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Manchester United
Posted by Mark Payne on 09/20/2010

I struggle to remember a more one sided game against Liverpool. In the first half in particular, United were all over them and an unfamiliar feeling struck my chest. It took some time but I eventually realised it was empathy. The Merseysider's deterioration since they finished second two seasons ago has been dramatic. Although they were still able to score two here, it had far more to do with our failings than the renaissance of their season.

My goodness we needed this result. Much was made of the fact Rangers defended with eleven mid-week, but we looked like a team still punch-drunk from Goodison the previous weekend. A result was necessary against Liverpool and the outcome could not have been sweeter.

• Kevin Brodie: Fergie hypocrisy over Torres jibe

As mentioned above, our first half performance was imperious, whilst in the second period things were a little patchy. The cynic in me thinks that this could well be the story of our season. With Giggs and Scholes still required to put the requisite class into our play, any match in its final 20 minutes this campaign will seem a form of purgatory.

Still, that’s still better than the hell of watching your best players flounder, which is how Liverpool fans must feel at the moment. Torres was a little crafty in winning the penalty and free-kick but he was fouled fair and square on both occasions. John O’Shea, I thought, should have been sent off.

That is not to say that referee Howard Webb was being United-biased, quite the opposite I thought. United’s dominance was broken at times only by needless free-kicks disrupting our rhythm.

Yet despite all this we still looked capable of ballsing it all up at the end. The defence, quite simply, is vulnerable at the moment. Rio can no longer be relied upon as an ever-present, and although Vidic is a terrific choice as captain he still needs a player who is more positioning than elbowing stood next to him. Evans is coming along but is still good for about two mindless lunges per game at the moment.

In times of pressure though, you need a man to step up and do the right thing. Somebody who can handle their head in a crisis. This weekend that man was somebody who had taken criticism and stick for two years, somebody who had been in ignored as a joke. That man was my Dad.

vader1.jpg
Me and my Dad at the match (c) George Lucas

He has been harping on for two seasons about Berbatov being a terrific player and the need for patience. The reason my old man deserves credit is for not saying the dreaded words “I told you so”. My hero.

Dimitar did alright for himself too.


Comments

Posted by Kome on 09/21/2010

Why is everyone making a big deal of the O'Shea foul and whether or not it should be a red card? What about the red card that should have been given to Paul Konchesky for his handball in a deliberate attempt to deny Berba a clear goal scoring opportunity on his first header?

Posted by Maverick on 09/21/2010

Mark, It was a case of dejavu when Liverpool scored the 2nd goal. Again, we didn't defended well and seems to lift the handbrakes when we should have gone for the kill or at least hold on to the lead.
I would reacon, the team seems to loss steam at the 75th mark. Fletcher seems weak at the knees and the team seems to have tired.
We all know that this a a high tempo game, and to loss one's lead due lack of stamina seems to give the opponent an upper hand during the closing of the game. It was clearly evident during the games played with Everton. Fulham and Liverpool. That is not the United that I know. We are always strong to the finish. Good on Berbatov to have shown his class. Glory Glory Man Utd

Posted by yoga1831 on 09/21/2010

That is stupid, it is not even close to give a red card.The distance between the torres and ball is far enough for Van der Sar to get it safely.torres will not able to get the ball even if he allow to go on.

Posted by David Smith on 09/21/2010

First of all, it's always nice to beat Liverpool, even if they're not as strong as they have been; but once again, we've not only let the lead slip away, but another two goal lead. Criminal, simply criminal. To suggest, however, that this lead was lost due to a lack of stamina is silly. It was a clumsy tackle in the box from Evans and diabolic positioning in the wall from Fletcher that amazingly had the Scousers level. A bit more bravery is required in that situation, Darren. I don't see how O'Shea could have been dismissed either. The rule says that a goal scoring opportunity has to be denied. VDS was out like a flash and Torres was never going to get to the ball. Berba's second was pure genius and no doubt will be replayed during the buildup of future United-Liverpool matches for years to come. On a sour note: I think Nani's antics on the pitch are quickly becoming very tiresome. I can't believe Fergie hasn't dealt with this yet. Diving, flopping, feining injury..enough!

