Posts Tagged ‘Sir Alex Ferguson’

It was a keenly contested one. In fact, I was at the edge of my seat when the players lined up to shake each other’s hand. The Handshake Showdown last night was just in-fucking-sane.

The football however was definitely a sweet moment for Manchester United, for no other reason than the fact that they go top even if it is only for twenty four hours or so. You can’t really do much about your opponents, you can only win your games and hope for the best.

It is for this reason that the Devils will be happy with their performance, not because they defeated a Liverpool team that contained a member of the Nazi Party. Of course, the media will have you believe otherwise.

This bit however will only focus on the football that was played, the rest being nothing more than a distraction as far as I’m concerned.

1) The first half was very ordinary, nothing remotely exciting happened. United held the lion’s share of possession throughout the match, but especially so in the first half. Liverpool didn’t really have an attempt at goal barring that Glen Johnson opportunity, if I remember correctly.

2) Here’s the customary “Paul Scholes is so fucking good” sentence. Who would think that Paul Scholes hasn’t played between May and January? I certainly wouldn’t. He and Michael Carrick combined really well in the middle of the park. They passed really well and switched the play from left to right really quickly, feeding Valencia and Rafael on the right who gave Luis Enrique a forgettable match for sure.

However, as good as United’s midfield was, Liverpool’s was (there’s really no other way to say this) shit. Henderson, Spearing and Gerrard were abysmal and gave all the time and space in the world for Carrick and Scholes to play the ball around.
I was a little disappointed with Giggs though, I thought he had a fairly average game then again he’s been very consistent this season, so he’s allowed one off game now and then.

3) Danny Welbeck has been improving with every game this season. He’s added a lot of new things to his game – he drifts out wide, he makes runs in behind the defender, he holds the ball up really well and therefore connects play between midfield and attack. The last reason is probably why he’s being picked ahead of Hernandez consistently.

Welbeck also plays those quick one-two’s with Rooney and both of them have a good partnership going.

4) Wayne Rooney takes his tally to 21 this season, if I’m not mistaken. His brace was definitely well taken, but he should’ve perhaps had a hat trick to his name after Scholes’ dummy saw him get the ball in the penalty area, but toe poke well wide. It was a good quick two goals, killing off any bit of Liverpool enthusiasm.

5) For all those Liverpool fans that are expecting me to say something about the match from a Red Mersey perspective, let me tell you that there isn’t much to say. Liverpool was ordinary throughout the match except when Suarez got that poacher’s goal.

6) That goal was Suarez’s second most telling contribution to the game (the first being the handshake). Naturally, he’ll be remembered for the handshake and not the goal.

The defending from United was piss poor. What was Rio Ferdinand doing? Last week against Chelsea, he should’ve maybe been tighter to David Luiz when he scored and this time he just watches as the ball hits him and falls to Suarez.

Naturally, injuries have ravaged United’s central defensive pairing, but I think they have missed Vidic the most. They have a whole bunch of young talented defenders, but Vidic just makes your team so much more impenetrable.

A word of praise for Jonny Evans who looks like he’s getting his mojo back. He definitely looked a more capable defender than Rio Ferdinand yesterday.

7) After the goal, Liverpool started to push players up and De Gea was called upon to make a good save from Glen Johnson. The last ten minutes was the only period in which Liverpool looked like they were participating in a competitive football match. I’m sure the supporters were glad they finally woke up.

8) You’d have to wonder how long Liverpool are going to stick with Dalglish. This was a rotten performance by Liverpool, if you’re a fan I’m sure. There was no desire to win it. It looked like a stroll in the park for United, although the score line doesn’t really suggest that. The desire and passion definitely does come from the manager and if this is the kind of desire and passion they might as well have stuck with Rafa Benitez, who would (if nothing else) lit a fire in them and sent them out for a game against United. You’d have thought Kenny would know all about this fixture, but well, you saw it yourself.

A word on a few other Saturday fixtures

 

1) How long before Andre Villas Boas gets the sack? Yesterday the fan’s too got on his back with chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning” and “You don’t know what you’re doing”.

