Monday, August 25, 2008

Manchester United @ Portsmouth: Review

Manchester United at Portsmouth
Fratton Park

Starting Lineup: EVS, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Flethcer, O’Shea, Scholes, Anderson, Tevez, and Rooney

United had to deal with early pressure from Portsmouth but handled it well and only gave up one good chance. But United began to movie the ball really well under pressure, with quick passing and good movement off the ball, which kept Portsmouth off pace.

Portsmouth continued to create half-chances and did pressure united closer to the 30 minute mark. United had a difficult time getting out of pressure and Portsmouth looked capable of scoring throughout.

Anderson plays a great ball on the ground in-between the center and right back for Portsmouth to an onrushing Patrice Evra. He plays a strong ball low across the six yard box. Darren Fletcher gets to it and puts it past David James and just over the line. It might have come off the a sliding Sylvan Distin who had good position on Fletcher but Fletcher was able to force the ball over Distin and in. Good movement and finally Evra break through.

Rooney broke out today and played some fantastic football. After a great piece of movement and passing on the right, the ball was played into Wayne Rooney’s feet. He took a marvelous touch around an incoming defender and blasted his shot just wide of the left post. The keeper had no chance if the ball was half a foot on the other side of the post.

United ended the half looking determined to get a result.

No changes at the half and United look to hold on to another quality goal off a good run into a good position by Darren Fletcher.

During the early parts of the half Wayne Rooney should have had a goal that was disallowed by the linesman for offsides. He played his run perfectly and slots it under the on rushing David James. Credit to Rooney for not arguing and just playing his game.

Sol Campbell chopped down Rooney in the penalty box but no penalty was rewarded in the middle of the second half. And in the defense of the referee the ball was blocked before the ball got close to Rooney.

Rodrigo Possebon came on in the 74th minute for Anderson who had a good first game back for United. Anderson well take the next couple of days to recover and get ready for the SuperCup later this week. An international break means more travel for Anderson but he seems capable of coming up big when United need him.

United gained control over the game and for the most part kept Portsmouth quiet. The game ended with Portsmouth trying to break down the United defense but United held strong and United go on to win 1-0. Fletcher is United savior again with another good performance.

United closed space a lot better than they did against Newcastle, hopefully this form is the form we grow accustomed to this year. Tevez, Scholes, Rooney, and Anderson all played well going forward as Vidic and Ferdinand continued to perform at the top level. EVS came up with some good saves but was never really tested. Brown and Evra made good runs going forward and after the goal they dropped back and defended well. Possebon should be happy with playing a small but effective role and showed why Fergie has faith in him. United looked much better after a week of training and important mainstream players returning to the fold.

United are lacking a true wide men right now more than anything. Good services where not on the offering for a large majority of the game but good overlapping runs by Brown and Evra helped and ultimately brought the winning goal. United also lacked aerial ability, as usually, in the middle once the ball came in, but this is not new. United did, smartly, play most of there crosses low where Tevez and Rooney are more effective.

All in all United should be happy with the three points but cover is needed as United still have few options if an injury to arise on international duty, at the SuperCup, or in training. Fergie can concentrate on bringing in that elusive striker in the coming days before United take on Zenit St. Petersburg for the SuperCup.

Why Berba to United is not the best move!

I have 5 points on why buying Berbatov will not help us with our current situation and in the long run its better to stick with what we have.

1. The bottom line is we have some possible great young stars. Frazier Campbell has looked good when given chances and almost got on the score sheet against Newcastle twice. Manucho is a quality player and is exactly the kind of player we are looking for, someone who can play in certain games to help stretch the field and be a target man who can hold up the ball for the on rushing midfield. If we buy Berbatov or any new striker the possibility of these two getting a game are minimal. They will be relegated to the off chance an injury occurs and early FA and Carling cup action. Development has been severely lacking in United’s youth system, seems ridiculous to spend that type of money when options still exist.

