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United slip up as Wigan stun the champions

Shaun Maloney’s curled effort saw Wigan picking up three unexpected points against Manchester United at the DW Stadium.

The result sees United’s gap on Manchester City cut back to five points as Mancini’s men dismantled West Brom 4-0.

United were well below par and suffered only their second defeat since January, bringing to a crashing end their excellent record at Wigan.

Ferguson chose to refresh his side – in came Jones, Giggs and Hernandez for Rafael, Scholes and Welbeck.

Wigan started positively, pressing United up the pitch as they applied Roberto Martinez’s game-plan to perfection.

The Latics were unfortunate to lose on Saturday against Chelsea and set out to produce a performance that mirrored the excellent effort produced in London.

United were never allowed to settle into any rhythm and were fortunate not to be behind after 30 minutes when Gary Caldwell was judged to have fouled David DeGea following a corner.

Referee Phil Dowd had no hesitation to rule out Victor Moses’ header.

Wigan were ahead, though, shortly after the restart as Shaun Maloney curled in a superb effort from the edge of the box which flew past DeGea and into the net.

United were lacking cohesion and were never able to create any clear cut chances.

Wayne Rooney heading for the bench is normally a sign that things are not going well for United, and tonight it was no exception as Rooney was replaced by Nani with 62 minutes played.

Despite the changes, United could not produce another famous comeback and lost for the first time against Wigan after 13 straight wins.

United got their only chance late on as Welbeck forced a smart save from Al-Habsi but, in truth, they reaped what they had sown.

Five points is still an excellent gap to have at this stage of the season, particularly with City facing testing trips to Norwich and Newcastle and this defeat could be what United needed.

Not a wake up call maybe, but a reminder that titles are won only when it’s mathematically impossible to be caught.

Daniele (MUFC_dan87)



  1. Nelson

    12 April 2012 at 00:00

    What is it with us and lacklustre peformances in midweek games this season? We need to extinguish this omen ASAP. I fuckin hate this ‘united do it the hard way’ thing. The sooner we wrap this up the better for my blood pressure! At least we are stil ahead but FFS lets give it 100% in all games

  2. Yang

    12 April 2012 at 01:27

    lol at slagging Giggs, Giggs is fine but he need to be combined with wideman to be effective as a CM. Most of Giggs’s contribution still come from left area and whenever Giggs go forward, left wideman need to cover the space Giggs leave behind or peel off the defender for Giggs making passing option. This stuff is not work well in this season.

    I want to mention P. John, He is pretty much good raw material yet, He has no idea of positioning and game-flow. I hope that Fergie does not over-expose youngster, around twenty, you need to build up solid stamina, couple of injury may hamper player’s long term prospect, look at the Owen for example, It is always better idea blood in young player in the squad bit by bit. John played too much time imo.

  3. ForeverRed

    12 April 2012 at 05:12

    To me at this stage of the season, with no injuries, no other competitions to play for and only 6 games remaining, there was no need to mess with a formation that was working, albeit admittedly not always very convincingly. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! One obvious example was Jones for Raphael – we’ve not been told of any injury to the latter, so why disrupt what has been our most effective attacking combination in the last few weeks?

    Regarding our midfield no-show today, much as I certainly would prefer Scholes any day over Giggs in the MF, I’m not convinced that change itself would have altered the game’s outcome. Yes, Giggs was characteristically wasteful, quite the opposite of Scholes, but Martinez was very shrewd in that he has obviously analyzed how teams that do well against us have been playing, and replicated that hardworking, high pressing approach today to exploit our pedestrian midfield’s weakness against such teams. Martinez also knew that Fergie would stick with his loyal lieutenants (Giggs/Scholes & Carrick) and midfield formation, especially at this stage of the season. Thus, while Scholes is excellent in his tempo/distribution against teams that stand off, I’m not sure he and Carrick would have fared significantly better than Giggs and Carrick in responding to Wigan’s high tempo pressing game that has been used by all the European teams that have now sussed us out. For such opposition (and perhaps all opposition), we need to match the work rate and closing, which we were easily 3rd best at tonight, in order to allow the more creative players that bit more time/space to operate. So, I think Pogba, Cleverly and Scholes would be a better midfield trio – Pogba and Cleverley doing the harrying and closing, with Scholes providing our tempo and distribution. One could fairly argue for Carrick in place of either Cleverley or Pogba, but I think we need more energy against such teams, especially with Scholes starting and a generally solid centre-half pairing of Ferdinand and Evans reading the game and tidying up behind. I would also have started Nani (over Young) and Valencia (+ Rafael) with Rooney up top – thus giving their midfield and defense a lot more to worry about than has been provided of late by Hernandez/Welbeck/Giggs.

