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Manchester United

United through despite Ajax fightback

Manchester United survived a late scare to progress to the next round of the Europa League.

Despite losing 2-1 to Ajax at Old Trafford, United advance to the last 16 of competition after winning 3-2 on aggregate, but will be concerned with another disappointing performance in Europe.

Ryan Giggs was made to wait for his 900th appearance for the club as Ferguson chose Nani, Cleverley, Park and Young in midfield, with Berbatov partnering Hernandez up-front.

DeGea retained his spot in goal, with the Brazilian twins as fullbacks and Jones and Smalling in the middle of the back 4.

Going into the game on the back of the 2-0 advantage matured in Amsterdam a week ago, United started brightly, looking to for an early goal.

The goal came when, after six minutes, Javier Hernandez received a pass from Dimitar Berbatov before cutting inside and slotting the ball past Ajax’s keeper Kenneth Vermeer.

The goal could have killed Ajax, but de Boer’s men refused to let the game slip away from them, as they started to enjoy good spells of possession.

Both, Christian Eriksen and Siem de Jong fired wide before Vertonghen had to stretch to prevent Berbatov from pouncing on a pass by Hernandez.

Ajax kept going forward with good purpose and, after 37 minutes, found the break they were looking for.

The ball failed to Ozbiliz after United had failed to clear their lines and the Armenian’s effort flew into the bottom far corner.

Cleverley then tested Vermeer just before halftime but the teams went back to the dressing room on level terms.

Ajax started the second half with real intent and DeGea was forced to produce a fantastic save to deny De Jong, following a corner.

Ferguson introduced Scholes and Evans to replace Young and Cleverley, both largely ineffectual.

With Scholes and Phil Jones in midfield, United slowed the game down and looked threatening on the counter.


With 17 minutes to go, Nani cut inside after a great run, before unleashing an unstoppable drive that thumped off the crossbar.

Berbatov then made way for Welbeck, but United were to endure a tense finish.

Ozbiliz’s free kick found Aldeirwereld’s head as Ajax went in front three minutes from time.

United held on though, to book a last 16 clash with Athletic Bilbao.






Daniele (@MUFC_dan87)



  1. Opti

    24 February 2012 at 01:02

    From last post… just to not repeat:

    I think Welbeck, Chicharito, Evans, Scholes, Smalling, and De Gea are excused from Wrath of Fhan.

    Chicharito scored a classy goal and was in dangerous positions many times (welbeck should have given him a goal was it not for a poor pass). — 7 performance

    Scholes brought balance to our midfield — 7 performance

    Evans and Smalling were solid throughout — a 7 performance (which is 2 better than most others)

    De Gea did well with everything he could impact. The goals were neither his fault nor can he be expected to save the two goals (deflection and point blank header). The one amazing save he did have should vindicate anyone from blaming him for having a poor game. Performance of 8 in my book.

    Rest are 4 and 5.

    The rest were poor, inconsistent, lacking compusure, and poor poor poor.

    Very disappointed.

    • AndyCR7

      24 February 2012 at 06:16

      @Opti: So the player providing an incredible assist (which our midfield fails to do always) for the *match winning* goal get a rating of 4 or 5 from you!!!

      Its funny how he never gets the benefit of being rusty! When was the last time he played again?

      • Opti

        24 February 2012 at 15:38

        @AndyCR7: besides that super delish pass, he was anonymous and rather wasteful with the ball. Rusty or not… we don’t judge players on how that should perform at their best…

        • AndyCR7

          25 February 2012 at 07:28

          @Opti: That one moment of brilliance is winning you the match, I guess he has done enough compared to other passengers in his team. The fact that we saw him dropping deep to get the ball tells you everything about the game.

  2. godzilla

    24 February 2012 at 04:28

    wtf. i just posted a comment and its disappeared! eaten up 😡

  3. Moscow is my heaven

    24 February 2012 at 11:55

    Summer transfers:


    Giggs (retire)
    Scholes (retire)


    Jordi Alba

    • Stephen

      24 February 2012 at 12:32

      @Moscow is my heaven: Torres 😯 I really don’t think so mate, give me Cavani any day over that Ladyboy has been.

