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Man Utd miss chance to break spell

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Phil McNulty | 17:20 UK time, Sunday, 21 September 2008

Sir Alex Ferguson loves delivering a psychological blow - and he wore the look of a man who knew Manchester United had missed an opportunity to land a big one on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Ferguson may have settled for a point before kick-off, but his post-match assessment drove at the heart of the disappointment he was feeling.

How he would have relished being the man to end Chelsea's incredible unbeaten home record in the Premier League stretching back to 2004, and it will gnaw away him that his team failed to afford him that opportunity.

United led and dominated, as they did at Liverpool, before uncharacteristically retreating into their shell and allowing Chelsea to recover and earn a deserved point which could easily have been turned into three.

Chelsea will take more from this match because they ended in the ascendancy and maintained that proud record of 85 unbeaten league games stretching back to 2004.

Ferguson's inquest hit all the right spots - questioning United's failure to go for the jugular after Ji-Sung Park gave them a deserved lead, losing tempo and running out of energy.

All in all most un-United like. And something that must be corrected.

United will improve hugely once Cristiano Ronaldo is fully restored and Dimitar Berbatov is made to understand that an early impact followed by a disappearing act is not actually the Old Trafford way.

Ferguson opted for caution by keeping Ronaldo on the bench, and it worked early on as the energy of Park and Owen Hargreaves, coupled with Wayne Rooney's industry and Berbatov's languid talent kept Chelsea occupied.

But, as at Liverpool, the effect quickly wore off and Chelsea dominated for most of the last hour.

Ferguson has noted the vital signs, however, and we can be certain he will be attempting to put it right swiftly.

The game itself fizzled out after a thrilling start, but both sides showed enough to confirm that it will be normal service in the title race this season.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Chelsea have an indestructible quality at Stamford Bridge, and there was an inevitability about Salomon Kalou's late equaliser.

But as an advert for the best in the Premier League - and the record shows these two sides are the best - it was a scrappy affair after an eventful opening.

In fact, both Ferguson and Chelsea counterpart Luiz Felipe Scolari are probably glad to get it out of the way without any major damage being inflicted in terms of points.

The disjointed nature of the game was not helped by a pre-match injury to Chelsea's Deco and first-half departures for Ricardo Carvalho and Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar.

It is worth saying Van der Sar was on long enough to suggest Ferguson may be considering Ben Foster's claims seriously once he has a spell of sustained fitness. The Dutchman has not been impressive this season and looks like Father Time might be tapping him on the shoulder.

Referee Mike Riley did not endear himself to Ferguson by booking seven United players, and it was hard not to have a measure of sympathy for the Scot.

When I first started watching football, eight bookings would have constituted a bloodbath of epic proportions coupled with players from both sides re-enacting the final days of the Roman Empire.

Here there were a few naughty tackles and the odd nasty word, but eight bookings? Times have changed and not necessarily for the better.

As a signpost to the rest of the season, we learned little that we did not already know, other than the fact United need to regain that ruthless edge to their pursuit of victory, which history suggests they will.

Little sub-plots are developing nicely elsewhere, with Arsenal once again playing the beautiful game at Bolton and Liverpool having their first slip at home to Stoke.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez will be particularly frustrated that their morale-boosting win against Manchester United has not been followed up with what should have been a routine victory.

They had plenty of chances to sink Stoke, but he will hope this is not a repeat of last season when a superb start was followed by damaging goalless draws against Portsmouth and Birmingham and a subsquent loss of confidence.

What were your thoughts on the Stamford Bridge action? And what other early indicators have we had from the start to the Premier League season?


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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Foster will most definitely be No.1 at this rate. Van der Sar has been in incredibly pathetic form recently.

  • Comment number 2.

    in as much as i loved the article, i felt it's a way biased written....hope u do better in the future.

  • Comment number 3.

    Ferguson got it right, Park and Hargreaves on the wings tirelessly tracking back to help the full backs. When Renoldo came on for Park, more flair up front but Chelsea's right flank continually threatend because Ronnie was always in the Chelsea half.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'd agree that Riley did stop the action too often, but I thought the cards were fully deserved and then some.

    Why does Rooney believe he has the right to chase the ref using tirades of foul and abusive language? Scholes has to be the worst tackler in the division and seems to have no regard for his fellow professionals whatsoever. He used to be a good player, but in the last season or two, he gone from being a midfield general to a thuggish enforcer. And, let's face it, Neville's not much better. How can you have experienced midfielders and defenders who have never learnt to tackle cleanly? Obi's yellow was fair, too.

    Ronaldo seems to be back to his diving antics and was lucky not to be booked for it.

    However, personally, I think the blame should be put firmly in Ferguson's lap not Riley's. Did anyone see him constantly berating the fourth official? If that is OK behaviour as far as he is concerned, no wonder his players behave as they do. If the FA want respect they are going to have to sort him out.

  • Comment number 5.

    The Liverpool draw was not down to a lack of effort or want of trying. It was down to hard luck. It happens in footie.

    Anyway, it is draw for 3 of the top 4 and with Everton not playing too well, there's a chance to chase Arsenal.

    Benitez sure knows that this season is is last if the team peters off again............

    I keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

  • Comment number 6.

    United need to improve and they will. However i think with the lack of match practice Berbatov has had Fergie should of gone with Tevez, but then he is Fergie!!

  • Comment number 7.

    "in as much as i loved the article, i felt it's a way biased written....hope u do better in the future."

    madnizz, it's a blog. It's meant to express an opinion.

    The referee was poor today, but I don't think it was in his handing out of yellow cards, but his constant nitpicking and then making incorrect decisions (Ronaldo's dive was ridiculous). Decent watch, if quality was not up to expectation.

  • Comment number 8.

    I saw the second half and I thought it was a great game spoiled by a terrible ref!
    It is a mans game and so many of the bookings were for 50/50 challenges.
    Chelsea looked the stronger in the second half.

