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Man Utd youngsters lay down marker

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Phil McNulty | 06:22 UK time, Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Sir Alex Ferguson penned a vote of confidence in the new breed at Old Trafford when he told Manchester United's fans in his match notes for the meeting with Tottenham: "Don't fret about the transfer market."

It proved to be a timely message as the second youngest side Ferguson has ever fielded in the Premier League - average age 23 - produced compelling evidence that he is in the process of building another monument to domestic domination.

The suspicion lurks that Ferguson will still need the quality and experience of a player in the mould of Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder at the sharp end of the Champions League, but the glimpse into the future offered in an emphatic 3-0 win against Spurs carried an ominous look for those wishing to deprive United of a 20th title.

They will need more to start thinking about challenging Barcelona, but this fresh young United seems well-equipped to take on any pretenders to their title, even if it develops into a local slugfest with newly expansive neighbours Manchester City.


In contrast, there was plenty to fret about for Ferguson's counterpart Harry Redknapp as the summer-long saga of Luka Modric's proposed move to Chelsea overshadowed proceedings before, during and after the game.

The manner in which Modric's head has been turned by Chelsea's interest persuaded Redknapp to leave him out at Old Trafford. And how Spurs missed his craft as possession was not accompanied by cutting edge, leaving them well beaten by the final whistle.

Redknapp appears more sympathetic to the Croatian's desire to join Chelsea, who are now understood to be willing to part with £30m to complete a deal, than does Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who declines to shift an inch from his refusal to sell at any price.

Levy is not to be moved, so Redknapp now wants him to patch up his differences with Modric, perhaps in the shape of a lucrative new contract, and move on. It is a call that needs to be made now because Spurs simply cannot afford a disaffected Modric on the margins of crucial early games.

Redknapp will have to defy one of football's laws of gravity to pull Modric back up and into the mood to play for Spurs after his mind has travelled so far down the road to Chelsea, but it is a task Levy's unwillingness to countenance a sale may require him to perform.

And Modric's fate will significantly shape Spurs' season. If Redknapp, as he says he can, talks Modric around then this is potentially a very fine side that will be embellished by his talents.

If Spurs fail to clear the clouds in Modric's mind then they are left with a major dilemma and little time to find a solution.

No such worries for Ferguson as he strode off towards the Stretford End at the final whistle with a paternal smile of satisfaction after watching a youthful United see off Spurs, robust for an hour, to win in style.

England coach Fabio Capello left a little earlier - but there was so much for him to admire as he prepares for next week's Euro 2012 qualifer in Bulgaria.

United's first goal was all-English and home-grown as Danny Welbeck headed in Tom Cleverley's cross before the striker produced a piece of individualism from the very top drawer with a flick to set up a second for Anderson.

Wayne Rooney then provided a Samson-style endorsement for the powers of restored hair with a perfect header cushioned off his shimmering new locks to complete the formalities. All this achieved with Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov on the bench and Michael Owen also in the calculations.

There was a dash and verve about United that underlined Ferguson's upbeat bulletin to supporters. Ashley Young adds pace and variety in attack, prodding Nani back towards his best in the process, while Cleverley and Welbeck have returned more mature and streetwise after loan spells at Wigan and Sunderland.

Chris Smalling coped admirably with Gareth Bale at right-back, but the most impressive performance came from Phil Jones, brought from Blackburn Rovers for £16m and already looking a threat to the established defensive order of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Swift judgements are often rash ones but let us make one anyway. Barring accidents, this is a young player of power, poise and confidence who will be an outstanding leader for United and England over the next decade.

He is that assured. Jones performed as if he was born to play at Old Trafford. Early days, but it does not need a lingering look to appreciate such quality.

Goalkeeper David de Gea was not so convincing, with moments of mishandling that almost cost United, but he is making a major transition for a 20-year-old and deserves time and patience.

Ferguson was happy to celebrate the youth in United's squad - and they justified his optimism.


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  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    spurs completely blitzed last half hour. they has plenty on possession but lacked any sort of outlet or cutting edge. Lennon distribution was very disappointing so was kranjcar, not the player to have in the middle of the park at old Trafford.

    Showed how spurs missed modric but also an imposing front man who can win th ball and hold it up.

    VDV had to keep coming too deep leaving Defoe isolated. Little support for Bale on the counter too.

    Hopefully this will wake levy up into sealing some deals, if they don't spurs will struggle to pick up many points outside whl

  • Comment number 3.

    De Gea is getting a lot of undue flack in my opinion. Having watched him in Spain in the last year or two, he's clearly a very rare talent and will, I'm certain, turn out to be one of Ferguson's finest signings. Yes areas of his game are imperfect and he's still settling in, but that's to be expected if you ask me. He's a legend in the making and mark my words, that lad will own the Spain and Man Utd number 1 jersey for a very very long time.

  • Comment number 4.

    It certainly seems the current United squad is good enough to win the Premier League title, especially since they beat a team that is expected to finish in the top 6 and challenge for a top 4 place. And this game was won without the likes of Rio, Vidic and Berbatov. Even Giggs and Hernandez who only came on after the game was won. They may have had shaky moments but there can be no disagreements about the scoreline last night.

    Whether they will be able to win the Champions League is another matter but the fact remains that apart from Barcelona, they were able to beat everyone else. Chances are they wont need to play Barcelona before March anyway (if at all). I don't quite agree that they need to sign Sneijder to beat Barcelona, if Daniele De Rossi became available from Roma, that would be a man I would sign. Even someone like Chieck Tiote from Newcastle, someone who isn't afraid to put in a few nasty and dare I say clumsy tackles every now and again.

    Anyhow, its a long season and you can't win the title in August, you can only lose it but the signs for a Mancunian slug fest are already looking ominous.

  • Comment number 5.

    Too early to make and hard and fast calls - remember Chelsea at the beginning of last season? - and I think the quality of some of the teams is higher than last year but nevertheless there are some new young reasons for the wily old fox to smile.

