Archive for the ‘Match Reports’ Category
Posted by hakanrylander on March 11, 2010
A very good performance from United last night and several positive signs going inte the quarter-finals. On yesterday’s evidence Park (my MotM) is probably our best option as the attacking central midfielder. Fletcher again proved that he has that rare quality of playing better the bigger the game. Valencia dominated the right-wing completety (with a little help from Ronaldinho, see below). Nani had a shaky start but improved as the game went along, and provided the best moment of the match with his superb pass for Rooney’s second goal. As for Rooney himself, another proof that he’s England’s best player.
Even so I think the main reason why United were so dominant was that Milan more or less handed us the game on a plate by poor work-rate and lack of tactical awareness. The most glaring example was that the left-back Jankulovski, one of the weakest individual links, was given virtually no support at all from Ronaldinho. As a consequence, Valencia and Neville could do pretty much whatever they pleased down that corridor. Furthermore, the other attackers, Huntelaar and Borriello, spent a lot of time waiting for the ball rather than take part in the build-up. This was a huge difference to e.g. Rooney and Valencia.
In fairness, Milan probably suffered a lot from the absence of Pato and Nesta. Milan still created a couple of chances early on, and with crisper finishing from Ronaldinho and Huntelaar it could have been a much tighter game. But I’m sure United would still have prevailed given Milan’s weaknesses.
I’m already looking forward to the next round.
Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports | Tagged: Antonio Valencia, Champions League, Darren Fletcher, Gary Neville, Manchester United, Milan, Nani, Park Ji-sung, Ronaldinho, Wayne Rooney | 1 Comment »
Posted by hakanrylander on January 31, 2010
This game confirmed two things.
1: For a neutral who loves football the meetings between United and Arsenal are the most enjoyable in the Premier League.
2: Between the Lines has been wrong all along about Nani. Regular visitors will be aware that I’ve dismissed him as our most frustrating player and expected him to be sold. If he had been sold this morning I wouldn’t have missed him. Today he forced me to change my opinion. He scored a brilliant individual goal (with a little help from Almunia), but in a way I was even more impressed with his assist for the second goal when he ran with the ball from inside his own half towards the Arsenal defence. At this moment I would have expected the old Nani to miss-hit the pass or make a desperate attempt to beat the keeper from long-distance. Instead he slowed down, calmly waited for Rooney to arrive in the penalty area and then hit a perfect pass. His performance in the first half was the best I’ve ever seen from him. But isn’t this just another of Nani’s false dawns? I don’t think so. I think that today Nani truly arrived as a Manchester United player.
Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports, Player Analysis | Tagged: Arsenal, Manchester United, Nani, Wayne Rooney | 4 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on January 24, 2010
1. Premier League Top Scorers
- Wayne Rooney 19
- Darren Bent 14
- Jermain Defoe 14
- Didier Drogba 14
- Carlos Tevez 12
- Fernando Torres 12
2. We don’t want Wayne Rooney to get injured.
3. Apart from Rooney the game was dominated by massive protests against the Glazers. It strikes me as odd that the owners make no visible attempt whatsoever to improve their image. They just don’t seem to care. This is rare in the corporate world where companies are normally very keen to put a positive spin on their actions and strategies. Maybe the family members are not comfortable in the media spotlight, but they could at least hire some public relations experts. This could be payed for by the club so that the family would not have to dig into the consultancy fees they are busy putting in their own pockets. The previous sentence pretty much sums up the way in which the Glazers are now perceived by lots of fans. That the owners fail to respond to this indicates that customer relations is not a priority.
4. The old Michael Owen would have scored a couple.
5. Darron Gibson only played for 20 minutes but still managed to impress me. Maybe I’m getting carried away, but I feel that Gibson will be a very important player for us.
6. And while I’m at it I might as well get carried away once more. Mame Biram Diouf scored a hat trick for the reserves on Thursday. All three goals were very well taken. I’d love to see him start alongside Rooney against City on Wednesday.
Posted in Financial, Manchester United, Match Reports, Player Analysis | Tagged: Darron Gibson, Glazer, Mame Biram Diouf, Manchester United, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney | 2 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on January 20, 2010
1. We have defensive problems. Not surprising given the continued absence of Vidic and Ferdinand. Even so I feel that a back four of Neville/Rafael, Brown, Evans and Evra should be strong enough for most games. But Burnley (with a dreadful away record) were often given a lot of space and created quite a few clear-cut chances, and we were lucky that they didn’t manage to convert a couple of them. I also believe that a lack of understanding between Evans and Brown gifted Tevez the winner. They both went wide to cover the cross but if one had stayed in the middle Tevez would hardly have been left with a free header.