Posted by Kelvin on 09/21/2010

Like most ManU fans, I am pre-programmed to hate Liverpool. I agree with Mark, beyond the quick smirk that we beat them......there was a flash of empathty? sympathy? of a proud club with an outstanding team sheet, floundering (due to back room worries?)...then a deeper concern that we let them come back from 2 down at home....not as bad as the Everton ones I think, but softgoals both, espcially the free kick.

BTW, where are the sack Fergie, and sell Berbatov "fans" this week?

Posted by Pimpin on 09/21/2010

Just read the previous comments posted on the weekend of our Everton game. Funny how those fans who lambasted SAF and our oldies never bothered to turn up and maybe say something like 'oops I was wrong to write them off'

I agree that we have been throwing away seemingly won games and also almost did so against our most bitter rival. But I really think it is a lapse of concentration rather than anything. This might actually be good for us as the three games(2 drawn and the win vs L'pool) will serve as a reminder to the whole squad that we should not take a lead for granted.

Looking at the broader spectrum, we might be 4 points behind Chelcheat(kudos to their brilliant scoring prowess) but just have a good look at the opposition they have faced so far? Not disrespecting their opposition but Chelsea simply are not tested far enough. Sure they score goals for fun now, but against the real teams like Man U, Arsenal, Spurs, Man C and L'pool, are they going to score 4,5 goals and concede 0

Posted by Pimpin on 09/21/2010

Cont'd

Don't forget how the pundits were slaying Chelsea after the Charity shield game. The same thing could well happen before we know it. Next week (vs Man C) will be a good test for Chelsea's supposed invincibility. The same can be said of Arsenal. Sure, they play wonderful football week in week out, but are the young guns able to finish off lesser opponents and at the same time improve their record against the contending teams? So do not worry my fellow Man U fans, we are just 4 battles into the war, so why fret when we are still playing reasonably well? 3 wins 2 draws against creditable opponents is reasonably good considering we were worse off last term and we finished 1 point behind the 'almighty' Chelsea.

In my opinion, Man U signings will get a chance to strut their stuff soon and they will prove once again that SAF is a masterclass.

Trust me when I say SAF will make us eat our words. I was a Fletcher-hater just 2 seasons ago.

Btw,'I told you so' to all Berba critics!:)

Posted by Allen on 09/21/2010

It is good to see someone who actually saw the two fouls for what they were. Torres was clearly fouled on both occasions and for Fergie to call him a cheat is laughable considering what Nani did a few times during the game.
I am ok with O'shea only getting a yellow for his pull back because I can see how Webb might have thought VDS would have gotten to the ball first. He did a decent job doing the game, and gave us a penalty which is usually hard to come by at OT.
United did outplay Liverpool for the majority of the game, but after that penalty I was sure we were going to go home with at least a point. Oh well.

Posted by Trojan on 09/21/2010

Yeah, I was a fletcher-hater and berba-hater too and I must say i ate my words about fletch last season and now being forced to eat them again about berba! now i am now a hernadez hater too!!!lol I hope he is cooking in the oven and will become a smash hit in a season or 2. He needs some carling cup games to really into his stride.

Posted by ManUtd_86 on 09/21/2010

Let's hope Berba's performance this week will shut those noisy critics up for some time. A victory to savour, despite the reckless defending.

O'Shea shouldn't have committed to the challenge. Even if Torres had no chance to get to the ball after that flick, it is still a foul. There was contact, sufficient to mow down El Nino.

And by the way, has anybody notice how Nani is becoming more like CR? He strikes the ball pretty much like CR and tries to become equally if not more obnoxious than him. Gotta give it to him for his crosses though.

Posted by Juz on 09/21/2010

(1) Although I am a regular critic of O Shea's (good for 3 crap passes a game, and one cross where he doesn't jump), I didn't see it as red. There is no rule about "last man", just "denying clear goal scoring opportunity". It wasn't

(2) When I first watched Fletcher leave the wall, I thought the same thing "weak". But watch the extended replay. I believe it is Morales who barges into him right before the ball is kicked, literally a shoulder charge. Fletcher falls to his right, then sways back to his left to rebalance, but Morales is now gone. That is what opens up the gap. brilliantly sneaky move, assuming Gerard/Morales meant it.

Credit to Bobby McMahon on Fox Soccer for noting that move.