  • Comment number 6.

    This looks like the start of a new era, lead by Rooney. I just hope we can get snejder as he will provide the much needed experience and quality the midfield needs.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sir. Alex is very proactive. He bought only home grown talent and we shall all see the dividend of such investments. In contrast to the confused man at the Emirates who only sees good players in french league.

  • Comment number 8.

    I don't care who you support or where your allegiance lies, you simply have to raise your hands and look in awe at what SAF achieves. Once again he has created YET another generation of starlets hungry for success and with the ability and talent to achieve that success. You only have to look at an ageing Chelsea, or a young and talented but struggling Arsenal, or the lack of togetherness amongst the City primadonas to realise that SAF and the United structure is far superior than any of their title challenging counterparts. Simply marvellous.

  • Comment number 9.

    Makes Arsene "I did not see it" Whinger's current discomfort all the more enjoyable...

  • Comment number 10.

    god save the gunners next week....

  • Comment number 11.


    Let's not forget Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba. They are immensely talented players who could well usurp Anderson and Cleverly in the near future. The fact that Morrison is still at the club after all his brushes with the law shows how talented he is. I also read that some big clubs, Barca and Real, made inquiries after him if United were to offload. The boy has got talent and anyone watching the United reserves and youth team from last year will tell you so. The future is very bright at OT, which I'm sure will frustrate the oil money down the road.

  • Comment number 12.

    Will someone tell Chris that he can let Gareth out to go get a shower now????

    Smalling, Jones, Welbeck, Hernandez, Cleverley, De Gea (if he improves alot), all already in the first team getting games and looking good. The future already looks great.

  • Comment number 13.

    Keeper criticism is not really fair. The lad kept a clean sheet against a team that ripped inter and some other CL teams apart last year.

    Agree Jones, Smalling, Wellbeck etc looked great. Exciting times ahead at old trafford, these guys are the reason Fergie keeps going.

  • Comment number 14.

    Re comment 7 - In what way is De Gea a 'home grown talent'?

  • Comment number 15.

    United still could leave youngsters like Giggs on the bench.

  • Comment number 16.

    To be Honest, Spurs have to get couple of Strikers.
    That allows RVDV to go anywhere on the pitch to get the ball when he's playing behind 2 strikers.
    My option would be Llorente and Rossi. Rossi already has premier league experience and Llorente is a tall guy to is really a good finisher and has good headers.
    As for United(im a chelsea fan) they looked impressive at the last half an hour and I think yet again their big big big BIG tests comes when they play Chelsea or Man city AWAY.

  • Comment number 17.

    Welbeck = the New Andy Cole for ManUtd.

  • Comment number 18.

    All this praise for another set of United youngsters and yet no mention of any of the players that helped win the FA Youth Cup for United, of whom Morrison, Pogba and Tunnicliffe are all special talents. Tunni, is on loan at Peterborough, and the other two will play some part this season, and could well be ready for next season to step in on a more regular basis.

    Whilst we can all marvel at the youth in this team however, I think it's masking Sir Alex's greatest achievement of the summer, in changing how United play. With a higher pressing game, shorter passes, it may be an imitation of Barca, but with the younger legs in the team willing to run all the time, it's doing the job. The team are learning how to play it better with each game, the likes of Welbeck and Cleverley are growing into the style. It may not be ready this year to take on Barca, but it will be soon enough. Sneijder would be the cherry on the icing for this team this year, but I don't think we'll miss him too much if he doesn't come.

  • Comment number 19.

    Would any other manager in the Premiership have started a game against decent opposition preferring so many youngsters to experienced players? We always complain about producing players in this country, but it's about giving them their chances as well, rather than sticking another foreigner in the team instead. For that, Ferguson deserves enormous credit, and it's a lesson that others should but won't learn. Even given all the trophies that United win.

    As for Jones, I remember seeing one of his early games for Blackburn and thinking what a great player he looked, then he was superb at the Under-21 tournament in the summer.

  • Comment number 20.

    As a City fan I hope UTD don't get Wesley from Inter.... Terrifying prospect. They looked fantastic last night! See we're not all bitter (follow my lead when the boots on the other foot if you like ;) )

  • Comment number 21.

    United didn't have Valencia, Ferdinand, Vidic, Berbatov nor hernandez and the decimated Spurs in the second half. Two or three points however. I don't agree with your analysis of DeGea, this is something the media have developed, he kept a clean sheet that is all that is required. he escaped a sucide back pass with some neat foot work. So basically lay off him. If United play like that all season they will everything domestically. It is very encouraging. But it's Spurs first game of the season, with a new Goalkeeper who kept them in it for a while and in truth they were exposed for the mediocre team that they are.

  • Comment number 22.

    # 20.At 08:36 23rd Aug 2011, swindonbluearmy wrote:
    As a City fan I hope UTD don't get Wesley from Inter.... Terrifying prospect. They looked fantastic last night! See we're not all bitter (follow my lead when the boots on the other foot if you like ;) )

    Mate, you almost had me there... You can come out with the truth and bash the United faithful again.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm not a Man Utd fan but it was a joy to watch a team whose average age was 23 and with so many english players Jones, Wellbeck, Cleverly. Smalling and not forgetting Rooney it was in sharp contrast to Man City and Chelsea who are not interested in young players whatever country they come from. Man City may win the premiership one day but I still think the policy of Fergie and Wenger of buliding teams with youth at their heart is what football should be about.

  • Comment number 24.

    Impressive Man Utd performance but they were against Spurs at Old Trafford which is about the bigger home banker in world football. The problem is that it highlights how uncompetitive the premier league has become and makes a mockery of all the garbage spoken about most exciting and unpredictable league in the World.

    Money has killed the game in this country.

  • Comment number 25.