2. Wayne Rooney is too isolated. Against City we used the 4-2-3-1 system that I prefer, but Anderson didn’t provide enough support for Rooney through the middle. Rooney did well, particularly towards the end, but he can hurt the opposition more if given more support. Fabio Capello seems to agree.
3. After three brief appearances I’m already optimistic about Mame Biram Diouf. Most of all because he gets into good positions. Should have scored, though, when he got a free header with minutes remaining against City.
4. It was good to see a MotM performance from United old-boy Chris Eagles. He had a couple of decent games for United, but in the end he didn’t quite manage to become a first team regular. It was obvious that he really wanted to make an impression in this game, and he did.
Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports | Tagged: Burnley, Chris Eagles, Mame Biram Diouf, Manchester City, Manchester United, Wayne Rooney | 2 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on December 16, 2009
Last night Ritchie de Laet was my MotM against Wolves. Please note that apparently he’s our No 6 right-back (behind Brown, Neville, O’Shea, Rafael and Fletcher) and No 9(!) in the centre-half pecking order (behind Ferdinand, Vidic, Brown, Evans, O’Shea, Neville, Carrick and Fletcher). We must have a pretty awesome strength in depth.
Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports, Player Analysis | Tagged: Manchester United, Ritchie de Laet, Wolverhampton | Leave a Comment »
Posted by hakanrylander on December 9, 2009
Ahead of the game against Wolfsburg I tried to figure out the best way to line up considering the severe injury crisis among defenders. But I have to admit that 3-5-2 never even entered my mind. And I wasn’t of course anywhere near suggesting that we use a very lop-sided 3-5-2, with one of the wing-backs, Park Ji-sung, running his socks off and joining both attack and defence to great effect, while the other, Nani, had little impact going forward (apart from that cross to Owen) and in customary fashion didn’t track back. I’m still not sure why it worked, but it certainly did. Maybe there’s a reason why Fergie is manager of Manchester United and I’m not.
A lot of the credit must go to Park who, particularly in the first half, found an awful lot of space going forward, and still found the time to defend. Despite the contribution from Park and the Owen master-class my MotM was Paul Scholes who again showed the rare talent to make it seem as if he always had plenty of time on the ball. Several good touches from Welbeck as well.
In the first half I couldn’t see what all the hype surrounding Dzeko was about. In the second I could. But I’m afraid all the signs are that he’ll join Milan.
Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports | Tagged: Alex Ferguson, Edin Dzeko, Manchester United, Michael Owen, Nani, Park Ji-sung, Paul Scholes | 3 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on November 30, 2009
1. After a comfortable 4-1 victory I suppose only a bona fide whiner could complain about our system. But why the * did we line up in this cautious way? If I’m generous I might call it 4-3-3, but it was perilously close to 4-5-1. Against Portsmouth! It would have been fine if someone from central midfield had moved forward a lot in support of Rooney, but it didn’t happen and you wouldn’t expect so with Carrick, Scholes and Fletcher in those positions. Maybe Ferguson felt a need to contain Pompey’s electrifying passing game. But, frankly, I didn’t see the point.
2. The signing of Antonio Valencia was a master stroke.
3. Thomas Kuszczak was my MotM alongside Valencia. I have to admit I haven’t really seen Kuszczak as a serious contender for the long-term no 1 spot. I thought it was Foster or a new signing. This game changed my perception a little bit. Look at it this way: When Foster got his big opportunity at the beginning of the season he made a dog’s breakfast of it. When Kuszczak got one of his last(?) chances to impress he raised his game to a new level. That’s an important quality for a United keeper, or indeed player.
4. A lot of United fans, maybe even a majority, seem to think that the referee was wrong to award a penalty against Vidic. At first sight that was exactly my impression. But the replay shows without a doubt that Vidic pulled the shirt of the Portsmouth attacker. A clear penalty. (And the ref was right about the other two penalties as well.)
