The Tactics Board – United struggles until Rovers roll over

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After watching Manchester City drop points at home the day before to Sunderland, Manchester United came into this game with an opportunity to go 5 points clear at the top of the table. For the Blackburn Rovers, they had managed to claw their way out of the relegation zone after a stretch of good results in the previous 4 games. Blackburn was hoping to repeat the type of performance that allowed them to claim 3 points from United at Old Trafford in December, but Wayne Rooney and Jonny Evans would both be playing in this game. In the reverse fixture, Sir Alex Ferguson sat Wayne Rooney and Jonny Evans out after they disobeyed team rules to have a late night dinner with their partners.

Line-Ups-

Manchester United-
Sir Alex Ferguson made several changes in personnel and formation over the lineup that started a week earlier in the 1-0 win over Fulham. Ryan Giggs started the game on the bench after an extremely poor performance while Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young started on the bench with Javier Hernandez and Phil Jones getting the start in their place. Instead of sticking with the 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 that Manchester United has used all season in the Premier League, he went with a more attacking 4-3-3 in hopes that the team would have an easier time breaking down the defense then they had a week earlier. United really struggled to beat an extremely well-organized Fulham defense that kept 10 players behind the ball almost all game long.

Manchester United went with the same back 5 that they’ve used in the previous 4 games, starting with David De Gea in goal. At right-back, Rafael got another start after putting in a very good shift last week. At center-back, Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans got the start while Patrice Evra stayed at left-back with the captain’s armband. In the middle of the pitch, Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes started as deep lying midfielders with Phil Jones starting ahead of them as the more advanced midfielder. Sir Alex Ferguson made an interesting change, with the front line consisting of Antonio Valencia on the right side, Wayne Rooney on the left, and Chicharito starting up front.

Starting Formation

Blackburn Rovers-
Steve Kean opted to go with a 4-4-1-1 instead of a 4-1-4-1. He made a few changes over the side that had lost a week earlier away to Bolton. Team Captain Paul Robinson started again in goal, with his 28th league appearance of the season. At right-back he started Bradley Orr instead Jason Lowe, who he started in his more natural position of center midfield. Blackburn has had a bit of turnover at center-back, after Chris Samba left for Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia and Gael Givet has been sidelined for several weeks with a hamstring injury. This meant that Steve Kean started Scott Dann and Grant Hanley in the middle of his defense. On the left side, Martin Olssen was given the tough task of dealing with Antonio Valencia. Starting at left wing in front of Martin Olssen was his twin brother, Marcus Olssen. In the center of the midfield, Steven N’Zonzi and Jason Lowe got the start while Morten Pedersen started on the right side of the midfield. Up front, Yukubu started with David Hoilett playing behind him in support.

 

Key Points-

  • United’s chances early in game to get behind Blackburn’s defense
  • Blackburn defend deeper and fill the box and shut United down.
  • Valencia and Rafael continue a growing attacking partnership on the right-side
  • David De Gea makes some exceptional saves to erase memories of reverse fixture
  • United have problems unlock a tight, well-organized defense
  • Change of shape and personnel give United’s attack more bite
  • Valencia and Young give United 3 points

 

Kick-Off-

Early United Chances-

The game started well for United, as they tried to take advantage of Chicharito’s pace against Blackburn’s backline. In the first 10 minutes of the game, they twice tried to play balls over top to the Mexican striker. United got their first attempt of the game from an exceptional pass by Wayne Rooney, who hit a beautiful 60-yard diagonal pass from the centerfield line to Chicharito. Grant Hanley was able to just get his head on the ball, but the ball falls nicely for Hernandez who wasted the chance with a shot wide of the mark as he was pressured by Martin Olssen.

Blackburn turn defensive-

After the first 10 minutes, and United’s attempts to get behind their back line, Blackburn opted to drop deeper in defense and stack the box. In defense, they would drop 8 men into the box and allow United to control possession. They applied no pressure on United’s midfield, and invited United onto them. For long periods of the first half, they had 10 men behind the ball and even Yukubu was in their end of the field. Blackburn seemed to hope that by stacking the box with a well-organized defense, they could hold off United and steal a late goal to get the points.