    @#20 - if you're not bitter, you're not blue ;o)

  • Comment number 26.

    @22 I tried my best!

    Even in a "look how great Man U are" blog it's all about City bashing! City don't develop yes they do! City are not a yes they are! As good as UTD? no probably not but it's a work in progress! @23 Yeah Wenger's doing a great job at the moment isn't he?

    Yeah Everton and Blackburn must be really pround of their youngsters....oh no hang on a minute UTD brought them :-p

  • Comment number 27.

    Spurs held their own in the first half but tired drastically in the second and Utd ran through them. There were some good performances from the youngsters in the home team but they were flattered by a truly dreadful second half performance by the visitors. This was Spurs first competitive match of the season and they had many regulars injured so I wouldn't get too excited by a home win for the champions against a very poor team. VDV was yet again awful, he's so over rated it's unbelievable, the amount of times he lost the ball and shot from ridiculous positions was shocking.

    One thing this match glossed over was yet another poor game by the Utd GK, I thought it was like watching Gomez last season.

    In conclusion not a bad performance from Utd but playing like that away from home, I'm afraid Spurs would have lost to any team in the Premiership.

  • Comment number 28.

    "@23 Yeah Wenger's doing a great job at the moment isn't he? "

    He is. I would still rather watch the wonderful football the Gunners play on a bad day than Man City or Chelsea .

  • Comment number 29.

    I watched the game full-time and I think David De Gea is more confident than he has ever been at Old Traford. He made many saves in the first half when he held on to the ball. He even tried to dribble when Rafael Van Der Vart charged at him and, to me, this oozes confidence in the young lad. I think he made one or two errors when he misjudged a cross or when he failed to hold on to a shot and had to have a second go - but everyone does that.
    Why focus on the young lad and fail to highlight the errors made by Brad Freidel on the other end? I honestly think David De Gea is an outstanding goalkeeper and that he will become a United legend sooner than pundits are ready to admit.

  • Comment number 30.

    27.At 08:55 23rd Aug 2011, WaldoSpur wrote:

    First competititve game of the season?? Hearts 5-0?? If I remember correctly, this was definately not a friendly...

    And I thought you a Spurs supporter...

  • Comment number 31.

    @28 Would of agreed with you a season or two ago but you can't ignore that City are finally playing fantastic football (I watched all pre-season games too) they are starting to play like Arsenal!

    Regardless of how pretty it is football is about one thing and one thing only....Winning! Ask an Arsenal fan the same question!

  • Comment number 32.



    Who unless i am mistaken won the premier league last season with the exception of Nani Rooney and Evra. Squad depth is phenomenal.

  • Comment number 33.

    Ok - utd or citeh for title - season over - yawn!

  • Comment number 34.

    Tottenham are in decline and after Andy Gray you'd have thought Sky might have gone for an articulate pundit. United and Sky have always cosied up though. Well done Sir Alex........... thanks Geoff (Shreeves)

  • Comment number 35.

    Agree with leia27-Post 18,

    The style of united's play has taken on a new shape this season.. Having watched all of united's pre season games.. great passing moves like Anderson's goal last night have been appearing more regularly in this team and its great to see! Cleverley has been great in this respect because he has great awareness of what is around him and has great passing ability - Scholesesque!

    Aside from all the youngster's my MOM from last night was the little bit older 23 year old Anderson who was an absolute terrier from box to box and dominated the midfield not to mention 'that goal'..

    Morrison, Pogba and Tunnicliffe to come...not sure about first team this season..lets hope they at least make a big impact in the Carling Cup. Out those 3, Id say Pogba is the outstanding prospect

  • Comment number 36.

    nah, it will be a 2 horse race between Chelsea and United AGAIN.
    Man city, Spurs, liverpool, Arsenal will have the thrills and spills and challenge for the title or top 4 spot, but by middle of April, it will be a 2 horse race between Chelsea and United.
    So much for the competitive league in the World.
    *yawns* *sighs*

  • Comment number 37.


    I don't think that Phil McNulty giving to much flack at De Gea. He's Van der Sar successor of course pundits are going to talk about him and all he says is that wasn't convincing yet which is true because he was at fault for a goal in both of his 2 first games and nearly in this one too if the post hadn't saved it. He also says that he deserves time and patience. I don't think that's a harsh analysis.

    And for people saying McNulty's focusing to much on De Gea just look at the article, he talks about him in only 1 sentence... For once I think the media are being reasonnable and giving him time to adapt, if only they could do that for English players too...

  • Comment number 38.

    6 English players in the starting line up too.

  • Comment number 39.

    After 2 rounds of matches, my prediction for the end of the season:

    1. Wolves
    2. QPR
    3. ManUtd
    4. Liverpool

    19. Wenger
    20. The All Blacks

  • Comment number 40.

    I think United will Canter to the title this year...

  • Comment number 41.

    @39 Love it!

  • Comment number 42.

    Its to early to start judging this team, as someone else pointed out remember what Chelsea were doing a year ago.

    Its encouraging, and long may it continue, but its still very early days.

  • Comment number 43.

    I thought David De Gea was pretty quality last night, he held onto shots, the only thing he messed up on was that corner which resulted in defoe hitting the woodwork. I am sure SAF will be getting him in the gym and on the protein shakes so he can clear out that box. He looked pretty confident.

    Capello needs to start Rooney, Young, Cleverly and Welbeck in the Bulgaria Game flush out the old in with the new.

  • Comment number 44.

    When Rangers and Celtic dominate in Scotland, its called a 2 team league, when Barca and Madrid dominate in Spain, their achievements are sneezed at.................. take a long hard look at this so called Premiership in England.

    You have Arsenal and Liverpool whose supporters will go into ecstacy at finishing fourth !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Chelsea are merely continuing last season, a team who have reached the summit but whose path is now downhill.

