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Scholes masterclass revives Man Utd

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Phil McNulty | 20:57 UK time, Saturday, 17 April 2010

Paul Scholes received the dubious honour of a kiss full on the lips from Gary Neville as reward for reviving Manchester United's title campaign. The modest smile that followed suggested he regarded it as a price worth paying.

Sir Alex Ferguson, once he had stopped doing his time-honoured celebration loosely based on an impression of a pensioner dancing barefoot on hot coals, was more restrained, merely describing Scholes as "wonderful".

Ferguson's faith in the 35-year-old is so strong that he was happy to see him sign a new one-year contract on Friday - then see it repaid 24 hours later with a goal that on its own may be worth every penny of his renewed deal.

Scholes, by some distance the best player on show in a largely undistinguished derby, arrived in the penalty area with arguably only 19 seconds left of Manchester United's hopes of a fourth successive Premier League triumph. As his header hit the back of Shay Given's net, the impact was felt all the way to White Hart Lane.

man_utd_blog_ap.jpg Scholes receives an unexpected gift from Gary Neville after scoring - photo: AP

Suddenly the pressure on Chelsea to get a result at Tottenham turned up a vital notch. Suddenly Tottenham saw the door to fourth place thrown open by City's slip. Subsequent events emphasised the importance of that flick of the head from the man United's fans call "The Ginger Prince".

Chelsea's defeat at Spurs made it the perfect day for United and one of misery for City, who once again entered a Manchester derby fuelled by uncharacteristic optimism only for a familiar finale to consume them. Scholes' goal followed two previous injury time winners inflicted on City by United this season.

United will smell blood after emerging from their own brief slump that brought a Champions League exit sandwiched between an Old Trafford loss against Chelsea and a tame draw at Blackburn Rovers.

And to add another ironic twist in a season liberally sprinkled with unpredictability, Ferguson will be eyeing up what might be a decisive favour from his dear old pals at Liverpool when Chelsea visit Anfield on 2 May.

It was fitting that Scholes was the man who settled this game, no matter how late he left it. He gave a masterclass in his enduring midfield talents, bringing some measure of tempo and rhythm to the game with his passing, varying in range and always looking for the opening.

City may have been guilty of allowing Scholes too much time and space, but this ignores his timeless ability to make time and space. He was one of the few players who had these precious commodities at his disposal in a frenetic Eastlands atmosphere.

There was a sense this might just be a day for Scholes when he even managed to time an early tackle on Adam Johnson to perfection. Yes, he clattered the young winger but, unlike on many other occasions, he stayed on the right side of legality and it served as a statement of intent, warning a buoyant City not to get ideas above their station.

England coach Fabio Capello was in the stands to cast an eye over City's young winger. He will have better days as he was kept under wraps by Patrice Evra, but it would have been worth at least a penny for Capello's thoughts on the show put on by Scholes.

And with the dramatic late header, Scholes again showed great expertise to glance it powerfully low and tantalisingly out of Given's reach. As with the rest of his performance, it was stamped with the hallmark of real pedigree.

Scholes may not produce these displays with the regularity of old, but when he does it serves as a reminder of what he has brought to the Ferguson era at Old Trafford.

He provided rare moments of composure in a day that turned into the sort of damp disappointment City's fans, with their unique line in black humour, always fear when things are going well.

Prior to kick-off, City's fans were circling Eastlands orchestrating the sort of ticker-tape reception for their players that came to global attention at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. It was designed to pay homage to their new hero Carlos Tevez, the man they feel is a mistake they can wave under Ferguson's nose.

man_city_blog_pa.jpg Man City have lost three of this season's four Manchester derbies - photo: PA

The ticker-tape reception went well but City's performance, along with that of Tevez, did not. They did not freeze in the face of the big occasion against United, but nerves borne of great expectation betrayed them.

It took a superb save from Edwin van der Sar to keep out a perfectly-placed Tevez free-kick, but the side that scored 11 goals in their last two league games against Burnley and Birmingham found United's rearguard a tougher proposition.

City manager Roberto Mancini's second-half substitutions also smacked of negativity, with the replacement of Johnson with Patrick Vieira looking like the act of someone settling for a point. And unless Nigel de Jong was injured, his replacement by Stephen Ireland with 12 minutes to go was mystifying as the Dutchman had been City's best player.

Craig Bellamy should have done better with a second-half chance and United survived a late scramble, but by this time a fit-again Wayne Rooney missed a glaring opportunity and Ryan Giggs was also wasteful.

On a mixed day for Rooney, he managed to enrage Eastlands when he crashed dramatically to the turf under challenge from Vincent Kompany. As Kompany was booked, Rooney sprang equally dramatically back to his feet and raced away.

As Ferguson was so keen to issue strictures to Bayern Munich's players for their part in Rafael's sending off in the Champions League, it is to be hoped he was equally unimpressed by Rooney's shenanigans.

Before kick-off at Eastlands, it looked like things were finally taking shape in the Premier League with Chelsea firm favourites ahead of United in the title race and City in pole ahead of Spurs for the precious Champions League spot. This season has taught us we should know better.

Expect the title race to now go to the final day. Chelsea have winnable home games against Stoke City and Wigan Athletic to come, with that booby trap of a game at Liverpool in between. Wonder how The Kop will feel about the part Liverpool could potentially play in helping United overhaul their title tally?

United face in-form Spurs and have a tough trip to Sunderland before ending with Stoke City at home. And there will be a surge of renewed confidence through their camp after this spectacular Eastlands conclusion - all sparked by the Old Trafford veteran who has seen and done it all.


Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    Match was a bit dull to be honest. I think a draw would have been a fair result.

  • Comment number 3.

    Trust Gary Neville...

    In this oh-so-unpredictable season, I've always maintained (as a Chelsea fan) that it would be tight until the death. And it will be: Make no mistake - United are back in it. Man U-Tottenham and Liverpool-Chelsea will be the big ones.

  • Comment number 4.

    Neville kissing Scholes was the most interesting thing about the match. Says a lot, really.

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    Awesome! The ginger genius does it again!

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    Did anyone see just how smug the man who was never booked for a tackle was on MOTD tonight? This is the same guy who was nearly crying when Chelsea were top and City 4th, lets hope his tears are on hold.

  • Comment number 9.

    @ #2

    There is no way the match should have been a draw. Man Utd were the only ones trying to win it (because they had to); City were more content to try play for the point and draw Man Utd out, in order to hit them on the counter-attack. I think the result was fair, although i would rather for the sake of my health if the goal was scored a little sooner.

    I have always felt that if Man Utd can win their remaining 4 games then they still have a great chance of winning the league - it just seems that events seem to be pointing towards the Liverpool-Chelsea match being a deciding factor in this years campaign.

    However, the next challenge for Utd is to overcome an in-form and confident Spurs side. Having beaten Arsenal and Chelsea in the last 4 days, they will be rightly confident they can come to Old Trafford and get a result. This is going to be a big task, but if we can beat them then, the pressure really is on the blues.

    I thought Spurs played magnificently today, and a late Lampard goal completely flattered Chelsea, who were second best by a long distance. Bale looked a revelation, who i confess i have dismissed in the past, but today he tormented Ferreira so badly he had to be subbed at half time. very well done.

    Anyway, back to the point of the blog - i agree scholes had a good day today, but this was in no small part down to the amount of space he was afforded by City. I can't for the life of me wonder why noone was tasked with closing him down sooner, instead allowing him to show his vision and range of passing.

    City are a bit of an engima really, they look good one week, and then very average another. The marking for the goal smacked of defensive naivety, with Evra sitting out on the left wing in acres of space to cross the ball in, and when the ball does come in, there was noone near scholes at all. Tiredness?




  • Comment number 10.

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

  • Comment number 11.

    Paul Scholes truly gave a masterful performance in timing, movement and precision of passing. You can talk about Keane, Vieira, Gerrard and Lampard all you want but Scholes is the Premier League's greatest ever midfielder in my opinion- He is truly unique and it's good we'll be seeing him for at least another year.

  • Comment number 12.

    man utd is the best team in the world

  • Comment number 13.

    Phil i think it shudve been more about the Spurs as they are the most responsible of re igniting the title race and they along with liverpool will have the say on the league as they are yet to play united .. so i think it shudve been a bit more about spurs than manutd and scholes .. and thats coming from an arsenal fan ...

  • Comment number 14.