(3) The one part I was embarassed at for us, was the penalty. Did anyone in a ManU shirt really think we had any reason to complain about the penalty? Cut out the histrionics boys, concentrate on your defending instead of the call.

Posted by Lando on 09/21/2010

The defending- Rio is entering the last stretch of his career, where he should have one final run of consistent form and then it'll be all over. If his injury woes continue then we'll never see it. Evans is coming along but he is still not ready for week in week out.

I say enjoy the points, scrappy wins are still wins,
it's still a long season to go. One thing I think is crucial- the development of Smalling. He was signed for potential, but the way I see our defense at the moment, is we have obvious top 2 choice Rio/Vidic, then Evans, then a whole host of people that can provide cover- Brown, O'Shea, Neville, Fabio, but they're not dedicated CB.

The jury is still out on Evans for me, so hopefully Smalling can bridge that gap.

With Valencia out, we're going to see alot more grafting as I daresay the person SAF will turn to the most for RM is Park. Get used to 1-0 scorelines.. although that would probably do us some good right now

Posted by valentine on 09/21/2010

U cant really write an article without a "joke" cant you mark?! Read everything until the "my dad" comment...

Nwae, for those who want "sack Fergie" fans here is one. Roy hodgeson introduced Ngog. Luck or whatever, Liverpool scored two after that. Spurs were down a goal and their three substitues Houghton, Lenon and Pavluchenko won a penalty; had an assist; and scored respectively. Lampard was out for chelsea and it still played a fantastic game.

What do United have off the bench?! seriously?! what do they we have?! hernandez?! macheda?! give me a break. We could have bought Ozil- he is not bad at Real. We could have Bought Van Der Vaart. Look what he is doing at Spurs. We are leaking goals like crazy and our first choice defender is Evans with Smalling as back-up?! give me a break!!

We conceded two goals. What i saw then was no "hairdriyer" treatment pushing the team forward. I saw no spark or Motivation IN THE TEAM. what i saw was a player out to prove a point...

Posted by Lucky on 09/21/2010

It's no big deal that the Man U fans are all over Chelsea like bees on honey.. a basic question lies thus.... if we(chelsea) are on a winning spree, against opponents that were fixed not by us, what then is the problem about? Envy is just your order of the day.. gosh!! Just sit back, relax,and enjoy the free flowing goals that would come out against the supposed 'real test' like Man City, Arsenal and the sorts, and then you all would know that we are out here to defend our birthright.. the EPL!!!

Posted by neb sam on 09/21/2010

i love united's triumph over rival liverpool on sunday.united realy came from behind to win them after series of painful draws against fulham everton & offcourse rangers.Dimitar berbatov realy showed his worth & potential by giving united 3-2 lead against liverpool with his record breaking hattrick. UP MAN U....!

Posted by Eddie G. on 09/22/2010

Birthright, Lucky? That's really precious, boy. The BPL is nobody's "birthright". Teams win the League because they deserve to win them. And credit to Chelsea, they DID deserve to win it last season.

But for someone to say that the title rightfully belongs to a club (bankrolled by a foreigner no less) solely because it is their "inheritance", that's just a few padded walls shy of a nuthouse.

Wonder if the noxious neighbours are listening...

Posted by Ken on 09/22/2010

No doubt the victory over Liverpool was sweet, but at 2-2 there was a sour taste in my mouth and I suspect there are more bad defending like this to come. I have always been a Fletcher Hater. When I saw the team sheet against Rangers, with Fletcher and Gibson in midfield, I knew it would be a struggle to create chances. Both are sub standard. In games where Scholes starts, he'll fade around the 75min mark due to nothing more than his age. This means the midfield will not offer the defense the protection it needs. Anyways I saw the push on Fletcher and its school boys stuff! He is a pro and shouldn't fall for that. You always treat opposition players in your wall as threats! I still can't believe Man U let Gerard Pique go and opted for Evans instead. In that time Pique has won almost every medal on offer in world football! I am now an Evans-Hater, Gibson-Hater, O'Shea-Hater, Ji-Sung Hater and Evra better buck Up. He attacks a lot but his crosses and assist rate are bad!!

