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Phil McNulty | 00:13 UK time, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson called it "one of the great pleasures of managing this football club."

The source of Ferguson's excitement was the last six minutes against CSKA Moscow and United's enduring ability to fashion an unlikely escape from the tightest corners at the last possible moment with a big finish.

United's were at it again as a rare Paul Scholes header and Antonio Valencia's deflected shot clawed back CSKA's 3-1 lead in that frantic finale and stretched their unbeaten home record in the Champions League to 23 games.

Ferguson could just as easily have been talking about the luxury of being able to launch Wayne Rooney, and you could almost use the word literally for the way he went about his business on Tuesday, into action when things get rough.

Football's most famous new father may have been short on sleep just a day after the birth of his son Kai, but he woke a dozing Old Trafford from its slumbers and made sure Ferguson got the point that fulfilled his wish for early qualification for the Champions League group phase.

New-dad Rooney comes on for NaniNew-dad Rooney comes on for Nani
Rooney's name made a surprise appearance on the list of United substitutes - and with early paternal duties fulfilled the stage was set once Vasili Berezutski headed CSKA's third two minutes after half-time.

Even as CSKA celebrated, Ferguson ordered Rooney to warm up and the mood inside a subdued Old Trafford, perhaps lulled by the knowledge even defeat was unlikely to halt the passage into the last 16, lifted several levels.

And inevitably he was at the heart of a United revival that pressurised CSKA until they finally cracked in those closing stages after 84 minutes of defiance in defence and danger in attack.

Ferguson will now hope Rooney will be well rested between now and Sunday, because other elements of a flawed United display confirmed they will need him at his most energetic when they confront leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

It is unlikely Ferguson will have regarded some of United's defending as one of the great pleasures of managing this club - because there were times when it was dreadful.

True Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were absent, but the ease with which CSKA occasionally cut through United, and the vulnerability of a static Edwin van der Sar for Alan Dzagoev's opener, provided genuine cause for concern.

Ferguson, in United's defence, rightly pointed out the number of chances created that were either missed or saved by CSKA's outstanding goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev - more of him later.

United's manager has received short shrift in recent weeks for criticism of officials, especially his attack on Alan Wiley's fitness, but he had a cast-iron case to wield the big stick here after Portuguese official Olegario Benquerenca ignored a blatant penalty when Darren Fletcher was fouled by Aleksei Berezutski.

Not only did the referee refuse the penalty, he then cautioned Fletcher for diving - a nonsense that makes Uefa's refusal to consider appeals against yellow cards a farce.

All CSKA's goals were avoidable and once again the fallability that has troubled United on occasions this season was in evidence. Ferguson went for an ultra-attacking 4-4-2 formation that occasionally left United exposed, but that still did not excuse the faults.

Up front for United, Michael Owen toiled with varying degrees of success. He missed a couple of early chances but kept hunting and was rewarded with a goal that equalised Dzagoev's first for CSKA.

It is this persistence, and a refusal to be affected by opportunities lost, that should still make him a viable contender for England coach Fabio Capello's World Cup squad. Owen was nowhere near his best on Tuesday, but he has an uncanny ability to attract chances or create openings - and the sharpness will improve with game time.

Capello admits he is "tormented" by Owen when it comes to England selection and it is easy to see why. You know he is not the player he once was, but you also know he has proved he can deliver on the big occasion. Every game he plays for United will be a proving ground for him this season and it is a dilemma that may not go away for Capello.

Another intriguing sub-plot to this entertaining encounter was Ferguson's very public praise for CSKA keeper Akinfeev, someone United have been strongly linked with in recent times.

Ferguson even flagged up his quality to United's fans via his programme notes, with an open invitation to keep an eye on this imposing figure, writing: "Watch out tonight for CSKA's goalkeeper Igor Akifeev, impressive in the first leg, too - he is a very good player."

Old Trafford had no trouble seeing him as a succession of United players lined up to test Akinfeev and found themselves beaten men as he showed himself to be physically powerful, agile, secure and willing to use all parts of his body as a barrier.

Ferguson was glowing afterwards when he was quizzed by a Russian media who clearly feared his kind words were a form of courtship and could sense a fat cheque heading CSKA Moscow's way.

He said: "The goalkeeper was fantastic. He's athletic and powerfully built. His distribution was good. He was excellent. He had a great game."

Pressed again Ferguson added: "First of all I'm not showing any interest in a goalkeeper. I'm very happy with my goalkeeping situation at the club. We won't be interested in any other goalkeeper, no matter where it is - but I have to say the goalkeeper was fantastic. He's a very good goalkeeper."

So Ferguson is happy with the strength provided by Van der Sar, Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak - but we might have a good idea where he will look if he ever gets unhappy.

Van der Sar was 39 last week and coming to the end of his career, Foster is struggling to come to terms with the transition of playing at a club of United's stature and Kuszczak will never be any more than an able deputy.

United will be wise to keep all goalkeeping options open - and if Ferguson does not want Akinfeev plenty of others will after a reference like that from United's manager.

Ferguson's open admiration for Akinfeev should not go unnoticed by Van der Sar and Foster in particular. If they fall below the standards required, then we know who Ferguson rates and Old Trafford got the chance to admire his handiwork on Tuesday.

Akinfeev stood alone against United when the siege was mounted late on, and he was only beaten when Valencia's shot took a crucial deflection off Georgy Shchennikov.

As somebody once famously said about Wayne Rooney: "Remember the name."

Old Trafford had no trouble remembering Rooney's name at the final whistle as they recognised the catalyst for this latest comeback. And he ensured Ferguson can start making his plans for another assault on the latter stages of the Champions League.

You can follow me throughout the forthcoming season at http://twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me at Facebook (requires registration)

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Good blog Phil. Have to agree with Fergies comments on the keeper he has impressed in both legs against Man U (Hope Wenger nips in and signs him)

  • Comment number 2.

    Good blog Phil have to agree with Fergies comments about the keeper he has impressed in both ties against Man U (hope Wenger nips in and signs him)

  • Comment number 3.

    Whoops it appears i rate him that much i am repeating myself!!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    A decent blog Phil. Any idea what happenned to Fabio last night? His head didn't look in the game at all.
    Can I ask your opinion of Fergie's comments on the ref? I agree he was critical, especially regarding the penalty, but 'furious' seems a bit of an overstatement to me.
    The beeb's match report has described him as furious, which I think is designed to stir disapproval from fans at rival clubs. He was calm and measured in the post-match interview.

  • Comment number 5.

    To correct, Scholes' headers aren't that rare...I seem to remember(correct me if wrong) his last two goals against Besiktas and Sunderland last season were also headers. And why is Fletcher picked on in Europe-remember his red against Arsenal. On another note, Obertan looked bright and promising when he came on, and people are determined to criticise him but Owen's movement is second to none and he will always scores goals like last night.

  • Comment number 6.

    LABSAB9 - "Have to agree with Fergies comments on the keeper he has impressed in both legs against Man U (Hope Wenger nips in and signs him)"

    Absolutely. With Van Der Sar ready to retire, Petr Cech not being the player he once was and Arsenal still lacking a world class goalkeeper, I think there's a very good chance that Aknifeev will be playing in the Premiership next season.