      • Moscow is my heaven

        25 February 2012 at 11:56

        @Stephen: I just cannot believe he can lose all that ability in a few months. He’d be a good punt at £20 million, but the trouble is we need at least 3 top midfielders. Forgot to put Javi Martinez in there, now he is one heck of a player.

        • Stephen

          25 February 2012 at 12:06

          @Moscow is my heaven: £20m would be a punt, he has lost all confidence and has scored 14 goals since 2010, which is awful.

        • Moscow is my heaven

          25 February 2012 at 12:24

          @Stephen: Perhaps he’ll regain his confidence when he trains with Nemanja 😉

    • AndyCR7

      24 February 2012 at 12:52

      @Moscow is my heaven: Giggs has already been awarded with an year extension, right?

      Our summer activity would include extending Scholes contract and phasing out some promising(?) youngsters.

    • Ian

      24 February 2012 at 13:00

      Too many non-englishmen in your list

      • Moscow is my heaven

        24 February 2012 at 17:44

        @Ian: Oh, of course I forgot the golden talent that this country produces…

        • Ian

          24 February 2012 at 23:12


          But we’ve proved for a few years now that if we can, we’ll have a British heartbeat complimented with foreigners, hopefully there will be some promoting from within too.

        • Stephen

          25 February 2012 at 11:26

          @Moscow is my heaven: Tes. Wiltshere, Hart, Rooney, Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Micah Richards, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lampard, Young, Cleverley, Smalling, Jones and Rodwell are usless……. 🙄

        • Moscow is my heaven

          25 February 2012 at 12:21

          @Stephen: How many of them can we get?

        • Stephen

          25 February 2012 at 14:11

          @Moscow is my heaven: Not quite sure what happened there?! We have had the opportunity of getting all of them mate, Rodwell, what sign for us tomorrow bro.
          My point also was everyone loves slagging off the English, saying we a useless and that is far from the truth. We have undoubted quality in our Country and simply lack mental strength, not abilty.

        • Stephen

          25 February 2012 at 12:25

  4. Stephen

    24 February 2012 at 11:57

    I personally think Berba did well in the first half, like most of our attacking players was ineffectual in the second, but Park and Cleverley were awful. He linked up well with Chicharito and worked hard.
    Again what do people see in Welbeck?! He now looks so cocky almost as if he has made it!? He for me needs to knuckle down, I would give Rooney and Berba another go with Wazza playing off the shoulder. Introduce Hernandez when needed and bench Welbeck.

    • AndyCR7

      24 February 2012 at 12:56

      @Stephen: People also need to remember that he is being played like 1 in 10 matches which he plays without showing so much of rustiness. I for one think Welbeck performs consistently only if he is played regulalrly.

      • Stephen

        24 February 2012 at 13:00

        @AndyCR7: Welbeck has played 26 games this season, in modern football I would call that a decent amount of games, especially as he has been injured.

        • AndyCR7

          24 February 2012 at 14:20

          @Stephen: Well the first sentence was for Berba. :mrgreen: And second one was for Welbeck. It was confusing…

  5. Traverse

    24 February 2012 at 12:12

    Park in Central Midfield. 🙄

  6. colver

    24 February 2012 at 12:53

    Yeah you guys need to avoid fixating on strikers. Ferguson does the same thing and is always shaking up his forward line. Shame he doesn’t feel the same need to change things in central midfield.

    Funny that even after the game rather than focus on our dire midfield which completely failed to control the game or possess any real attackiing threat Ferguson instead apologizes for his selection of an incredibly young defence.

    If our midfield had done its job properly our defence would have been quite adequate to win the game (especially if we had picked Evans ahead of Jones).

    • Moscow is my heaven

      24 February 2012 at 17:46

      @colver: In my summer shopping list, you will notice that there are 3 midfielders and 1 striker. Our midfield is embarassing, but I still think we lack that top class striker who can do it all on his own.