United controlled possession during for most of the game, but they had problems dealing with Blackburn’s defense. They were able to control the ball in the midfield, as Blackburn never really applied any pressure to United’s midfield when they had the ball. United would move the ball around, from wing to wing, trying to find an opening in Blackburn’s defense but they struggled to unlock a very solid defensive unit.

Paul Scholes was key for United, as he spent most of the game moving the ball from wing to wing with accurate cross-field passes, the type of passes that United desperately missed the week before with Ryan Giggs playing in his place, against a very similar defense from Fulham. He was able to use his accurate cross-field passing as a way of changing the angles on Blackburn’s defense, and trying to create alleys for through balls that might open up the defense.

After Blackburn switched into such a defensive posture, United’s few chances dried up. They were unable to really unlock the defense, and get good chances that had a chance of success. One of their few chances came from a set piece, a corner taken by Antonio Valencia in the 30th minute which Evans headed over to Evra in the center of the box. Patrice Evra passed it straight back to Evans, who took a weak side foot shot that Paul Robinson was easily able to save.

United’s strength from the wings-

United’s best chances always seemed to come from their right side, where Rafael and Antonio Valencia continued their growing partnership. To deal with the threat, Blackburn had Martin Olssen at left-back and Marcus Olssen just ahead of him at left wing. They struggled all game dealing with the overlapping runs, and cuts inside, which United used to create several offensive chances later in the game. United was able to take advantage of the gap between the left-back and left-wing, as Rafael repeatedly made runs into this gap and drove into the box to try and create offensive chances.

Blackburn defend deep

With his form of late, Blackburn tried to double-team Valencia for much of the game. The problem with this strategy was it left Rafael with open space to deliver crosses, so it proved to be a dangerous strategy for Blackburn.

On the left side of the field, Sir Alex Ferguson opted to play Wayne Rooney at left wing, but as the game went along he started to play narrower and came inside. By playing on the left wing instead of up front like he normally plays, Rooney got much more involved in the buildup of play for United but offered very little sting on offense as he spent most of his time too far from the box.

With Wayne Rooney playing so narrow on the left side, it left Patrice Evra as the only person to provide width on the left side of the pitch, and as the first half went along, he was getting forward more to provide some attack on the left side for United. He managed to stay near the touchline, leaving Rooney to go inside while he stayed out wide to put crosses into the box.

Blackburn gets chances on the counter

Manchester United controlled possession for the first half, but it was Blackburn that had the more credible chances on goal. Blackburn had a couple decent chances early, but their best chances of the game came just before halftime. United frequently brought many players forward to try and get through Blackburn’s defense, but this left them vulnerable to quick counter-attacks by Blackburn. Most of their chances came on the right side, as Evra struggled on defense to deal with both Hoilett and Pedersen. Wayne Rooney was playing narrow on the left side on the attack, but he struggled to get back fast enough on defense and this created gaps that Blackburn were occasionally able to take advantage of.

While Blackburn were able to get decent chances on the right side, Yukubu was largely kept quiet all day by Ferdinand and Evans. Blackburn tried to search him out with long balls, but United’s center-backs did a great job at giving him no space to operate. He had very few touches in the game, and only had one chance from a dangerous position. With Yukubu shut down, Blackburn’s best chances came from David Hoilett.

Just into stoppage time at the end of the first half, Marcus Olssen took a stinging shot on goal from the top of the box. The chance originated from a poorly cleared corner, that dropped for Olssen to take a shot that made De Gea stretch out to knock it away. De Gea followed that save with another great save, to knock the ball over the bar from the resulting corner. With saves like these, David De Gea continued to show his class and shot-stopping abilities, but he also did well to erase the memories of the reverse fixture by dealing well with Blackburn’s corners and set pieces.