    Good blog Phil once again,

    I really want ManU to win now Arsenal are out the competition. I hate Chelsea with a passion. ManU, once they win the premier league, will be the most decorated english team, having overtaken Liverpool. And i personally think they deserve it. I'm saying this as a Gooner, but in all honesty I just love watching good football. (I wont bring up Barcelona's display against us)

  • Comment number 15.

    The title race is the same old same old

    Meanwhile Spurs have beaten Arsenal and Chelsea and the BBC says little to nothing

  • Comment number 16.

    Tottenham beat Arsenal for the first time in the PL in over a decade and then beat Chelsea within the space of 3/4 days to reclaim 4th place and a possible CL finish and we get another feature article on the veteran United players being key in a scrappy last-minute victory? How many times have we had articles about United on this topic in various different guises? It really wouldn't do any harm to produce an article that isn't about United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal, especially as Tottenham's achievements this week surely merited it. Whinging? Yes I am, thanks.

  • Comment number 17.

    haha bitter city supporters. lets face it- if one team deserved to win it was united. neither team played brilliantly but united just clinched it because city are yet to take into account injury time- you can score then as well you know guys!

  • Comment number 18.

    yeah well done webb of deceit

    im guessing your a spurs fan?

    i believe city have beaten chelsea twice and arsenal?

    no medals for doing that im afraid,

    are you one of these people that looks at the top of the premiership and says 'oh manchester united, yeah il support them' but in this case spurs because then you wouldnt be classed as a true golry supporter?

    every manchester city fan has at least in their lifetime attended a manchester city game, we are a well supported club and every fan is a TRUE fan

    and yes if we dont make the champions league (which im sure we will to be honest) i will once again renew my season ticket in order to watch the team i love.

    and anyway if spurs finished 4th and us 5th theyd still be playing in the same competition by november, in the uefa league or whatever its called now.

  • Comment number 19.

    I haven't seen a swing of fortunes this dramatic in years. I mean from Paul Scholes' point of view, of course. Scoring a crucial goal in the title race then, God forbid, being kissed by the Ratman himself ON THE LIPS. Poor Paul.

  • Comment number 20.

    What a day it has been! Couldn't have gone any better for a united fan. I have to say, when I saw Scholes and Giggs names on the teamsheet I was a bit nervous, they haven't really produced the goods in the last few matches but I thought Scholes played well. Very intelligent passing and movement. I think City fans didn't do themselves any favours with the whole ticker tape parade with Tevez's mug all over the gaff, just set themselves up for a fall. Game was very tight and very tense but United's greater experience of these types of matches shone through in the end. Scholesy header was immense. Personally I still think Chelsea will win the title, can't really see the scousers doing United a favour can you? But at least it keeps it interesting!

  • Comment number 21.

    I am man u fan here and I have to agree. Phil you even state it yourself "sparked by the Old Trafford veteran who has seen and done it all." This article wrote itself really.

    We all should be used to the fact that man utd add drama to their achievements like no other team. It was clear it would take an inspirational piece of skill to get a goal against the increasingly negative man city.

    16. At 00:23am Uninventivename has a point, how about a look at spurs? Young Bale was phenomenal and Dawson at the back was immense. With Terry's dismissal/form and Rio's dodgy back, the smart reporter would have had a look at this too.

    aaahhhh bluedefence - your name says it all. Someone needs to tell Mancini you win games by scoring goals !!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    I think the main topic for display about this particular match was about a subject touched upon previously by this blog earlier this season.

    In the first half, City had one chance, Tevez's free kick. Mancini's reaction? Bring on Vieira for Johnson. City were so consumed by the notion of losing the game, that it was almost as if winning it had never occurred to them.

    It seems harsh to criticise a side for negativity, when they have beaten Chelsea twice and Arsenal, scoring 10 goals in the process, but they have days when they really don't look like threatening, never mind scoring. Against Liverpool, both home and away, they adopted a negative attitude, and the same was the case today.

    Wright-Phillips should have come on for Johnson, he was threatening and forced players into rash challenges. Any thoughts that Johnson should go to the World Cup should be quelled. Take Joe Cole, and allow Johnson to mature properly, he has not yet got the weapons to be desirably effective at the World Cup.

    If Man City don't get 4th (which they should do, Spurs will bottle it at some point), then they can look back at some baffling tactical decisions that have made City look more inferior than perhaps they realise they are.

    Still at least it keeps everything interesting. Here's to a Hull win on wednesday, so we have battles for 1st, 4th and relegation. Screw the dissenters who say the Prem is not as 'high quality' as before - at least there's a modicum of competition now!

  • Comment number 23.

    I feel Liverpool and Chelsea will draw so the title can still be ours. However beating Spurs, Sunderland and stoke is not an easy task so really hard to call.

    Good luck everyone.

  • Comment number 24.

    I can only imagine that bluedefence's high volume of posts means he is highly displeased and wishes to vindicate himself and his team. He also tends to ignore anyone calling him on his blind hatred of all things Mancunian.

    However, good article Mr. McNulty (with sly dig at SAF to boot) and good choice of picture.

    Nothing wrong with completely heterosexual guy love.

    Although I bet Scholes begs to differ.

  • Comment number 25.

    May have been a jammy win, as someone put it. Jammy in the sense it came 10 seconds from fulltime but Utd certainly were positive throughout. Mancini should be lambasted for his inept, defensive, play for a point tactics, when really if City had come out guns ablazing today they couldve caused some real problems.

    Who in their right mind gives Paul Scholes all the time in the world or even just 90mins to do whatever he likes?? Laughable.

    Bringing on Vieira. Taking off De Jong, equally so. Vieira was finished 2 years ago. Shouldnt be near the team.

    Utds next 3 games could be cause for concern taking into account Rooneys lack of fitness. Its about time Valencia chipped in with a goal.

    As for City, on todays showing, their next 4 games will all be troublesome and thats including West Ham

  • Comment number 26.

    Scholes is one of the best ever PL players, if not THE best. A brilliant finish to the most incisive move of the match. But what was Stephen Ireland doing? He was the one who failed to pick-up Scholes and then throws his arms wide when the goal goes in as if to ask others what they were doing. Comical!

    Can you clear-up one thing for me please Phil. Who was that guy on all the Man City banners? Was he playing? Didn't notice him if he was!

    To Spurs fans, well done on 2 great wins. The thing is that Phil gets assigned to a match and then writes a Blog related to that match, hence the Blog on Scholes and not Spurs. I think you may well get your chance next week.

    The question is will it be a blog about Rooney or Bale? Depends on what unfolds in yet another key game in what has been a very strange season.

  • Comment number 27.

    What an interesting season it has been!! Right now I cannot really say such team will win it; that's how good this league is!! Think about it, if Spurs continue on such form and win against United, Arsenal wins against City and Chelsea looses at Liverpool.... wow that’s quite a wonder. Sadly though, it all falls down to "IFs".... it's just going to keep us guessing till the last game, I suppose!

  • Comment number 28.

    Phil,
    My take of the game differs in that key plays were not made by City's key player/s.
    IMO, Mancini was right to go for a WIN by making the substitutions. Should have been from the get go. Right now the weakest link is City's midfield.
    Out of 7 corners given to City, not one was converted. Thats suppose to be City's forte at set pieces. City's corner's kicks were awful. Schoolboy's league stuff?
    Ireland did not make an impact and IMO he is not gelling with some City's players and is being scapegoated.
    IMO Bellers decisions and choices were awful. Usually, at the tail end of the game, a player who is 'knackered for one reason or another', make wrong plays. To wit hoofing the ball diagonally across the field rather than holding or making the intelligent play or pass to Tevez or Ireland etc. City was caught flatfooted hence.
    IMO that was the key play.

  • Comment number 29.

    the spurs didn't dominate us, but they sure as hell dominated chelsea, but credit to spurs (can't believe i said that). Come to think of it, they're just a lower profile man city

  • Comment number 30.

    Good article Phil, there was only one team that were going to win it. The Ginger prince gave a master class in passing - Mancini was inept, Tevez apart from his very good free kick was not even an irritant. United were deserved winners.

    My view is the Stoke games will be pivotal. They are a really well organised outfit who will be playing for the joy of it in the sunshine. They are a cussed bunch and nothing will please them better than sticking it to Man u or Chelsea. Liverpool I don't expect to put up any resistance. So for me it is still Chelsea's championship to lose.

  • Comment number 31.

    Having watched both games yesterday i have to say that United fully deserved to win as did Tottenham. United just wanted to win more than City who were happy to merely stop United winning.

