Wolverhampton Wolves 2-1 Manchester United Review Feb 05, ’11

With MUFC playing a late game at the Molineux, Arsenal had the opportunity to put the league leaders under pressure, however a shocker of a comeback [the first of its kind in the history of the premier league]from 0-4 down by the Toons, kept the door ajar for the red devils to march on even further ahead.

Sir Alex went in with a full strength squad with Rafael [concussion] returning from injury and Fletcher [eye] cleared to play. Rio Ferdinand having picked up an injury during warm-up was replaced by Evans.


Wolves started very positively putting pressure all over the ground, not giving United any time on the ball. But once again the visitors managed to pull off an early goal when Nani was released from the half line, took on two defenders and cut in to send one past the near post of the keeper.

The whole ground went silent but it didn’t take long for the home team to strike back when a complacent united outfit were too slow to react to a corner quickly taken, and an unmarked Elokobi headed well past a stretching Van der Sar.

The equalizer shifted the momentum well in favor of the home side, and with the crowd spurring them on, United began to display some shoddy passing and irresponsible defending with hardly any forward move of noteable outcome. The solidarity of the Vidic – Rio partnership lacking, the frailties and the lack of confidence of the young centre back was exposed time and again by the relentless work ethic of Kevin Doyle, who was simply outstanding for the entire game.

As the half grew on, Wolves were growing in confidence while United were surprisingly sedate and poor.

Another set piece, and another poor display of defending resulted in another headed goal this time Doyle getting the final touch and United were in a hole walking to the dressing room at HT.

46’- 90’ [+5]

Tactical HT time change brought Paul Scholes on for Carrick. It took the magician just his second touch to get his radar right, but such was the quality of defending by the Wolves, throwing bodies on the line, they were desperate to hold onto an unexpected opportunity of coming away with 3 points against the visitors. Little Pea has been consistently scoring off the bench and he was brought on to replace Berbatov while Smalling came on to replace a not so impressive Evans.  But the lack of quality service from the midfield meant Chicharito did not have any good opportunity to work the keeper at all.

An uncharacteristic Ryan Giggs was seen to vent his frustration at Doyle, by kicking him while play was stopped, but got away without any booking. An attempted ‘Hand of God’ by Paul Scholes helped him register himself not alongside Diego Maradona, but in the ref’s book!


  • Manchester United played one of the worst games as a defensive unit and meager in attack. Their dismal poor run away from home was once more affirmed and their unbeatable run came to an end against a bottom 3 team.
  • The missed opportunity to go 3 points ahead and punish the Gunners for dropping 2 points – can be considered significant as Arsenal could so easily have been out of title contention after their ill fortuitous fumble at St. James Park.
  • With the derby due next week, and Rio ruled out with injury for 2 weeks, testing times ahead, no doubt.
  • In a day when 41 goals were scored with some fantastic individual performances, this game doesn’t qualify under the highlights package.


Van der Sar 7.0 Evra 7.0 Vidic 7.0 Evans 6.0 Rafael 7.5 Giggs 6.5 Carrick 6.5 Fletcher 6.5 Nani 8.0 Berbatov 7.0 Rooney 7.0

Subs: Smalling 7.0  Scholes 6.5 Hernandez 6.5


  • Birthday Boy Carlos Tevez treated himself to a hattrick with 2 penalties and one in open play.
  • Louis Saha may have been offside when he scored last week, but there was nothing speculative in the 4 goals he thumped in this time around.
  • Robert Huth scored 2 and assisted one to get Stoke to victory after trailing twice against Sunderland.
  • Tiote ‘s equalizer to level the game at 4-4 with a beautiful volley strike from 40 yards is my pick of the week – to cap of the most successful comeback ever in the history of EPL.
  • With 4 teams yet to play on Super Sunday, we have already seen 41 goals scored, the highest ever in a gameweek!

The month of January and all of its Glory

I look forward to January as I get myself the luxury of a wildcard to revamp my struggling fantasy team. While I sit at my desk, rack my head and ring in the changes, weeks – months of planning and strategic transfer bids are made in the Barclays Premier League as teams try to get themselves out of a hole, players get loaned out for play time, some try to do something which could potentially make or break their career while others try to pull of the wonderful last minute deals.