Even Sir Alex has been at the receiving end of such chants at the beginning of his United career, but he had a far more boss in Martin Edwards unlike AVB who has Abramovich.

A 2-0 defeat at Everton a week after they squandered a 3-0 lead against United isn’t exactly the best for Chelsea.

In the fight for that fourth Champions League spot, Arsenal were the biggest gainers after Chelsea and Newcastle suffered defeats.

2) Swansea were beaten for only the second time at home this season by Norwich. That’s an incredible stat. Any team that’s played at the Liberty Stadium will tell you how hard it is. So cheers to Norwich who are now 8th in the Premier League.

And there’s La Liga

 

Where Barcelona managed to lose to Osasuna giving Real Madrid the chance to open up a ten point lead at the top of the table if they win tonight.

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It’s been a while since any of us have posted and I for one would have gladly continued to neglect this fact if Keshav hadn’t incessantly harrassed me to write this. Initially I thought that if I just ignored him for a while he’d eventually drift back into his natural state of boredom but he just wouldn’t let up so…..

Here is my list of the 5 moments tha changed the Premier Leagus season.

Don’t take the order too seriously its loose and tentative. (Infact don’t take any of this seriously it’s mostly bullshit.)

5.) Wigan string together two wins.

As Indian football fans our attentions tend largely to be centred on the big 4 (an increasingly vague term with the emergence Moneychester Cashty) but the significance of Wigans victories versus Legbreakers FC and Should have given up and gone home after 15 games FC (Stoke and West Ham) should not be misunderestimated (as W would say). Keep in mind that thats something Arsenal failed to do in the last 10 or so games of the season. (There sure are a lot of brackets in this post aren’t there?)

4.) Someone accidentally leaves a mirror in Carlos’ room.

Carlos Tevez decides his startling ugliness is more likely to go unnoticed in Manchester (The city that gave us Beth Tweddle and Alfred Wainwright. Go ahead, google image search them. Look at the fucking teeth on that woman.) than in Barcelona where people tend to look less like a cross between Andy Garcia and an orc . This was truly momentous decison for City as The Fugly One went on to net 14 goals between the end of january and may 22nd helping them to a 3rd place finish and direct qualification to the Champoons League and probably saving his manager’s job in the process.

Hurray! Its Pay Day!

3.) United scratch their heads and pick their noses confusedly when someone talks about “loosing”.

The seemingly endless suply of late goals was absolutely instrumental (second only to their home form) to United’s success. The specific moment I have in mind is the comeback win against Blackpool. Trailing by two goals. Thoroughly outplayed in the first half. Warily aware that the momentum was starting to drift towards Arsenal. They still fucking won. People go on and on about this United team being considerably inferior to teams of the recent and slightly less recent past and I agree with them. This Manchester United team may not be very good but they’re still very Manchester United.

2.) Kenny says “Thanks for keeping the seat warm Woy but as my first name is ‘King’ I should really be the one sitting there.”

Before Dalglish took over Pool (Heh. Pool means penis in Tamil.) had won just 7 of their last 20 matches. Post Kenny they were outshined in terms of points won only by United. He rejuvenated (I hate that word) and revitalised (Thats better) a team lower on morale and verve than Micheal Carrick. The early doubts caused by some seemigly dodgy transfer dealings were soon allayed and it is apparent that Kenny is very much in the same league as SAF and Arsene. Given further investment Kenny could well deploy a Title challenging team next season.

"Can't you see?, I am Liverpool"

1.) Arsenal loose the Carling Cup final and unravel like a great big unravelly thing that unravels.

Why must the things I love cause me such pain? The season promised so much for The Gunners (Atleast we have a nice nickname, Not like United’s which sounds like a 5 year old came up with it. Te Red Devils?! I mean seriously!). Indeed it was Arsenal’s season (Not to be confused with “the season of Arse and anal” which is the mating season of Loyola hostel residents.)