    One can say its easy to play every game with the benefit of hindsight, which is certainly true. However, I can put my hand on my heart and say I would have picked the team above (assuming no injuries) as my starting 11 before kick-off, especially with Nani being fit. Who knows if it would have done better, but its hard to think it could have been worse. Why we persist with a Giggs/Carrick combo is beyond me – we seemingly refuse to learn that lesson – and clearly neither Welbeck nor Hernandez have been on form for a while and our most expensive and arguably most skilful centre forward has bizarrely disappeared even from the bench. Even though Rooney is far from his best at the moment, I’d still start him ahead of Welbeck and Hernandez because he’s the most likely among them to do something impactful. Nani, though we know his tendency to leave us all pulling our hair out(!), also adds that unpredictability which gives other teams someone to double up on, thus further stretching the play and creating gaps for others to exploit. With Pogba/Cleverley – personally I’d just like them to get some playing time and I think their greater energy/urgency’pace trumps the ‘experience’ advantage of Giggs in midfield – especially if Scholes is there alongside them.

    Finally, with this analysis/opinion, today’s subs were all the more baffling. Throwing Jones up to centre forward towards the end, while not replacing the detrimental Giggs and pulling off our main attacking threat in Rooney (albeit not at his best) was bizarre. And not having Berba on the bench as an option, but we did have Park – who is not going to salvage the game – and Pogba, who was never going to be used, is just very strange tactically for a game we should have been going all out to win.

    It really is quite a testament to our tenacity and Fergie’s ability to squeeze more out of this team in its current state of development than anyone else possibly could. My concern is how long this transition to the next Champions League-challenging team is going to take, because 1. regardless of our current position in a relatively weak PL, we’re falling back significantly in Europe and 2. Like many, I’m just not sure that we have the players coming through in key positions that will get us back up to that level and no sign that our transfer policy is going to change. But when you start adding up the combined cost of failed investments in external youth (Bebe, Tosic, Anderson etc), it can quickly add up to the cost of 1 or 2 established world class players that we desperately need to help supplement the genuine internal talent coming though.

    Anyway, bring on Villa – and no more complacency Reds!

    • Yang

      12 April 2012 at 06:29


      Attacking is hardly a problem for this season, what current United side is lacking of good holding players. Carrik and Scholes is only recognized holders who are very weak under pressure. Cleverey and Pogba are not defensively sound too.

      I think team still can win the league but Fergie, we really need good holding midfielders, why do we delay so much recruit that position.

      • JonyB

        12 April 2012 at 15:37

        I’d actually disagree…. attacking has been quite a big problem. Its basically been left to either Nani or Valencia down the right and intermittent contributions from Young, Rooney and Giggs.
        Scholes has given Carrick his steady partner that allows us to have some degree of ball control and possession. Something which Giggs gives us absolutely nothing of this…..
        Giggs IMO is perfect in a midfield 3 or as impact sub, but certainly neither has the legs, possession passing ability or positional sense for a two-man centre midfield – he does have creative passing in him, but its certainly not consistent. What it means without scholes is we have a midfield that cant retain possession to give an effective base to be creative and wide-men that are more easily marked out (doubled upon) negating their effectiveness…. and dont get me started on defensive midfield!!!! lol

        • Yang

          12 April 2012 at 17:41


          For me, Football is grueling process, you keep pressure opposition for 90min then you can squeeze couple of goals from that sustained pressure.

          The big problem is not a defeat but we are outplayed by Wigan. Our team get pressured by Wigan that is the problem.

          If we can keep clam under opposition pressure and pass the ball then we have no problem for scoring one way or another. we have more than enough attacking capability.