Ever since the introduction of the mid season transfer window in 2003, teams were initially circumspect on the spending and reluctant to tweak their sides, but in recent years we have seen the window getting blown off with some huge transfer currency.

This January a total of £223.47M has been burnt up on permanent deals [excluding the add-on deals]; the highest ever in the history with the top 3 chart busters

  1. Fernando Torres – £50m to Chelsea
  2. Andy Caroll – £35m to Liverpool
  3. David Luiz – £21.3m to Chelsea

Last 5 Windows


October marked a completer U turn to the Blues in the title race. They stuttered, stumbled, fell off the perch in the face of some poor form, untimely sacking of Carlo’s staff; lack of depth in the squad exposed when a couple of injuries and suspensions wrecked havoc. Things got so bad that even Carlo’s future ran the business for the tabloids. Reinforcement was due, Roman obliged.

  • David Luiz £21.3m
    • Relatively unknown to many, this young Brazilian started his career as an attacking midfielder, but now finds his zone in central defence, and can play full back too. A wonderful personality on and off the pitch, he had a wonderful 09’-10’ season with Benfica.
    • His hefty buyout clause meant only the big players stood a chance, with Roman beating the Sheikh to him.
    • Verdict: Excellent buy, could be the ideal player to be a part of rebuilding the side.
  • Fernando Torres £50m
    • He needs no introduction. A proven Club record, a natural all round goal scorer, on the back of a World Cup Victory, his injury streak the only real concern. But to judge his goal scoring capability based on liverpool’s last two seasons would be criminal.
    • Considering the availability of service in the squad, Torres and Drogba are forwards any fantasy manager would play day in day out and to see this happen live on the pitch is a dream every Blues fan will realize come this Sunday. [I really hope Carlo wont bench him.]
    • I have no words of adulation for this fellow, on a personal note, I consider him the best forward in the entire Premier League; he deserves to be playing top football and in a way he did speak out his heart.


Yes Rafa screwed them over when he left in the summer with a dodgy squad for Roy Hodgson to handle. The team never really got to terms with the manager of the season and now we have King Kenny creating something that was not there in the first half this season = TEAM CHEMISTRY. John Henry made promises when he took over the mantle at Anfield, that he would put pool back on the map. Well 6 months down, it seemed like whatever little remaining was also disappearing fast. His splashing of the money gained from the Torres Mega bonanza is POSITIVE.

  • Andy Caroll £35m
    • He is a young promising kid, making waves at NUFC, recently wore the England shirt, but does he deserve to be the biggest British transfer ever at £35m.. IMO, NO!
    • As outrageous as his eventual price was, his claims of not being wanted being refuted by Alan Pardew, is a load of bollocks– after all he is the one who handed in the transfer request.
    • To be wearing the number 9 shirt, to be filling in or rather continue where Torres left won’t be too hard, since Torres has been terrible this season while Caroll is having his best!
  • Luis Suarez £22.7m
    • The cannibal, the cheat, call him what you may, atleast now we get to see some hands on action right here in the Barclays.
    • In the wake of Babel’s exit, the Uruguayan probably was in the scheme of things to pair with Torres, but Kenny has gotta get the Andy – Lou partnership going instead.
    • With Caroll still a few weeks away, we will get a good show of him in the coming weeks.

Manchester City

When you already have a squad worth over £300m, you wonder if there is any more toys left in the shop to buy. The Arab has a lot of expensive toys and he has added one more to it.

  • Edin Dzeko £27m
    • Tevez has been doing a lot of work, captaining the side, scoring all the goals, assisting, inspiring, cribbing about home, threatening to quit, so he could use some help.
    • Dzeko has been already impressive with the couple of games he played, adds spine to a team that is looking to make a mark this season.

Manchester United made the Andres Lindegaard signing official £3.5m, while Arsenal did nothing and yet is cribbing about others who did!

Here is a summary of the permanent signings.

A Tale of Two Halves Blackpool 2 – 3 Manchester United

There was a lot riding on this game. Manchester United had been carrying this game in hand for almost a month and that was the guard the other title contenders had, the hope the Red Devils would falter.