I say it was Arsenal’s season because for the first two thirds of the campaign, Arsenal Were the story. Against the backdrop of a vulnerable looking United, a fast fading Chelsea and a Cloundering Liverpool, Arsenal were looking like contenders again. The victories against chelsea and Barcelona prooved that they could mix it with the best of them (and Chelsea). It was Arsenal’s season to throw away. And boy Motherfuckin’ did they. The final third of the season saw Arsenal knocked out of the F.A. cup, the CL and pick uo 11 points fron 11 games (Roughly. Dont go all Opta on my ass.) This disasterous form can be traced back neatly to that little incident when a Frenchman walked into a Pole. The loss crushed the players, the fans and it would seem the manager as well. It might have been “just the Carling Cup” but it was Shiny and Cup shaped which is something that hasn’t been seen around North London for a long long time (Anyone who tries to remind me of Sp*s Carling Cup win will be shot in the face.) Arsenal’s mental issues/blocks/repressed memories of sexual abuse by a clown or whatever the fuck is wrong with them were brought right to the surface by that result and set the on the path to implosion.

Its Mine! MINE I TELL YOU. Maybe not..

Honourable (or dishonourable as the case may be) mentions to:

Arsenal 4 -4 Newcastle. Manchester United’s early goals vs Chelsea at OT. Injuries to Charlie Adam (It’s ADAM not ADAMS) and D.J. Campbell when Blackpool could have profited from their services.

Thats all.

Harsha.

This entry will be sprinkled with bias in favour of Manchester United. Therefore at the outset, if you have any problem with this, stop reading now.

It’s a classic Champions League final and arguably the two most deserving teams are contesting. Barcelona versus Manchester United. Luckily, this time it is not Messi v Ronaldo (although the English press is trying really hard to make it look like Rooney v Messi).

Lets be frank, it isn’t going to be an individual player who stops Barcelona. As Inter Milan under Mourinho demonstrated last season, it takes a collective effort to stop the Catalan juggernaut. Say what you want about Barcelona, about them being diving cheats; yes, its true. But sadly, its also true that they are the best team in the world, and if someone claims otherwise, they certainly are the most difficult team in the world to stop.

Its going to take a focused performance from United to win the game. Nobody can afford to go into a risky tackle because of the nature of Barca players to fall down when someone so much as calls their name. Incidentally, a friend of mine told me a joke –

“Dani Alves goes down like a ton of bricks after a Scholes tackle. The ref comes to Scholes and sends him off but also books Alves for simulation. Alves gets pissed off and asks the ref, ‘How can you send him off AND book me for simulation?’

The ref replies, ‘Well, because the tackle was on Iniesta..’”

*this is the point where you laugh*

Lets be realistic, Scholes is not going to start the game. I hate to say it, but he’s past the stage where he can play in a Champions League final and expect to positively impact the game. Giggs, however is set to start the game and will no doubt be the creative element in the team. I would make a strong case for Park to start the game as well after his impressive performances when its mattered this season. He had a really good game against Chelsea and his energy levels will certainly be required to close down the Barcelona midfield.

So here’s the line up I want to see – VDS, Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Fabio, Park, Anderson, Fletcher, Rooney, Hernandez and Valencia.

Yes, our season’s top scorer is going to be on the bench for obvious reasons. Berbatov doesn’t have the pace to trouble the Barcelona back four and will most likely be left on the bench (and I have a feeling he won’t even come on). So the reasoning behind my formation is that United will have to hit Barca on the counter. Their full backs pushing up leaves space out wide for the Red Devils to exploit. Particularly, Valencia and Fabio on the right can cause some trouble for Eric Abidal. Iniesta plays along Abidal’s side and he doesn’t track back at all. I pick Fabio over Rafael because I worry for Rafael’s temperament. His twin brother is a capable defender and has the pace to push up as well and hence he gets the nod from me.

I know most of you would have noticed that I left Giggs out of the line up, and this wasn’t a mistake. I think we’d be much better with three runners in Park, Fletcher and Anderson. Most of you are horrified by the thought of Giggs being left out, no doubt, but the fact of the matter is (as Nishanth pointed out) is that there’s no point in having a creative midfielder when you’re not going to see so much of the ball. It isn’t like Giggs will be spraying passes across the pitch (although I would love it if that happens, but lets be realistic).