    Did ref Riley realise he made a mistake when he gave Ronaldo a free kick for his 10 out of ten dive? WHy did he not reverse the free kick and book the superstar for ungenlemanly conduct!
    Or would have meant that he acknowledged he had made a mistake!

    Has anyone ever thought of doing referee exchanges for these big games - eg send an English ref to do Rangers Celtic and get a Scots ref down for say Utd v Chelsea?


  • Comment number 9.

    Anelka and Malouda need to go. I also think it was a bad decision putting Ballack in, who clearly wasn't fully fit.

    Still, we more than deserved to equalise. I was very impressed with Kalou when he came on as well - gave Neville all sorts of problems (who should have been sent off in my opinion).

  • Comment number 10.

    Were you watching the same game as us?
    Man Utd were lucky! Their players should have had a few red cards.
    As for Furguson going on the pitch before the full time whistle..............................?!
    Biased once again in favour of Man U.

  • Comment number 11.

    The loss of Carlos Queroz is now really evident.He played a really major part in preparing the team at practice and on the bench at matches. This eased the pressure on the older but experienced Fergusson.However with time Mike Phelan will settle in and things will improve.
    They have to stop these unecessary fouls due to lack of discipline. Rooney?s lack of discipline led to the goal by kalou which need not have on that occasion but was inevitable with the number of silly fouls committed by United. I have never seen so many unecessary fouls yellow cards handed out one side in Fifty years of following.the game. It was a disgrace to this team and to the great teams of former years
    Please get back to the standards of great united teams of the past.

  • Comment number 12.

    im sorry but i feel anelka dont belong in a cfc shirt we should sell him,if the drog was fit today and played 90mins we would have won,but we all knew that didnt we

  • Comment number 13.

    Chelsea and particularly Lampard played with zero courage Man United deserved to win. Together with the discraceful rescindment of John Terry's red card I wanted the northern red hero's to win over the wimpy southern shandy drinkers, how can Chelsea win anything with such a cowardly display typical southerners.

  • Comment number 14.

    Man United were the best team today. We have more skillful players especially when King Ronaldo gets back to full fitness. We should have won today but we'll get moneybags Chelski back at old trafford later in the season.

    And I wasn't suprised about how unfair the ref was today, all refs seem to be anti-united BUT WE STILL WIN!!! People say otherwise but thats just cos of jealousy.

  • Comment number 15.

    as predicted, a draw - United are still struggling to get off the ground - granted it's chelsea and a point there is no bad thing, but they looked stronger on the bench than on the pitch - old man neville, park, fletcher, evans, hargreaves on the wing, berbatov disappearing after half an hour - meanwhile brown, tevez and ronaldo are on the bench

    they'll get there, but chelsea's endurance showed through and had they not been utter twits (insert censored phrase here) in front of goal they wouldve won

    as for Riley - as i said a day or two ago, these referees have very bad days, everybody knows that - i was told we should respect these guys who have made it up there, but we all know how bad the likes of riley and styles can be, these sorts of decisions (and the one at liverpool) undermine the ref on the pitch, and admitting fault would i feel keep the over-sensitive schoolboys like rooney from acting up, not that we should be - but i don't see how correcting bad mistakes is a bad thing

    that said, i completely agree with alan green that if the top 2 clubs are going to behave like that the 'respect' campaign is a complete joke

    meanwhile liverpool - 2 points squandered, it pretty much negates the win over united, but they have to take it on the chin and look for a win at goodison, you look at these 3 fixtures and 7 out of 9 would be a good outcome - even if it was stoke where the points were foolishly lost - que cera, thing that got me was it wasn't like last year's nullification with birmingham...it was more like voodoo, they were attacking but the ball just wouldn't go in...reminded me of west ham-watford

  • Comment number 16.

    Fergie was right - United lost thier early energy as the game went on and this is down to Park, Berbatov, Ronaldo, Hargreaves, Neville lacking sufficient match practice.

    Don't forget that we had five points after 4 games last season. The difference this season is that we have played both Liverpool and Chelsea away - two extremely tough games. Add Portsmouth to that and three of our first four games have been extremely tough away fixtures.

    Things can only get better. It was the same thing from the media last season - United off to a terrible start, United aren't scoring goals, United are in a crisis. Its slow start, but the last three games have seen a significant improvement.

  • Comment number 17.

    why is everyone saying foster will be number 1 when he is fit again? kuscack is a decent keeper but needs more time on the pitch

  • Comment number 18.

    If, when Chelsea and United play at Old Trafford, all the players are fit, I would have to go for either a win for Chelsea or a draw. With Essien, Deco and Carvalho back the team would be too strong for United to beat. I wouldn't be too worried about Ronaldo, he never plays amazingly against Chelsea, that is assuming he hasn't left by then.

    Vidic would make it a lot harder to win, but we will see then.

    And as a reply to comment no. 14, I don't understand what you mean by "all refs seem to be anti-united BUT WE STILL WIN!!!" is there something I missed? For one thing, in my eyes the refs seem to give too many decisions to United, especially Ronaldo, but to be fair he is a rather good diver. And for another that comment doesn't make sense. I mean you still win? Isn't that 4 games played, one loss, two draws, and one win?

  • Comment number 19.

    United should have won.

  • Comment number 20.

    A couple of weeks ago I felt we would cruise this one against United .Then in a very short space of time we lost Essien, then Deco and after ten minutes of the game Ricky Carvalho.With respect to United this was a key factor in todays result.

  • Comment number 21.

    Although I am disappointed we didn't win after leading for an hour, I think a draw is fair given the way Chelsea dominated the second half. For some reason we couldn't hold the ball at all and basically pooed our pants over the thought of winning at Stamford Bridge. We lack confidence.

    Our goal was good, but Rooney why o why give away stupid free kicks like that! Especially when Drogba is on the field, it's just stupid. Should have been pasing there anyway or clearing, not trying to hold it. And he missed a chance to make it 2-0, although Anelka and Joe Cole were more guilty than Rooney for this. But surely it is time Rooney is benched for a game, what has Tevez done wrong to not even come on as a sub! Mental. Also, VDS is flapping again, doesn't look confident at all! Our midfield did well really, so did Evans and Ferdinand. Berbatov showed signs how well he can hold the ball up also, hope he gets fit quickly.

