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Old habits die hard for Manchester United

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Phil McNulty | 19:36 UK time, Sunday, 5 February 2012

At Stamford Bridge

The great old champions often play from memory in moments of crisis, recalling the spirit that brought success to defy the odds and defeat. It all came flooding back to Manchester United for 40 minutes at Chelsea.

If Manchester City need reminding, and it is unlikely they do, that they take their eyes off their neighbours from Old Trafford at their peril in these decisive Premier League months, then let events at Stamford Bridge be their lesson.

Sir Alex Ferguson rails at the very suggestion that this is not a vintage United side, not a team that stands true comparison with the previous great monuments to silverware that he has assembled.

The fact that they are current Premier League champions adds weight to his argument, but study personnel, performances and current Champions League pedigree and it is a truth he may have to accept, even if it is done with fierce reluctance.

Yet when United drag themselves back from a three-goal deficit as they did in the second half at Stamford Bridge, they still present all the evidence needed that City - or anyone else for that matter - will have to drag this title from their dead hand.

Wayne Rooney scores a penalty

Wayne Rooney scores his second penalty of the match. Photo: Getty

Chelsea's fans were thinking humiliation as opposed to parity when goals early in the second half from Juan Mata - beautifully constructed by Fernando Torres and thunderously finished - and David Luiz added to Jonny Evans' first half own goal and had manager Andre Villas-Boas doing a military march along the touchline in celebration.

But from the moment Wayne Rooney's penalty put United back in contention, old instincts that come directly from their manager kicked in as if part of their DNA.

It is also a dual effect. The speed with which Rooney made his way back to the halfway line after converting his spot-kick was testimony to United's renewed belief and also instilled nerves in a Chelsea side made even more fragile by the absence through injury of deposed England captain John Terry, as well as Frank Lampard and the suspended Ashley Cole.

Ferguson may not like to swallow the hard truth that this is not one of his finest teams, but what it has - what all the Scot's sides have had - is the inner belief that even the most hopeless situations can be retrieved in a game that operates on such fine margins.

Plenty will point to referee Howard Webb's award of two penalties as giving United a timely leg-up. The first, when Patrice Evra was fouled by Daniel Sturridge, was an open and shut case, while the second appeared more at Danny Welbeck's instigation when his leg made contact with Branislav Ivanovic rather than the other way around.

Even in United's current reduced circumstances with injuries hitting hard, there was a certain inevitability about Javier Hernandez's late equaliser. The big picture may suggest two points lost but circumstances actually make it one gained - and one that may prove crucial when the final count is made.

Ferguson virtually spat out the word "character" in his post-match analysis and he was right to do so. United have been criticised in plenty of places this season, including here, but this was a real show of fight and should not be diminished by the carping (understandable in relation to the second penalty) of a desperately frustrated Villas-Boas.

It was a thrilling second half when set against a poor first - with the Football Association's decision to sack John Terry as England captain providing a permanent backdrop.

Javier Hernandez (centre) completes United's remarkable comeback. Photo: Getty

Chelsea's supporters chanted their support with "There's only one England captain". United's Rio Ferdinand, in turn, unfortunately suffered abuse by association, both as a man once appointed to succeed Terry as his country's skipper and also as brother of Anton, the player the Chelsea defender will stand trial accused of racially abusing - and for which he has entered a plea of not guilty.

Stronger Chelsea teams than this - dare it be said, those that operated under Jose Mourinho - would never have relinquished such an advantage, but United's reaction to pulling one goal back suggested they sensed frailty in this modern Chelsea.

Paul Scholes, introduced as substitute, pulled the strings with his wonderful range of passes and such was the shift in momentum that many inside Stamford Bridge expected a United win once they restored equality.

It was actually Chelsea who almost made the decisive late push in the closing moments - and when they did United found another hero in the shape of derided keeper David de Gea.

Criticised, justifiably, after a feeble and nervous performance in the FA Cup defeat at Liverpool, he ensured United's recovery was not cast aside with one truly magnificent athletic stop from a Mata free-kick that was guided towards the top corner and another acrobatic tip over from Gary Cahill's powerful drive.

De Gea still lacks presence in his area and has an odd tendency to go for balls with his feet when his hands provide a perfectly serviceable alternative, but the save from Mata in particular was of the very highest calibre measured in agility and shot-stopping.

There has been talk of the contrast between Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar winning points and saving games for United and De Gea losing them, but here the young Spaniard protected a point and gave Ferguson room to insist this is why he was willing to pay Atletico Madrid £18m to secure him.

At the very least it was an incident that should repair some of De Gea's confidence, which looked broken at Anfield.

It was also the signal for a little psychological warfare aimed in City's direction by Rooney, a tactic his manager will no doubt dust down should they keep their fierce rivals in their crosshairs for another couple of months.

"We fought well and that point could win us the league," said Rooney. "You can also see it as two points lost - we understand that - but, after being 3-0 down, all the City players sitting there at home won't have enjoyed watching us recover, the way we fought back and the spirit of the team.