    City.............................. Swansea and Bolton ? with the greatest respect, people suggesting they have bridged the gap to United, come on, squeaky bum time................. money cannot create a team spirit for the times you have to grind out a result, and titles are not won by the 2-0,3-0 wins, its won by winning when you should not.

    United. What was the average age last night ? How old was that back 4 ? Tottenham are supposed to be one of the "bigger" clubs in this ultra competitive league of ours, and yet look at the outcome.

    The only issue this season is this ......................... If United pull their socks up away from home, the title will be finished by Easter, if not it will only be delayed.

    United are the only class team in this country, they could probably field a team wearing nappies and still be too good for most domestically.Credit United, shame, total shame on the rest.

  • Comment number 45.

    Early days but good night at OT last night. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones looked as if they have been in the respective positions for years. Welbeck had a poor first half but sprang to life after his goal. Now if we can nick Nasri from under Citeh's nose for £25m and stuff the gooners next Sunday my week will be complete! We still need an experienced playmaker in midfield to challenge Barca for the CL though. Thats not meant to disrepsect the premership because I think Citeh will match us point-for-point this season and it will go to the wire (why Yawn ?@33 - Isnt it a 2 horse race every year in Spain,Italy and Germany as well?)

    (PS Did anyone hear Danny Welbeck on 606 after the game? He talks like a camp hairdresser, come on Danny man up, youre built like brick outhouse...)

  • Comment number 46.

    Another youngman waiting in the wings is the son of Nick Barmby (Tottenham & England) looked class in the Milk Cup pre-season.

  • Comment number 47.

    44.At 09:21 23rd Aug 2011, John wrote
    ''The only issue this season is this ......................... If United pull their socks up away from home, the title will be finished by Easter, if not it will only be delayed.''

    Agreed. Maybe then Ferguson will give Mancini, Dalgish, Wenger etc all an Easter Egg while he holds the EPL trophy.

  • Comment number 48.

    Think people need to calm down, Man United were less than convincing in their 1st game and took an hour to get an upper hand of a depleted Tottenham side. Yes they have talent and potential to become a great side but they are a thousand miles away from the football being played at the camp nou.

    You will get a better picture when United take on Liverpool, City, and Chelsea as these will be the strongest teams to challenge for United’s title. From what I have seen so far City are the team that has stood out and if they can get Augero, Silva and co gelled then it will take make for a great season.

  • Comment number 49.

    That's why we're Champions!

  • Comment number 50.

    Many thanks for all the early replies. Keep them coming.

    Thoroughly enjoyable match last night and Spurs well in it for the first hour. If Aaron Lennon had shown some vision when Van der Vaart was unmarked early in the second half they might even have had a crucial goal to show for their efforts.

    Points for discussion perhaps? United's emerging youngsters really did put down a marker last night, with Welbeck very impressive, particularly after his goal, and Cleverley also creating.

    I have to say the star man for me was Phil Jones - absolutely magnificent. If he maintains that level of performance do you think Sir Alex Ferguson may keep him in the team even when Rio Ferdinand is fit?

    On De Gea, you cannot escape the fact that his handling was uncertain but I have also stressed that he is a young keeper making a big transition and deserves time.

    Do United fans feel they still need an experienced Sneijder-type midfield player for the bigger Champions League battles ahead? I feel they do.

    And Spurs fans, how can the Modric saga be resolved? It was very disappointing he was not involved last night and it is a sideshow they can do without. Are you confident Redknapp and Levy can talk him around or do you still feel he may leave?

    Redknapp also spoke very positively about Adebayor. Is he that 20-goal striker that can add a further gloss to a talented squad?

    Let me know your thoughts. This is the place for debate.

  • Comment number 51.

    i completely disagree...

    i thought for about 50 mins Man United were lacking in invention and penetration. They held up the ball not as well as Spurs, and the game was largely even, perhaps even tilted a bit in Spurs favour...

    then, as often is the case, the Spurs defense had a brain cramp, Man United capitalized. All that forced Spurs to open up more, and with their depleted midfield that left them no chance and very vulnerable...

    Let's not overreact to the performance... it was workmanlike and steady, but hardly deserving of the emphatic scoreline...

    That said, Man United are my faves for the league...

  • Comment number 52.

    United looked good, Spurs looked pretty ordinary and relied on VdV shooting from distance.

    Personally, though Welbeck is getting the credits, the quality of the ball in from Cleverley was absolutely fantastic.

    Ominous for the other contenders, Rooney looked very hungry, seeing the way he berated Nani for putting across a less than perfect ball...Rooney wanted to score and wanted to win and was driving his teammates on.

  • Comment number 53.

    Spurs were toothless in the final third - when they were on top and had to score all they could muster were some tame long range shots that made De Gea look good.

    United fans are probably frothing this morning, but just how many of their players would make the City team? Two perhaps? (I'm not a fan btw)

  • Comment number 54.

    Then - Neville, scholes, giggs, beckham, butt. Now - Jones, smalling, cleverly, welbeck, rooney. The word genuis is bandied about flippantly. But my gosh, it's application to SAF could be an understatement. How does he get it right time and time again and yet so many flounder so badly. See Arsene Wenger and his hopeless reliance on feeble french african talent. His recent fascination seems to be with bad-haired players!
    I was completely enthralled by the manutd display on offer. Crisp passing, imaginative offense and a resolute defense. This is what football should be about. And no mention has even been made of the da silva brothers. Now if only SAF will get rid of carrick, my joy will be complete. Go Utd Go!!!

  • Comment number 55.

    #48 Bear with it.

    We've already played City, we annihilated them in the charity shield. On our way to 20.

  • Comment number 56.

    It is still very early days, but clearly our younger players made no harm to their chances of playing more regularly this season. The pair of Cleverley and Anderson is proving to be quite effective so far, Cleverley has great awareness about the players around him and the space to exploit and Anderson is benefitting from playing more regularly.