      • Stephen

        25 February 2012 at 11:23

        @Moscow is my heaven: Do say that we have Anderson, will all of his potential………… 😉

        • Moscow is my heaven

          25 February 2012 at 12:06

          @Stephen: 😆 😆 😆

          How is Sneijder gonna get a game when we have Anderson? 🙄 🙄 🙄 🙄 🙄

        • Stephen

          25 February 2012 at 12:09

          @Moscow is my heaven: 😆 Where is the “we don’t need Sneidjer, we have Anderson” brigade these days? 😉

  7. AndyCR7

    24 February 2012 at 12:57

    The next time we deliver a decent delivery in the box from a corner would be our move of the season and when we score from a corner it would be the goal of the season 😛

    • Moscow is my heaven

      24 February 2012 at 17:47

      @AndyCR7: Now I’m not advocating a move for him, but Eriksen gave us a lesson on how to take corners and set-pieces.

  8. mick

    24 February 2012 at 13:10

    Young is a terrible buy , one trick pony. Beaten at home by ajax, i dread to think what this team will be like next year after they spend 0 in the summer. 400million left to pay off , at least 10 years to achieve that.

  9. ash is the man

    24 February 2012 at 13:30

    Currently I am convinced there is nothing wrong with our forward line. Each player- rooney, berbz, chico and welbz are all good players with different attributes. Last night I saw glimpses of the skill and delicacy of berbatov. ( I HAVE TO STATE HE IS NOT MY FIRST CHOICE )
    However I believe he deserves a bigger role in the club. He started great last night but then faded. He faded however due the fact he was rusty and also because our midfield stopped playing. Our midfield was non existent last night and of course that will effect the forwards. People will complain that berba always berates his team mates but all he is trying to do is tell them keep it simple pass and move- and he has this right to say this.
    For me the problems lie in midfield and we definetly need a modric but also Roy keane. However right now I will focus on what we have and although every member of our midfield was below par BUT I was very disappointed in NANI- I wasnt convinced of the hype at the start of the season and I dont believe he has changed his ways- he is as wasteful as ever and still cant play simple football. He is not consistent and we need to purchase another top class winger.
    ASHLEY YOUNG is another no show. ( and I WAS shocked to see him and walcott in eng squad and no lennon) Young is fast and direct and can be good but can never produce unless the team is performing. I am more upset with nani though because Young is a new signing where nani has been here a very long time………..

  10. colver

    24 February 2012 at 13:38

    Apparently Cleverley is injured AGAIN. How on earth is he supposed to reach his potential if he can barely manage twenty games a season? It is a shame because Cleverley’s early season performances were the only silver lining after a very disappointing transfer window where once again we failed to bring in any central midfielders.

    It is almost as bad as Anderson who regularly spends half the season on the treatment table.

    You can hardly blame Ferguson for not wanting Giggs and Scholes to retire. At least they are always available for selection when they are required.

  11. ForeverRed

    25 February 2012 at 05:12

    Warning… Long first post!

    Been a red for nearly 40yrs and been following this blog for a while now without posting. Always thought it was the most objective around and enjoy the range of opinions. After all that is what it is all about; opinions, not a question of right or wrong.

    Anyway, having followed Utd through the Docherty, Sexton and Atkinson years, I appreciate more than most how lucky we’ve been over the last 20 to have had Fergie and the phenomenal achievements he has been been responsible for. It has been nothing short of incredible and without doubt we have been seriously spoiled.

    However, every leader, whatever business, will be judged and Fergie has earned himself a very high pedestal to sit upon. Perhaps it is unfair, but the more successful you have been, the higher the bar you set for yourself. Sadly, we are currently falling well short of that bar and given this, it is quite remarkable that we are 2nd in the league and still very much in the hunt. I don’t know whether that says more about Fergie’s ability to grind out results where others wouldn’t, or the relative paucity of the PL this season. Either way, most would agree we’re not close to former Fergie sides.