    As for the Fletcher business... well, it's hard to pity him after his "challenge" on Arshavin earlier this season, which involved handling the ball and something akin to common assault. I did feel for him when he was cent of in last season's CL semi against us, as that was an incredibly harsh red card, and to miss the final must have been devestating. But I can't see myself throwing any more smypathy his way.

  • Comment number 7.

    #4.
    ....."Fergie's comments on the ref? I agree he was critical, especially regarding the penalty, but 'furious' seems a bit of an overstatement to me."

    I thought that too, having watched the interview myself, the headline seemed at odds with his statement and demeanor.

    A suspicious person might think it was calculated to create the inevitable 'Fergies at it again' response which we are certain to see.

  • Comment number 8.

    Firstly I think Utd more than deserved the draw but happy that CSKA got something out of the game, it would of been harsh for them to lose. It was a definite penalty but evened out with the lucky deflected equaliser.

    I have to agree with one of the posts above, why do the BBC continuously exaggerate things? Last week the BBC labelled Utd's defensive injuries as a "crisis" yet they haven't lost a game since and today you're saying Ferguson was furious about the referee. That's rubbish Phil, he was calm, composed and emphasised the CSKA goalkeepers performance more than the referees. Stop trying to stir up Utd hate with your pro-Liverpool journalism, it's getting a bit silly now.

    Anyway, on to tonights games, hoping for an Arsenal win and Liverpool loss :)

  • Comment number 9.

    Been reading the blogs here for a while now and decided it's time to join the debate, so hello everyone!
    Despite the shocking defending I took a lot of encouragement from Utd's performance last night. It just looked like it wasn't going to be their night - hit the woodwork, penalties denied, an inspired keeper. Despite this they never lost the belief and kept at it til the goals came - reminded me of some of the barnstorming european performances of the late 90's.

  • Comment number 10.

    Funny that so many people were saying that United will struggle without Ronaldo and Tevez; United will finish outside the Top 4 and so on so on...
    We are 2nd in the league, close to Chelsea. We are through the knock out stage on the CL, through to the last 16 of CC..And did all that without playing so well. I think the last 25 mins of last night was the best I've seen from United this season. We all know that United always struggle in the first half of the season and hit top form in the second half. So I'm pretty happy so far knowing what's coming...
    On another note, although a very good blog by Phil today and quite a good one by Robbo yesterday...journalism at the Beebs is pathetic

  • Comment number 11.

    Why do you have to make a case for Owen on almost every blog you write?

  • Comment number 12.

    Akinfeev is a amazing on Champ.

    That is all

  • Comment number 13.

    Morning all.

    Finally after an hour or more, my password etc is accepted and i am now able to access this and other blogs. Needless to say, it took nearly 3 hours to register with the new " id " so much for an " improvement "

    The usual problems are still observed on 606 and the " live text " just who is responsible at the BBC for such an awfull website?

    So here we are still being " pre moderated " which as many have stated makes following this particular blog a waste of space, time and effort.

    As for the content of this particular blog;

    There not much in it to be honest that we have note read about before.

    I note the somewhat glossing over of again yet more considerable fortune for man u with another deflected goal to give them the result. Also another good helping of xtra time. I really do think that this should be thoroughly investigated by the proper authorities perhaps then we can all read about something worthy to comment upon. or perhaps everyone should just accept the fact that any match played at OT is scheduled to last 100 mins + time added on.

    and yes also booked for " diving " ? or was it attempting to " decieve "
    either way, will that be subject to investigation and the appropriate 3 match ban dished out? and what...no cries of " cheat "



  • Comment number 14.

    hello everyone. good blog phil, the first in a while. SAF is right about the issue of referees. their behaviour, especially in europe, has been appaling at times, yet UEFA impunitively does nothing. the red card against fletcher and the chelsea-barca penalty indecision last season changed the shape of the CL final alot. otherwise the game last night was a thriller, though milan - real was the prize winner.excellent game,and thunderous pen by gaucho. first time comment,glad to be a part of this. cheers

  • Comment number 15.

    Akinfeev is an excellent keeper,a player that will certainly gain a move to a top European club soon. I just question a move to United, if as Fergie says that Ben Foster is United's keeper for the future. Obviously, Foster could see this in a positive light and work harder to tie-up the insecurities in his game, but equally it could hit the confidence of a seemingly under-confident player. Plus, I think United have other areas they need to strengthen such as buying an world class striker like David Villa etc.

    http://jumpersforgoalposts1212.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 16.

    "Not only did the referee refuse the penalty, he then cautioned Fletcher for diving - a nonsense"

    "the luxury of being able to launch Wayne Rooney, and you could almost use the word literally"

    ______________________________________________________________________

    More embarassing Man Utd sycophancy.....

    I bet we know who'll you'll be lambasting tonight.

  • Comment number 17.

    It is necessary to mention the name name of Rooney's child and provide a link to that unnecessary showbiz story. Would you have done the same had it been a foreigner and non media darling?

    Anyway, from what I saw, Ferguson does have a genuine point about the Fletcher incident. Thing is of course, how genuine it may be could well be lost amongst all his usual whinges. He's cried wolf so many times.....

    Putting the performance in context (and naturally I was being watching the Chelsea match, were the goals that Man U scored the sort of goals that a team like Chelsea would concede? (Yes, I know we conceded two last night but if you look at them, you will see they were both quite special.)

    So, do Man U go into Sunday's game in good shape of still somewhat ragged as has been their style this season?

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm sick of hearing about Michael Owen and England. I wish the media would get over it and not have to refer to Owen's wish to play for England in every post match review and in game commentary. Owen is over it, and has said that he doesn't sit pondering about it. Let him get on with his job of scoring goals and take the huge microscope of him every time he plays for United.

  • Comment number 19.


    EUROPE

    " Ferguson wants freedom to appeal "

    eye up all, the above is the latest headline from the beeb.

    and just what other freedoms does this man require.

    Looks blatent " deciept " to me and as such should warrent an automatic ban afterall he was booked.

    perhaps its high time that these " cheats " were sent off straightaway at the time of the offence then managers can have all the freedom in the world to appeal after. No more Yellows but straight Reds.

    matter solved.



  • Comment number 20.

    I'd just like to say, that although the referee was wrong about the Fletcher incident, if he thought it wasnt a penalty it had to be a booking.

    So many referees just bottle out and wave play on, the rules are fairly simple, its either a penalty or a dive!

  • Comment number 21.

    @ Tony ... exactly! I can't help thinking there's a bit of baiting going on here... sideshows can be entertaining but I'd expect the beeb to rise above it and find a better angle. I still enjoy the bbc coverage, mind.

    @ The Master
    Good point, we always struggle at the start of the season, but I really feel like we're riding our luck at the moment. Something's gotta change in defence and I do fear for Sunday. Hope I'm wrong!