Blackburn’s best chances came on the break, as United brought players forward to try and breakdown Blackburn’s defense. By sitting back on defense, they were unable to get their players forward fast enough to challenge United’s defense. This meant that on the counter, they would often have to pass the ball backwards and this allowed United’s defense to regroup, and then it wasn’t long before United were able to win the ball back.

United struggle to breakdown Blackburn’s well-disciplined defense

Early in the second half, United had a couple of counter-attacking opportunities against Blackburn but they struggled to get people into the box. With Rooney playing on the left wing, it was often just Chicharito in the box. In the 49th minute, during a counter-attack, Valencia was able to get by Martin Olssen and whipped a decent cross into the box from the right side, but it went just behind Chicharito and the nearest United player was 5 yards outside the box, so Blackburn was easily able to head the ball away and breakup United’s attack.

First 70 minutes for Rooney

As the game went along, Manchester United was able to completely control possession. By controlling possession so completely, they didn’t really need the 3rd midfielder, and the 3 central midfielders meant that Javier Hernandez was alone up front with no help. After the initial attacks in the first 10 minutes, Chicharito struggled to make an impact and needed the help of Wayne Rooney more centrally instead of out on the left wing.

In addition, Phil Jones played poorly. He played as the most advanced midfielder, but he contributed very little for United’s attack. He frequently misplaced passes in attacks, and wasn’t able to contribute much in the middle of United’s attack. His only real contribution came as he headed wide a cross from Valencia. He has struggled in his last two starts in midfield to show the form that made him so deadly in December. He showed great form in December with Michael Carrick, but his recent performances have been poor.

Sir Alex Ferguson changes personnel and formation

To deal with the problems on offense, Sir Alex Ferguson made 2 changes around the 60minute mark. He first brought Danny Welbeck on to replace Javier Hernandez. While Chicharito has been dangerous getting behind defenses, he has struggled to deal with the type of compact defense that he confronted with Blackburn. Danny Welbeck has been better this year at dealing in these tight spaces, and tracking back to get the ball on the attack.

The manager also brought Ryan Giggs on for a largely ineffective Phil Jones. This allowed Ryan Giggs to slot out on the left side and Wayne Rooney came up front to help Danny Welbeck.

These substitutions allowed Manchester United to switch from 4-3-3 into their more comfortable 4-4-2. These changes had an immediate effect as United looked more dangerous. This allowed the Red Devil’s attack to even out, as almost all of their attacks from this point came from the right side. After these changes, United were able to mount a much more effective and even attack, and Blackburn had no meaningful periods of possession for the rest of the game. United pinned them back deep in their own half of the field, and probed the defense from every angle looking for their goal.

Change to 4-4-2

In the 79th minute, Ashley Young was subbed on for Paul Scholes, who had done a masterful job of controlling possession and transitioning the attack from side to side as United tried to find an opening. With Ashley Young on, Ryan Giggs was moved into the central midfield and Ashley Young took up the left wing.

With Ashley Young on the left side, this greatly improved United’s attack from this side. This meant that Blackburn weren’t able to concentrate their defense just on Antonio Valencia on the right side. Ryan Giggs had helped generate attacks from the left side, but Ashley Young proved to be a far more dangerous option out wide on the left side, with Patrice Evra.

Even thought he’d been dealing with heavy defensive pressure for the entire game, by the 80th minute Valencia had already put 21 crosses into the box. Valencia caused problems for Blackburn’s left-back nightmares all game with driving runs straight at him, as he was never afraid to take him on and it was a play like this that gave United their first goal.

United's Right Side

Manchester United continued to control the ball, and moved the ball around the midfield from the left side back over to the right side, through a sequence of 5 passes before Rafael passed it out to Valencia. The on-form Ecuadorian took it right at Martin Olssen and drove into the box before putting in a shot with the outside of his right boot that curled into the net right in front of Paul Robinson.

Blackburn collapse and United ensure victory

After United’s first goal, Blackburn’s defense seemed to collapse and struggled to close out the game. With only 5 minutes left in the game, Valencia drove in on the right side again and passed the ball to the top of the box for Ashley Young. United’s left-winger, with his back to the ball, was able to gather the ball and spin around and put a shot past Robinson that was just able to curl inside the right post to give United a 2-0 lead.