Charlie Adam, the captain and the man in thick of things in the transfer market, had just submitted a transfer request to join Liverpool and though things are still uncertain, he wanted to give his best against United at home.

For the first 45 min, it was Blackpool all the way. The orchestrator, the artist with the left foot, Charlie was picking passes, winning tackles, driving pin point crosses into the box at will. Sir Alex had tweaked up the midfield after the 5-0 drubbing 2 days ago and they just didn’t seem to get going at all.

Rooney was slotted to the left wing and was listless almost the entire time. Strayed passes, poor service to the front men, players struggling on the surface, United were not even a shadow of the team that played so well against the Blues.

Two pinpoint corners from Charlie, picked Cathart and D J Campbell and Blackpool deserved all the plaudits for what seemed like surely an end to MUFC’s unbeaten run in the league and the cushion of the game in hand.

Holloway knew what would be happening in the United dressing room at half time and braced his team for a possible onslaught from the visitors. Sir Alex, IMO, chose the wrong starting XI in the first place, so he sent Gibson off and brought on Giggs. His impact was instantaneous as there was a lot more impetus to United‘s forward play and also the desire to restore parity.

A 65th min bold call by SAF to take off Wazza who continued to be ineffective despite moving central, was understandable. Berbatov is in the form of his life and right to be on the pitch. So on came Chicharito, and dint he have an instant impact. Blackpool were pegged more and more into their own half but they continued into play a high line, and paid the price when a lovely reverse from Nani sent an easy cross for Berba to slot in.

In a matter of minutes, 2 more goals came in, Chicha leveling and Berba exploiting a gap at right back to get united ahead.

2 incidents in the 2nd half caught the headline – Rafael’s concussion and being stretchered off and his prior body check on Varney which Fulton did not deem to be a penalty.

Final Verdict

  • United used that moment of luck to turn the game on its head and go 5 points clear on top of the table; could very well have a telling part in the title race.
  • Berbatov continues to sizzle with his goal scoring form, Giggs rolled back the years once again to resurrect the team.
  • Rafael will miss the FA clash with Southampton, head injury is not as serious as it was initially thought.
  • Blackpool has a lot of fight in them, and losing their captain would be a big blow no money will repair.
  • Manchester United as always showed what it takes to be the Champions garnering all the experience in one of the most exciting comebacks of the season

Player Ratings

Van der Sar 8.0, Evra 8.0, Vidic 8.5, Smalling 7.5, Rafael 9.0, Nani 8.0, Gibson 7.0, Fletcher 7.5, Scholes 8.0, Rooney 7.5, Berbatov 9.5

Subs: Giggs 9.0, Hernandez 9.0, Anderson 8.0

1 sent off,1 point sends United TOP.

Rafael's frustration - Daily Mail

600th game for Ryan Giggs, 350th for Rio Ferdinand, United came with an attacking 4-4-2 in a game where 3 points will be hard to grind out, a point sufficient to take us back on top.

Ten seconds into the game and Bale had already delivered his first cross sending the alarm bells ringing.

Mike Dean is the man in charge and to be fair, he has surpassed my expectations with a first half performance where he has let the game play.  At 6 min, he gave a contentious free kick just outside the box on a Carrick tackle on Palacios, but no harm done as Van der Waart sent the ball straight into Van der Sar’s arms.

Spurs were really attacking and playing the sort of game we have become so accustomed to seeing from them. Dawson has been the livewire in most of the set plays but hasn’t made it count.

Crouch, VdV and Rooney have come the closest to scoring in the first half with some real close misses and some good saves, but there is no stone left unturned with a mini battle at every position on the pitch. It’s been such a riveting game so far and hard to take eyes off.

Bale had an indifferent first half with a mix of some good and poor crosses, but to be fair to united, they have kept the pacy wingers quiet for large parts of the game. Spurs have looked more promising on the attack with united ominous as always from counters.

Second half was far more sedate and Manchester united did very well to keep Spurs quiet for long quarters of the half.

At 60min, Anderson came in for Nani when Fergie decided to switch to 4-5-1 with intentions to settle for a point. With not much of a change in the pattern of play, a questionable second yellow for Rafael left United in a perilous position of playing the last 17 min with ten men.

