Watford 3 – 1 Manchester United


Two defeats in a row. After an exciting derby match that broke a 3 point gap between the city rivals, the Dutch Europa league game was as tepid and directionless we had seen United all season. So the bounce backability of Mourinho team was due.

After a scintillating thrashing of Bournemouth by Man City previous night, the pressure was on. But the performance was far from what was expected.

The team reverted back to a more solid premier league line up with pace on the wings with Martial and Rashford and solidity in the full backs through Shaw and Valencia. Smalling replaced Blind clearly to obviate the aerial and physical challenge of a double center forward system of Watford.

Despite their two defeats so far, Watford has had a solid start to the season, and it was evident with the confidence on the ball. As the media likes to highlight everytime that Manchester United is a huge outfit with the team average height more than most in the league, it was ironic that they were being hurried and harried on and off the ball.

Most of the players got frustrated with the physicality. And thanks to Michael Oliver opting for a pro home side stand throughout the match, there was not much protection for the players.

They never really got going and there was not sufficient impact of the bench.

De Gea while having a relatively quiet game apart from a misunderstanding in the first half with Smalling, was clearly beaten in both the open play goals by quality strikes by Capoue and Zuniga.

Shaw was hesitant to stride forward, Smalling grappling players all the while and having poorer distribution compared to Blind.

Bailly’s performance seems always below par compared to his outstanding start to the season. He was clearly unable to bully Deeney and Ighalo up front.

Young brought more solidity and versatility when he came on and is likely to stake a much higher claim to the starting XI than the rest. Mata probably needs to start as Rashford was fairly nullified starting for the first time this season.

Zlatan’s finishing has been below par today and many quality chances we expected him to take were missed. Rooney having been rested looked totally off radar with his long range passing and short on speed as usual.

cso0bnawcaayxqjTactically Mourinho never really got a grip even in the second half even though things did improve. But it means 3 defeats in a row, 6 points behind the top of the table and more worries than joy into the next week. #GGMU

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Feyenoord 1 – 0 Manchester United


Snoozefest – an ode to LvG

Not like Thursday night football was ever gonna get exciting, but this was an opportunity for the non first team players to get a chance to shine, to have a look into the starting line up.

After watching 90 minutes of disjointed individual games, it was obvious nobody has done anything to impress the new boss.

The most paltry and awful performance came from the full backs. Smalling’s return to the central defense seemed calm and he merged in well with Bailly. Smalling of course did not offer the range of passing Blind does, but was top on all the one on ones with the forwards.

Marcus Rojo looked clueless, bit off the pace and reluctant to make any relevant forward strides. He was caught out of position many a times and the likes of Pogba and Herrera ended up covering up. He is not likely to find a first team place unless Shaw gets injured.

Darmian was calm with the ball, yet again hesitant to bomb forward. The contrast with Valencia was so evident with his lack of pace and desire. But he was the more solid one of both the full backs.

Schneiderlin did not have the aerial prowess and aggression of Fellaini but he sat back and did his job in front of the defence. Pogba and Herrera were one paced and struggling to find sufficient forward movement in and around them to string a positive spell of attack.

Mata, Rashford and Martial had their own bit of individual forward forays constantly being chopped up by niggly fouls by the Feynoord midfielders who had a good game. Their frustration summed up united’s performance which was akin to the LvG era.

Mourinho was also fairly sedate in the touchline with the most action he delivered being the triple substitution at the hour mark. Young, Memphis and Ibrahimovic created scant chances thanks to excellent last ditch defending by a team that has had a brilliant unbeaten start to their domestic season.

Watford beckons. #GGMU

 

Manchester United 1 – 0 Southampton


First home game. Mourinho is yet to know a loss. Pogba was back and starting. Henrikh still didn’t find a place in the starting XI. But there was this sense of anticipation. Proven manager, electrifying characters on the pitch. In came a team that managed to beat United twice in the last three trips here. They claimed they are in for a good game.