Blackburn played well for 80 minutes of the game, staying very well disciplined in defense and denying United chances in the box. This defense caused United problems all game long, as they had difficulty finding the key to unlock this tight defense. Manchester United could have easily dropped points in this game, as Blackburn had several chances going forward on the counter-attack, but David De Gea made several great saves to keep the clean sheet.

Player Positions - ManUtd Right

The Red Devils struggled to deal with how deep Blackburn sat, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s change in formation and personnel in the second half changed the game in United’s favor. For most of the game, the only avenue of attack for United was the right side with Valencia and Rafael, but with the changes, United offered a more balanced attack which stretched out Blackburn’s defense, and this gave Valencia the space necessary to put in that first goal.

After that first goal, Blackburn’s defense lost heart and a few minutes later Ashley Young was able to put in a goal that ensured the 3 points for United. With these points, Manchester United has gone 5 points clear at the top of the table over Manchester City. While this game had a good result for United, Sir Alex Ferguson has to be worried with how his team has struggled the last two weeks to deal with deep lying defenses. Dealing with defenses like this is one of the primary reasons why many United fans are calling for a new playmaker in central midfield, a player who can confront defenses like this, and make the play necessary to create goal scoring opportunity for the team. At present, the only option has come from Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young out wide, but United needs another option in case playing through the wingers doesn’t work.

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81 Comments

  1. what a wonderful game and blackburn give us a hard time on the pitch with parking the bus but in the end… what a shot by valencia and young and not forgetting de gea made some excellent short stops… if blackburn play like that then i see them staying in the league but they need to win those last remaining games aswell

  2. Great article Joe – enjoyed reading your synopsis – thanks. It is difficult for United trying to break down packed defences, but then it is for any team. I think QPR are more of an attacking side with Hughsie in charge, but we will have to see how they line up against us. No doubt in these last games of ours we have to find a way to penetrate packed defences, but as is the case with United, we get late goals against packed defences because we have overworked said defence for whole game, and of course they TIRE and we get chances that someone or other will stick it in the net. I just wish our lads would stop crowing and throwing continual barbs at City, because we haven’t won the league yet, and pride can come before a fall. All we will be doing is firing City up, they won’t need team talks 👿

  3. I think we would’ve still struggled to hold on for a draw, but it does not help our cause that Kean is under instructions to minimise substitutions to save our malignant owners money that can be better used in building their chicken outlets in Europe. .

  4. The analysis is correct and concise! The issue I have is with the concept that blackburn “rolled over”.This is utter crap and does us no credit for finding a way to win! Another snide attempt to highlight supposed issues with United. If you want to bag our team then be a man about and don’t try to slag us off by saying the other team rolled over.They fought to the end and we found the way to unlock their defense.

  5. I agree that Rover’s never rolled over. They were not relegation contenders for 88 minutes. The two minutes after Valencia’s stunner, they did forget to play professional footy. They will stay up. #toostrong

    In other news, check out this “United United” cheer from City player, who was then forced to apologize to City supporters:http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1490535_manchester-city-player-sam-jones-apologises-for-celebrating-united-win-on-twitter

    😆 😆 😆 😆
    Manchester City Football Club
    😆 😆 😆 😆

  6. Meanwhile elsewhere in long forgotten European Cups 5 out of the 8 teams in the semifinals are from La Liga. A coincidence or a trend? Continuing on the popular La Barca off-topic on this forum: am I the only one fancying Chelsea chances against Barcelona?

    • @Andrei: Chelsea are going to get their arses handed to them good and proper. The only thing going for them is this idea of revenge but on the flipside Barca will want to bury the 2009 debacle for good by proving they can beat Chelsea without refs.

      Watching some of the European football even tonight makes me appreciate just how much we have fallen. People take the piss out of La Liga being a duopoly but my gosh would Valencia and Atletico Madrid take us to the cleaners. I don’t believe the bollocks about us being a team in transition either, because from where I’m standing this side will never have the fear factor in Europe. When Fergie retires, the devastating realities of the Glazer ownership will sink in and shit will hit the fan big time. Sorry to put a downer like that but that’s how I feel about where we’re headed if we don’t spend big in the summer.