    @ davidgilmourthe3rd
    I assume you weren't watching last night. Take a look at the match stats and you'll get a decent idea of whether Utd were deserving of a draw, then watch the replay of Fletcher's 'booking' and explain how he was cheating. I think a draw was a fair result for some shocking Utd defending set against a classic war of attrition in the final 15-20 minutes.
    If you don't like the BBC site, why do you come here, read the articles and post?

  • Comment number 22.

    You’ve easily concentrated on the three most talked about points (the penalty decision, Utd’s defence, CSK’s goalkeeper), but haven’t really drawn any significant conclusions.
    The dreadful penalty decision needs more emphasis. No, it wasn’t dreadful, it was incompetent. Borderline? Unsighted? Insufficient backup from the assistants? None of these apply, and I hope the guy who’s supposed to monitor the ref’s performance throws him to the wolves. And it wasn’t his only mistake. On both sides he made a number of baffling determinations. In fact, they should also get rid of the guy who chose him for the match.
    Conclusion: Whatever criteria they employ to select these refs is deeply flawed.
    The United defence is a little at sixes and sevens at the moment. Yesterday there were calls to use Brown and Evans more often because Ferdinand and Vidic were not 100%. Well, even at 75% I don’t think they would have let players drift so easily into dangerous positions. Ferdinand and Vidic are both very vocal, commanding players. If Brown opens his mouth it’s only to take a breath. And Evans looks too young and insecure to start ordering people about. Capable they may be with the ball, but it’s with the head that United need their first choices.
    The CSKA goalkeeper did have a good game, but to big him up so much after just a couple of matches is a nice piece of Fergie mind-games. It keeps who he has on their toes. But most of his crucial saves were straight at him or quite near. What he does have is a good all round ability, but I saw nothing to rival VDS. Ironically, CSKA’s opener which flew past VDS at the near post was just the sort of shot Foster excels at saving. So I don’t think United’s goalkeepers have nothing to worry about for a while yet. But that won’t stop Ferguson dealing with any complacency before it begins.
    The real talking point should be the impact that Rooney made. He still seems to want to shoot when the shot will be so obviously blocked, but other than that his distribution around the box is beginning to get very dangerous. Often looking at the flanks rather than the Giggs-favoured cute passing around the penalty area. When they did it last night the CSKA defence was suddenly stretched, a little panicked, and very vulnerable. It was probably on instructions from the bench, but you’ve still got to see the pass, and make it accurate. If it’s cut out you’ve got a counter-break on your hands!
    So, in all, a good game; from the mixed-bag defence, Owen’s poacher’s goal (the reason he’s there), and Rooney’s concentration and determination despite his new strangely, monikered distraction.

  • Comment number 23.

    Picking up on the contributors mentioning Owen, Phil says 'Owen was nowhere near his best'.

    Phil, have you considered that perhaps what you saw IS Owen's best now?

  • Comment number 24.

    #8, I've read a few of Phil's blogs and thought he was a Man U fan, who picked Liverpool for the league title so as not to appear so. Pretty much everything he writes seems to have a Man U angle the way I read it. In fact, a Liverpool fan seems to concur above.

    Also, why would you want Liverpool to lose? Man U vs Liverpool in the latter stages of the European Cup would be a great game to watch.

    On the Owen front, he's a pretty terrible footballer. Awful first touch, weak, now slow, totally one footed, distinctly average distribution. Yet he does seem to have the knack of scoring and getting into great positions, his movement is fantastic - just shows how much of top tier football is played in your head rather than with your feet.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Stop trying to stir up Utd hate with your pro-Liverpool journalism, it's getting a bit silly now."

    "More embarassing Man Utd sycophancy.....

    I bet we know who'll you'll be lambasting tonight."

    I'd like to congratulate Phil on a job well done. When someone accuses you of bias on one side and another accuses you of bias the other way, it means you've hit the nail pretty squarely on the head.

  • Comment number 26.

    On the Darren Fletcher "penalty" incident, I can only speak of Sir Alex Ferguson's demeanour when I saw him at his press conference. At that time he was not "furious" - he may have been earlier but I cannot vouch for something I did not see - but more incredulous.

    And while he has been criticised for attacking referees recently, I actually thought he had every right to say what he said last night. It was a shocking decision, with the added problem that Fletcher's yellow card might cause problems with potential suspension further down the line.

    To davidgilmourthe3rd. I have not "glossed over" any good fortune for Manchester United because there was not particularly any good fortune to gloss over. The added time was reasonable given stoppages in the second half and the goal came in the second minute of four minutes added time anyway.

    As for a deflected goal, can any supporter come on here and honestly say the team they support has never scored with a deflected goal? I suppose you might say that is fortunate, but just about every football team in the world has had that so your complaint is flawed in my opinion.

    And to MrBlueBurns. I would say United go into the game on Sunday in reasonable shape but not at their best. Their defending was poor last night, even allowing for the absence of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

    I am reluctant to make predictions (I'm still getting battered for tipping Liverpool for the title) but I would say Chelsea are favourites to win on Sunday given current form.

    Interestingly, Ferguson said in his post-match press conference that CSKA's third goal, conceded from a free-kick, was the first they have conceded from a set piece in a year. I have not checked that, but it is an amazing stat if true.

    Akinfeev was the other big talking point. Ferguson made it absolutely clear he was not chasing another keeper, but it was also clear he is a big admirer.

    I am not convinced by any of United's current keepers, and I include the ageing Van der Sar in that, so I will still be watching this space with Akinfeev.

    What we can say with absolute certainty is that should Ferguson decide he needs to freshen up his goalkeeping department, Akinfeev will be right at the top of his list.

    He looked outstanding last night. Anyone out there fill in some more gaps about him for us?

  • Comment number 27.

    davidgilmourthe3rd,

    so you're mad because we scored a deflected goal, and scored in the 92nd minute?
    When we should have had a cast-iron penalty, and the CSKA players were time-wasting?

    Congratulations, you've just won the prize for bitterest-poster-of-the-day!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Fair play to Rooney for playing just two days after the birth of his son. I could barely make a cup of coffee 48 hours after the birth of my daughter.

    Just as an aside, is there no such thing as paternity leave in football?

  • Comment number 29.

    9. Michael

    I agree with you. I heard someone on the radio this morning saying "once again, Ferguson blames the officials".

    Yes, he wears his heart on his sleeve, but flagging up the ridiculous non-penalty decision (and then to rub salt in to the wounds, to book Fletcher for diving) is surely his prerogative? Why shouldn't he mention a key decision like that? Managers up and down the country highlight their perceived injustices EVERY SINGLE weekend (including countless managers last weekend) but it seems Ferguson is the one who always gets the bad rap.

    One thing I've noticed is that the people who criticise Ferguson for criticising officials can often be found on these blogs at a later date saying 'the ref cost us the game', or 'it was never a red card', or 'we'd have won if the ref wasn't on their side' etc. And the things is - why shouldn't fans (and indeed managers) show passion/heart and stick up for the team? Surely that's what football is all about (and what makes these blogs good reads). I'd be worried if my teams manager meekly accepted defeat.