    Also the Mike Riley you are a joker. Why was Berbatov booked? Why wasn't Ballack booked for persistent fouling? Why wasn't Joe Cole booked for one of his standard awful challenges? Gary Neville could have gone for his tackle on Ballack, but Ballack hurdled it so that is that and for once Riley played an advantage! Also at least a couple of very late decisions made.

    We will improve with key players coming back to full fitness and some goddamn easier games! Outrageous fixtures so far, we will only improve. All in all it is a good result given the pressure coming into the game and the form of both teams.

  • Comment number 22.

    benjo265:

    What you need to consider is that United were missing Carrick and Vidic and had a number of players with very few games under their belts. Neville, Ronaldo, and Park are all coming back from long-term injuries while Hargeaves and Berbatov simply haven't had enough games to be fully fit and sharp enough. Because of injury Berbatov probably hasn't had more more than one or two training sessions with United.

    Chelsea have shown their cards. We've seen what they can do. You haven't seen United shift higher than second gear yet - they are a sleeping giant slowly waking up. With United in form at Old Trafford, Chelsea should be grateful if they get a draw.

  • Comment number 23.

    thats right blueoverthemoon if deco, ricky,essien, and a fully fit drog ,man u would have been humiliated today,and SAF LIKE PHILL SAID WILL LOSE SLEEP ..utd were lucky

  • Comment number 24.

    "United led and dominated, as they did at Liverpool" - what game were you watching - after the first 20 minutes or so it was all Liverpool, they could have won by 3 or 4!

  • Comment number 25.

    United should have won. It was a great game in the first half as they completely dominated all aspects of the game. Park Evra and Hargreaves were fantastic and Wayne Rooney was brilliant (although that was taken away by the free kick goal). The two "stars", Berbatov and Ronaldo didn't have much of a presence and I hope they get the hang of it in the games to come. As Fergie says, they need to be consistent for the entire game. Apart from all that, I thought the bookings were a bit harsh after Chelsea made a few nasty tackles as well but weren't carded. (I think that goes back to Fergie's comment about the FA Refrees').It was disappointing to see a tie but overall it was a great game of football.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think Chelsea missed Deco today, especially in the first half when we found it hard to get through Man Utd's defence.
    Anelka and Joe Cole were both guilty of missing easy chances and Chelsea should have won this game.

  • Comment number 27.

    Blueoverthemoon:

    We were missing Carrick and Vidic. Then we lost VDS. Park, Neville, Hargreaves, Berbatov and Ronaldo are all still lacking match ractice and therefore fitness.

    Another thing - three of our first four fixtures a have all been tough away games (Portsmouth, Liverpool, Chelsea). United were nowhere near their best, they will get much better. You should be scared.

  • Comment number 28.

    United were lucky to get a point today. This was an opportunity missed by the Blues, who should have won by two or three.

  • Comment number 29.

    If you swear at the referee it is a yellow card, very easy to understand.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    Both teams could have won without playing anywhere near their best. In terms of chances CHelsea created more than United but were still lucky to come away with a draw after missing that many good chances against a top team. For me Man Utd started well but then sat back expecting to defend a 1-0 with counter attacking as they have done in the past successfully against Chelsea at OT. THey didn't have the pace up front to do that today and it back fired as CHelsea got more and more possesion to create more and more. I think the game showed how much Man Utd miss Querioz, but also why CHelsea are unbeaten for so long at home. THey just never stop going. The ref I thought was a strange choice before the game because "he worries you" to quote Andy Gray but looking at the yellow cards you can't really argue they weren't deserved. The criticism instead should be the inconsistency some players booked for dissent but eg Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney swearing point blank at him get nothing. It's too early in the season for "psychological blows" and I think with Big Phil Chelsea have a manager who is experienced enough not to let one game affect him. His attitude in the post match conferences have been a breath of fresh air and I think a lot of more experienced and successful Premier League managers could take a lesson or two from him.

  • Comment number 32.

    What are the thoughts of United's fans on the exclusion of Carlos Tevez?

    He would surely have provided energy - and how do you think Sir Alex will balance his attacking resources in the coming weeks?

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm a United fan, and i think SAF not to include Tevez today was a bit wierd, though Berbatov did have a hand in the goal today, and Rooney played well tracking back, though both of them got booked, then again most of United players got booked. It shall be interesting to see how Ferguson picks his strikers for the upcoming games, though i think he'll just keep rotating.

  • Comment number 34.

    Chelsea play with such belief and force at home. They were not at their best today but always looked like they had at least an equaliser in them.

    The game wasn't helped by injuries before and during the game. The flow was disrupted.

    United are strange at the moment. They allowed Liverpool back into a game they were dominating at Anfield last week and it was similar today.

    It was put to me that this could be a mental thing - almost a hangover from the fantastic success of last season - and it is inevitable they would take time to get going this season.

    What are your thoughts on that?

  • Comment number 35.

    Phil I'm just short of words on how Tevez could be left out in such a game. Beats me really considering his efforts against liverpool.I don't understand why Berbatov has to play 90 minutes when he is not yet as efficient as Tevez. Hope there is a good explanation. And to think that Anderson is a first team regular for Brazil but Oshea seems to always get the nod ahead of him beats me too.

  • Comment number 36.

    to be honest, i don't think united should ever have signed berbatov. he's selfish and sulky and disappears after the first 20 minutes or so - at liverpool and again against chelsea. it also means either tevez or rooney (or ronaldo) is wasted on the bench. united now have too many big-name, flair-type strikers and still no-one to score the simple tap-ins.

    i also think anderson would have been a good choice in midfield, at least on the bench.

    on a seperate note, ronaldo's booking was really harsh. if he had got the card for his dive i would've understood completely but he got it for suggesting to the referee that he had been fouled. something that every single player does at least once in a game.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think Red_Red_Devil makes a fair point re. United's energy levels when he says Park, Berbatov, Ronaldo, Hargreaves and Neville are all short of full match fitness.