I read in today’s paper that Chris Smalling might be in the midfield (in the role Pepe played against Barca). I don’t think this’ll be a good idea, Smalling’s a good reader of the game, but I’m not sure if he has the experience to match players of this quality (prove me wrong, Chris!)

The front three are quick and players who have the pace and the skill to trouble the Barcelona back four. Rooney down the left to exploit the space left by the marauding (diving) Dani Alves. Valencia’s pace and no nonsense crossing will trouble any full back and to be fair Barca don’t have great headers of the ball. The key player for United will be Javier Hernandez. Who would have thought that this guy who was a virtual unknown would be playing the Champions League final? (I assume he will start of course).

Hernandez is the key because it is very important to put away the ball with any half chance. Any miniscule sight at goal and it should be in the back of the net. Hernandez is also a good header of the ball. His movement will give problems to Pique and Puyol. Rooney dropping deep occasionally might also give Busquets a problem since he isn’t as mobile a defence midfielder as required. I would make a case for Mascherano to start for Barca but that’s not my headache.

We all know Barca’s strongest line up but just to refresh your memories – Valdez, Dani Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Villa, Messi. Although it would make a lot of sense for Guardiola to play Mascherano instead of Pedro and push Iniesta into Pedro’s position. My gut feeling says that that’s what’s going to happen although my gut feeling has been wrong in the past.

My line up won’t be the one Ferguson plays either, because obviously Giggs will start and I have a bad feeling that Carrick will as well. Carrick’s had a few good games (especially the games against Chelsea in the Champions League and more recently in the league at OT), but I’m not so sure about him.

Bottomline is United can’t score one and hope to defend. They have to score atleast 3, in my opinion because Barcelona will definitely score. And they’ll score more than 1. A new octopus has come out and said that United will win. I hope he’s a descendant of Paul.

Glory Glory Man United. For Number 4. For Edwin Van Der Sar. For Fergie’s third. For the fans! To ensure cheating cunts don’t win it. Come on United! Come on United!

Let me tell you first off, that as a United fan, I’m relieved! Finally an away win. But we shall get to that in a bit. I’ll just shed light on Saturday’s fixtures first before going into Sunday’s.

Chelsea won against Wolves to keep their position up at the top of the table. Goals came from Malouda and Saloman Kalou who has targeted 20 goals in the season for himself. So that put pressure on the other big teams.

He wants 20 goals

Spurs and Everton played out a 1-1 draw. Spurs looked like they were suffering from the much used cliche – “European hangover”. It will take them time, definitely to get used to playing the Champions League in mid week and the Premiership in the weekend, especially considering they played the European Champions midweek. Van der Vaart scored another goal, although to be fair, it was already on its way to the back of the net. I don’t care, because he’s there in my Fantasy football team!

You know, I wasn’t really sure about Arsene Wenger’s comments about Stoke playing rugby instead of football cause I hadn’t seen the game to which he was referring. However, after last night’s game against United, I think I have to agree. Ferguson was forced to play 4 defenders who at various points of their career have played a Centre Back – John O’Shea, Vidic, Ferdinand and Neville. What puzzles me is why Neville started when Wes Brown was available (he did come on later for Gaz). According to Ferguson, he’s the best center back in England when fit. He must have had his reasons of course.

Hahahaha

Hernandez scored a brilliant header with the back of his head. I have no idea how he managed to arch his back that much to score, but he clearly did, cause he got enough power on the header to take it past Sorenson. Tuncay scored a brilliant goal after Scholes gifted possession to Stoke. Hernandez got his second later on to take United to their first away win of the season.

Brilliance!

Man City got a man sent off almost before the match began. Boyata got sent off for tripping Chamakh after he was played in by Fabregas. I don’t think anybody can say anything about the card – which was definitely deserved.