    And although he 'blamed' the referee for getting the Fletcher decision wrong, he didn't blame the ref for United's lacklustre display last night. Similarly he didn't say that Andre Mariner (bottling the decision to show Carragher a red card) cost his team three points at Anfield - in fact, although it would have hurt him to say it, he said Liverpool deserved their victory.

  • Comment number 30.

    I will strongly disagree about Akinfeev's display last night. It was OK, you would say almost errorless, but almost every shot went onto him, so he had very little to show, except good positioning. I can hardly remember a "fantastic save", where was one to watch?

    I hope we don't buy it, and bring yet another Barthez-type keeper at OT. Athletic OK, but lacking physical gifts.

  • Comment number 31.

    Are you incapable of giving credit where credit is due? Every time I read one of your contributions on anything Man Utd related, all I see is more of the same - rants about 'Fergie Time', 'ref bias', etc etc.

    Why can't you just appreciate some of the football played - and say so? You know perfectly well that I have purred with delight at some of the footbsll played by the Gooners this season, and have posted my appreciation on numerous occasions. Why can't you just appreciate the beautiful game - or are you only there for tribal reasons?

  • Comment number 32.

    #28 ThirdWindow

    I think you are forgetting the commercial value of this birth to the Rooney brand. A value that the BBC are only to happy to inflate.

    Pitiful really.

  • Comment number 33.

    Yes Phil.

    Rooney coming on, and barely getting a touch in 6 minutes, was the direct catalyst to a CSKA Moscow player scoring a 90th minute own goal.

    Your sychophantic coverage of United is becoming tiresome.

    It's not a crime to upset United fans with the truth. No matter how many net hits it costs you.

    They were poor. Awful. And were very lucky to get a last minute deflection. And have next to no chance of winning the trophy playing as they have in the tournament this season, thus far.

  • Comment number 34.

    @ 13 davidgilmourthe3rd
    No wonder it took you 3 hrs to log in!!! And after all that trouble you came up with such a ridiculous comment...

  • Comment number 35.

    Re davegilmourthe3rd

    You are a really bitter footie fan mate!!

    Im by no means a Man Utd fan, but to say they didnt deserve anything from the game means I think you might be a bit deluded....

  • Comment number 36.

    so its a forgone conclusion is it that Akinfeev ( wicked name ) would go to man u just because he recieved a few raves from af himself.

    he may well be top of his list but that does not mean he will get him, should that is he is available.

    in fact perhaps its out the bag he would prefer to join Arsenal and af is attempting to ensure Arsene Wenger does not get Akinfeev for a small kin fee.

  • Comment number 37.

    @davidgilmourthe3rd

    The number of minutes shown by the fourth official at the end of the game is the MINIMUM number to be added. As one of the CSKA players went down 'injured' and Man U scored during this time added on, naturally the ref added more than was shown by the fourth official.

    It can hardly be Man U's fault that they play to the final whistle (which they have no control over) and as a result have scored a few goals late on in games. Perhaps if all teams did this they would also score a few, however they don't!

    And with respect to the blatant penalty not given to Fletcher - what game were you watching?!?!?

  • Comment number 38.

    33. At 10:49am on 04 Nov 2009, Mike_Naylor wrote:
    Yes Phil.

    Rooney coming on, and barely getting a touch in 6 minutes, was the direct catalyst to a CSKA Moscow player scoring a 90th minute own goal.

    Your sychophantic coverage of United is becoming tiresome.

    It's not a crime to upset United fans with the truth. No matter how many net hits it costs you.
    _________________________________________________________________________

    Not sure its the fans. It seems to be a common trend with the vast majority of journalists that they support Ferguson, his decisions and, of course, his rants (otherwise known as "mind games").

    Now there will be a concerted effort by the press to allow ferguson to appeal against yellow cards.

  • Comment number 39.

    #30 earlpiggot

    I will strongly disagree about Akinfeev's display last night. It was OK, you would say almost errorless, but almost every shot went onto him, so he had very little to show, except good positioning. I can hardly remember a "fantastic save", where was one to watch?

    I hope we don't buy it, and bring yet another Barthez-type keeper at OT. Athletic OK, but lacking physical gifts.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I didn't see his performance so I can't comment directly, however, is it possible that his positioning was in fact everything?

    As a comparison, what about a golfer that always hits the fairway from his tee shot? He never has to pull off a spectacular shot into the green because he gives himself the chance to play a nice steady shot.

    Or snooker players? Most of their pots in themselves are quite straightforward but they give themselves a straightforward pot by excellent cue ball positioning on the previous shot.

    Where people get the basics absolutely right, then the rest becomes that little bit easier.

  • Comment number 40.

    Whoops. My rant of #31 was aimed at davidgilmourthe3rd

  • Comment number 41.

    Kíllìnghölmê_Clᥠ(aka Charlie Cheesecake)

    Not sure its the fans. It seems to be a common trend with the vast majority of journalists that they support Ferguson, his decisions and, of course, his rants (otherwise known as "mind games").
    --------------------------------------------
    Couldn't agree more. Where other managers make comments, if the media don't like them (which needn't be based on merit!) then it becomes a rant. They always seem to portray Ferguson as some sort of master psychologist!

    It's all to do with keeping in his good books for the retirement dinner.

  • Comment number 42.

    Mike_Naylor,

    United sycophancy, you cry?

    "It is unlikely Ferguson will have regarded some of United's defending as one of the great pleasures of managing this club - because there were times when it was dreadful.

    True Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were absent, but the ease with which CSKA occasionally cut through United, and the vulnerability of a static Edwin van der Sar for Alan Dzagoev's opener, provided genuine cause for concern."

    How about you read the whole blog, not just the few paragraphs that satisfy your paranoid ABU delusions.

  • Comment number 43.

    Cmon guys, David Gilmour is just a WUM and should be ignored

  • Comment number 44.

    Thought i would make a few points as this is my first ever post.

    Firstly nice blog Phil, as always!!

    I thought United's last 25 mins last nite were a great display of our 'never say die' attitude. Rooney made the difference as he so ofter does, but there was some great attacking play form others. Obertan looked particually good with some lovely runs and movement both on and off the ball - got to say i'd rather see him on the team sheet than Nani at the minute. Neville did a good job of getting forward and supplying some nice (and some not so nice) balls into the box. Was also fairly pleased with Macheda while he was on, not a classic game for him but some nice play and a couple of nice chances.

    The yellow for fletcher was an awful decision and fergie would have every right to be furious but his post match interview was amazingly controlled and measured, despite what some BBC writer seems to think.

    Akinfeev was absolute class, and showed he can be a big game player, can see alot of clubs across europe going for him in the near future. Would be a class singing for us especially if foster cant step up which unfortunately looking like it might be the case.

    And lastly davidgilmourthe3rd - did we prehaps wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning???

  • Comment number 45.

    i think what is clear from the comments on this blog and Sir Alex's over the past few weeks is that Akinfeev is clearly the #1 target for the goalkeeping jersey and a bid for Igor should be expected in January or next summer when VDS retires (which apparently is next summer) VDS' retirement and the form of Foster must be making Sir Alex line up a goalkeeper so his comments about being happy with the current goalkeeping situation should be taken as nothing more than an attempt to keep the media at bay. CSKA should begin bracing themselves for Akinfeev's departure because i think its a matter if when not if.

