substitution, as Wayne Rooney was played on the left-wing. Ashley Young was moved to right-winger, Anderson moved into the midfield with Michael Carrick, and Ryan Giggs played up front with Chicharito.

Park Ji-Sung was fairly ineffective during the game. He was completely missing from United’s attack, but he was equally missing defensively. He is mostly played for his defense, and he played narrow on the right-wing today. But he had no effect on stopping the play of Muniain and De Marcos in the Athletic midfield. They had plenty of time on the ball, with Park playing deep. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to provide much help to Rafael either as he struggled all game.

With Jones at center-back, United continued to struggle. In the 68th minute, Muniain plays a one-two with Herrera and continues his run towards the net. Muniain takes the ball into the area where Jones makes a weak tackle attempt on him, which Muniain is easily able to shrug off. Only a superb save by De Gea prevents the goal.

By this point in the game, the frustration for David De Gea could be seen. He made numerous quality saves in the second half, and he could be seen after each yelling at his defenders. While the media has called him shaky this season, I’d have to say that he was United’s rock today and I would apply the shaky title more to the back four.

In the 72nd minute, Athletic got their second goal. Iker Muniain played an easy forward pass to Herrera, who had no pressure on him was able to chip the ball over Jones to De Marcos. De Marcos took a volley, and was able to slot it De Gea. On the replay, it appeared that De Marcos was offsides on the play but the German referee, Florian Meyer, didn’t call it.

Now down 2-1 at home, on the 75th minute Sir Alex Ferguson brought on Nani for Ryan Giggs. With Ryan Giggs coming out, Ashley Young was moved to left-wing and Nani was put at right-wing. Wayne Rooney was able to return to his usual position, just behind the front striker.

With these substitutions, United started to provide more pressure on Athletic’s midfield. With Athletic also getting tired, Carrick got more time on the ball but Anderson didn’t make much impact in the game. With Ryan Giggs out of the game, United found it harder to get the ball forward as Rooney had to come deeper into the midfield to gather the ball from Carrick.

While Athletic had a 1 goal lead, they kept pressing the attack. In the 81st minute, Athletic made a straight swap of Fernando Llorente out for Gaizka Toquero. They kept pressing the attack, and had a good chance in the 83rd minute. The attack again started on the left side, with Iker Muniain who pressed the ball straight at United’s center-backs, before passing wide to Toquero whose shot was easily deflected by De Gea.

Coming to the end of the game, Athletic made their final swap on the 84th minute with Inigo Perez coming on for Herrera. But even in the 89th minute, Athletic kept pressing the attack. An Athletic free kick went up their right wing, and both Jones and Evans were covering Toquero. Evans headed the ball back into the middle of the pitch, but De Marco got to it before Anderson. He tried a shot into the far corner, but De Gea stretched to make a great deflection. The ball bounced back in front of the net, but Rafael stood by and watched as Iker Muniain ran in and slotted home the rebound.

Before the game could end, 2 minutes into stoppage time, the referee gave a penalty to Manchester United for De Marcos’ hand ball inside Athletic’s penalty area. Wayne Rooney stepped up and pulled United back within 1 when the full-time whistle blew.

Key Matchup:

Iker Muniain (Left Winger/Athletic Bilbao) vs. Rafael (Right-Back/Manchester United)

Rafael struggled all game with defending Iker Muniain. During the entire game, Rafael was getting caught out by long balls played over his head. In addition, Rafael was reckless in some of his forward runs which left space which Muniain used repeatedly to setup Athletic’s attacks. Rafael had even more problems in the second half, as he was completely ineffective defending Muniain. This was especially evident for the third goal, when he watched De Gea make a great save but he hardly moved towards the ball and Muniain ran past him to slot home the third goal.

Muniain was definitely the most effective player on the pitch. He seemed to be everywhere, as he moved around the penalty area and had several good chances. He was composed with the ball, and made smart passes that caused United’s defense a lot of problems. His pace and movements made it hard for Rafael to mark him, and when he’d get in the penalty area he’d cause problems for the center-backs. He was the key to Athletic’s attacks in the second half.