          It is defensive fallacy and no reliable holding midfielder kill United in this season.

  4. Stephen

    12 April 2012 at 13:30

    An appalling performance last night, but it was inevitable. We were poor against both QPR and Fulham and could have dropped points easily. Taking off you best striker when you need a goal is frankly negligent. Freezing out a £30m striker who was joint top goal scorer last season and this has 9 goals in 19 and favouring a Muppet like Welbeck who has 10 in 35 is mystifying.
    The side all season has been punching above its weight and we are only where we are simply down to Scholes coming out of retirement which is concerning to say the least. Are next 3 games are Villa, Everton and City not exactly gimmies, I am am concerned. Too many were actually believing we had already won the title, the press, fans, staff and players seem to think all they had to do was turn up. The Premiership can be unforgiving and Wigan were playing well, this was not a surprise to me as I could see it coming.
    I still think we will win the title, but the side needs re-shaping with regards to formation. I would sign Scholes up for another season but loose, Owen, Berba, Welbeck, Anderson, Fabio, Bebe and Park. Jones, Smalling and the Rafael do a lot of promise and will make it, but we need a new midfielder at lest and a big number 9 in the shape of Higuaín.
    We lack creativity and without Scholes the ability to control the tempo of a game, we also lack goals if Rooney fails to score. The stick he has taken from some fans is a disgrace because without his goals we would be fucked.

    • Moscow

      12 April 2012 at 13:49

      @Stephen: Spot on.

    • Daniele

      12 April 2012 at 13:58

      @Stephen: I agree with some of your points mate but I don’t think the players thought it was over. Not with Fergie. Media and some of the fans might have thought so but Fergie knows we have to be 100% focused until the end. If anything, this game is probably a good kick in the arse when most needed. I hate people that thought we had it wrapped it last sunday as much as i dislike people that are on the verge of a nervous breakdown today. We lost, fair enough, but we’re 5 clear with 5 games left and 3 games at home. City have Norwich and Newcastle away, far from easy trips to get points from. Villa are appalling poor, let’s be honest, but risk to be sucked back into the relegation zone so they’ll probably play out of their skin. With Everton much it’ll depend on their FA Cup run. If they lose against Liverpool they could be down morally by the time they play us, on the other hand if they win they might be focused on the final rather than on the league.

      • Stephen

        12 April 2012 at 14:13

        @Daniele: We looked lacklustre against QPR on Sunday, this is overflowed into last nights abortion. Yes we have been on a tremendous run and we need to be pleased, but City had capitulated. Their win last night which for me was significant as Tevez, Aguero and Silva all scored, who have questions to answer this season. Is the momentum with them now? Newcastle away is a tough game, but Norwich? Everton are playing very well and Villa have picked up since the news about Petrov. I can see the obvious flaws with the side and we all can’t hide away from those as like last night it will bite us in the arse. We have a decent side, but lack that sparkle we once had. We a re a very functional side and that is very good in the league to a degree but has been our undoing in Europe and is tight games like last night. When he took Rooney off it was obvious who is going to score? Without him we are nothing, people who scoffed at the thought of signing Sneidjer and were Anderson “believers” not look like a joke. We need someone special next season to take back to the level we have fallen from. Like you I don’t think we are awful and useless but we lack World Class talent a blind man can see that mate.
        We can go back to lack of spending and “value” in the market, was Berba value, was Tosic value, is Bebe value, we never worried about that in the past. I do not blame the manager, but he needs to ask the Yanks for money in the Summer as gambling on 38 year olds and prospects is a dangerous game when there are sheikhs and oligarchs swimming in the same pond and are hungry.

        • Daniele

          12 April 2012 at 15:47

          @Stephen: Agree on the money mate. I’ve been saying time and again that until we get rid of the Glazers everything we get is a bonus (ie:reaching 3 european cup finals in 4 years). About Rooney, he’s had a wonderful season but he was shite last night (i don’t know if it looked so on tv but, trust me, many of us in the stands agreed he had a shocker) and deserves the same treatment as any other player. As far as Anderson, Bebe and the lot are concerned, well, I couldn’t agree more mate. We need to strengthen this summer.