  • Comment number 46.

    MrBlueBurns makes an interesting point about positioning; Foster has been caught out numerous times due to his poor positioning for crosses and shots, and while nobody would deny that, like Kuszczak, he has fantastic reflexes, there are big question marks over his ability to get himself in the right positions consistently.
    It is the same with every position; in defence, it is not necessarily the defneder that makes last-ditch tackles who is necessarily better, but perhaps the player that gets himself in a position whereby he doesn't need to commit a last-ditch challenge.
    Fans used to say that Bobby Moore never got his kit dirty, and while Ferdinand has gone off the boil somewhat this season, for the past 3 seasons (06/07, 07/08, 08/09) he has been a calm, composed force. Compare his style compared to Carragher's, and while Carragher does have some merits, ask any manager who'd they rather have - a seemingly no-nonsense defender who reads the game, or a more haphazard one that can make diving tackles?
    It's the same with forwards; van Nistelrooy and Owen make it look easy because they always know where to be. People have criticised Owen's finishing, but he gets himself into 4 or 5 great positions every game. Who else can do that consistently?
    When a player positions themselves correctly, it often goes unnoticed because they're doing things properly.

  • Comment number 47.

    Yes Phil.

    Rooney coming on, and barely getting a touch in 6 minutes, was the direct catalyst to a CSKA Moscow player scoring a 90th minute own goal.

    Your sychophantic coverage of United is becoming tiresome.

    It's not a crime to upset United fans with the truth. No matter how many net hits it costs you.

    "They were poor."

    --
    Agreed, we have been for a while.

    --
    "And were very lucky to get a last minute deflection."

    And lucky not to get a cast iron penalty? Sorry, I don't buy this luck thing.

    United pretty much always lay siege to the opposition penalty area towards the end of games, especially at home. Saying they're lucky is like saying that if you bowl a cricket ball in the right place enough, then wickets are down to luck. It's down the law of averages. If you apply enough pressure then one (or even two) will eventually go in.

    "And have next to no chance of winning the trophy playing as they have in the tournament this season, thus far."

    --

    Ah, but winning competitions rarely has anything to do with form in the early rounds. Just ask the Germans. Winning and qualifying while only first gear is a great quality to have. Teams tend to raise their game when needed. We shall see what happens.

  • Comment number 48.

    13. davidgilmourthe3rd

    "another good helping of xtra time. I really do think that this should be thoroughly investigated by the proper authorities..."

    Can't you think for yourself, instead of resorting to this tired cliche?

    In the second half, the board went up showing FOUR MINUTES.

    But in the second half, there were SIX SUBSTITUTIONS:
    Rooney (57), Evra (59), Rahamic (69), Carvalho (71), Obertan (81), Piliev (85)

    Plus FIVE BOOKINGS:
    Fletcher (48), Aldonin (53), Sembaras (71), Macheda (75), Carvalho (88)

    And TWO GOALS (before the board went up).

    There were also two injuries that required treatment - including CSKA's young fullback getting cramp - and some timewasting too.

    Four minutes was nowhere near enough the correct amount of time, yet people like you cite it as some kind of corruption! Grow up, there isn't a big conspiracy, it's just the officials can add up properly, unlike people like you.

  • Comment number 49.

    I don't think the first goal was van der sar fault. it was a perfect shot, very fast, close to the goalie and aim at the root of the net which is always difficult for keeper to keep it out. vds did his best first to block the near post and second react with the shot by raising his right hand. he's definitely not motionless nor static.

    instead, the two centre half who let the ball played into the box so easily and unchallenged should be blamed.

  • Comment number 50.

    Pressed again Ferguson added: "First of all I'm not showing any interest in a goalkeeper. I'm very happy with my goalkeeping situation at the club. We won't be interested in any other goalkeeper, no matter where it is - but I have to say the goalkeeper was fantastic. He's a very good goalkeeper."

    maybe he's finally learned a lesson about tapping up, but it's between Igor and Markus Neuer at 04.

    The Master - the only reason you are second is because Liverpool and Arsenal lost key players and weren't able to take advantage of Man U's squad getting weaker.

    And why does Michael Owen scoring in a previous World Cup mean he should still be able to? Neville and Scholes used to be quality, and at one point Gordan Banks was the world's best, does that mean they should play?

  • Comment number 51.

    davidgilmourthe3rd: LOL. Why are you so angry? There is clearly an underlying problem here. Have you tried Paul McKenna's stress relief CDs? Just take a few deep breaths, maybe go in to a darkened room... there, feel better?

  • Comment number 52.

    eccles45

    i assume your response was aimed at me.

    erm 1stly, I do not know what " fergie time " is other than a modern discription ( tribal to boot ) regarding the increasing controversy over Extra Time, yes thats EXTRA TIME, not fergy or Arsene Wenger time, being played at OT.

    to call it " fergie time " is a very convenient way to dismiss its implications so before we start accusations about being " tribal " lets 1st have the correct interpretation of what i mean as extra time and alas it seems to occur very frequently at OT and not other grounds which is the reason I and many others mention it on occasion. wether you or any other surporter of man u feels agrieved by its mention is not my problem, its a topic that keeps croping up and it will not end until something is done to eradicate some very iffy officiating.

  • Comment number 53.

    50. At 11:32am on 04 Nov 2009, captainlazytim (awaiting moderation)
    Where's my comment?All new members are pre-moderated initially,

    I'm not a new member. Sort it out please, this is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 54.

    42. At 11:11am on 04 Nov 2009, kanchelskis_legend wrote:
    Mike_Naylor,

    maybe you'd feel a manager who picks players that aren't doing a job, despite having a great squad, deserves a little criticism. not to take anything away from CSKA, but both that and the Liverpool game should have been won by Man u, and Ferguson's continuing inability to get the best out of his players on the big stages, and failing to play them in the right position (not really since 99 have they done that, Barca last summer is the best example) would leave him open to a lot of stick if it were anyone else.

    and david-gilmour is incapable of rational thought, don't waste your time, chaps

  • Comment number 55.

    Firstly, to those questioning Akinfeev based on the evidence of last night (though why they would is beyond me), he's 23 and has been capped 37 times for Russia. He's played 163 times for CSKA and broke into the first team at the age of 17 (remarkable for a keeper). For the last few years now he always appears on the lists of 'most promisising goalkeepers' published across a whole range of football websites....so please, watch/read more football before making judgements with such limited knowledge. This guy is quality and will go to a big club very soon.

    Secondly, I personally consider Utd's best team (certainly for all big games) to be: VDS, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Fletcher, Anderson, Giggs, Rooney and Berbatov.

    The fact that only 2 of those players started last night (with Fletch returning from injury) 1.May explain why Utd were not at their flowing best and 2. Is an indication of Utd's huge strength in depth.