Aftermath

Manchester United didn’t have a good game. They struggled all game to deal with the speed of Athletic’s attack. Their midfield was given time on the ball, without United pressuring them. This gave Athletic a majority of possession, and they were also able to bring players forward. It wasn’t uncommon to see Javi Martinez move forward into the midfield, while both of Athletic’s fullbacks would come forward. In addition, Oscar De Marcos made damaging runs into the box.
Now, Athletic’s aggression going forward should have given United some counter-attacking opportunities. United were able to take advantage of a few of these, but the weakness of United’s midfield and Athletic’s defensive pressure made it hard for United to move the ball forward. The pressure eased up after the hour mark, when Athletic was starting to tire but when Giggs was subbed off, that left United with nobody to link their back four with the attack. Anderson just wasn’t up to the job.

United’s back four had a dreadful day, especially the full-backs. Phil Jones had an awful day in the midfield, unable to contribute on either end of play. There were none of his usual swashbuckling forward runs in this game, but more importantly his defensive play was poor. His marking was poor, as shown by how easily Fernando Llorente was able to lose him for Athletic’s first goal. This was a game in which United’s back four desperately needed cover from the midfield, but Jones just didn’t provide it in this game.

This game left United with a real problem for next week. Going away down 3-2 leaves United with a mountain to climb. The ease with which Athletic was able to control possession and disrupt United’s midfield is alarming, especially considering the strength of the team that Sir Alex Ferguson decided to play today. United’s defense and midfield will need to play much better next week if the Red Devils are to have any hope of fighting back.

By Joe_Hammer (@RangeRooney)

53 Comments

53 Comments

  1. colver

    March 10, 2012 at 2:39 am

    Stats say it all. How on earth are we giving 58% possession at home to Athletic Bilbao? That is disgraceful and it just goes to show that Spain is light years ahead of England in terms of the youngsters it produces.

    If we can’t beat them buy their players is what I say!

  2. Darth Red Diablo

    March 10, 2012 at 7:52 am

    There was a time when we were feared all over Europe. The 4-2-3-1 wrecked havoc all over Europe. We were sound defensively and attacked with vigor and purpose

    EVDS
    Brown – Ferdinand- Vidic – Evra(Much better than what he has become)
    Carrick – Scholes (alot younger)
    Ronaldo (what a beast) – Rooney(Playing with quality) – Giggs
    Tevez

    What i wouldn’t give to bring the quality back. This was the United that I fell in love with. That always brought fear into the hearts and mind of other teams.
    We’re losing all our mojo. Believe it or not.

    • Stephen

      March 10, 2012 at 9:18 am

      @Darth Red Diablo: Support someone else then.
      We have dominated over 20 years, we are re-building this is life.

  3. Darth Red Diablo

    March 10, 2012 at 7:59 am

    And DeGea really has the makings of a world class keeper. Hope Fergie doesn’t bring back Lindergaard and destroy all his confidence again. 🙄

  4. Darth Red Diablo

    March 10, 2012 at 9:38 am

    @Stephen: Is bringing people back from retirement called rebuilding? Who are you kidding mate? We have been destroyed in midfield by Europe’s elite in the last 4 years, (starting from the 2009 UCL final).
    And what changes have we made in midfield?
    Good rebuilding going on…

    • Stephen

      March 10, 2012 at 9:53 am

      @Darth Red Diablo: Jones, De Gea, Smalling, the Twins, ideally Pogba, Evans are all young players, I would call that re-building.
      Scholes is a stop gap and has been excellent, stop moaning from your armcahair, the success we have had is unprecedented at any club. We can still win the league against a side who has unlimited money, this is incredible.

  5. Stephen

    March 10, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Jones, De Gea, Smalling, the Twins, ideally Pogba, Evans are all young players, I would call that re-building.
    Scholes is a stop gap and has been excellent, stop moaning from your armcahair, the success we have had is unprecedented at any club. We can still win the league against a side who has unlimited money, this is incredible.