    Jones is phenomenal, there's no other word, the lad is really brilliant and by watching and training with Ferdinand and Vidic, I think he can become even better. Smalling is playing at right-back as if he played there he's whole life, but his future is in central defence with Jones I believe, with the Da Silva twins occupying the full-back positions.

    De Gea kept a clean sheet, made some very good stops and still gets criticized. I think the Beeb (and the media generally speaking) have decided to single him out for criticism (a lot of it being undue). De Gea has the talent, the right mental attitude and most importantly : the support of Sir Alex to become the great goalkeeper he has the potential to become. It won't come overnight, I think we will have to wait at least until he is 24/25 before he has completely developed.

  • Comment number 57.

    First off I'm a City fan -- watched the match last night- awesome performance and bodes well not just for Utd but possibly England--Jones / Smalling / Welbeck / Cleverlly/Rooney and surprisingly Young --all class. Never really rated Young but eating my words --maybe all he needed was the great SAF + self belief? Who Knows--But then you read comments about money can't buy success--Well sorry "JOHN" that is exactly what it has done for Utd for years --so stop being so hypocrytical--9 out of the 11 starters were bought as were 2 of the 3 subs--fact--what other teams lack and aspire to is (A) the Great SAF-and (B) the self belief and arrogance needed to win titles which only success breeds.
    I'm looking forward to the season --long way to go yet - but good start.

  • Comment number 58.

    As a Liverpool fan I have to say it is nice to see Sir Alex giving young english players a chance early on. Dalglish is trying to do something similar at Anfield. I only hope that when the big games come around (i.e. Man Utd v Liverpool!!!) the likes of Jones, Cleverley, Wellbeck, Kelly, Spearing, Henderson etc are all involved. It would be a shame if they do so well and then get left out when it really matters.

    And for what its worth, Utd's squad is too good this year. I think even City might struggle to keep up.

  • Comment number 59.

    Very impressive start to the season by United, but we're 3 games in. We have the same carp every season when someone's fast out of the blocks, and it's even more the case this season because it's United. As we're constantly being reminded by fans of you know who, you win nothing at Christmas.

    One thing that was evident in the Community Shield, and Danny Mills mentioned it last night, and the BBC haven't picked up on, is that United appear fitter. Will this catch up with them later in the season?

  • Comment number 60.

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

  • Comment number 61.

    I really think some people are getting carried away. If you remember last season Chelsea had won their first 5 games, scored a bag of goals and had not even conceded. You would have said they would have romped home. 33 games later and they were hanging on to 3rd with their fingernails.

    Not that I think United won't win the league this year, because we probably will without much trouble, as most if not all of our rivals are in transition at the moment. Citeh have enough players for 2 squads and are yet to develop a decent team ethic ( something that may never happen). Liverpool have basically re-signed a new team ( all be it a rather average one- Charlie Adam is not a good player, terrible fitness, not great on the ball, just has a long ball in his locker or a set piece, Jury is well and truly out on Carrol, Henderson and Downing don't smack of title winners. The only player they have of top quality is Suarez.

    Chelsea have a very old squad, and a manager that has zero experience, which ultimately will cost them.

    And of course we don't need to list arsenal's problems now do we!

    However, I want to say that although United looked very good for the last 20 minutes, we were not very impressive up until then. And when you consider that Jake Livermore and Nico Kranjcar were the Spurs midfield, it makes me worry.

    United will come up against much better midfields, much better organised and seasoned players, and 3 in the middle instead of 2. This is what worries me, as Tom cleverly was not in the match, until he made that goal. He struggled to find space against a very poor midfield, and only because of spurs lack of fitness and experience did he eventually manage to exploit them.

    Now obviously Cleverly is learning, and will get better, and yes I know we have players to come in like fletcher and Carrick et al, but I feel we just need one more quality addition in the center.

    Against those 5 man midfields, I cannot see Cleverly standing up and being counted away at chelsea in a 2 man mid, he is gona need a ball winner along side him, or a mentor ( yes sneijder please).

    Having said all this we do have a great blend of players, and there really is nothing to complain about as a united fan, but one more quality addition would be just perfect.

  • Comment number 62.

    The talk about homegrown players begs a questioon given that 8 of the starting 11 players were bought in the last few years. Here you go (in millions pounds):

    Rooney, 27, Jones, 17, Ashley, 15, Smalling, 12, Anderson, 10, Nani, 12, DeGea, 17, Evra, I do not know. I think many prmier league managers can win the league if you avail players of such quality. Fergie has contributed very little in the making of these players.

  • Comment number 63.

    To be honest I think the biggest positive last night was not how we won in the end but the fact a young side not playing there best game found a way to grind down the opposition (likely top 5/6 ones at that) and look comfortable in the end. Thwere will be plenty of other nights when Cleverley, Young, Nani will all fire and we'll destroy teams but to win a title you need to do it when things aren't going your way, helpfully it looks like Fergie has already started building that mentality into this young side.

    Jones and Smalling were for me by far the best performers by the way, I have for a good while wondered when someone will come along to usurp Rio (who misses to many games for England) and Terry (who if yere hoenst good th0ough he is isn't the palyer of 5 years ago) and finally we may have them. Better than that they are both at OT!

  • Comment number 64.

    #50 philmcnultybbcsport

    And Spurs fans, how can the Modric saga be resolved? It was very disappointing he was not involved last night and it is a sideshow they can do without. Are you confident Redknapp and Levy can talk him around or do you still feel he may leave?
    Phil, may I take a moment to try and define the sideshow you refer to?

    As I understand it, Chelsea have made two bids for Modric which have been turned down. I believe that is the only substance in this story.

    That being the case, the sideshow to which you refer can only be the constant rehashing of a limited story by you and your colleagues in the press. Or are the two clubs perpetually talking about it through their own media channels? No, thought not.