"They know it will be a long fight to the end of the season, and we'll be there right to the end."

So we will pick at United's flaws, question the all-round quality and make unflattering comparisons with the past. What we will not do is write them off as a going title concern.

And if there is one second when City are tempted to do so, they should remember the final 40 minutes at Stamford Bridge.


Page 1 of 11

  • Comment number 1.

    Spot on Phil - and that is I love Manchester United. Bring on the wall!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh, and add a why in there. GGMU

  • Comment number 3.

    Chelsea are pants this year. Their team is completely in chaos and their new players are substandard. Man Utd should have beaten them 10-0

  • Comment number 4.

    Actually won a fiver betting with my flatmate that Chelsea wouldn't win as soon as it got to 3-1. Man United will never be written off because of the sheer determination, we're still yet to see if City have the same bottle.

  • Comment number 5.

    Phil what about the stonewall penalty United should have in the first half? I agree that the second penalty awarded was a bit soft but that squares up the blunder made by Webb in the first half !

  • Comment number 6.

    being awarded 2 penalties will lift anyone's spirit to go on and win it..just saying

  • Comment number 7.

    Bring on Liverpool !!!!!!!!! Can't wait till Saturday. What a game it's going to be?

  • Comment number 8.

    theres no writing off a team like us! 19 top flight titles should demonstrate to city that if their eyes even drift from the 'ball' we will snatch it away and poke fun at their ''triumphant'' league win over us as yet another failed campaign closes sure they are two points to the good but are yet to play so many of the ''giant killers'' that smashed their net in the first half of this season. phil, my good sir, we are the champions and we will provail. united untill the end.

  • Comment number 9.

    if you sacrifice a forward for a defensive player (romeu) which one do you take off?
    the completely rubbish malouda? the one who hasn't scored for 12 games maybe? No. I am Andre Villas Boas. I will take off our best and most dangerous player who is also our top scorer. jackass. I do wonder if that guy has a brain cell sometimes. good games from Essien and Cahill though. If they play well every week we may just get in the top 6 this season

  • Comment number 10.

    Webb had the worst game I've ever seen him produce yesterday. Missed Cahill's last man foul, missed penalty when Bosingwa dragged back Young, and awarded penalty for Welbeck v Ivanovic (although that was definitely more of a pen than Johnson v Baird) which was debatable. Although just because Welbeck connected with Ivanovic, it's arguable he was still fouled- Ivanovic is still stopping him running in without trying to play the ball. 50:50, but the other two are certain pens (Cahill's foul a red card and free kick).

  • Comment number 11.

    I thought Howard Webb had a particularly good game for Manchester United yesterday.

  • Comment number 12.

    I was disappointed for chelsea yesterday, they had some good individual performances out there, that were coupled with some terrible ones that ultimately resulted in their downfall.
    I felt that Mata and Torres were exceptional and the re-introduction of Michael Essien, coupled with three points could have really reignited their season. For teh record I thought Meireles was dreadful.
    Penalties or no Penalties, I regard it as chance creation that resulted from United pressure, although it was a shame that it does take away from the scale of the United come back.
    And as for whether it is a vintage United team, the introduction of a little ginger man in the second half to boss the game shows you that it clearly's just very vintage, really worry for sir alex replacing him and giggs.

  • Comment number 13.

    totally miffed we didnt get the win here.we were all over chelsea pretty much the whole game.we are so much better in possession nowdays we keep the ball well just need to be a bit more clinical up front.aside from that 3-0 chelsea was totally undeserved and flattered them so im glad we pegged them back for a point but really there should of been only 1 winner at the bridge.and chelsea fans will go on we was robbed it wasnt a penalty blah blah blah second 1 was soft but your forgetting the 1 we should of had in the first half but didnt.its what you call karma.

  • Comment number 14.

    The moment it was 3-0 I asked those watching the game with me to watch the referee. Man U set out to win the game on penalties when they went out early on looking for them. First it was Ashley Young who had to propel himself forward to go down because the contact was not big enough and Webb thought it was too early to give them. Secondly come Welbeck. Although it was an outside the box incident Rooney went around yelling why a pen was not given. At 3-0 Man United really needed some help from Webb. Evra's Pen, he moved his leg towards Sturridge to get the contact and and Welbeck sensing there had been no contact made sure there was contact. Sir Alex though admitted later in the post match interview that Webb normally gives the pens not given at OT!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Must say that it was a great comeback, fantastic to watch.
    And the save to stop Chelsea's late rally... Wow.
    Mata's goal a contender for goal of the season- great move finished with a stunning cross and an even better volley.
    One of the games of the season.
    The booing was fairly pathetic, but it didn't seem like any more than a minority at Stamford Bridge was joining in (thankfully).

    Anyway, great game and all that.

  • Comment number 16.

    Greeeeeat, another Man United suck-up article. You'd think they were the only team ever to fight back from 3 goals down. Happens all the time in the real football league.

