Auf Wiedersehen, Goals, Pet

United 0:0 Newcastle

Line up: Romero, Darmian, Blind, Smalling, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Mata, Januzaj, Memphis, Rooney

Subs: Valencia for Darmian, Carrick for Schweinsteiger, Chicharito for Januzaj

There is something quite calming about the team sheet in the early days of this season for United; we don’t seem to need to question Romero, Darmian composed and looking the perfect fit on the right, Luke Shaw world beating on the left, Chris Smalling and Daley Blind becoming something in the centre. The midfield has changed, sometimes personnel but mainly positions and against Newcastle Juan Mata and Memphis were selected to do the damage on the flanks, Morgan Schneiderlin continued his midfield brief alongside débutante Bastian Schweinsteiger. Adnan Januzaj played off Wayne Rooney, who needed to find his scoring boots again.

Facing them amongst the Geordies was Tim Krul, an impressive ‘keeper but one we would hope to have an unimpressive and very busy day. United started well, heaping the pressure on the Newcastle net early on; Mata looked lively and had a shot saved, later he spread the ball perfectly for Memphis to cut in from wide but the shot wasn’t really a test for the Newcastle ‘keeper.

Attacking wise you could see the visting team growing in confidence as the game wore on, Aleksandar Mitrovic eluded the defence and sent a header goalwards that Romero could do nothing about, thankfully the effort hit the bar. Perez also had a chance, wide of Romero’s post. The United fans’ positivity did begin to fade as the match went on; we seem to have become a team eager to put our chances away early as if we know that eventually the opposition will get one and take it and all the good work will be wasted. Such a cheery thought, but one which was passed between the fans around me like a recessive gene. If we started to second guess, those on the pitch certainly didn’t – Mata sent a peach of a ball to Rooney who actually attempted a shot, blocked by Steven Taylor. Morgan Schneiderlin danced through midfield and found Rooney wide on the edge of the box, he delivered a delicious cross and Juan Mata came in and blazed over.

Valencia came on for Darmian at right back, when Matteo was signed the quotes from LVG suggested that the manager saw Valencia as first choice in this position, that should not be the case any more. Javier Hernandez also came on for United and had a perfect chance to steal the points, denied by a save from Tim Krul which was very Schmiechel like, tall to narrow the target, save with the legs.

After much clamouring for Bastian Schweinsteiger to replace Michael Carrick from the start, the German was replaced by the Geordie in Manc exile, during the game due to injury. Carrick will feel he should have done better when he hammered it back at goal from Coloccini’s header, it missed the target and a thoroughly frustrating game came to an end. GTS

Red and Write – A Case for the Defence

The Pedro and Otamendi deals hit the Manchester United fanbase hard. After months of replying to the every tweet from the club account with desperate pleas for them to announce the signings of these two players, they have ended up at title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City respectively. The Argentine and Spaniard were seen as the answers to the team’s main issues: centre back and attack. In the past two years, Old Trafford has seen an evacuation of experienced defenders with Rio Ferdinand allowed to leave for free and Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra securing moves to Serie A clubs. In attack, this summer has seen the once talismanic figures of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao leave with little fuss whilst the club record signing Angel di Maria left for Paris in a less quiet fashion. At first glance it appears that there are gaps at both ends of the pitch that United must patch. However, this may not be the case.

Louis Van Gaal’s first season in charge was punctuated by defensive mishaps. The enduring images of the season will be the misguided attempt to introduce 3-5-2, the MK Dons humiliation in the league cup and that comeback by Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. The last of these seemed to have a huge effect on the Dutch manager’s attitude and from then on there was a new emphasis placed on physicality and defensive solidity. United then failed to keep a clean sheet in their next five games until Michael Carrick’s return to the team in November against Crystal Palace. This is where the case for United’s defence kicks in.

Continue reading

Club Bruges – Europe, but not as we know it

United 3:1 Club Bruges

Line up: Romero, Darmian, Blind, Smalling, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Mata, Januzaj, Memphis, Rooney

Subs: Schweinsteiger for Carrick, Chicharito for Januzaj, Fellaini for Rooney

TUESDAY night saw the return of European football to Old Trafford, we got the theme tune, the line up debates and a glorious night overall. Romero continued in goal, LVG seemingly resisting the temptation to play David De Gea, leaving him cuptied for any potential (and increasingly inevitable) switch to Real Madrid. That would have been evil but a bit funny.

Continue reading

Last Friday Night

Aston Villa 0:1 Manchester United

Line up: Romero, Darmian, Blind, Smalling, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Mata, Januzaj, Memphis, Rooney

UNITED went to Villa Park on the back of a solid if not mouthwateringly impressive opener against Spurs; a keeper who made a few saves, a keeper who sat in the stands and enough positives to keep us going despite the apparent lack of a goal threat in the one goal victory.

Continue reading

The Magic ‘Keeper Theory

David De Gea is becoming a subject. He was going to move, it was all but done in terms of our acceptance – I was all ready to wish him well and watch him go. I was at Old Trafford for the last home game of last season and I tell you now, not since Eric Cantona graced that stage have I ever watched a player so intensely. I was looking for anything, disinterest, too long clapping at half time, too much time looking around the stadium, I don’t know what I was looking for but some kind of indication that he was leaving. As it happens he limped off and everyone around me filed the biggest lot of conspiracy theories since Oswald ‘shot JFK’. He came back for the parade thing at the end of the match and I watched his head go back, and to the left, back and to the left, back and to the left… talking to Ashley Young. The single biggest piece of business we had to do that summer was, I thought, keeping David De Gea.

Continue reading

Seven and the Ragged Tiger

SO that was the summer. Falcao went but we expected him to be off, Nani went too but he had been on loan so long you probably forgot we even still owned him.  The pea came back, a bit hairier than I remember him and whilst it’s fair to say the break was in both parties’ best interests I am glad to see it wasn’t a break up. There may still be some United resurrection for  Javier, that is something which Angel Di Maria didn’t need, want, look for or deserve quite frankly; whether he was unsettled in Manchester or unhappy at United (tried engineering a move to the blue lot across the road, did he? Snake), I care not – it nosedived spectacularly for that boy but I do think the new number seven will be fine with standing on the shoulders of giants. For a while it did seem like no one would be good enough, Robson, Beckham, Ronaldo… who could possibly follow that? United saw fit to bring the 7 down a peg or two, in the modern world it was perhaps becoming the Raheem Stirling of squad numbers; too big for its boots, so we cleansed it, with Michael Owen. Then there was the time Tony V was too scared, we gave it to Angel Di Maria – for all of one year. Following David Beckham, Ronaldo? New occupant Memphis might be a little scared, but following that Argentinian piece of work? I’m quite sure Memphis tra la la’d into Big L’s office and said “thanks boss, I can definitely follow that!”

Continue reading

When Saturday Comes

United 1 Spurs 0

Line up: Romero, Darmian, Blind, Smalling, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Young, Memphis, Mata, Rooney

Subs: Herrera for Memphis, Valencia for Darmian

THERE is something magical about Old Trafford on the opening day of the football season; not because of any kumbayah nonsense about all the teams starting on a level playing field, if that is your bag then this website is not for you. No, the first game of the season is the first time you get to look at the money your manager has spent, what the player looks like in the kit and what number he has been given.

Continue reading