      Anyway, the fixture I’m looking forward to most is Real vs Bayern. Jose is bound to start trolling Bayern before the 1st leg. Let the mind games begin 😈

      • @Moscow: The referee was diabolical that evening, he did also send off Abidal which was never a sending off, this maybe poor water on your pro Barca conspiracy theories.

    • @Andrei: Chelsea will be ripped apart. I think 6-0 aggregate is not far fetched.

      However, I will be cheering for Chelsea like a little school-girl watching Hunger Games!

  7. English football has been left in the dust, and will continue to be left if people at our club continue to “believe” that were on Barca, Bayern and Reals level…I think our 08 team was fantastic, and that’s where we need to aspire to be at again. Players like muniain, martinez, de marcos,eriksen,cissokho,pogba(if kept) as well as a rethink of what type of players we play would go a long way to rectifying that I believe.That and upping the consistency level of a lot of our players- Rooney included( first touch).

    • @Robbie: The new UEFA Fair Play rules and emphasis on young British talent will have great long-term effects on English football; however, it will hurt over the next 5 years or so.

  8. Ravel Morrison has gone from failing to get on the bench at Man United to failing to get on the bench at West Ham

  9. I saw that Morrison made the bench his first few games after going to West Ham, and even came on as a sub once, but it’s been about a month since I’ve seen his name. I thought he might have gotten injuried, but he hasn’t. Maybe he wasn’t as deserving of first-team time as he thought he was, or maybe he stole Big Sam’s pimp cane and is getting punished.

  10. Rooting for Chelsea in Europe is basic patriotism. 2009 was a great travesty and I would have fancied us to do a double over Chelsea had we played them in the final rather than Barcelona. I don’t want them to win the competition because I want Roman to be miserable for the whole of his life but neither do I want Barcelona to be the first club in ages to win the Champions League two seasons in a row.

    If there is a scriptwriter high in the sky the most poetic outcome would be for Chelsea to knock Barcelona out of the competition and then get their asses kicked in the final by Jose’s Real Madrid which would really rub Roman up the wrong way and correct the injustice Jose faced in being kicked out of a club he led to back to back league titles.

    • @colver: I was thinking more on the lines of Barcelona knocking out Chelsea, only to be annihalated 8-0 in the final by Real. In the same thrashing, Messi scores an own goal, Real score 5 offside goals, Barca are refused 6 penalties, Busquets, Iniesta, Mascherano and Dani Alves get career ending injuries all perpetrated by Pepe who is not even booked (that will inspire some colourful scenes back in Catalunya). Massive punch-up at the end, Jose single handedly takes out Puyol and Valdes, but somehow Barcelona end up with an indefinite ban from European football, a ban they can only lift if they sell the Nou Camp to Real Madrid. If they decide to sell, Mourinho parades La Liga and CL trophies at the Nou Camp in front of televised coverage and free tickets for the local Catalans.

      Or what you just said 🙂

  11. I for the life of me cannot understand this alleged rivalry with Barcelona. This is small club mentality, City are like this with us. ABU’s moan about preferential refereeing decisions we get, various conspiracy theories which contrive results in our favour. Truthfully it is embarrassing, then supporting Real who are probably a bigger evil in football with their tapping up of Ronaldo and buying success is odd.
    I can’t stand either Spanish sides, but siding with “Jose” who is a turd and then saying they are supporting fecking Chelsea is even more head scratching. Barca do get decisions their way, all big clubs do, whisper this, even us. That is life and football, we are not rivals with either Spanish club. Our main rivals will always be Liverpool, City, Leeds and to a degree Chelsea. So saying that people are going to back them against Barca is ludicrous. Get over things, Barca are an excellent side with the best player who arguably ever played the game in their side. Support your own club and be ignostic about any other side who frankly do not effect us, I hope Chelsea loose heavily against them. Real get knocked out by Bayern and they all loose in the final!!!