    Mr McNulty, ever thought of reporting on something actually informative, instead of something that everyone already knows?

  • Comment number 17.

    It was a fairly exciting game to watch but the standard of football was pretty poor to be honest. Both teams were giving the ball away needlessly and very few were able to control the ball. The theatrics from both sides was discusting.

  • Comment number 18.

    14.At 08:22 6th Feb 2012, classof49unbeatenrun wrote:

    Yep you're right, none of them were penalties and likewise, cahill's challenge on wellbeck was perfectly legal. The same as last week against stoke, utd should not have had two penalties there either. sigh

  • Comment number 19.

    Phil, intersting article, can't fault you much for the content. However you failed to mention cahill's probable sending off for being the last man on wellbeck. I think this has to be taken into the context of the other three penalty shouts.

    Also pundits and writers seem to have a collective belief that this is not "one of the vintage" man utd sides. Yet in the past 2-3 years they have won the league, reached the final of the CL. Almost seems scary to think what type of a utd side it will be once we get some classy central midfielders back.

    Still no blog on Newcastle Utd?? What do they have to do?

  • Comment number 20.

    4 penalties in a week?! Another helping hand yesterday from Mr Man Utd himself Howard Web!

    Is he in charge for Liverpool next weekend? If so LFC better watch out as they'll be starting the game against 12 players!

  • Comment number 21.

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

  • Comment number 22.

    as good as de gea's save was, why on earth did he go for it with his right hand?

  • Comment number 23.

    Over the course of the game utd were probably the better side, but due to slack defending they had to compete with a three goal handicap. Spirits will surely be high for liverpool, but they have to sort out their defence.

    Chelsea's beleagured manager looks like he's at wit's end what to do next. Gifted three goals, AVB must have surely felt that chelsea were heading for 3 points and putting pressure on 3rd placed spurs. Instead he witnessed a disintegration of his leaky defence, and even with the introduction of promising youngster oriol romeu, it was fruitless. His post match meltdown (arguing with bbc journalist, calling the second penalty "absurd" and dismissing the red card cahill should have received) clearly shows a man under intense pressure and one who is struggling to manage it. I think he will be a very lucky boy if he still chelsea manager come august 2012.

  • Comment number 24.

    What is so annoying is the way opposing teams fall for the Man United bluff and bluster style of comeback football. It has nothing to do with ability or style, it's just pressure and aggression. Admittedly it's effective but it's easily countered by teams with a cool head.
    You don't see Barca wetting themselves when they have a 2/3 goal lead on them.
    As soon as teams realize it's all a bunch of hot air and stop panicking, United will be well and truly found out.
    City figured it out, now it's time for the rest to follow suit.

  • Comment number 25.

    Howard Webb is terrible...and I'm not talking as a "bitter" for one team or the other, he made terrible decisions against both teams. Some will say "great game for utd etcc" but he was equally as poor when it came to Chelsea...can't be bias if your being bias towards both then turns from bias to incompetence!

    Think UTD were good value for a point and possibly deserved 3...My City will have their work cut out to beat this "average" united team....that 1-6 may be very important rather that just pleasing on the day!

  • Comment number 26.

    24. At 08:43 6th Feb 2012, fatClyde wrote:

    your almost correct there...fact is though City didn't figure it out...that was MU's fault for being to cavalier and City just had the quality to punish them, we wont see that again so 1-0 at the Etihad would be a great result! If we expect to wallop them by 6 again we'll get slaughtered!

  • Comment number 27.

    Without even the need of a prompt first words out of Rooney's mouth are about City just as it has been continually with every Utd player since Christmas. It is starting to reveal more about your fears Wayne rather than the sad pretence you had hoped to create.

  • Comment number 28.

    Why no blog on Fabio's support of the alleged racist?

  • Comment number 29.

    when you go into the penalty box 10 times in a game and look for a penalty rather than going for goal, then yeah you are likely to score a few goals...
    one of the most unimpressive comebacks you'll see, but AVB's decision to take off Sturridge for Romeu. Madness. Then again most of AVB's decisions are a bit strange, could've taken off Malouda who hadn't really done anything, or taken off Essien who was clearly knackered having only just come back from injury. But hey, he's won the treble with Porto (not exactly the outsiders in the Portuguese league) and therefore definitely knows what he's doing in the English game, and hey will definitely. definitely get better just because he is younger than the average manager. Teams don't suddenly get terrible, Chelsea were 2nd last season, if it wasn't for the inconsistency of the teams below us, we'd probably be about 7th currently.

  • Comment number 30.

    28. At 08:48 6th Feb 2012, Trev wrote:

    "alleged" being the important word there!

  • Comment number 31.

    Let's put this in context. United couldn't beat a team who gave away two silly penalties with naive defending, Ivanovic showed no commitment to stopping Giggs' cross for the third and as for Malouda, his display was nothing short of disgraceful. He was also responsible for two of the goals, losing possession and failing to track back.
    Chelsea showed mental weakness with many players failing to take responsibility and yet, United couldn't beat them.
    Admittedly Mata is very, very good and together with Luiz looks like he should give up and go back to Spain.
    Both managers must have been watching a different game as well, judging by their post match comments.
    I lost count of the number of times both sides but particularly Chelsea, gave away possession.
    Poor game.