          The momentum isn’t back with City, i’d much rather being 5 points in front with 5 games to go than 5 points behind. Also, i agree about Everton but Villa? Come on, I watched the game against Stoke and they were shocking, their form resembles Birmingham’s last year and we know where did they end up.
          Wigan was a blip, arguing about the causes is pointless now. It’s gone. Let’s get behind the lads on sunday and lift them up, in games such as this we need the fans to turn up.

        • JonyB

          12 April 2012 at 15:48


          I think when you talk about ‘sparkle’ we’re talking about that 2009 side that really had such an exciting fluidity. We had world class frontline in Tevez, Roanaldo and Rooney with a younger versions of Ferdinand, Giggs and Scholes and inform Hargreaves and Carrick….
          This side es a pale shadow of that side…..
          We’ve lost that ‘special’…. so why are we winning still?

          Because SAF as replaced special with supremely functional…. Tony Valencia is the BEST retro right winger in europe probably…. But in this he is predictable, as is the poaching ability of hernandez and metronome of Carrick.

          Fergie has a massive decision to make this summer, whether we get over the line or not…. And it’ll shape the future of United for the next 5-10yrs…

        • Opti

          12 April 2012 at 17:00

          @JonyB: GGMU?

        • Moscow

          12 April 2012 at 17:05

          @Opti: Glory Glory Man United

        • Daniele

          13 April 2012 at 12:27

          @Moscow: come on lads, we are better than that! What’s next? Calling the team Man U? haha 😈

  5. Moscow

    13 April 2012 at 00:40

    There’s something I don’t get. How the hell can Liverpool fans chant Munich songs then cry and whinge when Heysel is mentioned? We lost a golden generation of players to a tragic accident but they were responsible for the deaths of many Juventus fans, costing English teams a ban from European football. Who’s the victim here?

    • Stephen

      13 April 2012 at 11:31

      @Moscow: Simple they are scum, they lap up pity like a rabid dog.
      The lavish themsleves and wallow in mire of Hillsborough, but fail to do the same with Hysel, nothing is ever their fault.

      • Moscow

        13 April 2012 at 13:08

        @Stephen: @Daniele: I suppose you can’t expect the scousers to be any more classy than their very own ‘King’ Kenny. It’s shit like this that really gets under my skin.

        • Stephen

          13 April 2012 at 15:44

          @Moscow: They are a revolting bunch of creatures, you can’t also speak face to face with one of them without getting covered with saliva…

    • Daniele

      13 April 2012 at 12:26

      @Moscow: self-pitying is a quintessential element in every’s scouser life. Who cares about the Heysel or Munich? For them it’s all about Hillsborough. I’m not taking any stances here as we all know that there’s been some cover up by the government but that doesn’t allow them to mock others’ tragedies. If you watch the Heysel cup final, you’ll see Liverpool fans holding up a banner reading “Munich 58” in their end. That’s all you need to know.

      Furthermore, we play on the Munich anniversary and so do Bradford and Rangers on the anniversaries of their tragedies. To think that the scousers have accused us for years of “Milking” the Munich air crash is utterly shameful.

      Always the victims, never their fault.

      • Stephen

        13 April 2012 at 15:52

        @Daniele: They cannot accept any responsiblity with Hillsborough.
        Facts are facts, many Dipper fans turned up ticketless and drunk. Liverpool fans, lest we forget, had killed 39 Juventus fans just five years earlier at Heysel and were at the forefront of Eighties football violence. They were no angels.
        I will say the police were negligent, negligent. They failed to forsee the consequences of opening Gate C and failed to distribute the fans equally amongst the pens. But their shortcomings were in failing to prevent the tragedy. They did not cause it.

        The crush outside the Leppings Lane end was caused by hordes of fans arriving late and drunk. The Police had taken action to prevent a crush on the forecourt as the throng pushed and shoved to get in. Their decision to open the gate was the wrong one and they should be called to account for it but it was the influx of supporters that necessitated the opening of the gate, and the influx of supporters which crushed the victims on the terrace.

        I know it is the fasion to blame the police who certainly were partly to blame, but the fans have to take some accountability.

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