  12. Agreed Stephen, when this blog put a ban on mentioning barca I was shocked,Utd fans are now showing small club mentality at its worst, I mean now some are supporting Real Madrid? A team Fergie labelled a virus and a team that I believe are much worse than Barca in terms of their off field antics. When we played Barca twice there were no complaints about referees, match fixing, diving as we were simply outclassed.I could care less whether John Terry and co were unfairly treated, good on them! I’d see barca win the champs league every year than see our rivals from london win it for their first time. I’d rather United spent very wisely in trying to compete with the better clubs

    • @Robbie: I could not agree more, this Barca hating Real loving cancer which has infected this site is embarrassing. People seem to have their own motives, I have always hated Real, we lost out to Barca simply because they were better than us.

  13. And supporting Chelsea is almost a crime against United. There are some on here who love Mourinho more than Fergie which is astounding…. The guy is a scumbag.

    • @Stephen: Calm down mate, I was only having a bit of fun. So what I can’t stand the media darlings UEFAlona FC, I mention Real all the time because that’s the only club that can really hurt them on the pitch and off it. Yes, I am obsessed with the idea of their destruction and cannot wait for the day their imps get outclassed in front of a worldwide audience, because they are the greatest evil in world football. Fuck Messi.

      I can however understand your frustration about people supporting Chelsea. I can never forget the 09/10 season when they stole the title at Old Trafford with an offside goal. I would be embarassed if my team won the title like that but the rent boys celebrated like no tomorrow without looking back, the bastards. Personally if there was a way both teams could lose…

      • @Moscow:
        Messi is a great player gets kicked from pillar to post and is quite humble. Ronaldo is a poser who is the exact opposite, I can’t stand the greasy prick.
        People do have short memories, supporting Chelsea is a joke, they are scum.
        I hate Real more than Barca, they were scumbags even beore Mourinho managed them and now they are even worse.

  14. Nani’s back, now we are heavily strapped on the wings with young coming into decent form, for tomorrow would be good to have Nani and Valencia on the pitch at some point as those two could be lethal if we use them well. Also hope Nani quickly comes back into his best form so we can wrap this league up quick. Arsenal better do us a favour

    • @Robbie: Young and Vally are on form so I see no real reason for them not starting, before hs injury Nani was out of form.

      • @Stephen: @Stephen: Agreed, but I would like to see Nani play a good amount, ofcourse from the bench. I think when on form he’s better than all our wingers, its just a matter of him getting there. Watch fergie pick park on the wing tomorrow.

        • @Robbie: Parfk will not start mate, I would argue that Valencia is better than Nani. He is far more consistant and is always a 7 out of 10 player every week.
          Nani is a cracking player but is very in and out, having a winger who is conistant is worth his weight in gold.

  15. Guardiola [to journo]: “Are you not tired of Mourinho’s words at press conferences?” Journo: “No”.
    😆 😆 😆

    • @AndyCR7: I wonder if you will be hanging off his every word like a love struck teenager, if we win the league, Mancini gets the sack and he gets the job.

      • @Stephen: Dude I’m not from the camp who loves/rates Mourinho more than fergie. But if there is one manager who I like apart from fergie then it’s him. You do not need to get upset every time someone mentions him. And for the record I do want him to succeed fergie. Deal with it!

        And are you gonna stop supporting United if he becomes our manager?

        • @AndyCR7: I hate the man and he will never replace Fergie as Charlton hates him too, you deal with that.
          I will support the academy if he takes over, which he won’t.

        • @Stephen: Then Charlton’s a bloody fool, and I mean that if what you say is true. Mourinho appears to be both Fergie and Gill’s favourite, and has a better track record than anyone else in the world. Looks like he’s gonna stay at Real to wait for Fergie to retire as well, Old Trafford will be the pinnacle of his already illustrious career and I for one will thoroughly enjoy his reign.