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And it indeed was a good game. It just happened that United were much more clinical. Direct forward play. With Zlatan in the box, wingers no longer play intricate small passes to build in the final third. The 4-4-1-1 switching to 4-4-2 during a rampant attack, back to a 4-5-1 when defending. The top three – Zlatan, Wayne and Anthony swapping positions in the front line; the bustling pace of Valencia and Shaw on the wings; the solidity of defence by Marouane in the center protecting a well marshalled partnership of Bailly and Blind.

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Pogba’s first touch resulted in a swift counter attack that almost lead to a goal in the first minute for the Saints. But as the game grew on, his nerves settled and he started enjoying, gliding across the pitch and beyond players. Strong, fending off position, brilliant ball control and a number of times the ref offered an advantage as he was fouled. He was solid in partnership with Marouane, but at the same time making leaping forays box to box.

 

Tough to keep the limelight away from Zlatan. A seemingly innocuous cross from Wayne, with no pressure on him as he crossed. Fonte was ready to clear it off, but in a split second, Zlatan towered over him, hindering Fonte’s leap. He generated pace, purely from his neck muscles as the ball flashed across the flailing hands of Fraiser F. #DaretoZlatan.

 

Welcome to the theatre of dreams. #GGMU. The fortress is back.

Community Shield 2016-17 Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City


I was looking forward to a football match after the Euros. Watching the ‘International Cup’ , ‘Champions Cup’ and all that nonsense was just a waste of time with players just getting game time and managers and players (new and old) learning the trade and exchanging ideas.

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Zlatan with Rooney behind looked good on paper. But it was the back 7 that was shining in the first 30 odd minutes. Rooney was awful on the ball, while Ibra was not getting enough balls to feet. Valencia was definitely the performer at full back with probing darts forward as well as solid defence. The darting Lingard run which seemed to take Leicester by surprise considering the monotony that was ongoing prior to it. The subtle change of pace, accompanied by composure from the young lad meant he etched his name into history books having scored in consecutive FA cup winning and community shield winning sides.

Shaw was happy to be bit more conservative moving forward. Martial hardly ever got into the game and the link up between those two haven’t been great. Shaw did get caught out twice and fortunately got away with it.

The lack of pace will be a big factor when the season begins. With the squad available to him, now that Pogba is confirmed, Henrikh will be a strong creative force. Mata being subbed in and then out is probably an indication to him of how little play time he is going to get under Jose. The presence of one left footer in the midfield is more than enough. The dynamism of Henrikh will be always preferred over Mata. Mata deserves full play time and needs to move to another club for his own career.

Zlatan was quiet for most of the game primarily due to lack of service. His defending of corners were awful to begin with, but he settled in well towards the latter half of the game.

And of course he did get the most important touch in the end, as he rose early to a well crafted Valencia cross to outmuscle Morgan in central defence.

Can’t wait for one more week to see the battle begin. Bring it on premier league

Welcome Jose


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The change was imminent, demanding. The targets weren’t met. The football was sleep inducing. The manager defensive and unapologetic. We had to move on. For all the charisma in the press and off the field with his tongue in cheek English, van Gaal failed abysmally in two years.

 

The numerous injuries that were part of the regimen packed with embalming a uniquely boring defensive possession football with absolute nothing in counter attacking, a season which saw many fans like me around the world tune in to the most boring first 45’s ever this season. Burst of energy in the first ten minutes followed by tepid side and backwards passing.

 

Records were broken. None went in favor of united. Records of decades, teams who never even had a sniff in the Theatre walked away with first time glory. Midway through the season as Christmas approached, the form was so awful that tolerating van Gaal was turning out to be out of good will and club tradition more than anything.

 

As Jose walked in today officially realizing a much desired role of his, he brings in a charismatic persona that thrives on victory. Apart from his off field cameos, his endless desire to enjoy success will bring back life into a club of such tradition that seems to be spiralling into an abyss in the last three years. As he rightly quoted, let’s rather not remember the last three years. Let’s remember the Manchester United we know.
GGMU.