    Anyway, Spurs looked fairly ordinary last night and some of their players did make bad decisions when in possession. Contrast that with Man U who looked pretty slick and, as you allude, without the old guard that might have played in such a fixture last season.

    Wish Chelsea would play their youngsters with such confidence :-(

    Finally though, akin to Chelsea bidding for Modric, is it simply a case that Man U (and Chelsea) show the difference between the have's and have nots that is gradually making the league less competitive? From your blog on Everton the other day, there was a link to an article on Everton's website that said, in part, that tv income was down because they had been featured less on Sky. Man U have played 3 games this season and all 3 have been on Sky. Have's and have nots again, this time perpetuated by a TV company.

    Phil do you think it is all going wrong?

    (And of course I say all this as a Chelsea fan and we're on the side of the have's.)

  • Comment number 65.

    Amazing isn't it, this game had nothing whatsoever to do with Arsenal yet people can't help bringing us into the fray.

    Let's consider for a moment exactly where Spurs stand and then maybe some clarity may dawn!

    1)They have spent over £150m in circa 2yrs and are not even playing Champions League Football!
    2) They are about to lose their best player (Modric)!
    3) They have not bought anyone of any significance (not even a Carl Jenkinson, Ryo Miyachi, Oxlade-Chamberlain) or had any one of any real talent come through from the reserves / youth team!
    4) They lost out on a new stadium to a team who couldn't sell a quarter of the required tickets and never will do (West Ham)
    5) The club and individuals within it are under investigation for various things
    6) Almost every club Arry has been involved with has finally somewhere down the road gone into administration or similar
    7) When the money runs out Arry runs off (fact)
    8) The would all rather be Gooners and have the Emirates and a solid sound financial policy that will stand the test when the ridiculous financial absurdities of the Prem and many other leagues collapse in on themselves.

    If Arsenal had half the problems stated above I'd be worried, but we haven't! We have some exceptional if on occasion impetuous young talent like teh obvious ones such as Wilshere, Ramsey, Gibbs, Chesney, Frimpong (when he calms down will be awesome), Ryo Miyachi and so forth.

    I admire Man United for their diligence and conviction and of course they will be title contenders and probably regular winners for years to come. But Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Spurs are just (or have just) been throwing money at problems which just like life usually works short-term but generally only papers over cracks!

  • Comment number 66.

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

  • Comment number 67.

    #48 Bear with it.

    We've already played City, we annihilated them in the charity shield. On our way to 20.

    Scoring a last minute winner is not annihilating a team….Barcelona annihilated United in the final of the CL that is where a term like that should be used. People will also argue City annihilated United in the FA cup final judging by your views……

  • Comment number 68.

    I don't see why all the media are jumping on De Gea's back after this performance. Maybe this is just myself being naive and forgetting that journalists are a huge burden on society. The young keeper had a very solid game making some good saves as well as being involved in the attacking play with his distribution. He made one mistake coming late for a cross. You can't put blame on him for the Huddlestone shot as even the most experienced of keepers would have struggled with a shot like that. I think you people in the media need to actually get out and do some work rather than sitting around regurgitating the same old nonsense.

    Aside from the media related rant it was a solid performance from a very young united side. Phil Jones looks to be an excellent piece of business as does Young and I'm sure De Gea will become a great goalkeeper for united (When you people decide to leave him alone for 5 minutes). Rooney looks to be in great form and the midfield and Anderson and Cleverley is extremely industrious when defending and full of flair and pace when attacking. The future does look good for united but why concentrate on that when the present is outstanding.

  • Comment number 69.

    # 62.At 09:46 23rd Aug 2011, dovem wrote:

    Every team spashes the cash. Look at Chelsea, City as well - But it doesnt mean success or even continued success mate.
    You can sit with 11 of the best players on planet in your team, but if you dont have a manager that can guide them, then you sitting with a hopeless case.

  • Comment number 70.

    Whoever wins the PL-and i wouldnt ever bet against Utd-it wont be Man City. They panic in possession particularly in defence and give the ball away with alarming ease. Their defence is ropey.
    Yes its Utd's to lose as Chelsea wont challenge either. Their team needed rebuilding 3 years ago and no manager has dared break up the Terry, Cole, lampard, Drgoba axis. Somebody has to grasp the nettle.
    My team (liverpool) might have a beeter season but the PL? No next season maybe.
    Arsenal-sorry no chance. Wenger has missed the boat. Should have bought experience 2 seasons ago. Now its too late. players unavailable or too expensive and he has to market a failing team to prospective new players. Difficult. Also he doesnt seem to understand the transfer market now as he's been too busy buying tiny tots.

  • Comment number 71.

    To be brutally honest, as a United fan I think what we saw last night was the team clicking. What I mean is that in the first half, It was end to end but Spurs had more shots on Target and looked just as likely to win it. I am sure at half time Ferguson told his team to play the way they can, to drop the nerves and it worked. This match we saw, is not so important for it's scoreline, nor the opposition but that it is the springboard of confidence for the rest of the season. Now that have effectively hammered a so called good team, I expect them all to grow in confidence and play like that for 90 minutes. Personally it was refreshing to see the Old energy back in a United team that for the last 2 seasons seemed to struggle at times to play flowing football. A lot of the comments here sound like the comments of Hansen and co years ago. Yes I think Ferdinand will lose his place this season. He is way too injury prone and often accident prone in his first match back from injury. To be honest I don't think United have ever had such strength in Depth. When you look at who didn't play last night I think the other teams should be in awe. It's down to Ferguson now to pick the correct team week in a week out and not mess up against the 'weaker' teams by playing the weaker players.

  • Comment number 72.

    Title is already United's. The rest have already given up and are playing for Champions(!) League places. Spurs didn't care last night, they had 14, or so, shots on target, but none of them had any conviction. If that had been a boxing match the ref would have stopped the match do to lack of effort!