2. While some may consider it a long shot, Louis Saha is another tailored made striker for what is needed at United. The best part is he still a Red Devil, while I know it may seem unlikely for Saha to make a full recovery and not pick up another injury, which he seems to have a knack for but striker can often surprise you when coming back from an injury. RVN after his knee surgery is a prime example. While I understand the worry of Saha being so prone to injury if we are to believe what we read than Saha’s new fitness plan might just lead him to an injury free campaign.

3. The cost of Berbatov is just too high. A 28-year-old striker should not cost $30+ million and it seems ridiculous to suggest he is. Ronaldinho was sold to AC Milan for less money. While United still remain in debt and the club is finding it harder and harder to make more than they spend, it seems like a large sum of money being spent for someone who might do harm than good.

4. Berbatov is not a guarantee success. People often watch how one player plays for one team and we often assume he will fit in to any team. This is not the case, look at Bent who was the leading English goal scorer when he played at Charlton but now finds it difficult to retain that form at Tottenham. He might come in and not fit in at all and while I agree with the ideas of his ability being the striker needs, I don’t believe he is worth the price tag set and do believe we have adequate cover in the form of youth and possibly from a veteran.

5. My final reason is simple; we can wait a year. United will find it difficult to win this season, period, with or without Berba. There is no guarantee that he will mean wins for United against other top 3 clubs. Chelsea look stronger than ever, Liverpool look to be able to dominate, and Arsenal have that swagger even when coming up short. United have the ability on there books now to get a win on any one of these teams and there fore we should avoid a huge money transfer that is simple not needed. Better options look available next summer in Karim Benzema, Huntelaar, maybe Berbatov again, David Villa, and the list goes on.

What ever the case of the transfer market United look to have a strong enough squad to repeat as EPL champions. We saw how Chelsea can be pushed against the ropes and given a more quality side for Wigan they would have got at least a point last weekend. Liverpool can also count them lucky, except Stevie G came up big for the reds. Arsenal got beat by lowly Fulham who would have thought that would have been an easy three points. United can win this league but a good result is needed tomorrow against Portsmouth. will show the game and if you have a pc, has good links.

In any way if he does come to United he will help us win, but another generation of possible United stars will be lost to other clubs. I am interested to see what Fergie has planned during the last days of the transfer window.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Manchester United @ Portsmouth: Preview

Manchester United play Portsmouth tomorrow at Fratton Park in Portsmouth. The game could already play a crucial role in deciding if United will be champions of England again. I know its only the second game of the season but with the schedule set as it is, it could very well play a huge part in United’s season.

Let me explain. After Portsmouth we travel to Play Zenit St. Petersburg, the Russian club who has a star named Andrei Arshavin. Arshavin and Zenit won the UEFA cup and United will take them in the European Super Cup. Than September hits us with a bang. As soon as we return we take on Liverpool, at Anfield. A game where a draw or win has to be the result. Then the following weekend we take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Things calm down after that but if we lost against Portsmouth, again at Liverpool, and again at Chelsea, we could be 10 points behind by the end of September.

I said in another post the beginning of the season is the most crucial this year and United could be out of the hunt by the end of September. United must get a result against Portsmouth and hope a key striker can be brought in by the time we have to travel to Liverpool and than London.

The injuries are hurting United with the biggest name Ronaldo out till October (missing two huge games). Hargreaves, Saha, Giggs, Carrick, Neville, and other are still out injured as well. Hopefully Giggs and Carrick will return in a short period of time and surely will return before September. Hargreaves also looks certain to return by the Liverpool game. Our midfield really struggled against Newcastle with the tremendous loss of true first level football, but with Anderson returning and others getting fit, United should return to the form they enjoyed last year.