        • @Moscow: I will certainly not enjoy the tugid football he played when in charge of Chelsea. He appalling behaviour is something which will not go down well with the hierachy at my great club, hence he won’t get the job.

        • @Stephen: That’s funny, Real Madrid have broken scoring records this season Benzema-Higuain-Ronaldo trio alone have scored over 100 goals between them this season. You can’t beat him with that stick anymore. Jose has great respect for Fergie, he calls him “The Boss” and the feeling appears to be mutual.

        • @Moscow: He will revert to type when he takes over at City, his Inter side were also very negative and he admitted he park the areoplane when he played Barca.

        • @Stephen: Dude I am gonna keep supporting United regardless of who manages it. I would like Mourinho to succeed fergie, but I won’t give a toss if Mourinho goes to city/spurs/chelsea. If anything it will spice up the PL more.

        • @AndyCR7: Good man, Moscow, Opti, Eddy, Owen, Craig, Ian and all the boys Happy Easter I am off to get drunk, it is my wedding anniversary!
          Come on United and Arsenal!

        • @Opti: If Mourinho joins City they will be unstoppable, for that reason alone I would love to see him join us.

        • @Moscow: Fergie isn’t going anywhere fast, do you want him out and him in then?

        • @Opti: Agree, it is an obvious match. He and United simply don’t seem to fit. We play open and expansive football, he generally doesn’t. We play with wingers his teams don’t. We promote youth, he buys older experienced players. We opperate with an element of class, he doesn’t have any.
          He has never re-built a side, at United he will not have the money to spend which he likes. He never stays long at any club and United will want someone who will.

        • @Stephen: yes, agree totally. Who in these times, is good enough and loyal enough to stay at United for 10+ years?

          — Moyes, possibly, but is he good enough?
          — Guus Hiddink, possibly, but is too expensive
          — Carlo Ancellotti, is not know for promoting youth
          ———–
          I really only see two options for United:
          — Ole Gunnar Solkjaer, seems perfect fit to me, IF ALLOWED time [2 years] to get team right… mostly unproven too in European football.
          — Pep Guardiola with Ole Gunnar Solskjær as Assistant…. PERFECT PAIR FOR ME!!!

        • @Opti: That would be the dream!! 😛 I think Guardiola is a strong candidate for the United job. He admits that he won’t be at Barca for many years to come and what other club really would he want to manage? We are an obvious choice. With Ole at his side this is my perfect dream, all hail the special two!!

        • @Stephen: I guess Robben, Duff, Joe Cole, Ronaldo and Di Maria don’t count as wingers then? He brought back a Madridista lad called Callejon, who has almost as many goals as Welbeck and Hernandez combined this season, despite being 4th choice striker.

          He landed the CL with Porto as part of a treble. He also won a treble at Inter. But these things don’t count do they because he plays boring football (which has broken scoring records this season) compared to our swashbuckling, edge of the seat stuff eh? Your hatred is seriously clouding your judgment Stephen mate.

        • @Moscow: It probably is mate 🙂 But Chelsea and Inter played awful football mate, you can put as much spin on things as much as you like but facts are facts.
          He pretty much ruined Joe Cole, he said didn’t track back, they played very narrow and once they went one up they shut the game down.

  16. I want Chelsea to go through if Torres scores the winner, if not I’m absolutely careless. I want Bayern or Real to win the CL anyway, you all know I love Ronny so to see him win it wouldn’t hurt me one bit!

  17. I said in October, just after the 6-1 mauling to City, that we would win the League by 7 points or something. People would find City out, and our youngsters would have played themselves in the United team. Most of you agreed that City would storm to the title, United struggling to get in the top 3.

    Yeah I’m bragging. Just because I love United. And kinda myself. But so do you! 😀 Cheers lads, let’s hope for a good Sunday with United winning and City losing. Can’t imagine anything better than winning the title at the Etihad!

      • @Stephen: Sorry mate, it’s just that I can’t see City winning. If not because of their results, the sherade between Kolarov and Balotelli shows how much they are struggling. I’ll be amazed if we haven’t won it before we go to their place!