  6. Stephen

    March 10, 2012 at 10:52 am

    All I am reading on this site is people moaning, who probably have never been to a game or Manchester or even England. They are saying Fergie should go, bring in Mourinho blah blah.

    For the past 20 season we have won or been competing for every trophy we have gone after. The manager has kept that success level so high that some so called supporters loose faith after a few bad performances and results. The knee jerk brigade come out in force, with their own agendas and look for blame and accountability.

    United is run with class unlike many other clubs under their ownerships and other classless managers. Fergie keeps everything under wraps, look at the Evra situation, there were so statements and no silly T-shirts on display. Some people need to get real, we are bringing through a new side, Jones, De Gea, Smalling, the Twins, Fryers are all being brought through. This coupled with Giggs and Scholes Fergie is still trying to maintain success levels, yes he has made errors but who else could do what he has done?

    With a net spend of £2.6m per season, he has worked miracles and we should respect that and him.
    I have read people harking back to the 07 era, but remember people moaning then! I remember Andrei saying he starting supporting Barca when we drew 0-0 away because our football was so negative!!
    Some people will moan for the sake of it, I love my club, I don’t have the luxury of a sister club as many on this site do.

    I am born and raised in Manchester and proud of it, I will support us even if the worst comes to the worst and the club goes down, will you?

    • Moscow is my heaven

      March 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      @Stephen: You know what mate, I am sick of this blind Fergie love. Believe it or not, we fucked up the easiest group in the Champions League, lost out in the 4th round of the FA Cup, knocked out at home in the league cup by Crystal Palace, and have just managed to survive in what I would call the worst quality Premier League in a decade. We won the league last season with 80 points, which was 9 points more than our nearest competitor, but in a season when we had 5 away wins and in which Chelsea on her last legs managed to claw back something like a 15 point gap. Now those are the facts.

      We have been embarassed in two Champions League Finals by the same team in the same way, and Fergie comes out and says we are going to bridge the gap to Barcelona. He then goes out and buys a keeper so as to avoid having PIG as first choice, panic buys Phil Jones for whom to this day we don’t know where we are going to play him. And Ashley Young, because we don’t have enough right footed wingers 🙄

      £50 million and no midfielders. OK, Ozil wanted to go to Real Madrid, but Van der Vaart and David Silva? Both of whom specifically spoke of their desire to play for our club? Went for a combined £32 million, now playing for a club below us and one flourishing as the best player in the league for our arch-rivals.

      By the way, Mourinho or Guardiola will eclipse Fergie’s European Cup haul this very season, in something like the fraction of the time Fergie has held the reins here. Now I’m not telling Fergie he should be winning more European Cups, but he should bloody well be doing something about it rather than do nothing in the summer and trash talk reporters before subsequently getting fucked over by second rate side rates in a second rate competition at Old Trafford.

      De Gea
      Smalling Rio Vidic Evra
      Valencia Scholes Carrick Nani
      Rooney Welbeck

      That would probably be our CL Final team this season. I have nothing more to add.

      • Stephen

        March 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm

        @Moscow is my heaven: When has Mourinho or Guardiola ever re-built a side, the answer is never.
        What blind faith, we won the league last season and could win it again this? That is not blind faith it is fact.
        Als if our team over the passed decade was so bad, how have we been in 3 European Cup finals, only loosing to the best side ever twice?
        De Gea a panic buy? No way, we all knew VDS was leaving, so I don’t know where you are going there. He was our number one choice to replace him and he will be our number one for years, we are re-building.
        I know you don’t like the English, but Jones will be a great player, a future captain of this club.
        You want success every year and Fergie has provided it, look Real and Barca all went through lean seasons, we havn’t and that is down to the manager.
        We can all look at who we should have signed, VDV has been very inconsistant at Spuers and Silva signed for the money.
        We are signing with a nod to the future and for now.
        I am loyal not blind.