LvG out


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I was running through the series of events that led to the downfall of Mourinho over the weekend. LvG’s press conference was for the first time, one of apprehension – he just got a trailer of a possible fate. But how contrasting are the two situations?

 

On one hand we have a manager who with remarkable ease strolled off with the premier league title 7 months ago, who had returned to a club where he is legendary. And yet, over a series of issues, on and off the field, eventually culminating in players conspiring, led to his downfall.  Having had a relegation fighting team to play against at home, immediately after sacking their manager, they couldn’t have asked for a better fixture, as chelsea moved their reluctant bus off the pitch, and attacked. The fans attacked the players as well, and anything but a win was not going to make life easy for any of the players.

 

Quite the contrary, Manchester United were facing a conundrum they were not familiar even when the team was managed by David Moyes. A team with such prolific names in the frontline, youngsters with potential, were all synchronized to operate in a style of football, that is so unique that it bores everyone from the viewer, the spectator, the refereees, the oppoonents, and eventually now the players themselves.

 

With central midfield side and backward passing stats having been the highlight of the previous two to three seasons of united, ever since the godly red headed Scholes retired, the question was where was the quality service going to be provided.

 

The problem as fans like me face is, that is absolutely boring to watch united not conjure a single shot on goal like ever. With no end product, I wonder what is the purpose of this play. What are we trying to prove? Giving opportunity to youngsters is the reason van Gaal cited for selling so many first team united players and loaning the other few available.

 

His man management has been so awful that with a few key injuries, the team is unable to conjure any form of teamsheet that gels. The backline has been solid for most of the season, but the players employed there has to be questioned.

 

Pushing back midfielders to defensive duties whilst having youngsters with little experience channeling midfield, coupled with aging stalwarts in the core of attack, united looks sorrier each day.

 

Watching the game today against Norwich, what was so terribly pissing off was the lack of impetus from the bench when united when 0-2 down. No plan B, absolutely stoned expression. And that is what is transforming on to the pitch. As tepid as it gets, this run of united has to be halted. And if there is any honor left in the higher echelons of united, #LvG should be out.

United snoozefest against PSV


So the first day of the Champions league clash this week, I was really tired and I struggled to keep my eyes open, Bayern were scoring everytime I took a mini nap. It was 4-0 before HT and I decided that’s it, am gonna sleep. Next day since United was playing I made sure I had a good noon nap to remain fresh all throughout the night. Was disappointed HD was not playing the game. But at the end of the 90 minutes, I was glad it wasn’t on HD. The torture in slow motion would havemade me desist even the idea of watching Manchester United play this season.

Knowing that a win at home against PSV would leave us in a good position to move into the last 16 plus the added history of Shaw’s injury, I thought this might be the game where we avenged, at least for Shaw. But quite the contrary. The forward four of Rooney, Martial, Memphis and Lingaard that van Gaal employed were coming from a different patch. Rooney, absolutely awful this season and in the team for reason that only van Gaal understands, back from illness; Martial returning after a foot/ankle injury; Memphis in the side having returned from a goal scoring performance in the previous game. Memphis’ season has been one of those where his one sided game attacking from the left wing, combined by his lack of desire to put in a shift, meant he was dropped and was only called back cause of all the injuries opening him up a slot. With Ashley Young fit and available, I believe he was a much better alternative to Memphis with Darmian also going through a patch.

But the performance was so tepid, with lack of desire that waiting for the torture of 90 min to end was so infuriating that I wished PSV won this game. Had they scored, maybe we would have at least had a change in momentum. The players off the bench, especially Fellaini who is so sparingly used this season, I believe should leave the club to one where he starts everyday.

I hope United get a thrashing at Wolfsburg and to start with get beat by the league leaders this weekend. To see united performing so bad and finishing in top 4 is something I would rather not want. Please play football van Gaal. Enough of this f****osophy!