Posted by kurikuta on 09/22/2010

hey! berbatov was cool

Posted by RM on 09/22/2010

First of all, what is with these supposed United supporters calling the club "MAN U"?? If you don't know why NOT to call the club that, you aren't deserving of calling yourselves supporters of the club! Do a google search if you REALLY do not know!

Both the penalty and the yellow for O'Shea were spot on decisions! We let them back into the game. But let's look at it this way... we've taken a point at two grounds we lost at last season. We have had one of the best 5-game starts to a season in a long time! (Unbeaten) United always starts slow and then build up steam as the season progresses.

Chelsea look mighty at present, and I'm not sure Shitty can stop them right now, but their season WILL dip at some point, and we'll be ready to pounce.

Arsenal will wow everyone for the first half of the season, and then trip all over themselves in the second. It'll come down to United and Chelsea, and the title may well be decided by the two meetings between the sides.

Posted by Chriz on 09/22/2010

I am die hard united fan. In my opinion,we deserve to win against liverpool by a bigger margin..but unfortunately our defender's let us down...not only in this game but also against everton and fulham...Its teribble to see when teams scoring against united at last minute when we united are the experts in doing it...

I wonder what fergie saw in evans better than pique? We should have keep the lad and he would have been a perfect partner for vidic. Look at the lad, he is superbly...won the world...he is world class....

I hope fergie will shore up the defence sooner rather than later..we are yet to see smalling but evans definitely not the united kind of player.

I read many papers saying berbatov was back on track but we are yet to see him on consistent basis...Hope he will be the next R.V Nistelroy in terms of scoring...Hernandez will be good in years to come...He is under the right hand...trust me

Posted by norbert on 09/22/2010

i agr we hv hd one of the best starts of the season but i guess every supporter agrs that it could have been better had it not been for our lack of concetration the last minutes of of both the Everton & Fulham games. Fletcher runs out of steam later on during games so will be back peddling with oponent midfielders runing at him.no tight marking in the middle of the park. Then at Everton I think the substitution disrupted the rythm and concetration...as players regrouped and changed their play with Evra out...etc. I also agr wth one writter who said that Man Untd lacks the staminna...i think over and above our brand of passing and intertaining soccer there is need for staminna so that our game is complete. I see in many games each time we try to add staminna to our game, then already we ur throwing in bad tackles making a deliciopus meal for refrees and opponents

Posted by josephkimani on 09/22/2010

i think fergi sometime makes a mistake in subs,he has more confidence in owen of which i have no problem with it but i think obertan can be better

Posted by Redaxis69 on 09/22/2010

Both the free-kick and penalty awarded for Fouls on Torres were absolutely correct decisions...as far as the red card is concerned...any other day, any other match...it would have been a straight red and we wouldn't be discussing this.
As far as the result goes..it was a fair one...Utd were the better team that day. But, with Ferguson once again most non-Utd fans will never respect him for his achievements, as much as he should be...the reason being stupid comments like the one about Torres...

Posted by all these experts on 09/22/2010

Well there is a lot of comments flying around this web site at the moment. A lot of it is stupid i.e. sack fergie and Berbatov hater etc....

Basically fergies record speaks for itself!!!
I am definately one of the people who can see why he likes berba i.e. CREATIVITY !!! I think the patience he has shown with him will be rewarded

the only thing I was a little annoyed about was why we didnt sign Van der Vaat - hes already looking good at spurs, imagine what he would have been like at man u. This will be a biggest problem this season i.e. a creative midfielder who gets forward, scholes plays much deeper these days

I think our defence will improve - dont forget last year we had that stretch of clean sheets etc and Rio was out for a fair while and Evans was consistantly in the back four. He played well last year.

and the only other comment with any value was WHY did we let pique go back to barcelona. Hes a great player, even scores goals when barca throw him forward

Posted by jkramer on 09/22/2010

It seems to me that maybe United could do with someone sitting in front of the back four to help with defense. Both goals againt them this week were because the Liverpool midfielders were allowed to run up the middle right at the defense.