        • Moscow is my heaven

          March 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm

          @Stephen: I didn’t say De Gea was a panic buy. I understand that of course there are complications when signing top class midfielders but having to play Scholes or Giggs in the starting XI in big games in 2012 is a disgrace. We have not rebuilt our midfield, and our attack is a bit of a joke if not for the talents of Nani and Valencia.

          Look, I just can’t see this team ever being world beaters without investing with conviction. Even in the dark days when Mourinho arrived at Chelsea, I could see us becoming something great because of what I saw in Rooney and Ronaldo. Welbeck and Ashley Young? Not really.

        • Stephen

          March 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm

          @Moscow is my heaven: I agree about the midfield, but Carrick has been excellent and so has Scholes. You know my views with regards to Anderson.
          Rooney a joke 25 goals in 30 woud sugguest other wise, Young is a good player and £16m was a very good buy.

        • Craig Mc

          March 10, 2012 at 2:05 pm

          @Moscow is my heaven: See I told you Ashley Young can’t bring it when he is tighly marked – and he only had one defender on him at any one time – he would freak out if he had to contend with 2 or 3 markers on him at any one time 😆

        • Owen

          March 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm

          @Stephen: There is no question of proving your love for United.We are writing here is gud enough to know we love the club.But it is also a fact situation is not good for the club.Small clubs are coming and dominating United OT is indeed a bad time.

          The players whom you are referring for re-building,i dont think most are any good.Silva twins are here for too long and they have not shown anything except to doubt.

        • Stephen

          March 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm

          @Owen: De Gea, Jones and Smalling are very good and will prove it.

    • Craig Mc

      March 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      @Stephen: I will support the club if worse comes to the worse, but I WILL GO DOWN SCREAMING AND SHOUTING like a true RED should 😉 😉 😆 😆 😆

      • Moscow is my heaven

        March 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm

        @Craig Mc: This has got to be comment of the thread, if we go down, we’re taking the world with us 😈 😈 😈 👿 😈

        • Craig Mc

          March 10, 2012 at 2:19 pm

          @Moscow is my heaven: 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 👿 👿 👿 – you said it Moscow mi man. Lets hope it never comes to that though eh?

        • Stephen

          March 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm

          @Moscow is my heaven: Football is a funny thing, would Arsenal and Chelsea at the beginning of the season believe they would fail to qualify to the Champions League? 20 years ago would Liverpool ever thin of not winning the league for as long as they have? Leeds United fall out of the Top League?
          Foot ball is a wicked World, what we are achieving is amazing and for as long as it has is incredible. If tha is blind and blinkered so be it, if we win the leage again this season I hope you will be grateful

  7. Stephen

    March 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Also under the Glazer no manager would have been able to achieve what he has, a net spend of £2.6m a season. He has got the luxury of spending £25m on a fullback.

    • Moscow is my heaven

      March 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      @Stephen: Net spend? Mate are you defending Arsene Wenger or Fergie?

      • Stephen

        March 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm

        @Moscow is my heaven: I am not defending I am stating a fact, the Glazers have handcuffed the manager and he still bringing success.

        • Moscow is my heaven

          March 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm

          @Stephen: He chose to side with Glazers mate, and if he decided to shit where he eats then that’s his problem.

        • Stephen

          March 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm

          @Moscow is my heaven: Without him we would well and truly be fucked under the Glazers.
          What do you want Fergie sacked?
          My view he is keeping his council, Fergie is United through and through no other manager could have done what he has.

        • Moscow is my heaven

          March 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm

          @Stephen: The Glazers couldn’t sack Fergie, there would be riots in Manchester if he was. Old Trafford would be torn apart, there would be zero attendances and people waiting outside the ground. The chaos would be too great for the owners to handle.

          Nah mate, Fergie likes it how it is, and with loyal fans like you, he doesn’t have any problems keeping it that way.