    As for Chelsea they just never got started for long enough to get anything from the game. Mr Dowd is obviously an avid reader/watcher/listener of mainstreeam media as he provided the soft penalty plus soft sending off (not clever from terry but Dowd would have found another opportunity).

    Unfortunately you can bet that Tottenham will return to wet paper bag Tottenham in time for a visit to Old Trafford. The big question is can Chelsea bounce back and how will the last 3 games go. I think that both teams have another draw left in them-Chelsea's probably at Anfield and I think United's at Sunderland even with Bruce as manager!

  • Comment number 32.

    @ #5: Another one of a long chain of sore losers from Eastlands.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    On another day City would have scored five but lady luck deserted us.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    So when you lose a match, blame it on lady luck....huh.

    You hardly looked in a mood to score...just some rare efforts in 90 minutes...You were beaten fair and square this time again as always....so stop complaining.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Good luck Chelsea your our only hope for to stop the most contemptible club in the world snatching another prize they hardly deserve.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This comment coming from a fan of a team who has not won any major honor since 1976....rofl

  • Comment number 33.

    All credit to Scholes for the goal and everything he's done over the years... But to say that he gave some kind of master class in this game is laughable! He did nothing special - apart from the goal that is. He was allowed space and time, he hit couple of good long passes (none of which were decisive or brilliant) but he also wasted a few... All in all largelly ineffective - BUT FOR THE GOAL. I don't know what game were you watching. No-one performed particularly well in this game - mostly solid (except Giggs who was a disaster, cannot believe he was not subbed) except for one player - VIDIC! He was by far the best player on the pitch!

  • Comment number 34.

    Can you take that picture of Phil? The mind boggles when one sees it.

  • Comment number 35.

    Can you take that picture off Phil? The mind boggles when one sees it.

  • Comment number 36.

    Apparently Manchester police are reporting a robbery at Eastlands. A burglar has stolen the entire contents of City's trophy room.

    Police are looking for a man running away carrying a light blue carpet.

  • Comment number 37.

    United have been looked average at best for the last couple of seasons(hell, we even made Liverpool look good), with the notable exception of two world class players in Rooney and Ronaldo (note I didn’t mention Tevez-has there ever been a more over-rated headless chicken?). Yet United are still better than City, and I can’t see anyone but ageing desperate mercenaries wanting to join city for the foreseeable future and that shift in power could be some years off.
    Bluedefeat will be claiming his pension long before city win any trophy of merit.

  • Comment number 38.

    It's unfair to say the match was won due to tactics, as I remember 30 seconds in the match where either team could score and turn the tie their way. Still, though, I think United's tactics were better. Holding the midfield for the duration of the game was a key factor for United being able to attack with a greater intend and create more dangerous moments, although City did have their moments too.

    I felt United's european experience paid off yesterday, as they have started approaching the big matches as they approach big european matches, with a solid defence, a packed midfield and fluent, counter attacking. In contrast, City played with quality strikers in full display, but it is to wonder whether it was wise against a team of United's quality. In a way, it ressembled Arsenal who can be fluent and joy to watch against small opposition but are weak against the big teams, this season.

    Manchester City, in my opinion, are still a project in process, just they're at the latter stages of this project. They miss the world class midfield maestro - someone of the quality of Modric or Sneijder, who will be able to give plenty a killer pass like Sneijder would or paint the footballing canvas with his skills, like Modric did last night, too. Also, big teams have big defences - take United and Chelsea as an example. City have a good, mostly solid defence, but not a great one.

    The positive note is that, if they qualify for the Champions League, where they are prime candidates, they will be much better equipped to succeed in bringing quality to Eastlands in whatever parts of the field they desire. Can you imagine City playing with a great defence line and one-two maestros in midfield, given the wealth of the team in attacking options?

    Many rushed to classify premiership as a declining league, with the author of the blog a front runner. Last night, though, we saw two up and coming teams of the premiership playing big matches against the top teams of the premiership for the last 6 seasons. City lost on the dying seconds, while Spurs gave a memorable performance and Chelsea were lucky to escape with a 2-1 defeat. Yet, at Blackburn, the ground where both United and Chelsea lost run-in points, Everton flourished. It speaks volumes of the premiership. If it's in decline, I don't want this decline to end.

    Before the Spurs match, I was feeling the premiership was waiting for the fat lady to sing its end, for United. In one more twist, I was happy to see the uncertainty keeps going. United got encouragement, but they still have 3 critical matches to apply pressure on Chelsea, who still hold their destiny in their own hands. Personally, I think the match at Sunderland might prove more difficult than the home Spurs game. And Chelsea's match at Liverpool is by no means a foregone conclusion.

    It's beautiful days for premiership football. Look anywhere on the table and you'll see fights and interest everywhere. The best thing is next season looks as promising. Overall, Manchester United's day - I forgot when I said this last time.

  • Comment number 39.

    There are not enough superlatives in the English language to describe the magnitude of elation felt after my hero struck. United were, without a doubt the better team over 90 minutes, and although it's still Chelsea's to lose, I think this result just might prompt United to go on and get all the remaining points. Spurs will be our toughest test next weekend, and, with both teams brimming with confidence this will be another major test of character for United. Rooney's antics, dramatic as they were, were meant to show the ref the lack of protection he was receiving. Perhaps not one hundred percent condonable, but hardly deplorable.

    I would like to remark on Adam Johnson's performance by saying it was very good, and worthy of an England call up. He showed great maturity to get up once fouled, and carry on to beat the next man instead of falling to the ground, whining, like most modern players from EVERY team do. Congrats lad, perhaps you will join a real club one day ;).

  • Comment number 40.

    I forgot to mention the referee.
    This, itself, is a good thing, as referees have blown it in recent weeks.
    It was nice watching a match where the referee wasn't amongst the talked participants, on talked moments.

    Also, at the White Heart Lane match, I felt, the referee had a good game, too. The first penalty appeal of Spurs wasn't a penalty really. The penalty was a harsh one, as Terry did everything he could - he couldn't cut his arm away. Though, Chelsea may just have paid the price for recent decisions. You win some, you lose some. In any case, it wasn't that decision that turned the tie. Spurs were vividly more dangerous and crisp-sharp on attack, while they were containing Chelsea with a relative ease at the back.

    On a last note, I know that a good national manager doesn't change his mind on his team selection at 11:95' and I don't want to join the chorus of fans trying to influence Capelo about his last additions to the team that will travel to S. Africa. I am wondering, though, what Capelo did of Dawson's performance, against some of the best attack lines in world football.

  • Comment number 41.

    What a weekend of football, going into the last 3 games.

    The title still up for grabs, 4th place still in contention, teams fighting for their PL lives, a serial whiner sent off killing his team's chance of getting back in the game in which they were thoroughly outplayed, thrilling goals and near misses in the the other leagues with tears of joy and anguish as teams went up, and crashed out, referees under scrutiny, bright sunshine in places, and a tasty volcanic ash in others, some players showing the effects of a long season, and others in the twilight of their careers still nodding the odd goal in at the last gasp proving there's life in the old terrier yet, ups, downs, sweating over the calculation of remaining odds, and a nearly middle aged unnatural looking chap as a gay icon, finally coming out and expressing himself enthusiastically in front of hundreds of thousands of disconcerted heterosexuals, all baying for success, and the odd pint of the red stuff, but uncertain at this latest development in their beloved club.

    Who says the EPL doesn't have excitement.......

  • Comment number 42.

    Paul Scholes is one of the greatest players the premiership has ever seen,and despite his age when he gets his passing game going,he is simply unbeatable.
    Football fans are so fickle,because a few weeks back United fans were all over the place calling for the retirement of this great player.
    The match between City and United was pretty tame as these derbys tend to be,but on level of play I feel United deserved to sneak it.
    For those who say the premiership is in decline including the blogger,I advise them to get out more and watch matches involving teams outside the top four.Yesterdays game between Blackburn and Everton for instance was a cracker and is a clear sign that the premiership continues to ride high.

  • Comment number 43.

    lazy weekend journo.

    scholes didn't give a masterclass, perhaps compared to his below average season but your kidding yourselves if u think he is even a shadow of his former self.

    city lack any structure, they are a team stuck together with the odd playercwho thinks he's world class but hasn't proved it. I'm sure If the owners keep ploughinh money in and don't start churning through managers they have a chance to compete with the top trophies but they are some way from it yet.

    phil why is there such a drought of articles relating to teams outside the tradditional top four, and surprised u haven't spoken more about spurs, the emergance of Dawson as a top centre back, how modric who most cast off as too lightweight dominated Chelseas midfiel 5?

