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Manchester United
Posted by Mark Payne on 04/03/2011

In some respects Saturday was a one-off occasion. One of my best friends got married and the damn fool didn’t have the courtesy to change the time of the ceremony when this fixture was moved to the lunchtime. As such, I retrieved the half-time scores from my pocket when I should have been getting the rings out and was the only person in the church who had a face like thunder when they said, “I do”.

Whilst my miserable mug looked out of place in a couple of wedding snaps, nobody would have expected anything other than a stern expression on Alex Ferguson’s face after 45 minutes. Although some bosses will cut you some slack if they also load extra responsibility onto you, Vidic and Evra must already know that Fergie is not that kind of guy.

One unmistakeable thing about the manager is his tendency to go for broke when the chips are down. The adage “the best form of defence is attack” is a wonderful philosophy and, to an extent, matches the psyche of this club from top to bottom. A good thing too, because when Ryan Giggs is finishing matches at left back clean are sheets are unlikely.

The chances of us coming a cropper this week looked pretty good from the outset. We face two of our bogey teams, West Ham and Chelsea, within a few days of each other and we haven’t got any defenders fully fit. In all honesty, I had ‘the fear’. Fortunately, Wayne Rooney did not.

Losing matches you should have won is the bane of any fan’s (and probably player’s) life. It looked like things were going that way in London until Rooney’s run of form bloomed into the full flower it reached last season. To say this is timely would be something of an understatement.

United have been declared lucky, lacking in fantasy, lethargic and just plain bad by commentators this year and I am sick of it. This side has true grit and I can think of no other club in the division that can score four away from home with ten players out injured. After the completion of this comeback my sense of pride in the team I support was tangible.

None of our rivals face circumstances anywhere near as dire as ours with regards to the treatment table. For a second it looked like it might get worse, any man who didn’t die 1,000 times between Vidic’s rugby tackle and the yellow card has no heart.

United remain top through sheer force of will - being associated with that in any way is tremendous. We ain’t there yet, but this league title is within touching distance now because we have a team willing to go for it.

Massive, massive result.

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Posted by Jonno on 04/03/2011

I missed this match too. I had promised to give a talk and this started at half time. So I also managed to look pretty miserable until I caught up with the score an hour later. What A Result. You are absolutely right - this was a huge result and with Chelse and AAArse dropping points we are looking very nucely placed. 7 to go, 4 at home. Now for a good performance and a decent ref at Stamford Bridge. COME ON YOU REDS!!

Posted by Red on 04/03/2011

Mu are now running riot, nobody can stop them now. I hope they can carry this performance at the Bridge. With 7 points clear the top of the table, with arsenal have a game in hand,against spurs. I think we can achieve the tremble in 1999.

Posted by Doug on 04/03/2011

Commentators always having negative comments about man united. But Alan Hansen understands what we truly have: We have match winners in Rooney, Berba, Nani, Giggs and Valencia.

Good to see Valencia back and crosses finally entering the penalty area. Nani needs to learn this from Valencia.

Posted by Kartik on 04/03/2011

I am always happy about this. They are consistently underrated, and going by that standard they consistently overperform. They have no chance in CL as per many football critics. You know that critics are like eunuch in red light area. They know exactly how it is done, they just can't do it.
Barcelona are the favorite for CL. But the only team which has an outside chance is United. They go out of CL in QF no surprises, they win, no surprise. No tactics can beat this team. Playing with more courage and determination than these lads can.

Posted by johanzul on 04/03/2011

Congrat to SAF, staff and players. Thank you Rooney for well deserved performances! The freekick, the 1st ball and follow thru shooting + penalty kick was superbly done. Now, that's the Rooney we know. For what you had said to the camera, well, pure emotions resulted with pure expressions, so, I'm sure most football fans can understand this but yeah, there're kids watching too, so do learn to control.

Was it a good result? Definitely. Was it a good performances? Yes, for 2nd half, not really during the 1st. But still, we need Berba, Hernandez and Rooney, all three (3) to get results from a team who is fourth position at the bottom table. We still need to really struggle to get the results. Hence, most of the players energy and fitness had been used for this game.

Hopefully these players find ways to get those energy and fitness back before the Chelsea game. Would love to see either Rooney, Berba or Hernandez smashes Chelsea egos away, now that would be a class act indeed!

Posted by Tues on 04/03/2011

Great article! Keep em coming!

Posted by valentine on 04/03/2011

I havent watched a fair few games during the season. but never have i felt as low after seeing the highlights of the game. Hate all you want, but Rooney DOES have United blood coursing in his Veins. Combine that with Valencia chemistry and Hernandez passion and you got an awesome foundation to mount a challenge for trophies.

P.S- one of your best posts mark xD

Posted by Ian on 04/03/2011

My lovely wife, knowing my daily mood may rise or fall with match results kept a close eye on the game before i woke to watch it on DVR. When I sat down in front of the TV and heard her say, "you have to watch this game" I knew I had married the right woman. United have always had a never say die attitude (thinking CL final in May of '99) but this team knows what it means to not panic and work hard the full 90. Yes we have struggled away from home (i still kick myself when I think about Nani muffing that PK against Fulham to have them come back for the draw and dropping 2 points) but this has shown time and again they know how to dig out results and victories. Thats the mark of true championship, winning when conventional wisdom says you shouldn't. Though they may give me a few tense moments, this team deserves the record breaking "19". GLORY GLOR MAN UNITED

Posted by TheJepit on 04/04/2011

Rooney, I forgive you,..thanks very much for the effort.

