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

Youthful promise


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Was watching the English football team take on Australia at home turf over an international ‘friendly’ and as the commentators put it, hoping it would be a competitive one. This was supposedly the second string line up playing and rich on youthful exuberance with many players fielded based on a wonderful season in the domestic clubs.

 

However, there were some like Jack Wilshere, who god knows on what merit is even in the squad. Having been injured for the whole last year and hardly having a look in in the last couple of minutes of Arsenal’s season, it was clear he was neither match fit, nor sure of what exactly is his job in front of the back four. It was weird to see Drinkwater playing ahead of Jack and to be honest, mightily ineffective against an Australian midfield that was not heavily pressing.

 

Rashford was elegant, composed and had his glasses on to foresee passes and played good link up football up front with Sterling. Indeed the former with his first strike on goal, volleyed home the lead, which by the way things have been this season for him, didn’t surprise any.

 

Defence is where England will be beaten in this Euro. Their preliminary squad goes in with the bare minimum players. Smalling on the left and Stones on the right, is an odd central pairing. Stones even though is playing in his preferred position for club and now country, has had a poor season by the self created exploits of last season. He has been in and out of a poor Everton season. Smalling on the other hand, started very well in his domestic stint, partnering Blind and being the lead center back. But his form dipped towards the latter end of the season and he was found out badly in the FA cup final. For all the plaudits ‘Mike’ received this season, him one on one with his back to goal still needs some convincing.
Against an Australian side not powered to break with speed, they were casual and comfortable and yet the English side could not even keep good possession in the game. Sterling and company will not be getting free rides in Euro 2016. We gotta wait and watch what’s gonna unfold. Rooney’s strike was worth savoring, but England should they have been at their best would have put at least 5 past the Aussies last night. Happy for the #mufc boys.

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!

Swansea 2-1 Manchester United August 2015


Attacking start to the game with dangerous Memphis free kick in the first minute. United dominating play from the beginning. Minute later Mata blasts over from outside the box. Manchester playing like a home game, dominating possession and looking comfortable. Looks like Smalling is taking over handling Gomis. Clearly Blind would be no match.

 

The through ball from Shaw to find Rooney might have been put in the back of the net from the Rooney of yester.. wonder what would have happened had it been RvP at the end of that!!

 

Mata’s striking has been poor this season, he gets at least 2-3 goal scoring opportunities every game, yet to convert as one more chance goes begging. Despite being closed down, his class means, he should be at least working the keeper.

 

Shaw and Darmian continue to impress, solid in defending.

 

Smallings conceded free kick gave Shelvey an opportunity to find Gomis who with a lovely turn put the ball into Sigurdssons path only for him to curl it just wide. Seconds later a nervy clearancy by Romero, but fortunately Shelvey found the keeper. The movement of Gomis with ball at feet is brilliant as Swansea enjoy the best spell of the game after 25 min but the Swans keep inching closer this time Gomis finding the upright.

 

Another overhead falls for wazza but he pokes it high. The need for a solid CB and CF screeching loud!

 

One on one once again and Wazza.. totally out of color.

 

Its amazing how this game remains 0-0 at HT but there will be goals for sure at FT!

 

A brilliant drive by Shaw early in the half finds Mata in the far post to smash it to the roof of the net with his weaker foot!

 

Missed both the fucking goals conceded in the second half thanks to a tiff at the hotel with some people wanting to watch Roma Juve.

 

But our efforts to come from behind were left wanting as the need to have a solid CB and a CF couldn’t be emphasized any more.

Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Spurs 2015-16


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The first game of the season, the early kick off, the money has been thrown in, I was eager just for the ball to start kicking yet again.

 

Solid start to the game with the first quarter totally in Tottenham’s hands. They had the tempo, looked more slick in possession and united looked a bit dead for pace. Fortuitously Eriksen’s half volley off a wonderfully crafted over the top pass from Kane found its way just over the crossbar. However, an erroneous pass from Bentaleb in the midfield triggered a wonderful three pass break. Unfortunate for Walker who made an effort to clip the ball off the feet of  Wazza before he could pull the trigger, the ball painfully trickled past an outstretched arm of Vorm into the bottom corner.

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Using the momentum, United made few more searching forward surges, then the first half slowly petered out.  The stand out player in the first half was Darmian as he looked comfortable on both feet, confident one on one and with good pace to keep the players interested. Romero’s distrubution has been nervy but his shot stopping was unnerving. Schneiderlin’s tackles and strength has been impressive. Not a lot gets through him.

 

The second half resumed in the same tempo, with both teams playing compact football with short passes. Darmian yet again was live in the box as Spurs threaten off a break from their third of the pitch. Michael carrick made way for Bastian to pair up in midfield with Schneidelin.  Memphis and Wayne are yet to form a formidable link up, Romero has improved his movement and is early to the ball and decisive especially from crosses.

 

Memphis made way for Herrera. For his debut, playing behind Wayne, he didn’t really get his game going. Herrera added speed to the midfield while Bastian’s fiest earned him a yellow card. Rooney had the opportunity for an overhead spectacular as Darmian stormed down the right wing to cross, but he didn’t connect. The dead ball opportunity fell for Wayne again when Young got clipped outside the box but he flew it too high. Think he needs to be more prepared if he is to be aiming for a 25+ season.

 

Darmian got to leave ten minutes before the end of the game to a well deserved applause, the best player in the red shirt today. Valencia got caught out twice as he replaced Darmian and clearly it offered Romero to show his ball stopping ability. Smalling has impressed in his new role in the team and apart from a misunderstanding with Romero, which he himself recovered.

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Romero does really well in the end to scramble one out of the danger area and to stop a really powerful low strung shot. Manchester united looked nervy in the last few minutes of official time.

 

Overall, despite the quality of performance, more importantly its the three points.

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My overall verdict on the players performance today:

Romero 8.0

Shaw 7.0

Blind 7.0

Smalling 7.5

Damian 8.5

Young 7.5

Schneiderlin 7.5

Carrick 7.0

Mata 7.0

Memphis 6.5

Rooney 7.0