Arsenal took the lead through Nasri, after a brilliant build up to the first goal. The 1-2 that he received was brilliant and Yaya Toure wasn’t close enough on Arshavin who returned the ball to Nasri. Gareth Barry (England’s defensive hope!) did an equally poor job of marking Nasri as he ran in to receive the pass. The Frenchman kept his cool and put the ball past Jo Hart. Arsenal’s second chance in the game came from the penalty spot but wasn’t converted. Fabregas was tripped by Kompany in the box for reasons best known to the Belgian. Fabregas tried to put the ball in the right corner, but Jo Hart made a superb save after guessing the right way. The penalty was at a good height, but still it was a phenomenal save.

Arsenal seemed to have been playing a different system which works in a parallel dimension. Song kept pushing forward leaving Fabregas in midfield. I have no idea why, but maybe I’m not meant to know because Song got on the score sheet later on. Arshavin chipped a ball from the left to the right to Nasri who gave it to Fabregas who then tried to play in Chamakh with a beautiful weighted pass but the pass was intercepted by Wayne Bridge (second half substitute for Yaya Toure). The interception teed up the ball for Song who obliged with a brilliant finish.

Nasir celebrates after Arsenal's first goal

Nicklas Bendtner, the poster boy of Denmark came on later on in the night and scored his first goal for the season. I’m sure Arsenal fans are delighted to have Barbie back, especially considering his finishing. Although I’m sure they would be more happy to see their Vice Captain – Van Persie returning. Walcott too made an appearance and his contribution was to run around really fast.

My least favourite player was taken off just after half time and Emmanuel Adebayor came on instead. No doubt Man City missed their captain who would’ve just run throughout the game.

Goal deluges across Europe

Real Madrid hammered Racing Santander for 6 in their weekend fixture at the Bernabeu with Cristiano Ronaldo (self proclaimed best player in the Universe) netting four. After a performance like that though, I think he has every right to call himself the best player in the Universe.

I have been a little critical of Angel Di Maria, but I think he played quite well against Racing and I can see him improve under Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese manager looked very relaxed as his side took control in the first half itself with Higuain netting the first, and Ronaldo scoring two. In the second half, within minutes of restart, Ronaldo got his hat trick thanks to a brilliant run by Di Maria. He netted his fourth from the penalty spot a little while later.

Mesut Ozil too got on the score sheet after a brilliant pass from Xabi Alonso split the entire Racing team in half. Ozil for his part, kept cool and provided a brilliant finish to make it 6-0. Sergio Canales came on for Ozil later on and looked very lively. The youngster is definitely a good talent and its only a matter of time before he becomes a brilliant player. Diop got a consolation goal for the visitors but refused to celebrate (for obvious reasons)

In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven absolutely HAMMERED Feyenoord 10-0. Yes you read that correctly. 10-0. Feyenoord are supposed to be one of the better teams in the Dutch League. PSV has been receiving Champions League payments for nearly the past 10 years except last year when they were pipped to the title by Steve McLaren’s FC Twente. Does this mean that PSV are a really powerful team in Europe? Hardly. However in the Netherlands, you better look out for them.

 

‘I MET with David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad.

I then told him that I would not be signing a new contract.

I was interested to hear what Sir Alex had to say yesterday and surprised by some of it.

It is absolutely true, as he said, that my agent and I have had a number of meetings with the club about a new  contract. During those meetings in August I asked for assurances about the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world.

I have never had anything but complete respect for MUFC. How could I not have done, given its fantastic history  and especially the last six years in which I have been lucky to play a part?

For me its all about winning trophies – as the club has always done under Sir Alex. Because of that I think the  questions I was asking were justified.

Despite recent difficulties, I know I will always owe Sir Alex Ferguson a huge debt. He is a great manager and  mentor who has helped and supported me from the day he signed me from Everton when I was only 18.

For Manchester United’s sake I wish he could go on forever because he’s a one-off and a genius.’ – An Ungrateful Bastard.

Yea Wayne. I’m sure Sir Alex doesn’t know how to win trophies. The Gaffer himself said it best, “I’ve only won 27 trophies”. According to Daily Mail however, he’s won 35! How many have you won Wayne?