  • Comment number 44.

    5. At 11:38pm on 17 Apr 2010, bluedefence wrote:

    I havent read it because I dont want to, a jammy win for a jammy team.
    On another day City would have scored five but lady luck deserted us.

    Good luck Chelsea your our only hope for to stop the most contemptible club in the world snatching another prize they hardly deserve.

    .

    Sometimes you don't need to retaliate, you can just copy and paste and let a person show themselves up for what they really are. In the words of Andy Gray, Bluedefence - take a bow (how old are you? I'm guessing 11 given your juvenile outpourings whenever city lose).

    ps - not sure why you think City could have scored five. For the fourth time this season, your expensively assembled team were outplayed by United, fair and square.

  • Comment number 45.

    5. At 11:38pm on 17 Apr 2010, bluedefence wrote:
    I havent read it because I dont want to, a jammy win for a jammy team.
    On another day City would have scored five but lady luck deserted us.

    Having said that our defending for their goal was appalling.

    Good luck Chelsea your our only hope for to stop the most contemptible club in the world snatching another prize they hardly deserve.


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

    bluedefence you are embarrassment to your club!!!

    You obviously feel hard done by, if you look at what city did yesterday they gave the ball away with 60 seconds to go and if you defend like to did then you get what you deserve.

    Man City two years ago where a team with nothing but history they now have wealthy owners and some of the fans (bluedefence) have taken this attitude that they deserve a champ league place and a league title. Clubs like Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea will not let you have it that easily.

    You need to take a more subjective view on the other teams around. I have been reading your posts in the spurs/chelsea and once again nothing constructive.

    That money yours could go at anytimr and city have a problem greater than Portsmouth. Spurs run a profitable and well organised business which has allowed them to invest it great talent, your money is pumped straight from the ground which covers any lose you make, that isnt business!! get in the real world try talking to a Chester fan or even a fn from a team in your own league at the moment Portsmouth!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    The most significant detail, from a Manchester United fan's point of view, in yesterday's results is that goals difference doesn't count anymore, in the balance of possibilities: assuming United win their last three matches, a draw at Liverpool is not enough for Chelsea, anymore.

    If you talked to a Liverpool fan about the possibility for a draw against Chelsea to prevent United hold the title, he might smile cheekily. Tell him about how he would feel on the prospects of a home defeat for that outcome though and pride might take place. Liverpool wouldn't like to be mentioned as a second string team.

  • Comment number 47.

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

  • Comment number 48.

    I agree it would have been nice for at least half the article to have been about Spurs and their achievements this week. After losing to Portsmouth the way they did, to come back and win back to back against Arsneal and Chelsea shows immense character.

    Which leads me nicely to Michael Dawson who put Sunday's slip behind him to produce two fantastic displays; when John Terry plays like he has the media goes into hyper-boil describing him as 'world class'....Dawson, along with Terry isn't that good, but considering he has gone from forth choice center half at the start of the season, to captain and World Cup candidate i think he deserves credit. It's hardly worth mentioning Modric and Bale as everyone knows how good they are. Modric reminds me so much of Ossie Ardilles; small in stature, huge heart and above all great ability, and Bale is simply unstopable and with his pace and work rate it's like having an extra player.

  • Comment number 49.

    It is England's misfortune that England haven't got a player of his calibre and creativity in the midfield!! Gerrard,whilst excellent at Liverpool, Lampard likewise at Chelsea, tend to look like donkeys when in an England shirt. As for Scholes, one of few footballers in the current Premiership who is fit enough to lace Alan Ball's boots. Would love to see him at Southampton next season!!

  • Comment number 50.

    The difference between Chelsea and Man U is they generally know how to get it done. Neither team is particularly good. Man City and Arsenal are not the finished articles and so struggle when they should beat teams. United have the mental strength even when that is a pretty poor team for United. That team is aging badly though. Not sure how long they will be able to keep it up.

  • Comment number 51.

    #45

    "That money yours could go at anytimr and city have a problem greater than Portsmouth. "

    I feel this sounds a bit out of context, in Manchester City's case.
    I don't think Sheikh Mansoor has invested at this club, to fulfill his hobby's ambitions. This project is in line with an Emirates policy to bring tourism in the area, for the long term, providing a small, sunny haven for tourists with cash to spend.

    In Dubai, they have invested much more heavily in construction, with tourism in mind. The Manchester City acquisition is one more investment, amongst a string of investments aiming towards advertising. The Emirates stadium and 'Fly Emirates' on Arsenal shirts are two other examples and, don't forget, UK are a huge market for them.

    Thus, I can say with a relative certainty that Manchester City have attracted the right Arab investors.

    On a second note, Roman Abramovich spent some hundreds of millions on Chelsea a few years back. But look at Chelsea now: almost debt free. The assumption that billionaires just spend, thoughtlessly, hundreds of millions 'to get a kick' is the easy assumption.

    Sum it up with Manchester City's ability to have 60000+ fans watching their matches, week in, week out (compared to Chelsea's gates, for example) and add on this worldwide fans they are likely to attract by playing champions league football. Furthermore, think that, in a shortwhile, football clubs will be earning cash from the internet, as worldwide fans will be paying to watch their favourite team perfom, no matter where they are based and you have the full picture.

    If football, we tend to downgrade the reasons for which billionaires invest heavily on it.

  • Comment number 52.

    Have to agree that Mike Dawson is hitting a decent patch. He played well yesterday, and as i remember Fabio Capello did say he'd take in-form players to the WC. Let's hope he's brutally objective about this, and continues his no nonsense approach. Reputations count for nothing when winning matches is required.
    For that reason, i'd leave out Terry. He's been declining steadily, and does more whining than playing these days it seems. He got found out yesterday, again, against mobile and determined opposition, and when you consider what England is likely to face in the WC, it's not comforting to know he might get a spot in the side, given how slow and limited he is these days.
    For all the emotion involved in the national side, and the english characteristic of backing the underdog, including underperforming players, winning football games is about success, and producing the goods when required, in a businesslike and competent manner.
    Terry is anything but competent at the moment.
    Despite City's loss, i though Wayne Bridge had a good game, and shows glimpses of his old talent. He's on a decent run of form too. I thought he was premature in declaring himself unavailable for the WC, although i certainly understand why, given the way he was treated by fellow players, and the media. He's a much better player than Terry is at the moment, with more consistent form. I would hope Fabio gives him another call closer to the time, to see if he'd reconsider.
    Make no mistake, no amount of history, or "favoritism", will change results. The national side needs players in form, sharp, and up to the challenge when the heat is on, no matter who they are, or which league they play in. To take dead wood, simply because they've been "there" for some time is frankly, counterproductive. England needs to go to win, not satisfy the media, or fans choice of players based on club, and historical allegiance. We're not only into the last 3 games of the season, with all to play for, but a WC year, and club colours will need to take second place to the national side, with clearheaded and objective decision making, at a national level.

  • Comment number 53.

    bluedefence, thanks for giving me a giggle this Sunday morning!

    Sure city could've scored five!! Brilliant mate, what game were you watching? It wasnt a classic but anyone could see United edged it overall. United had the most of the first half, City possibly the second.

    Why dont you put away your rose (sky blue) tinted glasses as well as your sour grapes and look at the real reasons you lost.

    1. Your front players, especially Tevez not working hard enough to pick up Scholes when you didnt have the ball. He conducted play for most of the game.
    2. Tactically inept substitions from your soon to be sacked for not getting fourth manager.
    3. Failure to track the run from one of the great finishers in premier league history. He was all alone in the six yard box, where was the defence?

  • Comment number 54.

    51. At 10:01am on 18 Apr 2010, Soccer_UK wrote:

    #45

    "That money yours could go at anytimr and city have a problem greater than Portsmouth. "

    I feel this sounds a bit out of context, in Manchester City's case.
    I don't think Sheikh Mansoor has invested at this club, to fulfill his hobby's ambitions. This project is in line with an Emirates policy to bring tourism in the area, for the long term, providing a small, sunny haven for tourists with cash to spend.

    In Dubai, they have invested much more heavily in construction, with tourism in mind. The Manchester City acquisition is one more investment, amongst a string of investments aiming towards advertising. The Emirates stadium and 'Fly Emirates' on Arsenal shirts are two other examples and, don't forget, UK are a huge market for them.

    Thus, I can say with a relative certainty that Manchester City have attracted the right Arab investors.