    And finally, I have to to ask Phil: Why do so many journalists analysing football seem to regard defences as 'stand-alone' items? I include Liverpool this season with Utd. Every time Liverpool have lost they have lost the midfield battle (a distracted Mash and Lucas!) which puts increased pressure on the defence. In Liverpool's case the criticism has been that Carragher is 'past it' and Skyrtl is accident prone. Disagree! They have been over-run at times becuase of lack of defensive cover.

    Same applies at Utd. Scholes can't handle the pace of a midfield 'battle' anymore. Against Sunderland, with Scholes and 2 wingers, Utd lost the midfield battle in the first half, replaced Scholes in the 2nd half and were much better.

    Against Liverpool, with both Scholes and Giigs starting and Valentia on the right they also lost the game because they lost the midfield battle.

    Last night with Scohles and 2 wingers, and a packed CSKA midfield....ditto. Ferguson needs to learn that if he plays Scholes he has to have at least 2 of Fletcher/ Carrick/ Anderson to do the leg work and he should NEVER start Giggs and Scholes in the same game.

    Anyway, the point is that when Fergie has done this and Utd lose the midfield battle is when the defence have to handle big pressure, often leading to mistakes, and end up getting bad press.

    It's not that complicated really but journalists never seem to get this.

  • Comment number 56.

    I just wonder what that French bloke Platini have got to say about the satndard of referee in the game as well as the obsolete rules that still governs the game...Maybe he should start looking at that instead of concentrating on the debts/purchasing power of English clubs as well as foreign ownerships..
    Coming back to this thread. quite a few good points on here. Keep it coming

  • Comment number 57.

    Was Van Dar Saar at fault for the first goal? I don't know.

    But, as 'willhk' has touched upon, it is possible for a shot to be so good that the keeper being there is almost irrelevant.

    For example, Lampard's run of successful penalties is probably because he hits it hard enough and accurate enough. You can almost imagine him just drilling away at these on the training ground, work that has brought it's rewards. And he probably does need a keeper to be standing there when practicing.

    You see that even when the keeper goes the right way, they are still nowhere near saving it.

    Also, if you want to see something that is unsaveable, check out Aguero's goals last night!

  • Comment number 58.

    55. At 11:48am on 04 Nov 2009, WordsofWisdom wrote:
    Firstly, to those questioning Akinfeev based on the evidence of last night (though why they would is beyond me), he's 23 and has been capped 37 times for Russia. He's played 163 times for CSKA and broke into the first team at the age of 17 (remarkable for a keeper). For the last few years now he always appears on the lists of 'most promisising goalkeepers' published across a whole range of football websites....so please, watch/read more football before making judgements with such limited knowledge. This guy is quality and will go to a big club very soon.

    A LOT OF THIS IS JUST FLUFF, WORDS. Fluff and numbers, and until he gets onto a proper stage we won't know how good he is. Neuer is a better bet for me, already played at a higher level on a regular basis, not just a Football Manager Legend.

  • Comment number 59.

    is Obertan a cousin of Silvestre, or do they just grow them like that in France? Either way, he may look a little ungainly but he's got that gallic confidence that Nani could do with. He's definately not a left winger though.

    I'd stick with Foster but Akinfeev has been a good keeper for a while now. Thing is, most keepers are excellent shot stoppers - to play for a top club is about keeping concentration when there is nothing to do, and pulling off the big saves. I think Foster is just as capable of that, just needs to settle down.

  • Comment number 60.

    Terrible refereeing decision. Who sanctioned the yellow card for diving thing, i dont think its practically sound? Retrospective yellow cards or retrospective decisions on diving MUST be made if TV technology isnt being used. Honestly, who'd be a football manager with such dumb football legislation as this?

  • Comment number 61.

    @55
    The Beebs should employ you for blogs. Great analysis you made there..Kudos

  • Comment number 62.

    20. At 10:18am on 04 Nov 2009, SewerSide wrote:
    I'd just like to say, that although the referee was wrong about the Fletcher incident, if he thought it wasnt a penalty it had to be a booking.

    So many referees just bottle out and wave play on, the rules are fairly simple, its either a penalty or a dive!

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

    Sewerside - I have to disagree. If the player dives, then fair enough, it's a booking. However, not every time an attacking player goes down / trips up / falls over is it a dive. Its perfectly normal for a good defending challenge to result in an attacking player landing on the turf. This doesn't mean that he necessarily needs to be booked for it.

    That said, when a player does dive or even goes down too easily and screams for a pen, then I fully support a booking.

  • Comment number 63.

    I wonder if SAF is playing a clever game by talking up Akinfeev as surely if he wanted to buy him then he would not be saying anything as by praising him then CSKA will have increased his selling price - If SAF was going to make an offer in January he would not have said anything - perhaps he knows that some other clubs are looking at Akinfeev so is praising him to increase the costs fo the other teams

  • Comment number 64.

    not being able to appeal yellow cards is daft. Its nothing to do with it being Ferguson, simply that the implication of cards in the situation of European football (where you nearly always have to pick your best 11) is too big a deal. Fletcher wrongly missed the final last year because of a wrongly given card and his absence was obvious. Had we been in Liverpool's situation and not gotten that penalty, there would have been hell to pay.

    Why should referee's be so protected. We all know that, try as they might, they'll get a few wrong during the game. Why should their mistakes cost the teams to the degree they do with no right of reply, especially where two yellows become a red.

    Just because it has always been this way doesn't make it right. Eventually, stupid outdated rules should be brought up to date. Along with the introduction of simple technology.

    Rugby, Cricket, Tennis and even Hockey use technology and the option to ask for a review on decisions. How can the most financially valuable sport in the world still rely on the decisions of halfwits?

  • Comment number 65.

    davidgilmourthe3rd
    sometimes your deranged rantings are quite entertaining, in a laughing at rather than laughing with way.

    sometimes...

  • Comment number 66.


    famouscrocadog


    " Paul McKenna's stress relief CDs? "

    i had to read that bit twice for a mo i thought it said paul mcartneys cds

    now that would drive me nutts

    darkened room sounds a good idea and as for deep breaths no probs this cigar is wonderfull.

    shine on.




  • Comment number 67.

    Davidgilmoutthe3rd - I "assume" you drink "a lot" of "real ale". You'd have to if you seriously suggest the "authorities" should investigate how much "good fortune" Utd have in games - not sure where you'd start looking for the culprits behind good luck on the pitch. And please GOD don't use "so many" quote marks. It makes your pot "read like it was written by an imbecile"

  • Comment number 68.

    Lets face it, the United and Chelsea champions league games last night were hardly critical. Both teams will be priotising the clash at Stanford bridge at the weekend.

    United were clearly way of their best and the defence continues to be a problem. However, they'd done the hard work in winning the first 3 games and even a defeat would not have been the end of the world. As it was they were denied a clear penalty, scored a lucky deflection and came out with the result they needed. Far more important is the weekend game with chelsea - its not that they can't afford to lose but it will give them some catching up to do.

    The real big game is tonight, where Rafa has to take a depleted Liverpool to Lyon. Defeat would have them in serious difficulties but even a draw will mean qualification is out of their hands. Traditionally Liverpool play well when their backs are against the wall but when you're trying to save your season in November, things are badly wrong...