Roy Keane came out vocally against the quality of the squad at the time he was playing. He criticized the same set of players that inspired United to a European double victory in 2008 and another Premiership title the following year.

I’ve read in a lot of United forums where people have hit out against the current transfer policy of United. While its true that United aren’t spending the same kind of money that they used, its also true that most of the money that is currently being spent is on some good players.

Have a look at the players that have joined Manchester United since the Glazers took over.

Vidic – Definitely a good buy. People thought he wasn’t cut out for the Premier League, but boy has he proved his doubters wrong. Currently wearing the arm band.

Evra – Phenomenal full-back and a world class player. Not having the best season thus far, but I’m sure its only a matter of time before he picks it up

Carrick – Currently playing like a school boy, but no one can deny that it was Michael Carrick’s signing that injected some creativity in midfield when United first won the title after a gap of four years. Hopefully he’ll find his old form back.

Nani – Scoring almost every game currently.

Anderson – I’m not sure what to say.

Hargreaves – Perpetually injured, but again a good signing

Berbatov – 30 million. That’s a LOT of money.

Tevez – Loan.

Obertan – Not seen enough of him, but he came on last night and made the game a whole lot more interesting

Owen – A smart move, I think considering he came on a free.

Valencia – Fantastic signing. A different kind of player from Ronaldo, but still essential to the team. Should give Nani crossing lessons in my opinion.

Hernandez – Scores almost every time he plays.

Bebe – What really disgusts me is statements like “If I were Wayne Rooney, and I saw that the summer signings include a homeless guy, I would leave too”. I don’t know why Bebe was signed either, however statements like that are horrible and attacks the person and not his footballing talent (or lack of it)

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions from the above list. However I think most the signings Sir Alex has made since then are pretty smart. All of them may not be in the bracket of “World Class” as Shrek believes himself to be, but a majority of them are good players who contribute to the team.

____________________

The most exciting part of last night’s United versus Bursaspor Champions League clash (besides Nani’s goal) was the unveiling of the banner that said “Who’s the whore now, Wayne?”

Exciting, quite.

And a Chicharito strike in the 86th minute or something.

In contrast, the Inter Milan versus Spurs game was nothing but pure entertainment. Within 16 minutes, Inter had scored 3 and Spurs were down to ten men after Gomes was sent off. Bale ended up scoring a hat trick with his last two goals coming in 90+1 and 90+2 minutes respectively. It ended 4-3. I recommend everyone watch this game!

 

 

Drawchester United

Man United have done it again. They have drawn another match. This time against West Bromwich Albion at home! Thus far they have won all their home games and drawn all away games. But now they’ve started drawing the home games as well. Excellent! Just what the doctor ordered.

Costly Van der Sar error saw West Brom take a point at Old Trafford

The worrying thing for a United fan is the fact that they still haven’t played the tougher teams in the Premier League. Granted, given Sunderland’s current form, they are one of the better teams in the league, but they still haven’t played Man City, Spurs or Villa which are bound to be tougher than the likes of WBA. They have played Liverpool and home and won, and played Everton away and drawn. I don’t think this is good enough. In the 2008-09 season United didn’t have a great record against the other big four teams, but hammered smaller opponents, thereby amassing 90 points in the season and taking the title.

United are still unbeaten in the league, but that’s little consolation and so long as Man City are above them in the league (as is the case now) United fans will worried.

Fighting Blackpool

Every once in a while you see a team come up from the Championship and play exciting football. Blackpool are doing just that. They played Man City at Bloomfield over the weekend and boy were they unlucky to lose. Tevez had a goal given to him which should have been ruled as offside and Taylor Fletcher had a goal disallowed after incorrectly being ruled offside. The final score was 3-2 and David Silva scored a beautiful third goal amongst all this chaos.

Blackpool really looked threatening and for a while it seemed that all the money City pumped in had gone to waste. City were really lucky to win the game. I feel sorry for Blackpool because for teams like them, every point counts and could save them from taking the drop.