Posted by Naz on 09/22/2010

Well... there are enough comments on this post already, however I just want to say We did enough to defeat Liverpool at the courtesy of a man who has been criticized by everyone left and right. We need him to carry on this year flying high and scoring more hat-tricks.
The only thing that makes my heart discomfort is the vulnerable defense in the last 10-15 minutes of play. We have given 5 goals in two away games, which we could have won easily. I am not mentioning the goals conceded against Liverpool because
1. Evans tackle was poor, he is still very young and will learn from this.
2. Gerrard penalty was well cooked one and O'shea tackle was again unnecessary... But that is what PRESSURE do to players..
We are caught in this pressure and it is only growing with every game. From away games to now home games... Liverpool were pale and without any creativity throughout the game.. They scored twice ..again courtesy to our defense. Our players need to believe in themselves !!Glory ManU !!

Posted by ken giorgio on 09/22/2010

we can only get better....napoleon is always right-SAF is right most of the time. We will plug the holes hopefully.UP,UNITED!!!

Posted by Aaron on 09/23/2010

I really disagree with you on the Oshea call, to me it was two players running together and tripping over each other. Where that goes wrong, is that it was obviously Torres running across Oshea to draw the foul. If both the action and intent belong to the attacking player, the defender should not be held accountable. The other reason I think this, is that Howard Webb got a plain look at the "foul" and in my mind he knew it wasn't a legitimate foul to give a red card too and got caught trying to "have his cake and eat it too" by appeasing Liverpool with the foul and United by not sending off Oshea.

Posted by Engg on 09/23/2010

why this discussion at all....
the better, no, the best team won...
as simple as that....

Berba will have to hold the fort till Roo starts firing again... Hope to see Chicharito, Owen and Macheda to deilver a good support to 9 and 10...

Posted by JJ on 09/23/2010

Good win aginst L'Pool - Great. I thought I was the only who believed that Pique's departure was not good for United. I feel his capability was not replaced at all, not with Evans, no,no,no. I am a strong believer of stamina (or fitness) in football or any game. This is a function of the physical training method at the training ground by the team. If done properly, it gives you speed, confidence, durability, stability sustained form, uniformity and flow in the team, sharpness and last-minute killer instincts. Naturally, a team that starts stronger and finishes weaker, is always bound to lose more games than one that finishes stronger. Ever since Carlos Q, left stamina has been MU's problem. SAF has a winning mentality and hunger always. He can win 5 league titles in a row - if and only if, he is given a team with stamina. You can tell that I am advocating for Carlos's return...but seriously, I mean SAF must know how to choose his No2. He is a winner by birth. He needs support...

Posted by JJ on 09/23/2010

Oh,on another note, can we all MU lovers (and England fans) understand one thing about Rooney. He is a HARD WORKER that any manager would like to have. His workrate is what makes him a marvel to watch and a true MU player. But, Rooney by nature is NOT A PROLIFIC goal scorer. We expect too much of him on that part. He just happenned to have an exceptionally good season last year. He will score goals as the season progresses but do not be suprised if he goes for another month without scoring. He will still be working hard and making huge contributions to the club. Let us not expect him to be Ruud van N, Dwight Y, Andy Cole, Ole,(natural goal poarchers). Again, that's where our manager has come short...replacing natural goal scorers. Chicharito seems to have those qualities if he is given enough game time. Owen... if he still had speed? Where do others get the Torreses, Drogbas, Eto's, David Villas....?

Posted by valentine on 09/23/2010

@all these experts

i dont consider myself one and doubt anyone else here (besides Mark... lol) do. As such, comments should not be taken as seriously as u are. Sir Alex is the greatest British manager the game has seen and he will never be sacked. Its exaggeration so as to get the point across.

Posted by Eddie G, on 09/24/2010

I think it's not fair to call for Evan's head or O'Shea's head as some fans are doing. Players need time to learn from their mistakes. Of course one mistake too many (see also: Blind Venetian) and you're out on your ear.

3 - 4 years ago, I wasn't a huge fan of Fletcher. That is until last year. Fletcher has proven that he has what it takes to stay in the first team. Despite him being shaky on a few occasions, he has what it takes to be a rock solid central mid.

Not sure why people are going after Park though. Have we all forgotten some of his important contributions? The winning goal against the Scousers last season? I've always admired him for his work ethic and always will. Give the man a break, guys.

What I don't understand is - VdV cost Spurs 8m. Ozil cost RM 15m. We paid 7m for Bebe.