    As a spectacle last night's match was as exciting as watching paint dry. Most of the shots, from both teams, were little more than goal-keeping practice. The goals were extremely soft. I thought that Rednapp would get his team fired up for this match, but I was wrong. He did not look as if he cared what happened on the pitch.

    Will we see anybody go to Old Trafford this year with the intention of trying to win? Even if a couple scrape a draw that is still over 50 points already in the bank for United. Possibly Liverpool may have a go; and hopefully Man City will change from their usual defensive attitude under Mancini; but apart from that most of the other managers will be thinking about who they are going to rest when they play there.

    What a depressing competition this appears likely to be.

  • Comment number 73.

    People will also argue City annihilated United in the FA cup final judging by your views……


    I'm not sure many will. Since they played Stoke.

  • Comment number 74.

    Good blog Phil. Totally agree re: Phil Jones. He looked worth every penny and was outstanding all game.

    In fact, I can't really think of a weak link in last nights game.

    Man Utd are also very enjoyable to watch and I admire Ferguson's ability to keep rebuilding his teams, blending youth with experience (more of the former at the moment, though!) and not just getting results but playing great football. Utd's second was sublime.

  • Comment number 75.

    Was at the game yesterday and really enjoyed the Utd performance. Phil jones terrific, what a player he will hopefully turn in to.
    Agree with Spurs fans it was their first game of the season and they looked tired in the second half, but take nothing away from the utd lads who played some controlled attacking football and could have had a few more goals

    Also, Brad Friedel always seems to have a good game against utd?? Starting to wonder whether we would get past him last night.

  • Comment number 76.

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

  • Comment number 77.

    At the start of the match - on paper at least - I thought Spurs line-up looked stronger than ours.

    You can imagine how pleased I was that such a relatively inexperienced team basically tore Spurs apart!

    With so many experienced players either injured or on the bench, the rest of the premier league must be feeling the red fear.

  • Comment number 78.

    @72 the other teams have already given up? don't be a k**b all your life!

    City top of the leage (ok only 2 games) but I hardly think that's throw the towel in time and I'm pretty sure Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool haven't decided to give up yet either

  • Comment number 79.

    Spurs need 2 new strikers . Pav & Crouch have to go , simple as that . Cant believe Pav has even lasted as long as he has .

    So get Diarra in midfield, Adebayor on loan ( as spurs will not pay 170k a week for him ) and 1 other striker ( Sturridge , if a swap deal with Modric happened )

    If its a case of getting them 3 players vs keeping modric then he will have to be sold as they cannot compete with such a toothless strikeforce .....ideally keep modric and get the 3 players though

    Friedel was exceptional last night at least. cant see gomes back in that team again , apart from Europa & carling cups

  • Comment number 80.

    “Title is already United's. The rest have already given up and are playing for Champions(!) League places. Spurs didn't care last night, they had 14, or so, shots on target, but none of them had any conviction. If that had been a boxing match the ref would have stopped the match do to lack of effort!”

    That’s a rash statement to make considering at this point last season many pundits and fans were saying the same about Chelsea yet we all know what happened in the end. How can you say the title is over after 2-3 games? Clearly the people who are saying this have not been watching the EPL in the last few seasons…..

  • Comment number 81.

    It is early days to make judgements - whether negative or positive - about De Gea. But all these people saying that De Gea is such a talent and was an amazing keeper in Spain so others should lay off him seem to be missing a point to me. Ben Foster was talked about as the most amazing natural keeper to emerge in a generation, superlatives galore but when he was given the No 1 United jersey he let his nerves get the better of him. And he was older than De Gea.

    De Gea may well get better and solid but stop trying to pull the wool over our eyes. I know what I see and I see a keeper whose handling is suspect. 3 games now and mistakes in all. Lindegaard kept goal in FA cup games last year and I didn't see handling mistakes on this scale. Now Fergie has made the call to stick with De Gea and not have a go with Lindegaard. He's the boss and not me and mighty successful at that... But I think De Gea will need United's defenders to be very strong, particularly at setpieces.

  • Comment number 82.

    It seems to me that in the making of ManUtd's first goal, the ball was cleverly crossed and kicked well back onto the net.

  • Comment number 83.

    60 - pls no violence.

  • Comment number 84.

    #70 Redfootball

    Yes its Utd's to lose as Chelsea wont challenge either. Their team needed rebuilding 3 years ago and no manager has dared break up the Terry, Cole, lampard, Drgoba axis.
    3 years ago? Despite winning the league with a record number of goals the season before last?

    Terry - part of last seasons joint best defence.
    Drogba - hasn't started either of this seasons two fixtures
    Cole - Best left back around?
    Lampard - injured and, if for no other reason, playing instead of the injured Essien.

    Chelsea have bought Mata, have bid for Modric and McEachran now in the squad on a regular basis.

    Are you sure you know why these players play and what steps the new manager is taking to change things?

  • Comment number 85.

    Smalling Jones and Rooney are not products of fergies development genius. Jones has been at the club 5 mins. hats off to fergiw for taking the risk on him and smelling to start but this is how it'd work. they have the most attractive packages and deepest pockets to offer players.

    Utd spent over 50 mil so far spurs zilch. whilst it'd have players missing bar the defence they are squad players do this was a strong team. over 20 mil of new defenders spurs whole defence last night cost less than jones.

    Spurs had no midfield and have more injuries than another club. Livermore has not started a match for spurs and kranjcar Is a picture of a player you do not want playing away in the middle of the park at OT.

    Yes utd played well but you would expect that with young Rooney nani, a good 60-70 mil of bought talent. Rooney cost more than the whole spurs team last night and people scratch their head wondering why it's not competitive

    As for spurs they need a tweak not much more to challenge for te top 4.
    addebayor will certainly improve the team. defo is great on the shoulder of defenders but against teams like it's away spurs need someone who can win the ball in the air and hold it up bringing VDV and bale into play, Defoe is just to small and is too one dimensional. diarra would be a good bet too.