  • Comment number 32.

    Great comeback from the boys yesterday, I don't like criticising United players but how does Evra get away with the glaring mistakes game after game. Yes, De Gea has cost us goals this season but not half as many as Evra has. All 3 goals yesterday were in some way down to his ineptitude at left back. I wouldn't mind but hes been this bad since the 2010 World Cup. Time to give Fabio a proper go I reckon. MUFCOK

  • Comment number 33.

    Great match to watch. Sums up why many believe the premiership is still the best league in the world.

    Have to comment though on the morons who booed Rio Ferdinand. Why oh why? Liverpool fans justified the booing of Evra on the basis that they believe he lied at the enquiry. Are Chelsea fans of the opinion that Rio Ferdinand should be booed because he's the brother of Anton. If so then calling them morons is being polite. Pehaps John Terry might actually have the integrity to speak out about the treatment of Ferdinand. But then pigs might fly. Shame on you Chelsea.

  • Comment number 34.

    The great, no even the good Man U sides would never have found themselves 3 down against such an ordinary side, this is the worse United side in a generation, it is still 2 points dropped this side is petrified playing the 'big teams' away from home, some of the results this season have been the worse in the clubs history and it is only because the league is so poor that they are still in it. City will pull away quite easily now and will win at a canter. This United side are a million miles off being champions and a good team.

  • Comment number 35.

    Howard Webb once again the deciding factor. Odd also that when fans pay £50 for a ticket, however much gaian trvelling to the ground and then find their side 1 -0 down, do they get behind their team to encourage they sing about LFC.

    United and Chelsea are 2 teams that are certainly not what they were and will both end up potless at the end of the season

  • Comment number 36.

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

  • Comment number 37.

    It's fantastic that the referee confirmed the character trait he exhibited at the world cup finals in 2010 in front of the whole world of football, that he's mediocre when it comes to officiating football matches, when Ryan Babbel pointed out some time ago the same referee's bias towards United, what did the FA do, they fined the guy. It's clear that FIFA is purposely exposing the flaws of FA on the world stage, let the FA keep dreaming that they have influence in world football. However I have to wonder that it seems the official in question has no real friends, because if you keep bungling at your job and your employers keep backing you and nobody points out your failings to you, including your friends, then you don't have real friends. The second United's goal involve 3 people taking deliberate actions; Ivanovic deliberately pulling his legs back during a forward momentum to avoid contact with Welbeck, Welbeck trailing his legs deliberately to strike Ivanovic's legs and the referee 5 yards away seeing everything and deliberately awarding a spot kick 6 minutes after having already awarded one, knowing fully well that without the spot kicks United had no way back into the game. Let everybody continue kidding themselves that United are great, that's why they're still in Europe Champions League.

  • Comment number 38.

    @24 you man Man City found they could beat a 10 man Man. United? Beause when United were with 11 men City lost every game of this season.

    I think Welbeck needs to cut down on the diving.

  • Comment number 39.

    At 08:19 6th Feb 2012, It wasnt me A big boy did it and ran away wrote:

    I thought Howard Webb had a particularly good game for Manchester United yesterday.


    What, you mean when he let Cahill stay on the pitch and refused us two decent penatly appeals in the first half?

    Simmer down.

  • Comment number 40.

    @33.At 08:53 6th Feb 2012, Shaun wrote:

    "Great match to watch. Sums up why many believe the premiership is still the best league in the world."

    LOL, That's cheered me up on this miserable Monday morning. It gave me a good laugh.

  • Comment number 41.

    Obviously when I say "cut down" I mean erradicate it from his repertoire (as it should be from every footballer's)

  • Comment number 42.

    2 points i have from the game

    1: I said to my mate at half time, I have no idea how we're one behind and i still don't see where Chelsea goals are coming from. yes they scored 3 but my word they were devoid of ideas and attacking threat all game. How Malouda stayed on the pitch is beyond me, he was awful

    2: Has football regressed 20 years in the past couple of months. Liverpool fans booing Evra for being racially abused, Chelsea fans booing Ferdinand because his brother has possibly also racially abused??

    Honestly what is going on with football and the fans at the minute.

  • Comment number 43.

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

  • Comment number 44.

    @37.At 08:58 6th Feb 2012, Larry Osopanco wrote:

    "Let everybody continue kidding themselves that United are great, that's why they're still in Europe Champions League."

    Eh, I think you will find that they are out of the Champions League.

  • Comment number 45.

    referee spoilt the game!There is no way man united could have got the courage to come back if the referee did not give the 2nd penalty against chelsea.That shows the level of the officials in premiership-----Low standard

  • Comment number 46.

    @ 31 yes context, something you seem to be ignorant of. United went 3-0 down after an own goal, a wonder goal and a deflected goal from Chelsea's grand total of 2 chances up to that point. CONTEXT.