    When that is taken into consideration then it is safe to assume United's improvement is sure to come soon.

  • Comment number 38.

    Phil McNulty:

    Tevez? Listen to Fergie carefully. He wasn't counting on having to replace Van der Saar. If he didn't have to do that, I think Tevez might have come on at the the same time O'Shea did (in the 75th min). But with Park beginning to tire and defending a 1-0 lead, a more defensive player was a priority so it had to be O'shea over Tevez.

  • Comment number 39.

    If Match fitness in our players means we can play for 90 mins as we did the first 25-30mins of the last couple of games i think it should be everyone else who should be scared because chelsea had no answer to the first 25-30mins and that was with no tevez ronaldo carrick or vidic imagine throwing those players in fully fit thats worth worrying about it you ask me drogba is hit or miss he was fully fit for the champs league final against us but could do anything why would today have been so different.

    Plus we played liverpool and chelsea away there without doubt some of the most difficault fixtures in the EPL now they have to worry about united improving and playing them at OT which is never an easy place to go and get points 3 of chelsea 3 of liverpool and 3 of Arsenal last year at old trafford so to say you will come and take points of us is absurd chelsea failed against a stuttering united side wait till we get going you wont be allowed back in the game.

  • Comment number 40.

    Tevez should have came on for Berbatov who is clearly short of match fitness, form and confidence. While Ronaldo scored a vast amount of goals last season, I think Carlos got us THE crucial ones - Lyon away, Tottenham away, Blackburn away, etc. Could have done with that today. He would have injected that little bit of energy that was clearly lacking with Berba towards the end of the game and he would have pressured Chelsea into "punting it" rather than allowing them to pass it from the back.

    I do think SAF got his tactics spot on for the first hour or so - Hargreaves and Park working hard to neutralise the threat of the full backs. However, I feel that he didn't really react well to Scolari's subs and failed to adjust the team to Chelsea's tactics for the closing stages.

    I hope that Anderson was injured because I am utterly bemused by the concept of O'Shea being ahead of him. O'Shea IMO is not good enough for United - well, maybe Newcastle United ;D.

    Still though, I would have taken a point before the game...

  • Comment number 41.

    Has it even occured to anyone that perhaps, just perhaps both Liverpool and Chelsea deserved their points against United not for the fact that 'United played badly' but for the fact that they were outplayed and outmanouvred? United's gang-ho tactics will only go so far and will rarely work against the more able opponents.

  • Comment number 42.

    To Red_Red_Devil: yeh Portsmouth are a really tough team to beat, just ask your neighbours.

    To all other Man U fans: maybe it is Fergie's rotation policy that cost you the match?

    ;)

  • Comment number 43.

    Has it even occured to anyone that perhaps, just perhaps both Liverpool and Chelsea deserved their points against United not for the fact that 'United played badly' but for the fact that they were outplayed and outmanouvred? United's gang-ho tactics will only go so far and will rarely work against the more able opponents.

    -----------------------------

    done us ok last season and im pretty sure we won the CL and the PL last year so im guessing they man utd's "gang-ho" tactics go pretty far :P

  • Comment number 44.

    To all other Man U fans: maybe it is Fergie's rotation policy that cost you the match?

    -------------------------------

    erm no, its the continual inclusion of john o'shea which i'm peed off about.

    and talk of rotation policy? i think a certain mr benitez will have something to say about that!!

  • Comment number 45.

    To Red_Red_Devil: yeh Portsmouth are a really tough team to beat, just ask your neighbours.

    To all other Man U fans: maybe it is Fergie's rotation policy that cost you the match?

    ;)
    ------------------------

    Portsmouth away is a tough game. Arsenal Liverpool Chelsea and Man Utd all drew with portsmouth at fratton park last season. Dosn't sound like an easy place to go and get points.

  • Comment number 46.

    man utd's play at the moment is reminiscent of the England national team play(maybe former).Players donot have that confidence to take their play to the next level which we all know they are capable of. Look at how they played in the first 20 minutes, completely dominated Chelski. But after the goal everyone just dropped their heads a bit. Unless that fear factor is dealt with, we will draw and lose a couple of games.

  • Comment number 47.

    G_is_God:

    Portsmouth have always been a very difficult team for Utd to beat at Fratton Park. So it was a tough away fixture.

    As for our 'gung-ho' tactics? Yup, they've really served us badly.
    - Maybe if it wasn't for those 'gung-ho' tactics we would have won the treble rather than just the League and Champions League.
    -Maybe if it wasn't for our gung-ho tactics we wouldn't have had the best scoring record in league last season.
    -Maybe if it wasn't for our gung-ho tactics we wouldn't had the best defensive record in the league last season.
    -Maybe if it wasn't for out gung-ho tactics we wouldn't have won the CL without losing a single game.

    Yup, maybe we should do away with these gung-ho tactics.

  • Comment number 48.

    tgbutd:

    That is just nonsense. Guess what?

    -Utd had the same points total at this point last season
    -Utd have scored double the number of league goals this season as they had at the same point last season.

    Last season didn't finish too badly for them did it?

  • Comment number 49.

    Fergie gets his substitutes wrong again. Park was tiring and who better to bring in than Tevez (he never tires!!). Instead he opts for O'Shea, who although a runner and a pain everywhere, couldn't keep Kalou out of the area for the goal.

    Tevez would have run a lot, kept the ball (it is hard to take the ball away from him) and with Ronnie, Rooney and Tevez together in the last 20 mins, another goal would have appeared. Chelsea would have stayed back 10 yards rather than venturing forward at will.

  • Comment number 50.

    I am a kids football coach trying constantly to teach my team fair play and sportsmanship.But how is this possible when all you see is Man Utd Manager and team shouting abuse non stop to the officials? And as for the 10 out of 10 diving from certain players!!!! well it is just a joke!!

  • Comment number 51.