  • Comment number 69.

    55. At 11:48am on 04 Nov 2009, WordsofWisdom

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

    Good comments about the importance of midfield to the defence. Scholes is a legend but I feared for United against Liverpool as soon as I saw he was in, while Fletcher and Anderson were out. He can still pass and finish but his legs are no longer there for the high energy games. I'd be interested to see United's record in big games this and last season, with and without Fletcher in the team...

  • Comment number 70.

    How boring is it to see that yet again people are still crediting Uniteds results to time added on its the same for every club, get over it and just concentrate on the football they play which at the moment isn't that great but still its producing results. Only one club is playing well enough to lord it at the moment thats Chelsea and as a Man U fan that hurts to say.

  • Comment number 71.

    did fletcher appeal for a penalty?

  • Comment number 72.

    @58. At 11:54am on 04 Nov 2009, captainlazytim wrote:

    "A LOT OF THIS IS JUST FLUFF, WORDS. Fluff and numbers, and until he gets onto a proper stage we won't know how good he is. Neuer is a better bet for me, already played at a higher level on a regular basis, not just a Football Manager Legend."

    I've no idea what Fotball manager even is but I have seen a lot of the guy and read a lot about him. Plaqying in major competitions for Russia and the CL is just 2nd rate obviously!

    The FLUFF and WORDS is all in your reply, I'm afraid!

  • Comment number 73.

    Less of the silly little arguments that come up on these boards after someone writes a blog, just concentrate on the positives, Man United through after some sloppy defending albeit the game should never have been in doubt.

    United were clearly the stronger side as Sir Alex said created several chances in the last 25-30 minutes to equalise, even win the game. Job done last 16 here we come. More positives are the performances from Macheda and Obertan gave me optimism, Macheda, if a little rash in his decision making, is strong, quick and looks a good prospect. Obertan came on was lively and looks to go at the player with pace unlike slowing the game up like Nani and Valencia. All in all some good things to come out of the performance.

  • Comment number 74.

    Fletcher wrongly missed the final last year because of a wrongly given card.

    One more wrong for you in this sentence. What part of his professional foul was not a red?

  • Comment number 75.

    "So many referees just bottle out and wave play on, the rules are fairly simple, its either a penalty or a dive!"

    So all challenges are either fouls or dives? No such thing as a trip? A 50-50| Everything is that simple and there are no disagreements? That's odd, you think it wasn't a penalty yet others, even none United fans, think it was, flawed logic there surely?

    As for last nights performance, I thoroughly enjoyed it, at 3-1 down I had a suspicion that we would pull it back, something inside me told me we would but when I thought logically I thought nah, CSKA are too good not to hold on, guess I was wrong, what a game. VDS did make a mistake yesterday but he's been solid since he came back from injury, we should all be looking at a centreback if Rio doesn't pull out his finger, you'd never think this side set a premier league record.

    I'm not sure if you're allowed to post links on here put here's a funny comic, football related, http://www.studs-up.com/ it's on the main page, it updates every Monday, Wednesday, Friday so at the time of posting, it's the one about Rooney naming his child!

  • Comment number 76.

    69. At 12:20pm on 04 Nov 2009, whatbill wrote:

    55. At 11:48am on 04 Nov 2009, WordsofWisdom

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

    Good comments about the importance of midfield to the defence. Scholes is a legend but I feared for United against Liverpool as soon as I saw he was in, while Fletcher and Anderson were out. He can still pass and finish but his legs are no longer there for the high energy games. I'd be interested to see United's record in big games this and last season, with and without Fletcher in the team...
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    United lost just once in 25 Premier League games last season when Fletcher started - at Fulham where they had two sent off - and weren't beaten in any cup-tie. This season United have a 100 per cent record with the Scot as a first pick.

    Defeats minus Fletcher: August 09: Prem League: Burnley 1, Man Utd 0 - not in squad.

    May 09: Champions League Final: Barcelona 2, Man Utd 0 - suspended.

    March 09: Prem League: Man Utd 1, Liverpool 4 - injured.

    January 09: Carling Cup: Derby 1, Man Utd 0 - unused sub.

    November 08: Prem League: Arsenal 2, Man Utd 1 - injured.

    September 08: Prem League: Liverpool 2, Man Utd 1 - unused sub.

  • Comment number 77.

    marleyrocka

    " " It makes your pot "read like it was written by an imbecile" "

    sorry dont smoke the stuff but i am pleased to see that useing the said " pot " makes you well in with the almighty himself.

    a good glass of wine and big fat cigar are my only vices.

    its a tad to early for the former but i am sure by the time i have been
    pre-modulated and radioactivly moderated i shall be well on the way to being quite ............merry.

  • Comment number 78.

    74. At 12:44pm on 04 Nov 2009, captainlazytim wrote:

    Fletcher wrongly missed the final last year because of a wrongly given card.

    One more wrong for you in this sentence. What part of his professional foul was not a red?
    ------------------
    The part where Fletcher took the ball cleanly?
    It was a professional tackle, not a professional foul.

  • Comment number 79.

    on the matter of the man u vs chavs clash:

    as a neutral wink:

    I am hoping for several red cards, lots of sendings off, followed by very lengthy suspensions, an asbo for drogba ( make that 4 asbos for his previous misdameanors ) 74 hours of extra time

    after which I will sit and read phil/robbos take on the proceedings and then make very sensible comments about the game .

  • Comment number 80.

    davidgilmourthe3rd I am always amazed by your totally blinkered bitter perspective of matches.

    Manchester United did not play to their best. I thought CSKA played some good football an awful lot better than last time but that does get past the fact that Utd were not firing on all cylinders and nor have they all season.

    However a draw was a fair result as Utd had a lot of chances.

    I think davidgilmourthe3rd the fact Utd annoy you so much is that Utd play to the final whistle and win games late on. Arsenal however switch off with 20 minutes to go and throw results away.

    Arsenal are a MUCH better football team but their lack of professionalism results in the them switching off (Champions league semi final and West Ham are 2 magnificent examples.)

    Utd do not play any where near the quality football that Arsenal do but their hallmark is their total and utter professionalism which means they play to the final whistle. Teams become tired and as a result they score!

    It is not all some huge conspiracy

    Man City this season it was proven with substitutions and goal celebrations that the goal was one second outside the agreed extra time

    Last night they scored in the 92 minute when 4 minutes of extra time shave been displayed!

    They score because they are professional not because of some crazy conspiracy theory that you have created!

    Grow up and write something like I just did where you say something complementary about an opposition team and something negative about your own!

  • Comment number 81.

    Cant believe its taken this long for one of the big english clubs to register an interest in Igor, hes been one of the most exciting goalkeepers in europe for several years, I first noticed him playing for the Shak a few years ago, awesome keeper.
    On another note, i think Dzagoev is proving himself to be one of the best young prospects in both russian and european football as a whole, modest, hardworking, mobile and a fantastic eye for a pass and a shot. Wonder how long before he is at Chelsea?

  • Comment number 82.

    I'm backing Owen to score many more goals for United

  • Comment number 83.