  • Comment number 47.

    Phil, I don't think in this week of all weeks, using the sentence
    "will have to drag this title from their dead hand."
    Is In Poor taste, I Would expect better from you Phil.

  • Comment number 48.

    united had three penalties clearer than city's joke which handed them three points. still, easy to play with confidence when the ref is on your side. webb should have sent cahill and ivanovic off in the first half. chelsea simply fouled any united midfielder who carried the ball, then got lucky for five minutes in a game united dominated. united were robbed. again.

    evra booed for being the victim of racism, ferdinand booed for being the brother of the alleged victim. classy from liverpool and chelsea. very classy.

  • Comment number 49.

    Howard Webb was outstanding yesterday, definitely the best United player since Cantona. In Manchester it's raining...raining penalties for United

    Glad to see that Welbeck has made the Olympic Diving team, top marks for 2 of his many dives yesterday. The one where he goes to find the defender's foot before falling over it was priceless.

  • Comment number 50.

    Post 33...

    If you read what I actually wrote I said that Liverpool fans justified their booing of Evra because of their opinion that he lied. I disagree with them totally, as did the FA enquiry.

    Do you seriously expect Rio Ferdinand not to support his brother? I would suggest he knows far more than you or I about the incident, what was said etc and has drawn his own conclusions. Would you do otherwise????

  • Comment number 51.

    Penalties or not that was a great comeback. It's predictable that there is criticism of Webb but I can see why he made the decisions. One of the saves of the season at the end there as well could be a big moment.

    I can't understand Villas-Boas taking off Sturridge either. Was he annoyed by Sturridge over eagerness for the penalty as every time I see him he looks dangerous.

  • Comment number 52.

    See all the Citeh fans are out in force pretending our recovery was nothing really.

    Grow up-no other side in the Prem could have done that and that's why Phil's article is a good one;one more mistake by Citeh & we will have them.

    And we were STILL without Cleverley,Jones,Smalling,Fletcher,Vidic,Nani,Anderson & Lindergaard.

    Shame the 1st half pen & red card was missed, because that would have made the whole game different & incidentally,Phil,if Welbeck's pen was soft,what was Johnson's critical 1st goal for Citeh on Saturday, then?

  • Comment number 53.

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

  • Comment number 54.

    It was a great spectacle for the viewers, typifying the surprise element of this season in that when derbies come about loads of goals are being scored.

    I think Chelsea played well, hiding their inefficiencies at the back where Terry and Cole were missing while Cahill was on his first game for Chelsea. United failed to take advantage and that's credit to Chelsea. I feel AVB is culpable for the result by substituting Sturridge.

    United played well and had a spirited come-back. I don't know why it was seen as a surprise. However, I can't help thinking though that, had the score been 0-0, none of the United penalties would have been given because Howard Webb didn't make decisions before Chelsea scored.

    Mata's goal is a contender for goal of the season. Assist and execution were sublime. Equally, De Gea's save from Mata is equally a contender for save of the season.

    I'd love to see a change in the penalty rule, so that when attacking players initiate contact with a defender to win a penalty, a foul is given in favour of the defender and a yellow card to the attacking player. We start seeing such penalties in accelerating fashion and it is bad for the game. It's something like legal cheating. I'd compare it with these unbelievable bonuses bankers take annually: undeserved.

    Finally, SAF may not have liked Hansen's latest comments on United's performances but, besides being extremely bias in favour of Liverpool, there was some valid truth there: United these years is like a chicken that annually produces the golden egg and sends it to some American bank, whether we like it or not. Manchester United have no midfielders of substance below the age of 37 and this is as close to tragic as possible for a club of United's calibre.

    Was it 2 points lost for United or a point gained? Chelsea surely feel as though they lost the match but we should give them credit because they were 3-0 up and there were hints that, had Torres was firing, it might end up embarrassing for United.

  • Comment number 55.

    @44: It was sarcastically intended.

  • Comment number 56.

    The second penatly was undoubtedly soft (of course we should've had two more, but that's apparently by-the-by), but it did draw striking parallels with Zirkhov's last season, where he 'made sure' he went over Smalling's foot in the same way Welbeck did with Ivanovic.

    Swings, roundabouts etc.

  • Comment number 57.

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

  • Comment number 58.

    im sorry phil, for once i dont 100% agree.
    I have never felt so cheated in my life. I honestly do not think Howard Webb shoulld referee again, he is the countrys best? - that says a lot about ref's in england.

    Even before he donned his united jersey on sunday afternoon, i could tell he was going to ruin the game - distrupt the flow, blow for silly tackles that meant nothing. Then he carried on for hte rest of the game - but gave 90% in united favour. Here is where everyone will think i am some paranoid conspiracy theorist chelsea fan. Well im not, in fact ide put money on Howard Webb having 'MUFC 4 EVA' tattood to his behind.