    Spurs need modric on last nights evidence. VDV had no supply, he was coming too deep, kranjcar is poor on the ball and can't seem to dictate in the middle. diarra would be good to add protection. sandro is coming back and he looks a real exciting prospect!

  • Comment number 86.

    What are the chances of any pundit on MOTD telling us that you won't win anything with kids? It is early in the season but it appears that this Utd side oozes confidence, said a Liverpool fan. (sobs)

  • Comment number 87.

    @54 spot on. Lord Ferguson is a living legend. No one will usurp us on his watch. God help us when he goes but at least he will be leaving the next manager a brilliant team.

    @57 The difference with us bert is that we build a team gradually. mixing home grown players with exciting youngsters. havent spent ridiculous amounts on them all either. evra 4 mil. chicharito 6 etc..

    Jones is a future captain of club and country. Amazing.

  • Comment number 88.

    *67.. Performance-wise, united annihilated City definitely..their goals came against the run of play...united really did boss the game and the last minute winner was overdue reward for their efforts..

    is 3-1 really that much more of an annihalation than 3-2? ur logic doesnt add up

  • Comment number 89.

    Fergie showing yet again his ability to build great teams using the youth system.

    This one looks even better than the class of '96!

    Building truly great teams is not done by splurging cash - Citeh and Chelski take note!

    This team looks like it could realistically out-pass ANYONE! We're coming for you Barca!

  • Comment number 90.

    Sorry, made a mistake in my comment above. The last part should read "and headed well back onto the net."

  • Comment number 91.


    Got confused by the guy on the radio last night,

    "...finds Young cleverly"

    "...finds young Cleverley"

  • Comment number 92.


    "On De Gea, you cannot escape the fact that his handling was uncertain but I have also stressed that he is a young keeper making a big transition and deserves time. "

    really? how nice of you to mention the new keeper needs time


    how is it when u made comments about Arsenals new keeper, in various blogs
    you along with many others in the media deemed him " not good enough "

    as for last nights result

    as most sensible man u followers have pointed out;

    "its early days"

  • Comment number 93.

    The first half was ok but not great, it was when the game started to open up in the second half when United were able to exploit the space. It is so refreshing as United fan to watch a young side with plenty of speed. Berbatov, Giggs, Carrick, Scholes have all slowed the play down over the past couple of seasons (which has its benefits at times) but the amount of speed that we now have in the side is unreal.

    Phil Jones is immense!! He has the best attributes of a young John Terry combined with a young Rio Ferdinand.

    Cleverley has got great vision, can pick a pass and is not frightened of getting forward, very similar to Paul Scholes in his heyday. The only negative I have with him is that he can drift out of games for 10 minutes or so at times, Scholes didn't do that. But I am sure that will come with experience. Great talent!

    Danny Welbeck looked a bit lost 1st half I thought but after his goal he looked like a different player. He wasn't scared to turn and run at the defenders and is now showing he can cope with the hustle and bustle of the premier league. Somewhat already mentioned he could be the new Andy Cole and I definitely think they have similar characteristics. Great second half display.

    And as far as David De Gea goes I think the couple of mistakes he made previously helped a little last night. Spurs were obviously encouraged to shoot and it got a bit ridiculous when VDV started having a go from 50 yards. I have confidence he will get better but he needs to get stronger.

  • Comment number 94.

    Cappello needs to start this squad and work on it through the year.
    that means no gerrard, no lampard, etc.
    Subs: Green, Baines, Walker, Young, Downing, Henderson, Bent

  • Comment number 95.

    “s 3-1 really that much more of an annihalation than 3-2? ur logic doesnt add up.”

    Yes because Barcelona scored 2 more goals than United and passed them off the pitch for 70 odd minutes, from back to front man for man Barcelona were far superior to United, that was not the case in the City game. Yes United deserved to win but it was hardly an annihilation. Given it was basically a pre season game should not be ignored either, the real stuff starts when the whistle for the 1st game blows and currently City have shown they are every bit as good as United.

    You can look at the signings and for me being able to bring in Augero and possibly Nasri 2 players with bags of international experience will have an impact. The big test for United is if they stick with the youngsters when the go to places like Anfield, Stamford Bridge and the Ethiad stadium.

  • Comment number 96.

    @ 94 i would take JT from the CB position for starters he is the biggest over rated defender in the premiership

  • Comment number 97.

    #94 Krish-The-Dude_CFC

    I think you've got a bit carried away there.

    Smalling at right back? McEachran in the middle even though has hasn't played a competitive minute this season?

  • Comment number 98.

    Dear Phil,

    I really love reading your blogs about everything, football.

    Yesterday I've watched the game, and United played some fantastic game against a good side Spurs. Although I stuck with one thing. Why you NEVER mention the Spurs goalie, Brad Friedel? He was immense. If he wasn't there, I really think United's score would be something like 7-0/8-0.

    I hope Phil Jones would get a call from Fabio as England game is getting closer. Because he's the real talent. He's far better than Terry (captain? joke.)

    My sincere hope is that Ferguson will stay at the club as long as possible. Without Ferguson United would be United I think.

    David Da Gea will prove all the doubters that he's a worthy every penny what was paid for him in the Summer.

    All the haters of United are living "envy moments" I am sure of this.

    On Sunday it'd be interesting to see the United youth team versus Arsenal youth team.

  • Comment number 99.

    Same old comments, same old prediction, different seasons.
    for heavens sake man u fans, no one knows the future.
    Wish i'd knew the future but unfortunately i don't :(
    Same comments last year about Chelsea.
    Same comments about Man U this year.
    Get over it, only time will tell.
    who knows? maybe this is SAF's last year?
    LETS TALK BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAHS after the season finsihes.

  • Comment number 100.

    #96 PezzaUTD

    Despite him being an ever present in last years best defence?


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