    Tomasz Kuszczak should now be made number 1 at MU. VDS has been nervous at L'Pool and now at Chelsea. His costly mistakes will soon start hurting MU in the CL where they do not have the luxury to play 38 games. Each game is vital.

    Tomasz Kuszczak was very steady and only poor marking on the free-kick provided Chelsea with a goal.

  • Comment number 52.

    Red_Red_Devil: i would hate to be arguing with my United counterpart.

    But last season Man City were nothing really, same applies to chelski and Liverpool(which didn't beat us need i remind you). This season it's a different ball game and we have to start tackling these issues and not banking on our previous and frankly pathetic starting record. Portsmouth were clobbered 6-0 by Man City, that says a lot about this season mate.

    Why the lack of faith in Anderson and Tevez. Tevez exudes confidence unmatched by any United player.

  • Comment number 53.

    But last season Man City were nothing really, same applies to chelski and Liverpool(which didn't beat us need i remind you). This season it's a different ball game and we have to start tackling these issues and not banking on our previous and frankly pathetic starting record. Portsmouth were clobbered 6-0 by Man City, that says a lot about this season mate.

    ----------------------------------

    And last season we lost at Stamford bridge so cant be so bad can it. Man City started well last year as they have this year as did liverpool and arsenal they fell away its a marathon not a sprint and when united do step up a couple of gears they will go back to beating teams 4-0 with ease.

  • Comment number 54.

    tgbutd :

    I think any Utd fan would have taken a draw before the game. The fact is that Utd have been unlucky and destabilized by injuries and suspensions. Don't forget that Carrick and Vidic were missing today. Hargreaves, Berbatov, Park, Ronaldo and Neville are lacking match practice and fitness - that's why Utd couldn't replicate their first half performance in the second half. Once those players are fully fit, then you'll see a different Utd.

    If United had held on for a 1-0 win, no one would be talking about Tevez. That goal was down to Rooney giving away a poor free-kick and poor set-piece defending. All of that could have happened with Tevez on the field.

  • Comment number 55.

    i am impressed at the football we're playing -of late - okay we're not top of the table anymore but we're creating a lot of chances and as relieved as i am to get just a point today, repeating this performance will guarantee wins against most sides - hope we can keep this form up!

  • Comment number 56.

    United-in-99 and Red_Red_Devil:

    i know that we are capable of annihilating these teams but i think for some strange reason SAF(with all due respect) has to first relieve and let go of some old guns. Neville still has a part to play in our conquest but not in the first team to be honest.Same applies to Giggs and Oshea. But what the heck is Anderson doing on the bench. Perfect replacement for scholes don't you think.

    Red_Red_Devil, i'm a future type of lad, so even if we had held on to a 1-0 draw i still would have been unimpressed by Tevez's exclusion. Completely unjustified, considering Berba's 90 mins exploits. The uncertainty of the right combination seems to be also affecting the players mentally. That's the kind of fear factor i'm talking about. It's not necessarily about the fitness levels but the approach that is really our problem.

    How can they not tire if they have to adopt an uncalled for defensive approach evertime after taking the lead. By the way the point was a relief but there were some negatives that may result in shock defeats if not addressed urgently.

  • Comment number 57.

    Benjo265, Agreed that ManU were missing Carrick and Vidic, just like Chelsea missed a few top stars as well. Remember your team have also lost with Carrick and Vidic in the team. Anywayz, I hope the sleeping giant continue to sleep and slowly wake up in April 2009. Poor ManU!!!

  • Comment number 58.

    How can anyone say united should have won??? Joe cole could have easily had 2, and let's not talk about Anelka!

  • Comment number 59.

    bro969:

    you will eat your words when your Chelski visits Old trafford. The "sleeping giant" would pulverize you lucky pretenders.

    And hey you chelski fans what's with the attack on our team bus.
    "Is humiliation that hard to swallow."

  • Comment number 60.

    tgbutd, am trying to figure out what happens at Old Trafford...

  • Comment number 61.

    bro969 keep figuring and i promise you that you won't like the final picture.chelski will receive a Hiding on the field and not off the field like you cowards.

  • Comment number 62.

    I think the Champions of Europe and England have finally returned after a stuttering start to the season. I don't want to speak too soon but United looked really strong defensively today against a Chelsea side who have been firing on all cylinders this season.

    With Nemanja Vidic suspended and Wes Brown watching proceedings from the bench, I thought it was going to be a tough day for the guys at the back but credit to young Jonny Evans who played really well and looked very comfortable alongside Rio Ferdinand in this huge game.

    The work ethic of Rooney, Hargreaves and Park was the reason United went 1-0 up and as they tired, united started to deflate.

    Cristiano Ronaldo was a little selfish on more than one occasion, trying to take the whole Chelsea defence on, however he did add a counter-attacking threat for the visitors.

    The team were wasteful against Newcastle, were outplayed by Zenit, just about got past Portsmouth and we all know what happened at Anfield. But today, I think it was a much better performance from the defending champions.

    After struggling to find the net for the first few games of this season, I think some team is in for a real hiding.....

    good luck Bolton!

  • Comment number 63.

    i think sir alex got half the team selection correct and half incorrect.

    1) why play neville when he is lacking fitness? i heard the commentators saying he has the big match mentality and strength. Wait a minute..for the past year or so Wes Brown has probably been Man Uniteds most consistent and best defender. Neville doesnt have the pace to leapfrog brown into the team. He should be made to fight for his place just as much any other player has to.

    2) Picking Berbatov in another tough match against one of your main rivals away from home is a ridiculous idea. Tevez has been one of our most sharp players so far this season...he will chase, pass, protect the ball and shoot whenever hes given the opportunity. Berbatov looked lost today.

    3) Where were Nani or Ronaldo? our formation was far too defensive and the attacking players that were picked looked confused. Scholes should have been left out, hes a great player, great passer etc...but even the best have to know when they arent playing well they deserve to be benched.

    4) It was a great decision to play both hargreaves and park..they stifled chelsea for most of the match.

