Rafa is Interimming

DESPITE the fact that Manchester United are the newly crowned  CHAMPIONS, the circus around the Stamford Bridge team is once again making it all about them. It borders on ridiculous actually and for the sake of previewing let us debate. Chelsea may or may not be considering making an offer to Jose Mourinho, the man they decided wasn’t the man for them now apparently is. You have to think that Roman has been made aware of the  almighty fuck up he made in Chelsea fans eyes when he  appointed Mr Benitez, he will probably look at engineering Jose’s return to make them happy again. Chelsea are a soap opera in their own training ground, chasing European glory to the detriment of everything else and sacking the man who achieves it, scrambling around for cash to offer a manager they booted out?

Do we get another guard of honour tomorrow? The sight of Arsenal doing it last week was fun but the sight of sour faced John Terry having to do it this week on United’s home soil is just too tasty. Maybe I’m too ahead of myself here, I mean, is John Terry starting for Chelsea again? He might be on the bench. It just gets more delicious.

Football wise, Chelsea gave United a game in the FA Cup, or more specifically, Rafa was booed for making a substitution right up until the substitute swung the game their way. United took their collective feet off the pedals that day and with the title already won maybe it’s in us to play like the first half of the Arsenal game, I don’t think we will though because we are playing at Old Trafford.

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This Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore

SOON we won’t be able to say it’s the start of the season, we’ll sort ourselves out…  At a certain point November falls into December and you have to be there or thereabouts when it does because that’s when the season starts to count. Whisper it though, while we’ve been bemoaning the defence, the fact that we have to be scared into scoring, or whether the word groundbreaking can apply to a Manchester United formation without wingers, United are within one point of the leaders and in a healthy position in Europe. It was like this last season, largely awful, it was almost as if we were playing a joke on the rest of the footballing world and they took some time to wake up to it, but remember when they did? Out of Europe, nudged into second in the league, we stretched that elastic band to the moon at points last season, rode our luck so many times we had money off coupons.

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Red Dawn?

David steps up, United don’t quit and Hernandez has Chelsea ‘on toast’

UNITED FANS could be forgiven for thinking simply yesterday going into Stamford Bridge; win if we can, don’t get trounced, close the gap. There was going to be a lot of focus on this game and more often than not in big game situations Manchester United deliver, it is the way of the team we all love and it has been right back to those Babes we remember today. Under the spotlight, the boys done good, yes, doubters, even the goalkeeper. In the cold light of day the team can be proud with what they delivered. We were three goals down without it ever really looking deserved. Chelsea will dissect their own performance, and should, because deserved or not they had us on the ropes and left with a point. But they didn’t give us the path back into the game, look at the second half, we bull dozed our own path back.

“Torres could have built a B&Q Warehouse AND watched the Dances With Wolves extended version given the space and time he had to cross the ball but it was a classy strike.”

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United Give to Charity

LOOKING at the Community Shield as a showpiece spectacle has always been a step too far for me. It struggles in the netherworld between pre-season friendly and competition for silverware. It is both and it is neither and the idea is that should your team win it it’s important and if they lose it, well then it never was and never will be. To their credit Manchester United statisticians have always included it in the Pre-season group of statistics, and due to the fact that we lost I’ll happily go along with that.

There are, however, positives to be taken from the game. One Portuguese winger reached world class status thanks to his performances for our team, yesterday Nani stepped up to show that he at least intends to try and do the same. Some fans have questioned his quality and commitment to the side up until now but the stage is his to prove them wrong. What will the future hold, will he be Thriller or Earth Song, David Beckham or Kieran Richardson. He did okay yesterday before his injury, a goal, a lively performance and a little bit of a nap while allowing Chelsea to equalise.

Not Bad for starters.

There is one Smooth Criminal that should indeed have a word with himself today, referring of course to Michael Ballack who robbed Patrice Evra of his pesky need to stand up on the football field and floored him with an elbow to the face. Wayne Rooney had possession, Wayne Rooney lost possession, and Frank Lampard was nice enough to put the ball in the net for a 2:1 Chelsea lead to allow for the debate that would follow.

United players wanted to play on after a previous incident involving Ballack this time on the receiving end. Play was stopped, Ballack jumped up, hickory dickory dock. Chelsea players were not at fault for playing on at all. The fact that Wayne Rooney scored a last minute leveller did little to put the issue to bed. Much like Park, it’s a little firecracker that is going to run and run and run.

Sadly, no-one reminded Ben Foster that he has a history of being good in shootouts; no-one was prepared for the fact that Ryan Giggs might not hit the target and it seems no-one taught Patrice Evra how to take a penalty at all. I’ve not seen a shot that bad since David Seaman versus Peter Schmiechel in the ‘Shield’ of 1993.

All in all Valencia had spark, Owen had a chance, Foster forgot how to kick at times but made up for it with a few decent saves. Nani was in til his shoulder was out, Rooney was lively and Berbatov had some colour in his cheeks (ok so that last bit was a bit far fetched, I know).