        But then again, United always tend to do it the hard way. So we’ll see!

  18. I guess Chelsea specialise in scoring offside goals and getting away with it 🙄

  19. Before we talk on the topic of the Special One, I have prepared some answers for potential concerns about the prospect of him taking over at Old Trafford. Hopefully, this will save a few posters some time:

    Myth 1: “Mourinho’s teams play negative, defensive football”

    Mourinho’s Porto were the top scorers in Portugal. Mourinho’s Chelsea were the top scorers in England. Mourinho’s Inter were the top scorers in Italy, and this season, Mourinho’s Real Madrid have scored more goals than Barcelona.

    Myth 2: “Mourinho only wins with teams with money”
    In the last 10 years, the team with the smallest budget to win the CL is FC Porto, managed by Mourinho. Mourinho’s Porto team cost less to assemble than Andy Carroll.

    Myth 3: “Mourinho is not good enough to stay at a team long term”

    After winning everything at Porto, he does what an ambitious manager does and moves to a bigger club. After winning (almost) everything at Chelsea, he is effectively sacked for falling out with the owner. He joins Inter, and wins everything, before joining arguably the biggest club in the world in Real Madrid.

    Myth 4: “Mourinho does not know how to build a team”

    In the 2007 FA Cup final, in one of Mourinho’s last games in charge of the club, the line-up was: Cech*, Terry*, Cole*, Ferreria, Essien*, Mikel*, Lampard*, Drogba*, J.Cole, SWP, Makelele. 4 years and 5 managers later, 7 of the starting 11 (with *) are still considered to be important first team players at the club (who also play the same formation). Not bad for a man who can’t build a team.
    Of course no manager is perfect, but in a relatively short period of time, Mourinho has become the most successful coach in the history of Chelsea, Porto and arguably Inter Milan, and he went 9 years (NINE YEARS) unbeaten at home in league football.

    It’s also interesting to note that that he has now won league titles in four of the five most competitive leagues in Europe. It’s quite likely that we will not come across a more successful football manager in our lifetimes. He deserves a bit more respect.

    • @Moscow: Well said mate. I would even argue if Guardiola is the real reason for Barca’s success. That team would win most of the matches even without a manager. Let’s see how he performs with a club that doesn’t have top 3-4 players in the world.

      • @Ian: You may be on to something there 🙂 Couldn’t you also say that all non-United fans think the same of Fergie too? 😉

    • @Moscow: Eh, Mourinho isn’t as good as Fergie. Out of the 11 players to start for United in last year’s Champion’s League Final, all 11 were brought into the club by Fergie. 😆 Better than Mourinho could do 😀

  20. For chelsea’s 2nd goal, why did they not call it off-side, since two Chelsea players obstructed Al Habsi’s view and were clearly offside after Mata touched the ball from the post???

    First goal was just ridiculous…

  21. So 60 goals in a season and 25 assists and still some people here feel he is overrated!!! fucking mental!

    Thats 85 goals for the team directly or indirectly, enough to win you a league most of the times!!!

    He is only 24 years old.

    • @jos: As mind blowingly good as he is, he is slightly over rated. Think about this… with Messi, Xavi and Iniesta win leagues, cups and the CL. Without Messi Xavi and Iniesta win World cups and European Cups. Without Xavi and Iniesta Messi struggles and cant even win the Copa America.

      The man messi is insanely talented and one of the greatest of all time, but at the same time he cant walk on water. Hes the best player on possibly the best team of all time, but away from that team he is only the best player in the world… 😉

  22. I am trying to be positive but I just can’t shake the feeling that tomorrows game has draw written all over it. My biggest hope is that City lose against le arse and it starts a collapse of the club. hopefully players like Silva and Aguero will abandon ship and head back to spain. With financial fair play Citeh are pretty much stuck with the squad they have, so they cant just throw hundreds of millions of pounds at the problem.

  23. De Gea, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Young, Rooney, Welbeck.

    Subs: Amos, Jones, Giggs, Park, Hernandez, Cleverley, Pogba.

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