5. I thought Avram Grant looked a tad more cheerful than he used too. But then again, maybe not.
6. Finally, and ominously, Chelsea have the look of champions.
Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports | Tagged: Alex Ferguson, Antonio Valencia, Avram Grant, Chelsea, Manchester United, Nemanja Vidic, Portsmouth, Thomas Kuszczak | 7 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on November 22, 2009
1. Normally I’m on the edge of my seat worrying that the game will take a turn for the worse even when United are dominant. Not so in this game. I felt that United were totally in control throughout. This probably stemmed mostly from central midfield. Darren Fletcher (now generally known as “football genius“) had a great game, but so did Michael Carrick. Carrick’s brilliance is sometimes understated as it’s often “just” about positional sense and hitting the simple passes right. You tend to notice Carrick’s importance most when he’s not on top of his game as the United engine then tends to stutter.
2. Antonio Valencia gets better and better. He has the rare quality that every time he gets the the ball I feel he will make something happen. The only other United players that give me this feeling are Rooney and Evra. Valencia even smiled after scoring.
3. We will probably have to get used to a mixed bag of performances from Ryan Giggs this season. Sometimes he makes brilliant use of his vision and experience, while at other times he drifts out of games. Pehaps not surprisingly at his age. This was not one of his better days.
4. If we can sign Jack Rodwell for £20m he will be worth every penny. Nothing very remarkable in this game, but he looks total class.
Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: Antonio Valencia, Darren Fletcher, Everton, Jack Rodwell, Manchester United, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs | 2 Comments »
Posted by hakanrylander on November 18, 2009
After six years of boycott, Sir Alex Ferguson will have to start talking to the BBC. That’s a result of new Premier League media rules in effect from the start of next season. Ferguson has not spoken to the BBC since 2004 when a Panorama documentary claimed that his son, Jason, was using his father’s status to gain influence in the transfer market.
It remains to be seen how Ferguson chooses to interpret the new rules. Maybe he will continue to send assistant manager Mike Phelan to BBC MotD interviews. Personally I think Ferguson should consider the advice from Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor (AD 121 – 180) who is perhaps best known for his Meditations on Stoic philosophy:
“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”
There’s no question that football clubs and broadcasters are tied more closely together than ever before, be it by fate or commercial realities. Global television is at the very heart of the business logic that brings millions of pounds to players and managers. Through television the “product” (a football game) can be sold to millions of people with very little additional production cost for each viewer.
It is well documented that Ferguson considers press conferences a total wast of time (except, I suppose, when they can be used for mind games) and occasionally treats reporters to rants from the Joe Kinnear School of Media Relations. I wouldn’t mind a more stoic approach in the future.
Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: Alex Ferguson, BBC, Marcus Aurelius | 1 Comment »
Posted by hakanrylander on November 9, 2009
There are reasons, of course, to feel depressed after a defeat that left us five point adrift in the league. But I’m actually more positive about our prospects this season after this game than I was at kick-off.
Best of all was the shape of the team. On paper it looked like 4-5-1 designed mainly to contain Chelsea’s strong diamond by crowding the midfield. In reality it was often more like my favourite formation 4-2-3-1 with Carrick and Fletcher sitting deep and Anderson given licence to move forward between Valencia and Giggs and behind Rooney. This allowed us to control the midfield while maintaing flexibility to attack in numbers, and Rooney rarely looked as isolated as I feared he would be.
We’ve practiced this system from time to time in the past. Most successfully for a spell of perhaps a couple of months (I can’t remember during which season) when Louis Saha wasn’t injured. Saha up front with Ronaldo, Rooney and Giggs formed a very impressive unit. I hope we’ll see more of it in the future.
A solid performance also from the back four including third and fourth choice central defenders Jonny Evans and Wes Brown. The fears that they would be ripped apart by Drogba and Anelka were certainly not realised. In my opinion this too stemmed to some extent from excellent work by our midfield in cutting off the supply lines. So a little less need to worry about the fitness and form of Ferdinand and Vidic.
I suppose I might soon get tired of myself praising Antonio Valencia at every opportunity. He was involved in many of our best moves and also found time to keep Ashley Cole very quiet.
I fully understand why Ferguson preferred Giggs for this game, but next time please let us see more than just a few minutes of Gabriel Obertan. Another good cameo from him.
All in all a very promising game. Pity about the three points.
Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: Antonio Valencia, Chelsea, Darren Fletcher, Gabriel Obertan, Jonny Evans, Manchester United, Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney, Wes Brown | 1 Comment »