Teams like Stoke came up from the Championship and they decided NOT TO LOSE, whereas Blackpool decided to WIN. The strategies are different, but if the end result is the same (staying on in the Premier League) then the manager and the team, both, have achieved something worth remembering. You could argue that its boring watching teams like Stoke play. The Stoke board will tell you that they’d rather have boring football on display than earn lesser revenue by going back down to the Championship.

Chelsea held at Villa

Didier Drogba didn’t play the game and therefore my Fantasy Football gameweek went for a toss. The result was a pretty fair one in my opinion and I don’t think Chelsea will be too disappointed about getting only a point at Villa. Ancelotti certainly isn’t disappointed.

Jack Wilshere’s dark side

Poor Arsene Wenger. He goes on and on about bad tackles and then suddenly one of his own players lunges in with a really dangerous tackle on Zigic. Arsene Wenger has been very vocal in his criticism of dangerous tackles by other players on his own team and this time when the tables were turned, didn’t come off so strong.

Welcome to the Dark Side. We have cookies.

“We know Jack Wilshere is not a dirty player, but it does show you players can mistime in this hurly burly game in football. Everybody has to recognise that.” – Arsene Wenger

But when Paul Scholes does it, it means he has a dark side. Hypocrisy much, Mr Wenger?

It was a bad tackle and its a good thing Zigic wasn’t injured, Alex McLeish would have cried after spending 6 million on his transfer from Valencia.

Merseyside is blue

Everton absolutely pushed Liverpool out of the game. It was a really dominating performance from Everton and they deservedly ended up winning 2-0. Goals from Cahill and Arteta settled the encounter, Arteta’s strike being fantastic (not that Cahill’s goal wasn’t good in itself). Arteta (once upon a time, England’s midfield hope) and Cahill pulled all the strings in midfield making Liverpool’s summer signing of Meireles seem completely pointless.

Liverpool played two Defensive Midfielders – Meireles and Lucas and were still not able to get the ball enough. Steven Gerrard had to occasionally track back and anchor midfield. Yakubu looked three times a better striker than Fernando Torres, and its not everyday that something like that happens.

Let’s be honest, Everton ran out winners and deserved it.

Barcelona versus Valencia

Barcelona versus Valencia was the clash of the weekend in La Liga and was a really really good match. Barcelona were dominating the game in the second half with the score at 1-1. Barca won the game in the end with a commanding header from Puyol. Final score there was 2-1 to Barca. Iniesta and Puyol on the scoresheet for Barca and Pablo Hernandez for Valencia.

Real Madrid absolutely hammered Malaga with Ronaldo scoring a brace and two from Higuain as well. Higuain’s goals were set up by Ronaldo as well so its fair to say that he was probably the player of the match.

Ronaldo and Higuain celebrate after the first goal against Malaga

 

With that win, Real go on top of La Liga thanks to Valencia’s loss and Villareal drawing 2-2 away at Hercules (who seem to be giving a headache to the big teams). Sevilla also lost to Sporting Gijon which was quite unexpected.

Waaazaaa Wazza?

Wayne Rooney has reportedly refused to sign a new contract with Manchester United. All the newspapers have tipped him to make a move away from Old Trafford and claim that he has had a bust up with Sir Alex.

I’ll give you my two cents on the entire thing. It is too bad if Wayne Rooney wants to leave Manchester United. He’s a good player going through a bad patch, but he needs to be a little bit more mature when dealing with people and the media (especially).

Sir Alex has his best interests at heart and has tried to focus attention away from Rooney and he keeps bringing the spotlight back on to himself. He countered Sir Alex’s story that his ankle had a problem which was why he was going through a bad patch and said instead that his ankle was absolutely fine.

There’s no doubt that Sir Alex would’ve been furious with Wayne Rooney for this and perhaps it was one of the reasons Rooney started on the bench against West Brom.

I read elsewhere that Rooney is holding out for 200,000 Euro a week on his new contract which seems quite ridiculous considering he’s getting 120,000 Euro a week now. Apparently United offered him170,000 which seems quite fair to me.