Who the HELL is Bebe?? xD

Posted by johanzul on 09/24/2010

Whatever it is, MU won the game, whether there's dispute or not on how MU won and gain more points, fans and rivals have to accept, it is part of the game.

In terms of MU players selection, on the pitch and off the pitch, that is SAF and staff members job to do as they serve the stakeholders (MU Fans + shareholders). Win, get glory + praise, lose, get wack by fans since they are paid for huge sum of money for it.

Wack or comments by fans are inputs for SAF and staff members go to the "drawing board" of searching for weaknesses or faults to be address and find ways or solutions whereby hopefully SAF and staff members can consider comments from us, the fans. No harm done of hearing and reading comments. Still, decision making and accountability fall under SAF and staff members.

Congrat! SAF, staff members and players! You'd done yr job and worth my time watching!

Posted by Solly on 09/24/2010

I want to congratulate the whole team for job well done but i beleive that there is a missing hole in the Defenceline that the coaching staff must work so hard on how to balance it up.
Its very unfortunately that whenever we are leading on the score sheet suddenly we concede goals due to poor defending please Sir Alex work on this issue.
Thanks

Posted by Urmstonian on 09/25/2010

It's always nice to beat the scousers but we shouldn't get too excited about squeezing through at home against a mid-table team. But in 50 years time old men will be saying to their grandchildren 'I saw Berbatov's second goal'. One of those moments which will live in the memory forever.

Now here is another point, and it arises out of Bebe's debut against Scunthorpe. That lad has a temper. I predict he will not get through the season without being sent off.

And Hargreaves is back in training. And there was me thinking he was buried up to his neck in Iran waiting to be stoned to death.

Posted by Mufcrazy on 09/25/2010

@Lucky...God didn't ManShitty make u eat ur words!!Lovin it mate!!

Agreed Chelsea made short work of west brom,west ham,blackpool,wigan etc. but u have to take into account that their best 11 was playing and their squad depth isn't it as much as United.So when the injuries come around do u expect sturridge,kakuta and van aanholt to take the title race forward??

Besides watching United beat Liverpool wasn't in the least pleasurable.Tho they did sneak in 2 past a leaky defence the result was always heading Utd's way.Liverpool are a spent force these days...much as I wud love to take pleasure from their misery I cannot but help feel sorry for them!

SAF's decisions have always been uncannily accurate and so it has proved in berba'scase.
Relax and enjoy the season...Can't wait for the trip to Valencia!!

Posted by ivan on 09/27/2010

Ferguson-past retirement age
Giggs-Past retirement age
Van Der Saar-Past retirement age
O'shea-Pathetic
Evans-Useless
Park- Useless
Berbatov -From Hero to Zero
Machaeda-waste of time
Ferdinand- sell him while you still can
Neville- My skin crawls when I hear the name
Thank God for the Liverpool old boy who saves us
repeatedly but cant get a regular place-Go Owen
Now for those who Ferguson refuses to play
Anderson-great player
Obertan- Looks Good
Bebe- looks even better
Gibson-At least he shoots at goal
The twins-100 times better than o'shea
Smalling-Move over Evans.
Chicharito-Did we buy him to keep the bench warm.
Oh to have back the likes of Tevex, Van Niestelrooi,Pigue,Beckham,Keane,Forlan, Stam,and all the others that stepped on Fergies toes.
PLEASE RETIRE THERES A RETIREMENT AGE FOR A REASON.Go out when your on top-the champage is on ice.

Posted by morty on 09/28/2010

Ferguson cost us the league last year, and he will cost it for us again this year. Poor team selection, poor use of substitutes, poor decisions on line formats. If this trend continues we will be silverware less, AGAIN! Not including the community shield...since no one else does. Needs to cut Ferdinand, trade Evans, Forget bout Carrick, Trade Park (even though i know they can't due to the dollars from the asian tour he brings)an trade Oshea. Go out an get 2 SOLID defense players an call it a season. Give Vidic some help and lets get on with things. Good Gawd!!!

Posted by valentine on 09/29/2010

@morty- sounding a bit pumped up but anyway- we could have bought a player who has won Serie A defender of the year two years runing and we ddnt....Giogeo Chiellini or sumthing. Depressing to read.

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