    To award two penatlies is a joke. Sturridges was clumsy but ivanovic's was far too soft - i supposed people will argue that he would of given it anywhere AKA old trafford. Ferguson is accusing the linesman for not sending Cahill off? Well Ashley Young should of been yellow carded atleast 3 times, kicking meirles from behind, argueing with the ref, that dodgy tackle on essien? No wonder fergie subbed him at 60 mins.

    I do have to say though - no matter how bad ref decisions are, the chelsea of old would never have capitulated in such a manner - 3-0 up, at home!!! Mourniho would of brought on ferriera for bosi, would of kept sturridge of and replaced the happless Malouda - with the correct choice of Oriol Romeu.
    This is where i think AVB is a bit clueless bless him, i want to trust him - and he got the starting XI spot on, but his subs. I was sitting in the end where we were attacking 2nd half, did he not notice torres was shattered after 78 minutes? He shouldnt of subbed him against swnasea if he wants him to score, but on sunday for all his amazing work that nando did actualy do for the team, his confidence must of dropped again after a poor last 10-15 mins. AVB & Howard Webb (mainly) lost us the game.

    Everytime this happens i hope its a lesson learnt, but we just arnt learning. We used to be kings of possesion, this season valencia, united, arsenal & liveprool have shown us how to keep the ball in our ground - not good enough im affraid.

  • Comment number 59.

    ABV waited too long to go more defensive, just a sign of his tactical naivety at this level. He may have got away with that at a Porto Vs Benfica match, but not against Sir Alex's United team.

    Leaving Malouda on, too? I would have brought on Romeu for Malouda and let him sit behind Mereiles and Essien at 3-0. When Romeu plays, Chelsea look a lot more assured in posession and don't look prone to giving the ball away as much.

    Fair play to United, though. Wayne "clinical finisher" Rooney scoring 2 goals from the penalty spot while the excellent Hernandez does it from open play with 5 minutes to go to win the game.

  • Comment number 60.

    Im not too happy with the draw, united should have won that game, but again Howard Webb manages to play a bigger part in the game than half the players.
    Cahill should have been sent off, he may have got the ball at first but the challage left Welbeck through on goal, he then takes welbeck down, red card all day long.

    This is happening in every game now, Huth shouldnt have been sent off against sunderland, and united shouldnt have gotten the second penalty.

    Im afraid football is now more down to the ref not mucking up, phil has been suppling us with points to chat about from games week in week out, to my memory we usually chat about ref's bad decisions, or such and such shuldnt or should have been sent off.

    anyone like snooker?!?

  • Comment number 61.

    I do hope all the 'Webb is United's best player' comentators are of school age because if any of you are actually 35 years old and sat in an office then i really feel for you.

    It's like you haven't progressed from the schoolyard.

    The second one of the penalties Ivanovic made the silly error of leavign his leg out in the box, it happens game after game and shouldn't be a surprise to anyone!?

    What is really annoying me though is the lack of yellow cards for divers at the minute. If it's not a pen its a yellow.

    Ashley Young yesterday and Adam Johnson (truly terrible dive) should have received yellows. Refs need to take more control, it will limit dives if players are being constantly booked for going over.

  • Comment number 62.

    Man U are champions!!!

    For all other teams it is their cup final when they play Man U.

    All the other teams should be looking at themselves. If Man U are not good as they were couple of years ago then the other teams are worse.

    Give credit where it due. Man U deserved the draw. Their Never die attitude can never be found with the other teams.

  • Comment number 63.

    @Brian Renshaw

    Could you tell me exactly how Sturridge on Evra was one of the worst pen decisions you've seen?

  • Comment number 64.

    Please. United were awarded 2 ridiculous penalties from a referee who has a habit of doing United favours. I don't think United had a shot on target until Webb started giving them a helping hand. Chelsea would have cruised this game if not for the referee's bias for United.

  • Comment number 65.

    Interesting to see all the derogatory remarks about Webb giving United penalties coming from Liverpool and Arsenal fans. Surely in their "fight for the magical 4th spot" they should be glad United came back and denied Chelsea a further 2 points.
    Also there is a failure to mention the blatant sending off and denial of penalty on Ashley Young in the first half. I think he FA should make a rule into not giving United penalties to keep the ABU's happy. Talking about dodgy penalties wasn't there a recent one against Micah Richards at Anfailed.
    Think you should concentrate on finishing 4th and let United concentrate on challenging for the league like they do every year.

    On the game, a poor Chelsea team scored 3 goals, 2 buy complete luck and one from an outstanding finish from Mata.
    Whilst I commend our comeback, I am afraid this is 2 points lost as Chelsea were there for the taking. Great performances from Carrick, Valencia, Rooney and Scholes' cameo.
    On the whole a fantastic advert for English football, it may have lacked technique and quality but a very enjoyable spectacle. 19!

  • Comment number 66.