    On a second note, Roman Abramovich spent some hundreds of millions on Chelsea a few years back. But look at Chelsea now: almost debt free. The assumption that billionaires just spend, thoughtlessly, hundreds of millions 'to get a kick' is the easy assumption.

    Sum it up with Manchester City's ability to have 60000+ fans watching their matches, week in, week out (compared to Chelsea's gates, for example) and add on this worldwide fans they are likely to attract by playing champions league football. Furthermore, think that, in a shortwhile, football clubs will be earning cash from the internet, as worldwide fans will be paying to watch their favourite team perfom, no matter where they are based and you have the full picture.

    If football, we tend to downgrade the reasons for which billionaires invest heavily on it.

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

    Good post, and pretty well sums up why some owners are successful, and others not. Others can say what they like about Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, and now City, the owners are on the ball, and interested in long term stability, and the extras like marketing and product placement having a successful club/brand will bring.
    With the same reasoning we apply to players who are excellent, and consistent, week in/out, owners should be viewed year on year, not just on trophies, but their ability to manage a club successfully, and profitably. So using a football analogy, you could say Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, and City, are the top of the "Owners league" this year. Well managed debt, successful products for marketing, and good positions in the PL. I am reluctant to mention ManU here, as although it's declared their debt in manageable, i'm not sure, given the size of the task they face in reducing it. I hope the fans have enough stamina to see out a challenging time at the club.

  • Comment number 55.

    United deserved to win, they played the more positive football in what was, on the whole, a dull and scrappy game. A draw would probably have been fair too though, united didn't play particularly well. To those people suggesting that this should have been an article about Spurs; I find it amazing that you feel the need to be spoon-fed opinion about something; can't you give us your own thoughts and incite a debate yourself? as someone else mentioned, Phil covers the games he sees and wouldn't be able to do justice to Spurs or their performance.

  • Comment number 56.

    Great result for us Manchester United fans. Spurs move to 4th and we move with in a point of Chelsea. It truley was a great day.

    I have faith that United will win their remaining games. Spurs will be tough, but we're at home and I expect us to take the 3 points. I've said all along that we have a great chance, and I knew we'd win that City game. Didn't think it would be quite so late I must add!

    Liverpool have 4th place to catch, I can see them knocking Chelsea's title bid off track. As much as Pool don't want us to win the Prem, 4th is their priority and if they don't get it they may never re-gain that spot with Spurs, Villa, Everton and mega-rich City all progressing each year.

    Can't wait. It's going to be a great end to the season. My bet? United Champions.

  • Comment number 57.

    The title race isn't wide open Phil. If you actually bothered to watch Spurs yesterday, you would realise that by the way they are knocking the ball about, they will go to Old Trafford and win quite comfortably against a stale and fortuitous Man U team.

  • Comment number 58.

    #52

    "Have to agree that Mike Dawson is hitting a decent patch. He played well yesterday, and as i remember Fabio Capello did say he'd take in-form players to the WC. Let's hope he's brutally objective about this, and continues his no nonsense approach. Reputations count for nothing when winning matches is required.
    For that reason, i'd leave out Terry. He's been declining steadily, and does more whining than playing these days it seems. He got found out yesterday, again, against mobile and determined opposition, and when you consider what England is likely to face in the WC, it's not comforting to know he might get a spot in the side, given how slow and limited he is these days. "

    I am sorry, but you couldn't be further off the mark.
    I do agree that Dawson has been a revelation for Spurs this season. He was allowed to be a key centre half, in Woodgate's absense and it was a relief for Spurs as much as it has been their gain. He was awsome yesterday and he was as solid on Wednesday. Yet, Dawson was the centre half at Sunderland where, had Bent scored the penalties, Spurs would have had a 5-1 hidding.

    Capelo seems ready to take King, who can come good if Terry or Ferdinand can't play a match, for one reason or another. By taking two Spurs centre backs, this would lead one to think of Spurs as a team with world class defence. Are they?

    You have to keep things into perspective. Terry hasn't been around this season only. He has been top quality for over a decade and has bags of experience to bring to the England squad. He can lead, he can pass, he can defend, he can score. And he has done this for years.

    It would be wiser to think of Dawson as a future prospect for the national team. Is he better than Shawcross? I doubt it, as Shawcross can also score and might be faster. He's certainly taller.

    If you were a national coach, taking to world cups players on such assumptions would make you a remembered coach. Just, it would be for the wrong reasons I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 59.

    58. At 10:30am on 18 Apr 2010, Soccer_UK wrote:


    I am sorry, but you couldn't be further off the mark.
    I do agree that Dawson has been a revelation for Spurs this season. He was allowed to be a key centre half, in Woodgate's absense and it was a relief for Spurs as much as it has been their gain. He was awsome yesterday and he was as solid on Wednesday. Yet, Dawson was the centre half at Sunderland where, had Bent scored the penalties, Spurs would have had a 5-1 hidding.

    Capelo seems ready to take King, who can come good if Terry or Ferdinand can't play a match, for one reason or another. By taking two Spurs centre backs, this would lead one to think of Spurs as a team with world class defence. Are they?

    You have to keep things into perspective. Terry hasn't been around this season only. He has been top quality for over a decade and has bags of experience to bring to the England squad. He can lead, he can pass, he can defend, he can score. And he has done this for years.

    It would be wiser to think of Dawson as a future prospect for the national team. Is he better than Shawcross? I doubt it, as Shawcross can also score and might be faster. He's certainly taller.

    If you were a national coach, taking to world cups players on such assumptions would make you a remembered coach. Just, it would be for the wrong reasons I'm afraid.

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

    I'll have to respectfully disagree with this. Looking at results over the last ten years Terry has been in the team, his experience is good at losing. Time to change the record, even if it means an unconventional, non-club defined approach. So what if it's 2 players from the same club? What difference does this make in building a national side for the WC? How many of those sides in the last ten years have had "midfields from Manu, or Liverpool"? What did they achieve?

    I don't think i've lost perspective at all. If anything, taking the same faces, because they're "experienced at international level", doesn't count for anything, as they've fallen over the hurdle everytime. Time for a change from the expectations of club fans, and go for a win with a national perspective, imho.
    As i recall, Spain's national side are on a roll, precisely BECAUSE they left out the expected players, and drafted in some fresh talent, some of it with no experience at international level. Didn't stop them from producing breathtaking football last year, and becoming THE team to chase in the WC.
    It's about results, not faces, and Dawson, imho, has as good a chance, if not better, of putting on a national performance as Terry.
    The England coaches who have relied on your experience approach have failed every time, some more so than others. So i don't think a new perspective, and national team selection outside of expectations would be, as you put it, for all the wrong reasons.
    The national team selections for the last ten years have been for the wrong reasons in many cases, and the silverware cabinet is empty as a result.

  • Comment number 60.

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

  • Comment number 61.

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

  • Comment number 62.

    Nothing has changed. The title is still Chelsea's to lose. It is still up to them to slip up or go steady in the three remaining fixtures, two home and one away.

  • Comment number 63.

    #54,

    I'm afraid you are absolutely spot on that Manchester United are an example to avoid when club owners are mentioned. Perhaps, the Liverpool route, where the likelihood of an exit to Champions League football seems to be leading the americans to cut their losses might be the only way of saving United from Glazers.

    On another note, I have spent time yesterday thinking of Dawson's performance and a likely England call myself. Then I remembered King is a part of the national setup and made the logical assumption whether Spurs have top class defenders. The answer was easy: Spurs have been a pleasant revelation this season, but this was due to their attacking build up rather than their defending.

    At times, I 've played mind games to myself, regarding the World Cup.
    I imagined Messi, Higuain, Zanetti, Aquero, etc. being English players and how the fans would feel about England's chances.
    I imagined Casillas, Xavi, Iniesta, Torres, Villa being English and how, again, the fans would feel about England's chances.
    I then imagined Cesar, Lucio, Kaka, Plato and the rest being English and how fans would feel about the chances to bring the World Cup to England.

    ....and I calmed down.
    It was because I realised that, seeing good players perform well and knowing them to the least details, leads us out of reality on World Cup's real picture.

    England do have a chance as they are a well drilled team with a very good manager. However, the competition will be really tough.

  • Comment number 64.

    Hehe loving the way Neville celebrated. What a result. This season has been impossible to predict in terms of results but there has still been the general pattern of Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal controlling things at the top. It feels good to be a Man United fan one week then not so good the next though! Can't be good for anyone's health being a footy fan!