        • Stephen

          March 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm

          @Moscow is my heaven: Yes I am loyal to the manager as we are Champions, what is wrong with that?
          Fans who moan if we loose the odd game, I am afraid I have seen many of those come and go,

        • Moscow is my heaven

          March 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm

          @Stephen: I need to get myself one of those ‘loyal fan’ medals. I wonder if I can get them by going to the Megastore to fund the Glazers?

        • Stephen

          March 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm

          @Moscow is my heaven: Truthfully you probably not know how to get there mate.. Too far from your armchair… 🙄

        • Ian

          March 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm

          You’re being very aggressive lately Steeeeeve, anything I can help with?! 🙂

        • Stephen

          March 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

          @Moscow is my heaven: Also your romantic view that some rich Arab with come and buy United, Fergie will leave, and Mournho will come in on his white horse with Ronaldo sitting on the back won’t happen mate. We are stuck with the Americans for a long time yet to come, they are taking too much money. We are best with the current manager working miracles and be done with it.

        • Moscow is my heaven

          March 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm

          @Stephen: Fergie is 70 and will retire quite soon. What then? I assume by then Anderson will be a Ballon D’Or nominee and Welbeck competing with Messi for the European golden boot?

          Shit will hit the fan and we’ll all be crying for Fergie to come out of retirement. As if his ego didn’t need further expanding…

        • Stephen

          March 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm

          @Moscow is my heaven: What would you suggest then? Sack him?

        • Craig Mc

          March 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm

          @Stephen: I think he is fast running out of miracles Stephen mi man 😆

        • Stephen

          March 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm

          @Craig Mc: We are second in the league mate, that is one in itself…
          The ungrateful nature of fandom is one to behold..

  8. vida dollar

    March 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Oh please Stephen spare us your Heineken licking for once.Are you blind or what?.the club is being destroyed right under your nose and you still preach history to us? The EPL has gone to the dogs don’t read anything from our league position.All 4 Epl teams in Europe will be out before quarters in both competitions.Aren’t u amazed that a team that was thrashed a dozen times including an 8-2 drubbing is 4th?wake up dude.Saf is building no future.the youths are leaving and quality is zero.forget that Carrick,park Fletcher,highs,scholes can compete in Europe.they are just about good enough for epl but hopeless against teams with pace especially in Europe.saf is staring in the eyes of a real possibility of jeorpadising his legacy by siding with the glazers.

    • Stephen

      March 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      @vida dollar: I can’t even bother to respond to that….
      History we are Champions aren’t we?

  9. Craig Mc

    March 10, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Ok I have been a Fergie supporter for like forever. Nobody will bring as much success as he has (no one man) anyway – he is a phenomenon in his own right. I have always admired and respected him for the success he has brought to Man Utd, and he has LOVED this club as much as us fans – no doubt about it. Yet his stance over the last few seasons, where his one arguement has been that he has not seen any quality worth buying – I have to roll my eyes and SAY WHAT? That he backs both David Gill and the Glazers in their spin to us fans and the world at large, that United can compete with anybody for the really top star players, and that there is ALWAYS money available to buy any players Fergie decides worth the buy – well I do have to question his honesty here. Even worse to me is the fact that he insists that his present team is good enough and there is nothing wrong with the midfield – well that is questionable isn’t it. When Ajax, Bilbao and the Basel can come to OT and not only beat our lads but totally dominate them with more possession, more technical ability, and fitness, and more movement and HUNGER – yes I said it lads – HUNGER, then I am fast losing the heart to stomach anything that the magnificent Sir Ferg tell us any more. The excuses he keeps having to make for why his team are not performing on their own patch – just doesn’t wash anymore. We could go to Bilbao with our full strenth team and maybe snatch a 2-0 win which we will need, but even if miraculously we do that, does that cover over the cracks, and say that our second stringers – bench players are able to do a job for us – they have proved they can’t even against what are supposed to be the lesser light teams in the second european competition. They can’t even perform at home in these games and give United fans at least a game to be able to shout about. Well I am tired of hearing all the excuses on Gods earth for why our lads are not getting the job done on their own patch – but my pertinent point is simples – they are not able to do the job that seperates the wannabees from the top class entrepreneurs of football. If as Gill and Sir Ferg says – this is not down to the Glazers – then what is it down too – it can only be down to Gill and Fergie failing to bring in the right players – for whatever reason. It must be this eh, because as they both say, the money is there for the really top stars to come to OT. I have to wonder though, if it is true – then why? Because the Sir Alex I know and love would have NEVER let his team come to where they are now. Yes we are in 2nd place in PL, but other teams around us have run into hard times themselves and this PL now isn’t all that either. Well this disgruntled fan just had to get this off his chest. Sir Ferg – I love you Sir, but you are running out of excuses!