The transfer window closes in 7 days and the door is closing on signing Berbatov from Tottenham. It will be a huge loss for United not to bring in a striker and possible two other signing in respective positions. I believe if Saha can stay fit we will be fine, but that’s a big ask considering his injury riddled past. Right back is also worrying as the jury is still out on Brown, Neville can’t return to the high form he previously enjoyed, and Simpson has been loaned out, again. Another left back is also needed with more experience but the new Brazilian twin Da Silva looked good when he came on in the second half against Newcastle.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Newcastle vs. Manchester United Review

Newcastle vs. Manchester United Review

United started there EPL season with a sluggish performance against Newcastle. They earned a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, but where the better team on the day. United had a huge amount of the position but Newcastle defended well and looked dangerous going forward. United could not get the style of play we have come to expect to flow. United where without Tevez who I picked to play a huge role, he went back to Argentina for some family event or emergency.

The scoring began with a corner kick for Newcastle. A great cross and Martins broke free from Darren Fletcher and rose up well to put it in the back of the net. The goal came after United had started well. Campbell had a good chance and should have scored off a Wayne Rooney cross, but Shay Given was in the right place at the right time. At least his head was, as Campbell’s strong header bounced off the keeper’s forehead.

Carrick went out with an injury in the middle of the first half. Losing him was a huge blow and it really affected the quality in the midfield. John O’Shea came on who defended well, but had few ideas going forward.

United equalized when Ryan Giggs cross was meet by Darren Fletcher who flashed in front of the defenders and smashed it home.

The second half would begin 1-1 and it looked as if that wouldn’t change. Long-range shots and hopeful crosses were mixed with good passing, and some good ideas. Rodrigo Possebon came on in the second half for Ryan Giggs who picked up a hamstring injury.

Vidic rose well and hit a header down into the ground. The ball rose up and hit the ball, and if that wasn’t enough, he hurt his knee on the fall.

Rafael De Silva came on for Frazier Campbell late in the game. He had 10 minutes to impress and impress he did. He earned a free kick for United a yard outside the box. Rooney took the free kick and sent it wide around the wall to the near post.

Who impressed?

Campbell impressed for me, but he didn’t mix well with Rooney for the majority of the game. He was, surprisingly, our biggest threat going forward. He had a couple good chances, one he created from scratch, but I didn’t see anything to suggest he would come into the starting line up.

Ferdinand and Vidic looked good in the back. The communicated well, tackled strongly, made good passes going forward, and didn’t get caught out of position.

The young Brazilians impressed. Possebon didn’t disappoint and didn’t play the most amazing football I have ever seen, but he was solid. Made good passing decisions and helped set up some chances. I am excited to see him get more of a role during the course of the season. Da Silva looked good out on the left, he had quick cuts on the ball and gave United a chance to win it at the end.

Jonas, the new signing for Newcastle, played extremely well and dominated the left flank. He defended; he made chances, and never seemed to quit.


United looked sluggish, to a larger degree than they should after a long pre-season. They didn’t connect, they made stupid decisions, tackled poorly, and the lack of Hargreaves, Carrick, Ronaldo, Anderson, Nani, and a healthy Giggs was apparent. Not having these players is taking its toll and United have to find a way to deal with it and get the wins. We can’t drop points this year, and the beginning of the season will be the most crucial this year, in my opinion.

Every time United went forward it died down because of poor runs, bad final balls, and very few ideas. We obviously miss Carrick’s creative passing, Ronaldo’s pace and sublime skill, and Tevez determination up-front. We also seemed to watch a lot more than I was use to, numerous times going forward, the ball would fall to a midfielder and he had no or very few options. Last year we made a decision and went and did so quickly. While so far a much slower build up has been used.

Rooney argued at every opportunity, out of bounds, offsides, clear fouls by him, clear fouls by his team mates, and any other chance he got. He needs to get his temper in check and concentrate on playing football at a higher level than he did today. He finally got a yellow near the end of the second half.

What to take out of it?