There were lots of good things to take away; just not that shield thingy. Until next time… GtS

John Terry: England Captain

CHEAP  shot? Never let it be said that Given to Score is above taking the low ground when it isn’t appropriate, necessary or at the very least, really really funny.

 

When John ‘Mr Chelsea’ Terry strode forward to take the penalty to win the Champions’ League for his team. Who truly expected him to miss in such spectacular fashion? I certainly didn’t. He should have hit the back of the net, the first European Cup victory should have been delivered by the man who bleeds blue and white.

 

Something did strike me as odd on the run up for the Stamford Bridge captain. Watch the footage again and you will see on his way to the penalty area, he’s looking determined, his chest is puffed out and he’s pushing his captains’ armband into full view. Moving it round to the front so that the watching world are in absolutely no uncertainty as to who is about to achieve history for this club. He believed it, and he wanted everyone else to believe it as well. Confidence in taking a penalty and believing you will score is one thing. Hyping up the moment yourself is a dangerous game to play because there is every chance that in such circumstance, a person can be hoisted by their own petard.

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Burn Me Out or Bring Me Home

 SILVERWARE should not be the reason someone follows a team. It is accepted that it is the reason some players join a club but at the most basic and important level, that of supporters, it should be something deeper. Make no mistake, however, silverware is the chocolate sprinkles on the icing on the cake.

 

That thought occurred to me as I cringed watching John Terry stride forward to take a penalty to win the European Cup for Chelsea. He was going to win it, I was hearing as much from my brother who could not have cared less about the result and barely even remembered there was a game for some sort of cup. My brother was whispering that belief as I turned away. So I had to rationalise it in my head. It is not life or death, it really is more important to fans. At that moment I was trying to find something that I could cling to in defeat, and there was nothing. It was about to hurt.

 

I remembered the tears I cried when Aston Villa beat us to win the Coca Cola Cup final, the one where Les Sealey played in goal for us and Kanchelskis got sent off for a hand ball. That was some third rate cup domestically, THIS was the European Cup for crying out loud. It was going to hurt – no-one should ever believe that football support was rational.

 

Just as John Terry strode forward I noticed his confidence and I thought to myself that it would be very funny if, given his outward stride, he completely bumbled his effort. Luckily he did and we were still in it. Cut to Nicolas Anelka and completely the opposite happened, he didn’t look confident at all and as Edwin flew across the goal to make the save I jumped the highest on the bed as my Dad and brother sat next to me. I got some major height and I punched the air because we had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

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Never In An Age Of Saturdays: What Did We Miss?

OKAY so I think I remember how to do this, let me see… United face a tussle with Chelsea for the league title, a tussle that ultimately lies in our own hands. Our team have lost games when everyone predicted walkovers and they have won at a canter when everyone suspected the going might be difficult. Cristiano Ronaldo is best player in the Premiership and Europe, Arsene Wenger still has trouble seeing incidents involving his own team and dodgy decisions, and Manchester City are questioning the future of their manager. Pretty much summed it up?

 

Something’s never change.

 

I watch Manchester United in what I thought was an absolute ‘under the kosh’ game, and was quite ready to accept that on the face of it we were second best in every department at the Nou Camp. That was, until the television and print media called the performance one of defensive perfection and made us favourites for the return leg… (we’ll get to that). I like what they saw more so it was easy to change my opinion. On the face of the two legs our defence took on their attack over two legs and we scored more times than they did – more importantly we stopped them scoring.

 

Manchester United reach the European Cup Final in Moscow later this month, and Manchester City are allegedly about to sack their manager despite a successful season by their standards. The man that may be about to replace him is the same one that the FA wanted to replace him as England manager, Big Phil. Perhaps the owners at Manchester City are on to something and they are geniuses in believing this man to be the future. Perhaps those men are on a higher level and Manchester City are about to become a world power.

 

Perhaps the board of Manchester City Football Club and the Football Association suits are on the same level, and it isn’t a high one. Appoint a man, lose faith, sack him, chase Luiz Felipe Scolari. If they are to follow the FA mode of employment they will talk to the man, who then refuses to take the job because of the pressure and press intrusion. When he turns you down, hurry through the airport on your return to the office and tell the world you didn’t want him anyway?

 

If he wants a different managerial atmosphere to the one he rejected with England, Manchester City is certainly that.

 

Some things never change.

 

 

Manchester United could have made the title tilt a lot simpler these past few months, but that just isn’t our way now is it. Never has been. So instead we gloriously steal a draw at Ewood and lose the battle of Stamford Bridge and still it has never really been what you would call out of our hands.

 

Level on points, West Ham stood in Manchester United’s way on route to reclaiming our trophy.

 

Some thing’s never change.

 

Ronaldinho is no longer the big thing in European football, there are to be no more ‘great European nights for Liverpool FC’ this season, Wesley Brown has realised he is playing for the best club in the world and has signed the contract, the league leaders have won very important games without Wayne Rooney (not to mention Vida),,,

 

AND Given to Score will have hopefully relocated from Merseyside to Greater Mancunia in time for the next football season.

 

Some things do change.

 

Let us feast on the last month of the season; there will be much to come of that I am sure.