  • Comment number 65.

    #59,

    Alexandereski,
    I don't mean to argue for the sake of arguing.
    I happen to like Dawson myself as a centre back this season. :)
    Just, something doesn't click as, as I mentioned earlier, everybody admits that Spurs play well this season. Just, they tend to refer to their attacking rather their defending. In the first half of the season, when United visited White Heart Lane, I felt we won relatively easily - and I don't mean to rub it on Chelsea supporters. My point is that a World Cup bound defence should have dealt better with United's attack.

    Dawson is good enough to knock England's door. Dawson and King, both at England? Sounds overoptimistic and open to criticism, pointing to Spurs defending in many matches this season.

    Fair point though. :)
    Point accepted.

  • Comment number 66.

    Not sure why you think Rooney had a mixed bag. From the game I saw he missed every chance and gave the ball away everytime he got it. His body language stank as well something that was ignored but the commentators who were keen to point out Berbatovs when he came on. Man Utd looked more threatening when he was off the pitch as well which is surprising. And like a typical German he got the Man City booked even though he escaped such a punishment for a blatant kick at a City player in the first half. Even the great players have poor games which I wish commentators would accept instead of trying to convince sub-standard performances are something more.

    Man Utd deserved to win and Scholes who I agree was head and shoulders above every other player deserved to score the winner. After being written off for the fourth time this season last week do Arsenal come back into the equation if they beat Wigan later?

  • Comment number 67.

    For the third time this season I have had to endure a last minute defeat at the hands of our greatest rivals. We did not deserve to lose in two of those defeats. I really thought we do them yesterday but we were short in midfield all day. Scholes only looked good because he had so much time. When that happens you need your wingers to shine and I'm afraid ours didn't, although I have to say I would have given Johnson a spell on the left to test Neville.
    Spurs on the face of it are on a roll, but they were played off the park by Arsenal and if van Persie had been on the pitch longer they would surely have lost that one. I have to say what has happened to Gomes. He looks fantastic.
    By the same token John Terry looks broken. If he is at the center of Englands defence for WC then we have no chance. Dawson looks a much better bet to me.

    So the race for the title and fourth rumbles on and we need to pick ourselves up. I think we are capable of bouncing back at the emirates and united have a good record against Spurs, but the way this season is panning out anything could happen. Liverpool may still sneak it?????

  • Comment number 68.

    I read an article a long time ago about Paul Ince who went to Inter Milan.
    The first question asked when he arrived at his opening training session by all the Italian players was " what's it like to play with Paul Scholes ".
    That sums up the man and his footballing ability.

  • Comment number 69.

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

  • Comment number 70.

    Well done Man Utd a well deserved victory which should have been far greater,i wonder where Mancini was coming from his comments of we did'nt deserve to lose were misguided to say the least, his overpaid players got what they deserved nothing,still an improvement for city this season
    and brighter things to look forward to next season,as for Scholes the ultimate professional say no more.Spurs deserve the 4th spot purely for their last 2 displays and i hope they get it,Liverpool v Chelsea should be interesting can't see Benitez wanting to hand the title to Utd it's a pity the Pool have no chance of 4th like most of the season they have had nothing to play for because of a substandard manager and squad which i hope they will change at the end of the season so we can have more competition at the top,the top of the E.P.L. has become a monopoly with same two teams winning it for the last 6 years and no sign of a change on the horizon.

  • Comment number 71.

    Talking about the gamesmanship of Rooney is a bit rich, he was getting bits kicked out of him all game (against Bayern also) and getting nothing, until he decided to go all European. Maybe if refs gave more free kicks to players who stay on their feet, rather than the ones who roll around every time they are touched, we would get a more honest game.

  • Comment number 72.

    7. At 11:43pm on 17 Apr 2010, bluedefence wrote:

    On a mixed day for Rooney, he managed to enrage Eastlands, when he crashed dramatically to the turf under challenge from Vincent Kompany. As Kompany was booked, Rooney sprang equally dramatically back to his feet and raced away.

    As Ferguson was so keen to issue strictures to Bayern Munich's players for their part in Rafael's sending off in the Champions League, it is to be hoped he was equally unimpressed by Rooney's shenanigans.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Well said Phil, Rooney is a real disgrace.

    The chances of the blinkered Scot being honest is nil so i can only add the comments "Typical United".


    Sorry mate, I see Rooney hacked all season stay up and get nothing. The only way to get a deserved free kick in this league is to go down.
    Ask Carlos and the Togan donkey

  • Comment number 73.

    #66. And like a typical German he got the Man City booked even though he escaped such a punishment for a blatant kick at a City player in the first half.

    Spot on fella.

    If a foreigner had blatantly got a player booked as rooney did yesterday, he would have been pilloried by all the media. Because its Rooney and Utd - nothing.

  • Comment number 74.

    65. At 11:07am on 18 Apr 2010, Soccer_UK wrote:

    #59,

    Alexandereski,
    I don't mean to argue for the sake of arguing.
    I happen to like Dawson myself as a centre back this season. :)
    Just, something doesn't click as, as I mentioned earlier, everybody admits that Spurs play well this season. Just, they tend to refer to their attacking rather their defending. In the first half of the season, when United visited White Heart Lane, I felt we won relatively easily - and I don't mean to rub it on Chelsea supporters. My point is that a World Cup bound defence should have dealt better with United's attack.

    Dawson is good enough to knock England's door. Dawson and King, both at England? Sounds overoptimistic and open to criticism, pointing to Spurs defending in many matches this season.

    Fair point though. :)
    Point accepted.
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    No problem at all. We're having a decent discussion without throwing boulders or getting personal. It's all good :)
    I'll go back to the point i made before, about being in-form. Spurs were a bit wobbly in the first half of the season defensively, that's certainly true. But for form, a proviso Fabio said he would consider when choosing a squad, Dawson has, amongst a couple of others, hit the right mark at the right time. When a player's having that sort of game, i would think it's worth capitalizing on.
    Stranger things have happened though. Messi's form for Barca ranges from competent to stunning, and yet he struggles in the national side.
    It's also worth both of us remembering, i guess, that Fabio's likely to want a few spares at the WC, so it may be a case of taking them all, and sorting it out from there.
    I'm not sure about Shawcross, for the same reason i'm not sure about Terry. Terry has, on many occasions lost his cool, and got overemotional to an extent it throws his game. I think Shawcross is the same. And when you compare these 2 with players in other sides on the continent, sometimes they make a lot of noise, and wave their arms about, but when you see their faces, it's an act, and they remain focused on the task at hand. In other words it's calculated. Terry, and i think Shawcross, can't do that. They can't separate the theatrics from a cold and professional mindset at the same time, and carry their own emotional burden from then on. Sulking is counterproductive, when there's only 90 minutes to win. They're not the only ones, but when you're the last line of defence, there's an added responsibility to stay focused, and not let the opposition, or referee's decisions get under your skin. Again, look at Spain, Barca, Bayern, etc.. Lots of noise, but it's never held onto, and the focus remains firmly and professionally on the football, and task at hand.

  • Comment number 75.

    So if Rooney hadn't 'acted' then the ref wouldn't have given a yellow card or a free kick? Briliant surmation of the rules of football there. The match was dire. Tevez has shown his true ability, he ran around like a headless chicken and dissappeared completely after 60 minutes.
    Ferguson doesn't like to have individuals in his team hence the reason Giggs and Scholes have stayed so long as they are team players, and the likes of Stam RVN Ronaldo,Becks and even Ince were sold on, because they were individuals just like Tevez.
    The match was in effect dire, yes Scholes played well but one good performance in 4 or 5 doesn't warrant your place in Man Utd.. I think or at least I hope to see much less of Scholes Neville and Giggs next season, yes they have class, but their pace has gone completely.

  • Comment number 76.

    I can't understand why fans are rushing to accuse Rooney of play acting. In two incidents, opponents clipped his angle, where he was injured. Perhaps, in the incident where he was clipped by the yellow card receiver he should be thanking his opponent, to make football fans happy. :)

    I understand fans and journalists taking pleasure of bringing Man Utd down with words. I understand also their fairness levels when they refer to the Bayern Munich game at Old Trafford. :)

    On the other hand, everyone is free to feel and be as small as he wants: it's only football after all. Subjectivity and objectivity are strange land when it comes to football.

  • Comment number 77.

    "Good luck Chelsea your our only hope for to stop the most contemptible club in the world snatching another prize they hardly deserve."

