Analysis Opinion Insight

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nightmare in 4 parts : : 4 games in 14 days leaves Manchester United 1st XI potentially toasting reserves and U18's at end of season bash.

Having given myself the luxury of more than 8 hours to calm down and return to a somewhat more normal state of mind, here's my take on the last 14 days fixtures : :
Bayern Munich 2 : (0):(1) : 1  Manchester United  
     Ribery '76                               Rooney '2
       Olic '90

The first leg of the Champions League  quarter final at the Allianz Arena in Munich came on the back of a 4-nil away win to Bolton, and confidence was high, as most fans, the players and probably even Bayern, expected a tight battle with the possibility of a few goals shared between the sides.What we did witness was one 10 minute period of  the visitors dominating possession, creating a few chances and scoring one goal from the succession of two pieces of luck. For the rest of the game, Scholes, Carrick, Fletcher and Park were well off the pace, misplacing passes, loosing possession cheaply, and  leaving wayne Rooney isolated and frustrated. Defensive lapses have seen us uncharacteristically leak goals all season, partly due to a unstable defensive unit, as well as individual errors in judgement, skill and goalkeeping errors. Once again it came back to bite us, as Mr. reliable Patrice Evra was caught in possession, leading to their second, belief restoring goal.
That said, we left Munich with the knowledge that we had gained a valuable 'away goal' and we returned home looking forward to the "potentially title deciding" home bout against the Blues.

Manchester United 1 : (0) : (1) : 2  Chelsea             
 F.Macheda  '81                                J.Cole '20
                                                        D.Drogba '80
Oh' Owen Hargreaves, where the f'ck are you, 
Oh' Owen Hargreaves, the midfield really needs you
Oh' Owen Hargreaves, no one does what you do.

That was my overriding though during the first half of the game, where Deco, Malouda,Joe Cole, Lampard and Mikel were tearing our midfield to shreds, and our selected midfield, Scholes, Fletcher, Park, Giggs & Valencia, had almost no response to their dominance. Even with an incompetent referee, and a simply blind linesman, United didn't deserve to get a point. Yes, Macheda took his goal well, ushering the ball into the net via a questionable combination of chest, bicep and forearm, (the fact that he was in the right position at the right time, bodes well for the future). At this stage of the season, such a poor performance and demoralizing loss could only be blamed on poor team selection and player fatigue, and bad tactics. We gave chelsea's midfield too much space, allowed them free reign to run at our defence, leaving them almost unchecked between the half-way line and the penalty box, our defenders were set too deep,  and the attacking midfielders looked to waiting for scholes and fletcher to give them the ball on a silver platter. Off the ball movement was poor, ball retention was extremely poor and man marking was worse still, especially for thier 1st, where malouda was allowed to run seemingly unchecked from almost the half-way line to the six-yard line, before passing for Cole's sublime finish. But one game doesn't make a season.

Manchester United  3 : (3):(1) : 2 Bayern Munich  
  Gibson  '3                                         Olic '43 
  Nani  '7 '41                                  Robben '74
Aggregate  Bayern Munich 4 :   4 Manchester United

There is a first time for everything; yesterday, was the first time I was disappointed in seeing Manchester United win. After lifting the tempo and fluency of our all round game, the passing became crisp, and mostly one or two touch, the ball stayed predominantly on the ground, and movement provided goal scoring opportunities that were gratefully accepted.

Iva Olic's 2nd goal of the tie proved pivotal. It reduced the arrears, and gave Bayern a vital boost going into half time. The second half saw many strange things occur,  for many of which,  i found our own manager to be at fault. Why did Rooney start the second half when he was obviously not fit enough? Hindsight provides us with futher questions, why did Raphael not get a talking to about his
 performance on Ribery? why not swap him for John O'Shea? why did Dimitar only get 15minutes to try and score a goal?

The possibility of a 19th title, and a fourth consecutive seem to be slipping, we need favours from one or more of Stoke, Tottenham, and Liverpool, while maintaining a 100% record. We need to refind our match winning form, defensive solidity and confidence, to apply some serious pressure on Chelsea's "old timers" to make them lose their mental fortitude, otherwise, we may as well send the trophy to the engravers right now. 

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