    58.At 09:20 6th Feb 2012, krisiordanov88 wrote:
    I can understand your frustration at drawing after being 3-0 up, but if it werent for howard webb at 0-0 united should have had a pen and cahill should have been sent off, to say howard webb was "donning a united shirt" is ridiculous. 2 clear cut pen's for united during the game, even though webb gave united a pen they shouldnt have had and didnt give them a pen they def should have had

  • Comment number 67.

    62.At 09:24 6th Feb 2012, bobsy123 wrote:

    There are a lot of teams with a "never say die" attitute, it would be idiotic to say that Manchester United are the only team in world football to play with this mindset.

  • Comment number 68.

    58.At 09:20 6th Feb 2012, krisiordanov88 wrote:

    "Here is where everyone will think i am some paranoid conspiracy theorist chelsea fan. Well im not, in fact ide put money on Howard Webb having 'MUFC 4 EVA' tattood to his behind."


    The most paranoid comment i've ever heard ha!! Did you forget Cahill's challenge? Why are you mentioning United getting 2 penalties like you should never be given more than 1??? The first one was stonewall and the second one is given all the time whether you like it or not.

    Brian Renshaw has to be 15, if you are 35 i genuinely feel sorry for you.

  • Comment number 69.

    64. You DO know United play in red and Chelsea in blue right?

  • Comment number 70.

    Get back to the infants class Wirral you can't coo us (un ike Webeck did to Howard "Red" Webb) by putting 18 after your name.

    United got out of jail because Webb had to appease Taggrt with two of the worst penalties in favour of United you will ever see.

    Chelsea 3 v 3 Conmen.

    Hope your mum's put some of those sour grapes you like in your lunchbox, junior

  • Comment number 71.

    Another pro united article by mcnulty, you and howard webb should be ashamed

  • Comment number 72.

    pipe down - what a stupid comment to make, why ruin this forum with that topic? I think ul notice the commentators and everyone else in football noticed john terry getting booed at qpr last week. i suppose thats alright then because hes guilty untill proven innocnet.

    Rio alwasy gets bood and alwasy will - hes one of those players - like JT is. Myabe he was slightly more bood due to recent events but so what, get on with it - last time i checked booing wasnt racist or illegal.

  • Comment number 73.

    @Brian Renshaw

    I'll try again...

    Please explain what was wrong with the Sturridge on Evra pen decision.

    While you're at it - if your brain can handle this many things at a time... why wasn't Cahill sent off in the first half? And why wasn't a pen given for Young's shirt being pulled in the area?

  • Comment number 74.

    @67. Name me the teams!!!!

    Man U spirit never Dies. They are Champions. (19).

  • Comment number 75.

    Just a thought.

    Any other teams in the league had successive games with 2 pens?

    Answers please on a postcard.

  • Comment number 76.

    At 09:33 6th Feb 2012, krisiordanov88 wrote:

    Myabe he was slightly more bood due to recent events but so what, get on with it


    Yeh, just get on with it. So he got booed cos his brother had the temerity to get racially abused. So what? What did he expect? Having a stupid brother willing to fight his corner against racism in the twenty-first century. Was asking for it really. Just get on with it.


  • Comment number 77.

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

  • Comment number 78.

    Chelsea Fans. Please stop talking about the Ref and Man U.

    Talk about your team.

    Chelsea are going Backwards. The Manager always blaming officials.

    £50 millions striker cannot score goals. The team is old and not good enough for 4th spot.

  • Comment number 79.

    76. At 09:36 6th Feb 2012, kanchelskis_legend wrote:

    *******allegedly******* You too appear to be judge & jury!

  • Comment number 80.

    Howard Webb once again the deciding factor. Odd also that when fans pay £50 for a ticket, however much gaian trvelling to the ground and then find their side 1 -0 down, do they get behind their team to encourage they sing about LFC.
    Were you there to witness that? or are you just being paranoid?
    I thought our fans are normally prawn munching and too quiet. So funny how you could hear LFC chants.. So which one is it?

  • Comment number 81.

    Also incidentally, @74, Tottenham came back from 2 down, without any pens, against the country's top team; would probs have won that game but for the dodgy Balotelli decision.
    Liverpool I am fairly sure historically score more in the last minutes than united (recent historical that is).
    Arsenal came from behind to beat this dodgy Chelsea team convincingly.
    Just a couple there, I'm sure those who study these things without blinkers could name a few more.

  • Comment number 82.

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

  • Comment number 83.

    Players moving their foot unnecessarily towards the defender to find their foot and dive is an outrage and any English complaining about Europeans and South Americans falling voer should be ashamed of their current crop of ENGLISH Players starting this trend.....thgey are a disgrace - both Manchester clubs were guilty of this and only way to stop it is to hand out instant 5 match bans, then their coach will think twice about selecting these players......they are ruining matches!

  • Comment number 84.

    interesting comments, heres my two cents. Really drab game in the first half, again united dominated possession but did nothing where it counted and were down a goal due to some terrible defending from Evra. Like someone mentioned earlier its obscene how he gets away with it so often. The second goal was a brilliant goal no doubt but again defensively (Valencia/Rafael) were nowhere around, practically left Mata with tonnes of space. The third goal, I don't know what Rio was thinking allowing Sideshow Bob to get what was a free header in the six yard box.