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

  • Comment number 84.

    "Not only did the referee refuse the penalty, he then cautioned Fletcher for diving - a nonsense that makes Uefa's refusal to consider appeals against yellow cards a farce."

    ...most weeks it’s diving, yesterday it was a penalty. How convenient!

    So how many bloggers are going to criticise Fletcher's diving?

  • Comment number 85.

    "A rare Scholes header"

    Phil, what on earth are you talking about here?! Scholes created the role of a late arriving midfielder scoring headers. This was his 2nd header in 3 european games!!

    Utterly clueless

  • Comment number 86.

    as requested by some of you i now offer a negative comment in respect of Arsenal.



    we brought sylvestre from man u



    shall I elaborate or not as i have a theory as to why he was allowed to sign for us.

  • Comment number 87.

    Wembley-Barca-Moscow "More positives are the performances from Macheda and Obertan gave me optimism"

    I agree. Macheda's looking full of ability and I'm excited about watching him work his way into the team full time. Some of his takes and touches yesterday were sublime, and he was looking the most likely to score for most of the first half.
    Obertan brings real excitement and strikes me as a good impact sub, needs to develop his all-round game a little I think.

  • Comment number 88.

    I am not accusing him of diving and i think the ref had deciet at the forefront of his mind and just perhaps this particular ref did indeed have the view, come on lad your a big boy now, playing a mans game, so get up, play on and anymore of this you will be off. it seemed to do the trick as well for there were no other instances of hitting the deck when looseing control of the ball heading for the oppenents penalty area in order to gain that edge.

    woo betide drogba then.

  • Comment number 89.

    I didn't think Rooney contributed much to the game and Man Utd were, yet again, spared their blushes in injury time. Yes they put pressure on, but what team playing at home doesn't when theyre 1-3 down? Utd were fortunate to get the point with a deflected goal and I don't think Wayne Rooney is some form of lucky charm, so I don't know how much can be attributed to him

    If the deflection had taken the ball away from goal and Utd would have lost 2-3 then the headlines are very different. Fine margins in football sometimes.

    Van Der Sar would be of concern now if I was a Utd fan. I remember watching him for Juventus years ago when his confidence dipped, that same hallmark image of the lanky Van der Sar standing virtually rooted to the spot whilst the ball gets slotted by, was back. I think retirement is beckoning for him, and hopefully someone will get to Akinfeev first... (go on Arsene)

  • Comment number 90.

    God some of that defending last night was awful! I love jonny evans but last night wasn't his night! Then suddenly he pulls off one or two stunning challenges! But over all poor.
    Still watch owen he's got a threat there an goals are totting up for someone who doesn't get much game time compared to others.
    Macheda.....god he's good. He ain't 18 he's so mature and calm on the ball and looks a great player.
    Obertan.....he's a player. Looks like a great signing and thank god he'll soon be on the first team sheet ahead of nani who's trully useless. He's up there with some terrible signings like voronin, babel, malouda who in my opinion is really poor and don't get me started on Lucas. Really he's like macheda looks calm on the ball and proper quick.
    Great comeback, in the knockout stage, 2 points behind the leaders in the league, semis in carlin cup, were definitly in
    a crisis don't know what well do.

  • Comment number 91.

    I am a ManU fan and I believe that last nights game was a fair result over the course of the 90+minutes.

    Play the game till the whistle blows is what United did last night and the deflected goal was a slice of luck.

    Positives for United are that the summer signings all looked settled, Obertan looks to be a handful and gets into good positions, Owen is able to turn defenders but just needs the sharpness to be consistent and Valencia has picked up on the never say die attitude that SAF embodies.

  • Comment number 92.

    Cheat Cheat Cheat....It's so so clear Fletcher cheated to earn a penalty. The guy touched him yes but he got down like someone had shut him with a bullet.....
    You guys were killing van Persie when he said that if he was fouled he made sure the ref noticed it by making a meal of the fall, just like Fletcher yesterday.

  • Comment number 93.

    8. At 1:36pm on 04 Nov 2009, davidgilmourthe3rd wrote:

    ....... it seemed to do the trick as well for there were no other instances of hitting the deck when looseing control of the ball heading for the oppenents penalty area in order to gain that edge.
    --------------
    You didn't actually see the incident did you?

    I'd defy anyone who had their legs whipped away from them to stay on their feet

  • Comment number 94.

    Shocking that few have commented that Obertan was every bit as much as Rooney instrumental to United's comeback yesterday.

  • Comment number 95.

    92. ArsenalArseneArshavin

    You are clearly just a wind-up merchant - replays clearly showed that Fletcher was tripped.

    But I love it when people say 'he went down very easily' or 'he made a meal of it'. It seems these days that if footballers dare to throw their arms out to cushion their fall that they're accused of diving!

  • Comment number 96.

    davidgilmourthe3rd,

    go away and watch some football. Better yet, play it. Then come back and comment, because from the sounds of it, you don't seem to know which sport we're talking about on this discussion.

  • Comment number 97.

    looking the picture of fletcher going down suggests to me he was not booked for diving but trying to decieve the ref.

    look how far he is from the ball, the angle of his body there is more lean on it than the tower of pisa. he had made his mind up to go over.

    good call by the ref in my view and perhaps should have been red let alone yellow.

    so by all accounts stop whinging af and think yourself lucky he's not to be suspended.

  • Comment number 98.

    95. At 2:22pm on 04 Nov 2009, _ceiling_fan_ wrote:
    92. ArsenalArseneArshavin

    You are clearly just a wind-up merchant - replays clearly showed that Fletcher was tripped.

    But I love it when people say 'he went down very easily' or 'he made a meal of it'. It seems these days that if footballers dare to throw their arms out to cushion their fall that they're accused of diving!

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

    Very true. People seem to think its absolutely fine for a defender to hack away at a forward, who is expected to do everything he can to stay on his feet. Clearly this isn't going to happen, defenders need to take responsibility for their actions...

  • Comment number 99.

    Fletcher definitely went down far too easily (as all footballers do, I suppose) so I can see why the referee booked him. I don't really see why the decision should be overturned either. If Fletcher bothered to try and carry on advancing, he would've naturally been tripped up - instead, though, he decides to take a swan leap in the air. The game is turning into a farse, to be honest.

    All these comments about the referee from Ferguson don't help matters either. When will he learn to just shut up?

    I take it he's been complaining about the referee missing Obertan's kick that should've resulted in a red card as well, right? No? Golly gosh, that DOES surprise me...

  • Comment number 100.

    "looking the picture of fletcher going down suggests to me he was not booked for diving but trying to decieve the ref."

    classic stuff - not for diving (simulation) but for simulating a foul? I love your wind ups.

    there are so many games just this season where the result of a game is massively affected by the wrong decisions of referees, and that you can only appeal a red if its a straight red rather than two wrong bookings is laughable and perfectly in keeping with the authorities.

    this is a business now, not just a game. So its about time they took a professional attitude to it, or face being sued by the clubs failed by the authorities.

    Parker's cards were a case in point, the lad wrongly sent off for a foul he didn't commit.

 

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