    5) Johnny Evans has proved that he has a future at Man Utd, i cant rememba him putting a foot wrong...well done lad!

  • Comment number 64.

    I only watched the last 60 minutes and Chelsea were the only team playing football. united were defending in numbers or parking the bus.

    Chelsea fully deserved the result, with a little more luck the 3 points was possible.

    It's good that United keep losing points from winning positions. I cannot remember if they scores first against newcastle, but both liverpool and chelsea have come from behind to win points.

    I assume that united will soon be back in the top-four and then normal service will resume.

    What are your thought of Arsenal??

    I think we play some lovely football, and 2 away games on the trot against opposition we normally struggle against,and maximum points have been achieved. The myth about playing those northern teams are put to bed.

  • Comment number 65.

    Don't you ever blog on anyone apart from Manu, chelsea and especially liverpool?
    What about Hull for example and their remarkable start in the premiership? Remember the little guy!

  • Comment number 66.

    Sir Alex is such a winner. He goes on the road and ties and is not happy, and Scolari is happy not losing at home.

  • Comment number 67.

    the indestructible quality of chelsea at home you talk about is called the referees. time and time again they get decision after decision at home. arsenal went there last season were winning till the ref decided to award them a goal that was clearly offside, ridiculous, i feel for fergie and the 8 bookings but money is getting what it wants again

  • Comment number 68.

    The season is long and a player cannot not be at top form perpetually - so the players and the team have to "peak" at the right time. Man Utd seems to follow the strategy of peaking later in the season when there is more at stake. Lesser teams in the EPL seem strong early but fade.

    That said Chelsea always seems like a rock, a hard team to bet again based on logic, but a fan has to follow their heart!

    This season should be a great battle among the best


  • Comment number 69.

    It was a lot like watching Liverpool V Stoke. Once United scored they put everybody behind the ball and showed no ambition.
    Chelsea struggled to create anything of consequence and resorted to shooting from outside the box. Anelka proved he is the most infuriating striker ever, by missing two easy chances.

    The replay shows Kalou pushed Ferdinand in the back as he runs through. It was interesting to see Ferdinand and Terry today. There really is no comparsion, Ferdinand is light years better.

    Ronaldo is not match fit, and Berbatov is a poor fit, I think he will be dropped, and Fergie will work on his "attitude" for a few weeks.

    Good result for Liverpool and Arsenal.

  • Comment number 70.

    Thought the article summed up the game perfectly. Here we go again. Liverpool possibly flattering to deceive, Arsenal still to impress in the high profile games. Yes we watched the the BIG TWO today, but hey, Man City into the mix is going to make it interesting.

  • Comment number 71.

    Is phil mcnulty a man utd fan... I don't know why everyone in bbc wants man utd to win the premier league???

  • Comment number 72.

    Comment 22. Red_Red_Devil,

    "Chelsea have shown their cards. We've seen what they can do. You haven't seen United shift higher than second gear yet - they are a sleeping giant slowly waking up. With United in form at Old Trafford, Chelsea should be grateful if they get a draw."

    This is exactly the type of trash talk that loses games. Man Utd have looked nothing special so far this season, and that's why they are so far down the table, and any well-informed fan should know playing Chelsea isn't easy whether home or away.

    You talk about the players that Man Utd had out and fitness problems... Chelsea had just as many problems too! Carvalho and Deco had injuries, sub Alex rarely plays a game, Ballack was short of Match fitness, Drogba still isn't 100% fit, so excuses will get you nowhere.

    Mark my words, from a neutral point of view, if Man Utd keep thinking that being champions will win you games, then expect this poor form to continue. You have to work hard to win things, and put in effort the full 90 minutes.

  • Comment number 73.

    67 Gunnerforlife2008,

    "the indestructible quality of chelsea at home you talk about is called the referees. time and time again they get decision after decision at home. arsenal went there last season were winning till the ref decided to award them a goal that was clearly offside, ridiculous, i feel for fergie and the 8 bookings but money is getting what it wants again"

    You clearly don't like Chelsea, and are jealous of the backbone Chelsea have. Don't get me wrong, Arsenal play very good football on their day, but are in dire need of a couple of big signings, rather than trying to rely on youth.

    As well as that, did you watch the full game? Man Utd deserved most of the cards they got today, except Scholes' yellow card for his first infringement. However it soon balanced out, as he started doing things like kicking the ball away! Gary Neville did a clumsy lunge at Ballack where a red would have been no surprise if he caught him. However Mikel's yellow was fair and one of his first fouls.

    Now cards aside, the referee should have let the game flow more by playing more advantages, Ronaldo's dive was atrocious, accusing Lampard of barging him over when there was no contact. Lampard would have had around 3 Man Utd defenders between him and the goal, if the correct decision of playing on was made.

  • Comment number 74.

    As a Chelsea Fan, I just think we should have won the game. I still can't get over the fact that we did not win. We wasted so many clear cut chances that it made me sick to my stomach watching the team settle for only a draw today. I hate United with all my might, and they mmust know that we rule our home, we won't let no team come beat us at "Home Sweet Home". I hope Didier Drogba gets fully fit, as well as Salomon Kalou. Fingers crossed for Essien, Deco, Carvalho, our prayes go out to them, hope they get back as soon as possible. With our fully fit squad, we will win on all the tables that we are in right now.

  • Comment number 75.

    What on earth is Anelka doing in the EPL!

  • Comment number 76.

    God only knows why teams still buy into Anelka. Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and even Bolton have had this wandering minstral. Isn't it about time he sulked back of to french football where he deserves to be.

  • Comment number 77.

    A well deserved draw i must say, rather lucky. Quality football from the Chelsea lot in the 2nd half - shud ve finished with a win.

    Anelka seems to disappoint me more often than impress - but ofcourse, lets give him some space - he shoudnt let us down.

    n as for Ronnie - me thinks Fergie has got acting/diving classes up at the academy - the ManU bunch deserves Oscars!!...what a unethical player this one.. disgusting..

  • Comment number 78.

    Utd and Chelsea are a class above everyone else, team/squad wise.