    Transition? Maybe – certainly a lot of experienced players have not been replaced and others being brought back or having contracts extended tells its own story. But why is this? It’s not like we’ve got a new manager, starting over, putting his own mark on the team. Quite the opposite – we have the longest serving, most successful domestic manager there will ever be. So it makes it all the more odd that we have allowed very predictable situations (ie retirements, departures etc) to go unaddressed. The signs have been there on the European stage since the Barcelona humbling, Round 1, but few will honestly say we are stronger now than we were 3 years ago. There has been much said about the tight Glazer reins on Fergie (and don’t get me wrong, I dislike with a passion the way they have borrowed against the club), but that overlooks the fact that he spent pretty big money (by most clubs’ standards) last summer on players that were relatively unproven or in positions that were not the most critical. I think you know what/who I’m talking about. Taking a chance and buying cheap and unproven is one thing, but paying big money for teenagers and putting them straight in the first XI when we supposedly have a few of our own home grown of the same age who more often than not get loaned out or sold, is perplexing.

    Last night Fergie blamed the result on his selection of youth in a defense which contained 2 multi- million pound England internationals and 2 Brazilians. Shouldn’t be too shoddy, should it? At the same time he neglected to asign any blame to his midfield selections which, as others have commented, were clearly at least, if not more culpable to the performance /result as the defense. And this brings me to a big gripe – in my opinion, the lack of honesty (or worse, ignorance) that Fergie is showing to the fans about the problems we face (on or off the field), again, relative to the high bar he has set for us. Without doubt, if Vidic was in the side, we would not be conceding many of the goals we currently are doing from set pieces, but that said, this defense gets no midfield protection, unless Carrick is playing (and Carrick is not exactly the best in the world, just better than any other option we currently have in this role). Moreover, what are we doing in training, as we are obviously not effectively practicing set pieces (both defending and attacking)?

    The other disconcerting feature after our midfield weakness (and Fergie’s inability to recognize and/or rectify it) is the attitude of the team and a lack of leadership on the field. Other than the Chelsea game a couple of weeks back, this is a team that with one or two exceptions, generally lacks passion, verve and fight; often happy to sit back (though not good enough to do it) rather than go for the jugular. And this is so unlike Fergie’s teams of old. In my humble opinion, this comes down to the lack of an inspirational midfield leader, who not only has the ability & drive, but also the personality to shake those around him of out of their slumbers. Sadly, I think the lack of such a character and the laboured nature of much of our football over the last couple of seasons, is reflective of where Fergie himself sadly, currently is – slowly but tiredly approaching the end of a highly distinguished career.

    Uncertain times ahead for us fans, but once a Red, ForeverRed!

    • Stephen

      25 February 2012 at 12:03

      @ForeverRed: United’s “net” spending feom 2006 through to the Summer of 2011 was £2,690,000 which places us 14th in the net spend table. We were behind high rollers like, Stoke, Bolton, Villa, Everton, Fulham, Wolves, West Brom, Sunderland, Bolton and even West Ham.
      Yes they are “great” owners……. 🙄
      Fuck off Yanks..

      • ForeverRed

        26 February 2012 at 02:05

        Your point Stephen is certainly valid and well taken. To me however, a big issue is less about net spend (given we got a huge 80M for Ronaldo), but what we have spent it on. We could have had David Silva or Juan Mata for only about 4M more than Ashley Young. Who knows whether they would have come to Utd if we had put in a competitive offer, but they would have arguably been much more impactful additions to the team and in an area we have far greater need for strengthening than left wing.

        • Stephen

          26 February 2012 at 10:41

          @ForeverRed: I can’t disagree with that mate, the midfield has been neglected for too long.

    • Moscow is my heaven

      25 February 2012 at 12:17

      @ForeverRed: Fergie is definitely not the same guy he was. He has made a habit of lying to the fans since he started to do so in the Ronaldo saga. He has surrounded himself with yes men who assure him that Anderson will fulfill his potential, and a scouting system which picks out gems like Bebe and Ashley Young.

      We should be buying the top players, but instead we have to settle for the garbage we have today. I have not seen a weaker United squad in the Premier League era. If we were to play a top European team, we would be exposed in ugly ways and massacred. We don’t have any modern tactics, our best players are not even being utilised in their best positions, and we field a Giggs-Jones midfield combo in a Champions League survival game. We played 4-4-2 against Barcelona in the Champions League Final 🙄

      I want my old Fergie back 🙁 or the Special One 😈

  12. Opti

    25 February 2012 at 18:04

    Honestly, I think 10-15 years from now, it will become apparent that the day Rooney got his mega-contract, United started its demise.