    I don't think I'd enjoy football as much if I took it as seriously as you do. That's pretty sad, IMO. "Contemptible"? Wow.

    It was a pretty boring game overall, but the ending was fantastic. I'm pulling for a United title - I can't stand Chelsea, presumably because my club's head-honcho doesn't have the big bucks that a Russian oil magnate does. It's a dislike borne out of jealousy, most likely.

  • Comment number 78.

    Liverpool won't beat chelsea either, they would rather loose out on Europe than give United there 19th title. I would expect Torres to be out till the end of the season, making it easy for Chelsea.

  • Comment number 79.

    Never mind Phil, there's always next year. Don't understand your comment about the coming together of Rooney and De Jong. I didn't realise the latter was sent off. Must have missed that one.

  • Comment number 80.

    76. At 11:47am on 18 Apr 2010, Soccer_UK wrote:

    I can't understand why fans are rushing to accuse Rooney of play acting. In two incidents, opponents clipped his angle, where he was injured. Perhaps, in the incident where he was clipped by the yellow card receiver he should be thanking his opponent, to make football fans happy. :)

    -------------------------------------
    Yes, true, but he was obvious, amateur, and clumsy about it. A couple of seasons at any Italian side, and he'll be a professional "victim", able to fool the most eagle eyed of officials. :)

  • Comment number 81.

    rock, me, hard place. but would rather see united win it than chelsea. and would love to be the ones to ruin chelskis season.

  • Comment number 82.

    only utd have conceede less goals than spurs at home thus season, pits things into perspective for those who claim spurs defence is still shaky.

    on form I would have Dawson as a shoe in for the squad. jt should still go, his experience is invaluable providing he hasn't lost the respect of the other players. otherwise he is just a passenger and will cause a big problem to englands chances.

    as for the calls that king should also go I can see why, those who shudder at the thought of two spurs defenders going won't have seen king or Dawson enough to even make that call, it's a shame the anti spurs brigade cloud their judgement when it comes to England.

  • Comment number 83.

    #73

    "If a foreigner had blatantly got a player booked as rooney did yesterday, he would have been pilloried by all the media. Because its Rooney and Utd - nothing."

    Before the match, I was astonished reading posts of City fans talking about a deserved Kompany yellow for taking Rooney out of the game. It showed low standards, to petiful levels.
    On the match, Company twice clipped Rooney's angle and it was mentioned by the match commentators in both instances.
    Manchester United are a guilty team. They've sinned. They won 11/17 premierships and the last three on the trot.

    However, it isn't United's fault that the only good defence Arsenal has had in the last 20 years was Taylor's product and not Wenger's. Nobody mentions that while he can make Arsenal play beautiful football, he seems unable to build a solid defence like the one he found.
    It isn't United's fault that Arsenal gave priority to paying off The Emirates and good luck to them.
    It isn't United's fault that Chelsea gave priority to bringing the balance right and, also, good luck to them.
    In equal terms, it isn't United's fault that Liverpool were unable to win it last season.

    Still, this greed of unfulfilled wishes to lead minds to attack Manchester United with whatever opportunities is getting a bit silly.

    I was reading a post, the other day, where a fan was demanding SAF to be made to face journalists, by the F.A. On the following day, I read a SAF interview on guardian, which was copied on the bbc blogs: after last season's champions league final, british journalists looked happy with the result and the ones travelling back in United's plane were ordering champagne. And you still wonder why SAF is so stubborn in such decisions.

    To top all this, everybody said 'well done' to the Rafael sending off. Nobody was brave enough to mention that on the first yellow, Van Bommel should have got a yellow card instead, for taking his legs from behind. Nobody was brave enough to say that Ribery acted furiously because he was made to look like a zero by an 18/19 y.o. kid, damaging his £40m price tag and reputation. I think taking the reality stance would be rather common sense. To top all this, everybody said United lost that game. In fact, United lost the tie but they won the game. Bayern performed the miracle escape.

    The thing is, if your team doesn't do well, shouldn't it be wiser to point the finger elsewhere than United and SAF? :)

  • Comment number 84.

    Mr McNulty, masterclasses are given by Barcelona, the swings that occurred yesterday merely indicate a league that is short on quality this season.

    For the 2nd season running, it is quite likely that Utd will win the league on the back of others failures not because of their quality, I refer back to your use of the word masterclass and cite Rome 2009.

  • Comment number 85.

    whats all this nonsense about this being the best title race in years?

    what we have seen on a consistent basis is a poor standard of officiating throughout this whole campaign. which has affected the race and will without any shadow of a doubt affect who wins the title.

    in so far as this dire derby was concerned we saw yet again a referee who bottles it in the big games.

    we saw it also with Dowd in the Mickey Mouse Cup Final.

    We have seen more than considerable leniency shown to some players and rooneys kick yesyerday, off the ball was a prime example, how that escapes a booking is beyond me. as for his play acting this was also clear in the CL game at OT, one min limping about, then next sprinting like a cheetah to latch on to a possible goal scoring opportunity.

    We also saw quite clearly that not a single player, wearing either shirt had any respect for the ref, with players contiually mouthing off at the decisions that were made.

    The Ref was abysmal and so was the game.



  • Comment number 86.

    Well I wasn't expecting either result yesterday, but now I'm hoping for more of the same next week. Come on United you can do it.

  • Comment number 87.

    On a final note before going out to enjoy this glorious day, I will leave you with my wishes for next season :)

    I would like SAF to buy a quality attacker and a Modric-like midfielder, to take reigns from Magnificent Giggs. I would also love it if SAF was able to spend over £100m in flops, to become a hero for not sending more cash to american banks.

    I would like to see Chelsea adding to their squad, allowing Ancelotti to have a go on the title with his own choices - it would be fairer.

    I would like Arsenal to keep Fabregas and add to their defence and buy a second quality striker, to stop depending on the way Bendtner chews his gum. :)

    I would like Manchester City to bring in more quality in defence and midfield, to become a formidable side, both in premiership and europe.

    I would like Spurs to invest in defence and be joy to watch in both attack and defence.

    I would like Aston Villa to add depth to their squad and buy a quality striker, to relieve their fans from some terrors they faced this season.

    I would like Liverpool to keep Torres and Gerrard and Rafa (or whoever) be given that £80m mentioned to add quality to their squad, challenging for trophies again.

    I would like Everton to keep hold of their golden youngsters and add depth to their squad, starting from where they are leaving this season.

    I would like Fulham to also add some depth, having a second miracle season in Europe.

    I would like Sunderland to add some gems, like the ones Bruce unearthed for Wigan's benefit and have a season like their first half season, this year.

    I would like Stoke City to keep adding to their squad and remain a fortress that makes big-team managers sweat on the prospect of visiting Britannia.

    I would like Birmingham to carry on from where they are going to leave this season, adding strike power to their well drilled squad.
    I would like Blackburn to keep playing like the second half of this season, providing their own fortress, while adding flair to their game.

    I would like Bolton to strengthen and, under Owen Coyle's guidance, to keep improvement the beautification bit of their football.

    I would like McCarthy to keep putting Wolves's interests above Wenger's wishes again, surprising a few with unexpected results, again.

    I would like Newcastle to add to their squad the required quality, to awaken the sleeping giant in Geordie land.

    I would like West Ham to have more of the better days of this season, with players emerging to fill the gaps created by wholesales sales, not blaming this time their poor management for mistakes of their owners.

    I would like Wigan to be as unpredictable as this season, playing good football in more occasions than they did this season.

    I would like the other two teams that will come to be the pleasant surprises of next season.

    Now, that would make the declining premiership a joy to watch: wouldn't it? :)

  • Comment number 88.

    Afternoon...I was at the Manchester derby, so naturally the blog is about that game, but I'm more than happy to acknowledge the wonderful week Spurs have had.

    They were below-par in the FA Cup semi-final against Portsmouth, but I still felt they should have won in the first 90 minutes. They were the superior side and had the better chances.

    It would have been easy for heads to drop after such a disappointment, but what a reaction to record back-to-back wins against Arsenal and Chelsea...and deservedly.

    Gareth Bale is playing as well as anyone in the Premier League in that left flank position at the moment. He tortured Chelsea yesterday and Spurs have great momentum in the race for fourth.

    What a climax to the season. The title and the Champions League places all up for grabs.

    Thought United deserved the win yesterday because they looked the more composed and ordered side. And Scholes was the epitome of that. He was the one player on the pitch who always seemed to have time to play. Nemanja Vidic, as Alan Hansen rightly pointed out, was also excellent.