    Liverpool have started decently from a points perspective but have played poorly in most games and don't have what it takes to mount a challenge yet.

    Arsenal: same as last year. Good start but they lack the strength in depth.

    It's Utd and Chelsea to battle it out like last year. Very little has changed in the overall balance of things.

    In the meantime we can spout endlessly on Blogs trying to persuade ourselves or others that it will not be so...........but it will.
    Next!

  • Comment number 79.

    manutd really played a dirty game they just wantedthe point which they've got but they've lost in moral terms I always had respect for manutd but I last night I lost most of it scholes job was just to ruin chelsea's play whatever it costed obviously he should have got the red much before the end of fist half because of many fouls bad fouls that he committed and the ref showed him he can continue it

    was one disgusting display by manutd

    and on the manutd goal really bad mistake by p.Cech he should have taken the ball which was not that tricky or at least send the ball clear

  • Comment number 80.

    In a game like that, you're never 100% sure as a neutral who you want to win...so you settle for the 'nice-guy' players to emerge the heroes, rather than any one side.

    Park and Kalou scored, therefore, I'm happy with the game.

  • Comment number 81.

    I think it might be the beginning of the end for Neville and Van Der Sar.

    Van the man just kept making mistake after mistake and i think he just came off not because he was injured, but because he knew how badly he was playing (Dont get me wrong, i know the guy was hurt but he didnt come off the field until he nearly cost us a goal, again!!). Unfortunately he is beginning to remind me a bit of Seaman in his last years when he seemed to make mistake after mistake.

    Also i think Neville had the poorest game ever against Chelsea. Granted he's not match fit but i dont think he has the pace to cope anymore and think Brown has succeeded him overall. Generally being fit he should be fine (he's been training for months now) but his match sharpness is gone. I just generally found that whenever a player ran at Neville he just seemed about 2 seconds behind the play. I remember a couple of incidents when he went for the ball and just completely went through the man not because it was a bad challenge but because it was a really really slow one. Chelsea sensed this i think and that was why anelka was put onto the left wing to play against him as they knew malouda was having a bad game and neville couldnt cope with him even then.

    Dont get me wrong i think both of them have been great for the club but i think its nearly time for them to hand over there positions to Foster and Brown and for Ferdinand to take up the armband (and should be Captain now anyway if im honest)

  • Comment number 82.

    The major thing Phil Scolari is trying to change at Chelsea - they have to pass the ball more rather than throwing in the box to see what happens. Deco has made this happen from day 1, as this is is how he plays. Without Deco, the team struggled to couple with Scolari's "way of playing" and took them 30 minutes to go back to old Chelsea style, where they feel comfortable, and put pressure on Man United - still, not way Scolari wants...and that's what he meant after the match against Bordeaux (Deco played that match, but poorly, for the first time in the season...which reflected in Scolari's perception of the match).

  • Comment number 83.

    What journalists and managers fail to realise about the plethora of yellow cards is that they constituted consecutive fouls and misdemeanors after warnings had been given. Mr. Riley got it right and the game is better for it. Less injuries and better football for the duration of the season. This is not war - it is sport.

  • Comment number 84.

    Just a few observations...

    Mike Riley is a traffic warden in disguise. I thought that before, but his smug self-righteousness was so obvious yesterday. What makes it worse is that so many of his decisions were wrong.

    One everybody knows, but deserves repeating - Paul Scholes shouldn't even think about tackling...

    Kuszczaks gloves are far stickier than Van Der Sars, but his kick is like my golf swing - he can hit it but only God knows what direction its going. I've not seen Foster play so I don't know if he's better.

    For the first time ever, I think, I have to scroll-down to click the Man Utd link in the league table. The beginning of the end???

    Berbatov - worth every penny ;-)

  • Comment number 85.

    Fantastic game watched by half of Europe I live in Berlin and had 10 Germans as guests roaring their heads off. Compliments to both teams, both could have won Chelsea with two clear chances more. There-by the goal was preceded by a "little shove" on Ferdinand. Arsenal had a spell were Bolton were really putting the pressure on and but for good saves and perhaps not so good finishing could have been in great trouble. I wish that the Premier League had one competition less it would improve the standard of play even more.(Carling Cup who needs it).

  • Comment number 86.

    What a frustating game! I don't think i've seen us play so well at the bridge in the first 20 mins.Then Park scores and we show no real ambition to get the 2nd goal. We had them rattled ehen we scored so why sit back??

    Berbatov looks a little lazy at the moment and I have a horrible feeling he might be the sort of player to go missing in the big games??

    If we don't beat bolton next week at home we are in serious s***?!?!

  • Comment number 87.

    I can't believe I haven't seen a mention for the United away fans. We all went there knowing our team needed a boost, and I haven't seen away support like that since Upton Park in the 99-00 season!

    The problem in the game was the referee, but I won't doubt that 3-4 of United's players did deserve to get booked. However, the inconsistancy of the ref led to only 1 chelsea player in the book, which was riddiculous.

    Its good to see United showing signs of our great attacking football. Although the man to bring on was Tevez, not Ronaldo. You can't have two players with questionable work ethic in the last stages of a game like that.

    I'm sure Berbatov will be inducted into the Wayne Rooney school of effort.

    p.s. Cheers to John Terry for being a good sport. We gave him a lot of stick about the champions league!

  • Comment number 88.

    Can someone explain to exactly what Nicolas Anelka brings to a team? I've never ever rated this guy, i've never seen him have a good game.

  • Comment number 89.

    For all SAF's comments after the match he must surely realise VDS has no further place in the team, since his injuries he lacks confidence and does not go into 50-50's with any certainty.

    Rooney is not deserving of a start - certainly not ahead of Tevez, industry does not make him a good player, Tevez is industrious but looks like he will contribute more and does have more shots and assists than Rooney.

    Rooney is not the big white hope, he is an overhyped average player - would any of the other top 3 clubs buy him if Utd tried to sell, I doubt it.

    On the plus side Evans looks like class and its good to know we have him coming through

  • Comment number 90.