    Couple of dodgy decisions Cahill not being sent off, Young going down too easily; no one seems to have caught the scything tackle Mata attempted at Valencia in trying to prevent the break, had he caught him that was a shin/ankle breaker in my eyes.

    2 points lost in my eyes but well played United.

  • Comment number 85.

    Howard Webb consistently makes one huge match changing mistake in every game he officiates, week in week out.

    He is the worst referee out there.

    On top of that however, he consistently makes a mistake in favour of Man Utd.

    There is absolutely no denying it.

    Having said all that, yesterday AVB has to take the blame for making such a bad substitution (Sturridge-Romeu) and leaving the hapless Torres on.

  • Comment number 86.

    Games like that prove just how important Vidic is to United, at times we look so fragile at the back, and every time we defend a set piece I got a horrible feeling that we are going to concede!

    More than happy to get out of their with a point yesterday, especially with De Gea needing to make two decent saves at the end of the game.

    Thankfully Scholesy hasn't taken too long to slot back into the set up, he changed the game for us, and you do wonder what difference he could've made to the first half of the season.

    The only problem for United now, looking at the next 6 fixtures, they are a few games were we could easily drop points, City on the other hand look like they could easily be winning all 6. Long way to go though.

  • Comment number 87.


    If he was confident he'd get off, why would he put the trial back til after the Euros?

  • Comment number 88.

    United fans delude themselves. You couldn't beat a Chelsea team in turmoil. No leadership on the pitch, poor decision making, lack of commitment, mental cowards, poor substitute decisions - AVB punishing Sturridge for the penalty when Malouda was shocking beyond belief.
    The CL showed United's mediocrity as it will Chelsea and Arsenal too.
    Look at your players and ask yourselves who'd make it in the Barcelona, Madrid or Munich teams. Maybe Rooney and Vidic and Hernandez when he grows up. And Ferguson wanted to conquer Europe. You're not good enough.

  • Comment number 89.

    The new look on-line service is pants

  • Comment number 90.

    Brian Renshaw's got a habit of blaming the ref. What did you make of the Adam Johnson dive on saturday, son?

  • Comment number 91.

    And I do hope that Ferdinand was booed just because he's Rio Ferdinand; which is always fair enough.
    Anything else clearly isn't. Recent events NOT withstanding.

  • Comment number 92.

    Evra accused someone of calling him a defender

  • Comment number 93.

    yes chelsea are a poor side at the moment but what people fail to see is that all teams in the premier league raise there game against utd as everone wants to beat utd.

    So all this garbage about the comeback was not very good and the reff is always on utds side blah blah is utter noncence. If i am right the same reff was involved in utds recent 3-0 loss at Newcastle.

    If you accually watched the game yeasterday you will see that most of the decisions over the 90 mins balanced out the only one that did not was the red card Cahil should have recieved, however looking at some of your comments you clearly didnt watch the game and if you did the utd hater glasses were on.

    Good result in my opinion for utd and a win against Liverpool at the weekend would be great.

    I also do not agree the rubbish about utd having a weak squad it is not as strong as it has been in the past but 2nd in the league still in europe although not Champions league is still a good place to be and i am sure Liverpool,Newcastle,Spurs and a few other teams would like to be where utd are.

  • Comment number 94.

    It's all about the MOMENTUM! We got it now bring on the scousers! What a comeback! NEVER NEVER NEVER write off UNITED!!!

  • Comment number 95.

    @75 how many other teams get into the opposition box applying that kind of pressure.none hence why we had 4 peno's in the last 2 games.and there could of been 6 or 7 in those 2 games may i add.makes me laugh people saying conspiracy stories when blatently if we did it in the next game and got a peno deserved or not it would be the same from the opposition look united have brought the refs there in our back pocket etc etc. get over it if u teams got in the box more often u might get some penaltys of your own! jealousy tut tut

  • Comment number 96.

    If by "Old Habits..." you mean "Throw yourselves at defenders while Rooney, Giggs and Ferdinand scream into the referee's face" then, yeah, that was a typical Man Utd display.

  • Comment number 97.

    Didn't Newcastle come back from 4-0 down against Arsenal?

  • Comment number 98.

    73#- youngs penalty was never too be becuase he dives too much, Cahills was debatable.

    78#- its hard not to when you wernt even in the game until the first pen. After that the players had some little belief - i have no doubt that if the 1st wasnt given- or even the second, chelsea would of hung on to 3-0 or 3-1. After 3-2 it is our fault.
    Also torres played better than all 3 of your strikers and gave your defenders a good run.

  • Comment number 99.

    I think Webb was atoning for not penalising the far more obvious incidents of the first half. The two penalties given were a little soft.
    Also, it has to be said, what do the last few months tell us about the character of Liverpool and Chelsea players and fans ?
    Do they not have any principles ?

  • Comment number 100.

    96# i agree


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