Harry could sniff victory and went all out adding Defoe to Bale, VdV, Lennon and Crouch. But as always United stuck to the task and earned a well deserved draw and almost snatched a winner in the last min. of extra time.

Final Verdict

  • Two evenly matched teams played with the intent of winning, but defence the eventual winner over attack.
  • Nemanja Vidic was phenomenal on the pitch today and by far the Man of the Match. Van der Waart has never been this frustrated in a game, all credit to Vida.
  • Rafael da Silva will be suspended after 2 yellows and will open up RB for the future game.
  • United move to the top of the table with 2 games in hand over Wastelanders, clearly the winner of this tie having won a point, while Harry will rue a missed opportunity.

Player Ratings

  • Van der Sar 8.0, Evra 9.0, Vidic 9.5, Ferdinand 8.5, Rafael 7.5, Giggs 8.0, Carrick 8.0, Fletcher 8.5, Nani 7.5, Berbatov 8.0, Rooney 8.5.




Having an exam in T-11, I wasn’t planning to blog until after, but then thought if I am sitting through 90 min of the game, why not do it as the 90 ticks by.

Manchester United started the game without the in form Nani [whom I captained for my fantasy team] and Fletcher lost to illness. The first quarter of the game was a cold blooded attack by the Red Army bearing fruit as early as the 5th min when Rooney set up Berbatov for his 13th goal of the season. Having been dropped from the last fixture, Berbatov was raring to go after 3 weeks of no football.

This followed two more attempts on the woodwork by Berbatov and Anderson who has continued with his good form. But what was more rousing to watch was Giggs making some wonderful runs to the middle onto the edge of the box.

Don’t take away anything from the rest of the team with Van der Sar ball watching most of the half. As the half grew on, Sunderland started restoring some parity to the 75-25 possession the home side enjoyed, but the half time scored read 1-0 to United with Steve Bruce the happier coach to have only conceded one when the game could have so easily been well and beyond them. Special mention for Park who continues to keep up his good form and workrate.

Second half started in a more open fashion, with more end to end football, Sunderland with a lot more determination to close down United.  It took only 12 min for United to double the lead through a shot with the outside of the foot of Berbatov deflecting off Anton Ferdinand and wrong footing a diving Craig Gordon. As much as this goal might be one for the ‘dubious’ goals committee, Sir Alex decided to ring in a couple of changes at the standard 60 min mark bringing on the young Italian Kiko and Gibson for Giggs and Anderson.

68th min corner for Sunderland saw Bent with a half chance with an overhead kick but well off the mark. I read Paul Wilson’s half season report in which he maintains Chelsea will go onto retain the league title, but I have to disagree.  Immediately after Dimitar showed one of his characteristic sweet one touch and swiveling strike, but unfortunately straight to the keeper’s hands.

The Sunderland substitute Meyler ‘s mistimed tackle on Rafael brought on pretty much the only blood boiling moment of the game, resulted eventually in a deserved booking.  Rooney’s lay off and dropping to play more of the ball has been characteristically positive and looking ominous. He is just a goal away from getting into his stride.  Kiko’s display of some quick feet was good to the eye, but a 78min Bardsley cross had the United defence a little worried , eventually ending in a comfortable save off a decent strike from Zenden.

Berbatov made way for Chicharito to a welcoming manager who was all smiles to the rejuvenated Bulgarian who is having his best season in United colors and another good day at the office. Manchester United having taken the foot of the pedal were more than happy to see the game off to a satisfactory victory at home and continue their unbeaten run and stay one step ahead of the pack.

To Sum Up

  • United cruises through another home victory to stay 2 points clear of Manchester City [as I blog]
  • Park will be missed over the next 4-6 weeks to international duty; Nani will hopefully be back soon, am still wondering what his injury is.
  • Sunderland did not justify the form with which they came to this game.


Van der Sar: 7, Evra: 7.5, Vidic: 8.5, Rio: 7.5; Rafael: 8.5, Giggs: 8.5, Carrick: 8.0, Anderson: 9.0, Park: 8.5, Berbatov: 9.5, Rooney: 9.0