Rooney needs to grow up.

Tonight’s Champions League clashes

For those of you who are in India and wondering which games will be telecast by TEN tonight –

Shakhtar Donetsk versus Arsenal on TEN Sports at 00.00 hours

Real Madrid versus AC Milan on TEN Action at 00.00 hours

Spartak Moskva versus Chelsea on TEN Action at 21.30 hours

Manchester United versus Liverpool. It always turns out to be a fiesty affair. There’s no love lost between these two teams and this time out, both of them are pretty desperate for a win.

No love lost - Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher

Liverpool have taken only 5 points from a possible 12 and United have drawn two matches (against Fulham and Everton) which they really should have won. Its still early in the season of course, but the reason that this game is a must win (especially for United, since its at Old Trafford) is more psychological than anything else.

Chelsea are clocking 3 points after 3 points after their relatively easier fixtures in the start of the season. Arsenal too have started really well and are now strengthened by the return of Cesc Fabregas to their team. Expect them to continue doing well (until they do an Arsenal, sometime mid season).

Liverpool have just come off a really poor season where they didn’t qualify for the Champions League. I’m not going to dwell upon that, you all already know about it. But over here, I’m going to take a minute to catch my breath, because I can’t help but laugh at that. My apologies to all the Liverpool fans. Anyway, and their present season hasn’t started off great either.

Drawing against Arsenal when they should have won, getting hammered by Manchester City, an expected win against West Bromwich Albion and a draw against Birmingham where Barry Ferguson looked like Paul Scholes and Birmingham completely dominated a game in which it looked like Liverpool had no midfield players.

It is very important for Liverpool not to lose their next game against their ultimate rivals. A loss would surely send them home disappointed and then after two games against Sunderland and Blackpool, they go to Goodison to face Everton. To be fair, their fixture list doesn’t look really nice, but then again, it seems to me that the league has just become that much tougher, which is why its becoming increasingly difficult to get 3 points against supposedly lower league opponents.

United have had their usual hot and cold start to a season. Most United fans are beginning to worry, but the ones who have seen it all aren’t too fussed because they know this is how United always start a season. A convincing 3-0 win against Newcastle was followed up by a good display against Fulham, but still the Red Devils managed to get only a point thanks to Hangeland’s late equaliser. The demolition of West Ham was quite expected and was followed up by a ridiculous draw at Goodison Park where the defence seemed non-existent in the final minute of the game. A Champions League game at home against Rangers followed where most expected United to pick up all three points against their Scottish opponents, but failed to do break down their defence. A horrible injury to Valencia marred the night and was terrible news to digest along with the goal-less draw.

Both United and Liverpool will be looking at this game as a very important one. Not just for the sake of old rivalries, but for the morale of their players and the fans. Liverpool would no doubt be overjoyed with a win at Old Trafford and I actually think it might be beyond them. They aren’t really playing well. Raul Meireles seems a good addition to their team for whatever little he played against Birmingham, but will he be enough for Liverpool to gain a foothold in the centre of the park where no doubt the veteran Scholes will be deployed by Ferguson. I’m sure most Liverpool fans would prefer him played there instead of watching the Lucas show.

Will he make the difference?

The main reason for United’s failure to create against Rangers was the lack of creativity. With both Scholes and Berbatov missing, United lacked two players who could cut open most defences. Berbatov has been in stunning form for the Red Devils and will most definitely start against Liverpool (especially with news of an ankle injury to Rooney). United will definitely want to win this one, and they should express that desire with the way they play their football on Sunday.

Striking while the iron is hot

United also need to show a display that asserts their mental strength after the injury to Valencia. Remember how Arsenal’s season crumbled after the Eduardo injury? United fans believe that their players are made of stronger stuff than Arsenal’s. We’ll soon find out.

Most likely the affair will be cagey. Neither team willing to risk too much and both of them cancelling each other out. Or I could be completely wrong and both teams will play end to end football and surprise us all. I wouldn’t count on it though.