    City will have found it tough to take to lose so late again to United, and now they must show the same character as Spurs to regroup for the run-in.

    As for Wayne Rooney, I am usually accused of heaping unnecessary praise on him - so some may regard it as a pleasant change to read criticism. Yes it was a foul by Vincent Kompany, but Rooney more or less ensured he went into the book with his reaction. To see him leap to his feet the instant the yellow card was brandished and race into an attacking position was a poor piece of gamesmanship in my opinion.

    I cannot imagine Manchester United being hugely impressed if the boot was on the other foot.

    So United fans, have you got the title feeling again? And City and Spurs fans - what are your feelings about the fight for fourth?

    If there are any Liverpool fans looking in, how do you feel about the possibility of your team playing a part in a United title win if you beat Chelsea?

  • Comment number 89.

    " Yes it was a foul by Vincent Kompany, but Rooney more or less ensured he went into the book with his reaction. To see him leap to his feet the instant the yellow card was brandished and race into an attacking position was a poor piece of gamesmanship in my opinion.

    I cannot imagine Manchester United being hugely impressed if the boot was on the other foot."

    I know. Rooney should patiently be waiting for the third time, or the fourth time, when the 'tackle' would succeed. And we could all declare him as a saint, out of his bravery to wait for the inevitable. Correct? :)

    "So United fans, have you got the title feeling again? And City and Spurs fans - what are your feelings about the fight for fourth?"

    The Spurs match was the twist that, in most likelihood, will take the title to the wire. Still, though, it's in Chelsea's hands. It's up to them to perform a great display at Anfield and wipe out the opposition in the other two matches, taking the title on merit.

    The fact is that all top 7 teams have had weaknesses this season. And in a long premiership season, these weaknesses are found out and teams are exposed. Still, though, it added flavour to the most exciting premiership season, so far. Let's hope for one of the same, next season :)

    And have a good, sunny day, all of you.

  • Comment number 90.

    Phil, why are you not asking any arsenal fan about their chances of winning the title or even coming 2nd ? we are not out of it by any sort of imagination ..if we beat wigan we are 2points behind manutd and 3 behind chelsea so we have a great chance .. and if spurs can beat utd then we can take the 2nd spot but only if we manage to beat city .. although chelsea are favs to win coz no team has lost the league leading it with 4 games to go .. now 3 ofcourse .. never count the gooners out thats all my point is .. Phil,u would soo much love to see utd winning the title ha ?

  • Comment number 91.

    I usually wouldn't comment Phil, simply because of your ludicrous pre-moderation policy. However, I thought this article so risible I could not resist. "Masterclass" by Scholes? Nonsense. The only masterclass if there was one is by that old fox SAF. The players come and go SAF keeps winning the titles.

  • Comment number 92.

    Paul Scholes, very underated player!!!

  • Comment number 93.

    Capelo seems ready to take King, who can come good if Terry or Ferdinand can't play a match, for one reason or another. By taking two Spurs centre backs, this would lead one to think of Spurs as a team with world class defence. Are they?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    If we're playing at WHL, then yes :-)

    P.S. Gomez for England!

  • Comment number 94.

    Afternoon...I was at the Manchester derby, so naturally the blog is about that game, but I'm more than happy to acknowledge the wonderful week Spurs have had.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes, apologies, that obviously makes a lot of sense, I was quite drunk when I wrote my overly vitriolic response. And clearly, unlike some poster suggested, I don't need to be spoon-fed opinions about Spurs' season, it would just be nice to see them get a bit more recognition. But yeah, you can hardly help it if you were at the Manchester derby which was the obvious choice of match to attend yesterday so I fully retract my whinging.

  • Comment number 95.

    The most significant detail, from a Manchester United fan's point of view, in yesterday's results is that goals difference doesn't count anymore, in the balance of possibilities: assuming United win their last three matches, a draw at Liverpool is not enough for Chelsea, anymore.

    ------

    Could still be absolutely crucial, could go 3 ways. Chelsea, Utd and Arsenal could easily all finish on 83 pts.

    Chelsea lose at Liverpool but win the remaining 2, Utd draw at Spurs but win the remaining two, Arsenal to win the last 4.



  • Comment number 96.

    It looks to me like another title for ManU to prove my point about the EPL being a monopoly since its inception. And no such thing as the big 4. It's all about Man U and a handful of wannabes. Don't make fun of the SPL because at least they have a duopoly.

  • Comment number 97.

    #28, soccerinteg, it's reassuring to know there's someone coming from the same direction. Unfortunately I didn't see the first half, but from what I saw of the second half United's strengths and City's weaknesses are being exaggerated multifold because of one play, which admittedly you have to give Scholes and United credit for, not for the first time! As a City fan it was great to see City going for the win at the end a la Ferguson, rather than sitting deep a la Sven. That didn't look like City playing for the point to me. Bellamy was going for the 3 points rather than the one, the blight that saw us drop home points to Hull, Fulham and Burnley earlier in the season. For the second time in the half he seemed to lose his head. Earlier on he had hurriedly gone for the glory rather than playing Tevez back in near the six yard box and then he tried to play the ball across field to a City player all on his own surrounded by United players in acres of space. Vidic couldn't have played a better pass across the back. Craig only had to play the ball to 2 overlapping players to his left for us to launch our final attack which would have only seen 2 results, neither of which would have been a United win.

    This City team played with a belief that I haven't seen them have in modern times. The Barry overlap for the Neville kick on the shins, Vieira nicking it off Nedum's head, and Nedum's excited lunged poke goalwards were scraps that another day would have brought a famous win. Yes, it was a bad day for City but turn back the clocks one week and it was United had blown the title and City were shoe-ins for the CL. Just as last week it's still all to play for and may the best teams win. I can't remember such a great year at the top. 2 great games yesterday and next week we have United Tottenham and Arsenal City followed by City Tottenham. It won't be easy but it's still in City's hands because of our football since August, not on April 17.

  • Comment number 98.

    95. At 1:49pm on 18 Apr 2010, ralph250 wrote:Chelsea lose at Liverpool but win the remaining 2, Utd draw at Spurs but win the remaining two, Arsenal to win the last 4
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    well thats out the window with arsenals capitulation at wigan today - this season has been great so far - ALL the experts and fans have called it wrong time and time again this season.

    I wouldn't want to call results for the final 3 games for Man U or Chelsea and I certainly wont be listening to any so called experts and pundits

    Remember an awful lot of people writing of Man U since departure of CR7 and turncoat tevez. Lots of claims of United not challenging this season by fans and people who get paid for incorrect opinions. Where is this big season for liverpool? How many so called experts had them walking the league this season.

    I said at the start of season that liverpool losing alsono would be much more critical than Man U losing Ronaldo.

    For anyone who posted here saying that utd are not a great team or dont deserve to win games / trophies is off their head. This squad has won 3 titles in a row - some fluke for an average team that I reckon !!!!!!!

  • Comment number 99.

    Phil- As you indicated, Man City were celebrating before the event yesterday; therefore Derby victories like these, i.e.'last gasp' winners, make it all that much sweeter for United because City have set themselves up beforehand -will they never learn?
    When City start with the 'self promotion thing' prior to matches, it always reminds me of Ally Mcleod and Scotland in the 1974 (or was 1978?) World Cup, when they held their celebration party - before the tournament had even started!
    City have won nothing yet and whilst I'm quite sure eventually they will, given the resources at the clubs disposal, there is a desperate need in the meantime to stop making fools of themselves -they have a good football tradition (if not the same pedigree as their Neighbours)- although most City fans would have to be aged 60 yrs + to be able remember the 'golden days' at Maine Road.
    The 'Meistercraftsman' Paul Scholes, once again showed why Zinadine Zidane once referred to him as "the best player of his generation" and I also suspect that as Fabio Capello sat in the stand, he was wondering is their no-way to persuade Scholes to have one last outing with England?

  • Comment number 100.

    Scholes to come out of International retirement? If only...

    His passing range and vision are beyond everybody else in the squad including Carrick, which along with his ability to ghost into the box to score are qualities which make him the complete attacking central midfielder. Whereas Gerrard and Lampard are more than capable of hitting the back of the net, their creativity is sadly lacking and have both been poor for England of late - in fact Stevie G has been poor for Liverpool as well. It's a shame then that the Ginger Genius could not be brought along even for the later knock-out games as he is easily the best attacking central midfielder the Premier League has seen.

 

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