It’s the beginning of the season so expectations should not have been too high. Not having Tevez really hurt us, as we didn’t look nearly good enough going forward. I think it is apparent we need a new striker brought in. Campbell played well but not good enough, Rooney created few chances and showed his lack of finishing quality on a chance early in the first half. Saha was out injured, again, and it seems it will be necessary to bring him in the near future.

The lack of first team starters and the amount of injuries are hurting us. If we can get a few fit, get some back from internationals, and get our stars like Rooney playing with more confidence we will be ok, but there is a lot on Fergie’s plate at the moment.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lets Get It Going.....

It’s finally over…

I apologize for the long delay, but I was soaking up the sun in Destin, Florida. It was a nice trip but its time for the new season to begin and the saga is over. I kid you not; Ronaldo will be staying for another year at Old Trafford. I have been very critical of Ronaldo and the idea of holding on to him at all costs. So what can we expect?

I fully expect Ronaldo to fulfill his duties and play lights out this year. He will do all he can because his brilliance doesn’t arise from wanting to help his team. If it did I would be worried that we would see a lack luster performance because he is unhappy to be “stuck” at United. But his brilliance comes from wanting to be the best of all time and I think he will continue to rise to that mark.

I don’t want to come off as sounding like I have changed my tune, but he will work hard and play a crucial role in United securing a 3rd EPL title in a row. The bottom line is he is gone next summer, if not then the next, but Ronaldo is a not a Red Devil and I don’t want him to be. Someone put it best when they said he is a f*** buddy who will leave us satisfied but have no emotional commitment to us what so ever. I don’t think he will hear his name sung nearly as loud as last year but some fans will forgive. I cannot. I never want to see him in a United jersey again, but I will deal with it if he helps us repeat our success from last year. Ronaldo is everything that is wrong with sports, for better or worse, sports are a multimillion dollar a year business and with that you get players carrying more about money and image than you do with bringing glory to the club they represent.

With all that said I hope he does well, and if he doesn’t I see no problem with Fergie sitting him in favor of Nani or even Park. However, I don’t see Ronaldo struggling. I see him scoring over 20 goals, but playing a larger role in setting up quality chances for Rooney, Tevez, and our new mystery man.

Surpise, Surprise?

Speaking on that note, it seems Berbatov will become a Red Devil this week. A fee is almost agreed and the player seems to really want to join us, according to reports. Fergie has refused to comment but did say, "You might be surprised at what is going to happen over the next two days." Hopefully this is a Berbatov signing coupled with another player to play a role, but could also be something bigger. This worries me.

Why would I be worried? Ronaldo could sign a new contract, I have read some rumors about it, but dismissed them. This could make some sense but he obviously doesn’t care about contracts and was willing to throw away the lucrative deal for a bigger one. Is it hard for any of us to see, Real Madrid finding the money for Ronaldo next summer? If he does sign on, and we see a couple summers of him saying I want to stay, I might change my tune, but he will have to work at showing the true diehards he really wants to be a Red Devil.

Newcastle vs. Manchester United
Sunday 9am ET

The season starts with a fixture that could challenge United. Usually United do well against Newcastle, but with Newcastle looking to improve this season they will come out firing. Newcastle may push is, but with Rooney fit I can’t see any other outcome than a United win.

Look for United to win 3-1 or 2-0 nothing with our defense playing well. I expect United to play comfortable but not at the level we are use to. Give them about 3-4 weeks to begin to hit form, which is close to a come back for Ronaldo. Giggs has looked good this preseason and I think Tevez will absolute shine this year. He will be one of if not the most important player on our squad. I think he will score over 25 goals and score at least 7 game winners. I believe the beginning of the season is the most crucial this year. Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool could all challenge all though I agree with Fergie when he says Chelsea is the biggest threat. We have to do well all year long, avoid any losing streaks, win our big four games at home and steal 1-2 games away.

I am really excited about this year and think United could have a squad that will go down in history as the Busby babes have. Fergie is the best manager of all time, and will once again prove his worth this year if he can bring in another EPL trophy.