    That was a black day in United history: when a player held the club for ransom and showed the world that United ranks individuals above the Team.

    This event is the catalyst for all that is bad with United. Rooney being handed a start ALL the time. Prospective targets asking for mega-bucks to play for United. When the honor of playing for the club was given a monetary value.

    • Stephen

      25 February 2012 at 18:25

      @Opti: Held the club to ransom, like Keane did? Or Beckham when he asked for image rights or when Ronaldo became the highest paid player in United history, signed a contract and still moved to his boyhood club?
      United’s demise if it happens certainly wll be Rooney’s fault, yes I get it…..
      He gets a start because he has scored 21 goals in 29 games and has been played in midfield and with numerous other strikers, like Welbeck..
      Why don’t you just admit he simply cannot do any good and lets all move on?

      • Craig Mc

        26 February 2012 at 00:19


        • Stephen

          26 February 2012 at 13:27

          @Craig Mc: 🙄

    • Moscow is my heaven

      25 February 2012 at 18:27

      @Opti: The day Fergie became a liar and a coward was the day this club started its demise. The fire isn’t there anymore to bring in the best footballing talent and playing the best football. A brave manager can always feel confident of replacing a wantaway player by signing other players of top calibre. Fergie is not capable of that. I believe that when Fergie leaves all hell will break loose and the Glazer ownership will end. We will probably be bought by a powerful owner, and when that day comes I want Mourinho, a fresh start.

      Rooney is a world class player, but he cannot do it on his own. If Fergie really wanted to stop depending on him, he would surround Rooney with other world class players. That way if Rooney wanted to leave, the door would gladly be open and he would know better than to leave.

      • Stephen

        25 February 2012 at 21:27

        @Moscow is my heaven: Liar, what Mourinho isn’t? Coward like Mourinho is agianst Barca playing no strikers? Get over things Fergie is a genius….

        • Moscow is my heaven

          25 February 2012 at 22:05

          @Stephen: He played 3 strikers against Barca with Inter and won. Not sure what your point is there…

        • Stephen

          26 February 2012 at 09:20

          @Moscow is my heaven: Yes he renowed for his attacking footaball…. Chelsea, Porto and Inter were very exciting sides…….
          I honestly think you love him for than Fergie mate and for me that is very sad..

        • Moscow is my heaven

          26 February 2012 at 12:07

          @Stephen: You forgot Real Madrid, who have scored more than Barca this season (they’re averaging something crazy like 3/4 goals per game). It is true that I love Mourinho, how can you not love his style? He reminds me of a younger Fergie, but more charismatic.

          Besides, the common denominator for all the clubs he has managed are trophies, and we’re trophy orientated rather than champagne football with Fergie, so you attacking Jose’s pragmatism would be hypocrisy.

        • Stephen

          26 February 2012 at 13:22

          @Moscow is my heaven: Mourinho is an arrogant prick, love his style? Give me a break, you sound like a love sick puppy.
          I only love United and Fergie, oddly enough, I don’t hang on another managers every word, it is embarrassing 🙄
          Also bar Barca and Real, the La Liga is pub league, he hardly inherited a bad side? Oh like with Inter and Chelsea…
          We will never agree on Mourinho, but you are obsesses mate all hail Fergie.

        • Stephen

          26 February 2012 at 09:22

          @Stephen: Great supporters he have on this site, I get 2 dislikes for supporting our manager who has made our club, jeez….

        • RedDevilEddy

          26 February 2012 at 12:27

          @Stephen: I feel your pain

        • Stephen

          26 February 2012 at 13:17

          @RedDevilEddy: Thankfully someone does…

        • Stephen

          26 February 2012 at 13:34

          @RedDevilEddy: If you don’t hate Rooney and Fergie, love Mourinho and Real, also have some odd hatred for Barca you seem to not to fit in on this site these days….. Very odd, United til I die.

      • Stephen

        26 February 2012 at 16:59

        @Moscow is my heaven: You should come to Salford and call Fergie a liar and a coward, oh yes you probably have never been to Manchester….

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