    • Darth Red Diablo

      March 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      @Craig Mc: Well said Craig.
      And as for Stephen, I love this club and will always continue loving it no matter which position it is in.
      But you always want the things you love to do good. Sadly, United is nowhere on the rise and that frankly is very distressing.

      • Stephen

        March 10, 2012 at 7:07 pm

        @Darth Red Diablo: We are second in the league, we could again be champions, is life that distressing?
        I think some of our younger fans are somewhat spoilt.

      • Stephen

        March 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm

        @Darth Red Diablo: Also I don’t believe you will, you moan when we are Champions and could win the league again. Why do you support us? You are not from Manchester or England for that matter, you support us because we win. If we didn’t I guarantee you, you will be one of the rats deserting the sinking ship.
        Sorry mate to be blunt, but some of the knee jerk anti Fergie shit which has been posted on this site is laughable. The glory nature of support is pathetic. I was on the terraces under Atkinson, dreaming of competing at the level we have, we didn’t win the league for 26 years. Imagine that now!? Under Fergie he has installed a winning mentality, look at Spurs, yes the have a good side but don’t have the knowledge to win titles
        Oh sorry I am blind………
        You like many support United because of the success that Fergie has brought to the club and don’t forget it.

  10. Stephen

    March 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Arry for England……

  11. Stephen

    March 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Moscow, Darth Sorry guys if I offended any of you, I am a big Fergie fan and sometimes that spills over.

    • Owen

      March 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      @Stephen: Dalglish is by far a better manager than Fergie……… Fergie only gets the best out of united while Dalglish gets the best out of the other 19 premiership teams!

      • Craig Mc

        March 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm

        @Owen: Why are you on the Man Utd websites – if you support L’Pool then pee off to the scouse boards – nobody wants to hear you around here! Dalglish will never be a better manager than Sir Fergie.

        • Moscow is my heaven

          March 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm

          @Craig Mc: Craig mi man, you misunderstood the joke completely. Owen meant that Dalglish brings the best out of the 19 other clubs because they always win against him 😆 😆 😆

        • Craig Mc

          March 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm

          @Moscow is my heaven: Oh Fook – typical Craig engaging mouth before brain, yeah I misunderstood Owens’s post comment 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 that will teach me to start supping the ale early with my mates who were visiting and waiting for the game. We started to have a few jars at 11 even though the missus was furious with us all because she thought it was too early, but we were partying because we seldom get together with these particular mates, and they were all getting geed up for the game. Soz Owen my mistake – but blame the lager brain mate 😀

        • Owen

          March 11, 2012 at 1:15 pm

          @Craig Mc: Are you complete idiot or have zero brain?

    • Moscow is my heaven

      March 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      @Stephen: No worries pal, I will admit I’m not a Manc born and bred but have always been in awe of Fergie because he is the greatest manager in football history, no question.

      But he needs to spend like there is no tomorrow in the summer!

  12. AndyCR7

    March 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Seems Pogba has signed a new 4 year deal! Great if true…

  13. Owen

    March 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Starting XI: De Gea, Jones, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra, Young, Carrick, Scholes, Welbeck, Hernandez, Rooney

    Subs: Amos, Pogba, Rafael, Park, Giggs, Cleverley, Berbatov

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