    I think its a good result for united playing poorly and problems but still picking up big points away signs of champions. Chelsea apparently playing well and only managing to break us down with a long free kick in the box isn't so bad i would of taken a draw before the game and ill take it again now.

  • Comment number 91.

    Phil

    Never watched it. Ive made a pact with myself not to watch Utd or Chelsea games this season and as best i can to ignore their presence. I suppose that ill notice them lying 2nd and 3rd in mid May, tucked in, but well behind the Gunners though!!!

    Live in hope.

  • Comment number 92.

    Why was my comment removed? There was no abuse, defamation ot anything else which has broken the house rules in it. I have received no explanation. I simply suggested that maybe SAF's constant abuse of the fourth official sets a bad example to his players and that he should be punished for it.

  • Comment number 93.

    Some Man U fans have their heads in the clouds..... Chelsea no passion ....... Man u were a gutless team who deserved nothing from stamford bridge.

    Rio Ferdinand must no some new rules or something because i didnt realise that if you ran off the pitch before the ref pulled out a card you get away with it, typical coward, showing no respect at all.

    Fergie's the most powerful man in football, walking onto the pitch to end the game when chelsea had a very convertible goal scoring chance with a free kick on the edge of the area.

    ronaldos still diving, unless i missed something and lampards shaddow booted him up in the air

    rooney cant stop whinging and his face always looks like a smacked a***.

    as for bias against man u, man u fans have that round the wrong way, i think for the 1st time they were treated like a normal team, and didnt get bias towards them and they couldnt deal with it

    chelsea to win the league
    arsenal 2nd
    man u 3rd
    liverpool/man city 5th

  • Comment number 94.

    Chealsea4quadrouple,

    You'd better hurry up or you'll miss the next shuttle back to Mars...

    \(^_^)/

  • Comment number 95.

    People just love to hate United but hey you know what they say "a thin line between love and hate"
    As for the game itself United has to stop that habit of sitting back as soon as they scored a goal. The story would have been completely different had Chelsea equalize earlier in the game. And Berbatov need to be told that as a United player you cannot be lazy and be walking on the pitch. It is totally unacceptable. Rooney looks more and more like a lost cause.
    The team as whole should get back to work and show better commitment and discipline!!

  • Comment number 96.

    If Chelsea sell Anelka i would like him at United! Simply because he has pace to get in behind the defence and give a different option up front!

    The bookings yesterday were very petty but in line with the book. However, i thought that again the away side were picked on by the ref. Not saying that just as a United fan but ive noticed that quite a lot from most of the games ive managed to watch on Sky/Setanta/BBC highlights.

    I dont know why United have "lost" their killer instinct but i really think we miss Carlos Quieroz. He was always on the touchline giving instructions and supporting the players along. Im sure Mike Phelan will do a good job but everyone has read/heard what Carlos brought to the United dressing room.

    United need to start killing off the game. I dont know why Tevez was left on the bench when Berbatov was invisible after the goal! I didnt really mind if Berbatov came to United before his move because we knew he was lazy. Now we are starting to realise how lazy he is! He says he wants to win European Footballer of the Year but he wont with poor performances like that!

    And for the goalkeeping record, Van der Sar should have retired after the CL final along with Giggs who have both lost it. Great players in their time, but now have lost it sadly. Foster has to be challenging Kuzack for the number one jersey when he comes back.

  • Comment number 97.

    Another thing was how on earth did Neville play ahead of Brown?!

    Ridiculous decision! Brown has been immense and i felt very sorry for him. Neville had a decent game but he needs time in games but surely not worth a risk in the big games?

    Also well played Evans again at CB. Developing into a fantastic player :)

  • Comment number 98.

    I wonder if Fergy will call it a day sooner than later, an ageing side struggling to keep pace with the best teams. PS Is Berbatov the new Gary Birtles...lol

  • Comment number 99.

    Lets calm down, United are playing fine now and were in a similar position as last season with a significantly harder start. our performance against liverpool was awful but was significantly improved against villareal and chelski so im not worried.

    i think the game yesterday deserved to finish a draw but im just so disappointed that the referee ruined the game. i thought that rio ferdinand was leaving the pitch at the end because he was expecting a second yellow for dissent (not the final whistle) which was totally justified. in a game where there wasn't one bad tackle to note (joe coles was just as bad as gary nevilles - in which he didnt receive a yellow) I cant understand how one team would receive 7 yellows?! referees need to EARN respect, but cant expect it when they see an 'incident' and allow the ball to be controlled and then released before deciding to blow up - which im sure wasn't influenced by the home crowd and chelsea players appeal at all! bookings like ronaldo's (although admittedly he deserved a booking for his dive which is embarassing) for merely suggesting he was pushed is a joke. and to see mike riley - after a game which should see him demoted to league 1 for a month - with a huge smile at the end merely rubs salt in the wound. however, i think michael ballack does deserve credit for his honesty, as despite gary nevilles blistering pace he got to the ball first and could so easily have got g.nev sent off, so credit where credit's due; very admirable.

    finally, im still trying to understand how john terry played yesterday. admittedly, his 'tackle' at man city was arguably not a straight red (although there are strong suggestions that it should have been), but the rule is that a red card cannot be changed into a yellow and must be totally rescinded, therefore, the FA are suggesting that captain marvel terry didnt even deserve a yellow for his tackle.. atrocious. although it was nice to see him gesturing the score at the crowd when he left the pitch, its always nice to see the england captain set an example.

  • Comment number 100.

    I think Fergie and this team have become victims of their own success. I predict this season to be a bit of an anticlimax after the glory of last May. I hope I'm wrong, but United look very sluggish at the moment. Ronaldo is not fully fit, Berbatov looks rather shell-shocked, Carrick is out and Rooney and Tevez just need to relax a little bit.
    Having Van der Sar out may prove to be a good thing - both Kusczak and Foster are excellent keepers.
    They were very unlucky against villareal the other night, but its in front of goal where they have a real weakness.

 

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