Posted by David Smith on 04/04/2011

Never understood why Mark and some daft poster felt like Chelsea were going to pip us to the title. It's ours to lose now. Number 19 looms large, as does the banner set to be hurled in front of the disbelieving Bin Dippers. We dodged a bullet there on Saturday! LOL. It looked like the wheels were coming off the victory bus at halftime, but in fine United tradition, the boys redeemed themselves and came through at the end. It's a fantastic result; one that will put the boys in a fine frame of mind Wednesday night. No Premier League referee to handicap the Champions-elect, so there can be no excuses Thursday morning. Evra and Vidic certainly need to be more disciplined though. I can accept being two-nil down at West Ham because they're just like Citeh, Liverpool and Leeds when they get United at home. What I can't accept though is giving away a ridiculous penalty at a place we so often struggle. I have no qualms with Vidic's tackle, but Evra was rightly hauled off at the half.

Posted by ferron on 04/04/2011

I was so damn pissed and dejected during the first half of the game. Can't help but have a feeling that we would b dropping points again. But I still believe that the players could turn it around if they wanted to and they didn't dissapoint.

They showed true courage, fighting spirit and will to pull this one off. Rooney was superb as for Hernandez. He's only in his debut season but already he is showing the world his abilities and making such a great impact to United's challenge on 3 fronts.

United has always showed that they don't back down from a challenge or hide when there is a threat. They have proven once more that they are what champions are made of. GLORY GLORY MAN UNITED!!!

Posted by Robbo on 04/04/2011

This was a display of the kind of character that separates champions from also-rans. Having said that, I must ask why have I witnessed this kind of never-say-die attitude and the effort that must go with it so seldom this season?

Should united join the exclusive XIX club this season, I hope it does not obscure the fact, that in the long run you can not expect to get away with as many mediocre perfomances as we have seen this season.

Posted by Tommy on 04/04/2011

Never give up! Do they? I was happy with United in the first half because we dominated possession. Cheap penalty kicks. Looks like Cole chipped it onto Evra's hand on purpose and fell like a stick when Vidic tripped him. Second half is perfecto. Unbelievable to describe. Pretty common to see that.

Posted by victor on 04/04/2011

i must admit that i wsnt sure of the comeback especially knowing how our away record has been.But to be honest i knew anythng cold happen when rooney is playing This shows what we are made of ,,,,,,, winning is the name of the game and thats what sir alex has instilled in our players ..... glory glory man united.

Posted by Patrice-Kigali on 04/04/2011

A part from the Blackpool game, I don't remember any other time I have enjoyed/celebrated an away win this season like on saturday.

Having critised Carrick for most of the games he has played this and last seasons, I want to acknowledge his performance in the westham game.

Very accurate passes, focussed, concentrating etc. He was the Carrick of his first Man Utd season.

Are you surprised that Rooney has regained his form of late? I am not because I know what Valencia is to him. Valencia is just like a new signing-Great team Player. How I wish Nani learns from him on playing for a team first rather than himself first. Ooooh, I need to mention Hernandez; always scoring important goals-Who misses Tevez?. That boy Smalling-The team has got another "virus" plus Hernandez. I am anxiously to see Tom Cleverly coming from the loan coz i have a feeling he will well replace Gigsy.

There is something telling me that Chelsea will not eliminate us from CL.

Glory, Glory ManUtd.

Posted by roger on 04/04/2011

Great battling performance by United. It is a real joy supporting a team with such determination. With United you always feel as if we can snatch something from any game. Love the changes the gaffer made at half time. Rooney, Valencia, Hernandez, Berbatov and Nani unstoppable. I know it's crazy but I would love to see these guys on the pitch on Wednesday night. Glory, Glory United

Posted by Lutta on 04/04/2011

I love Manchester United.
That is how champions play. Chelsea must be so scared of us now.
That was incredible.

Posted by Etaderhi on 04/04/2011


Posted by sisay on 04/04/2011

Beside the big win on saturday I witnessed that Berba can really play in midfiled as a creative midfilder. The way he holds the ball, his control of the ball as well as the game, and his passes; I think he can boost our drained midfiled if Fergi surges him in there for the rest of the season.

Posted by Enkai on 04/04/2011

Rooney's comment about Berbatov after the game 'hit the bullseye'. After he came on, his ball-holding skills, calm possession play and the 'you can never get the ball off me' dribbles certainly disturbed the West Ham's players. Berbatov was the spark, the unsung hero while Rooney took all the plaudits. Valencia is slowly showing Nani how to play as a winger.

Posted by Heron on 04/04/2011

Now Rooney gets banned for dropping the F-bomb.

What gives? The FA must really hate us or something.

Posted by seth on 04/04/2011

There is only 1 thing worse than Man U losing... and that is not watching when they win!!! Like a complete tossa i turned the TV off at half time... by then i had decided that the ref was West Ham's best player so i didnt want to watch the 2nd half... and of course you know the rest!!!

Rooney we forgive u based on this one performance alone. This was truly a defining moment in this season's title race - ball firmly in every1 else's court... and Man Shity can just shut the f**k up (I guess FA will try to ban me now for use of F word)... 1 big win over a mediocre side and all of a sudden they think they're back in it... too much noise and not enuff action... c u at Wembley... in the men time - bring on the chelski!

Posted by dubs on 04/04/2011

2 GAME BAN. Wazza will always be a target due to his personality but this is excessive for any player. I thought AT THE MOST he would have a monetary fine & have to do some sort of community service or promote the 'respect campaign' with PSA's or youth seminars. That seemed honest for something that may never have occurred prior to the game.
Yeah it was poor of him to not think a camera staring him directly in the face effectively meant he was staring into the face of millions watching around the globe, but christ. People reacted as though he just set fire to a village. One columnist defended Rooney explaining that a year prior he had sustained an injury that sent his life & career into a tailspin. His 'redemption' from the spot let loose all those demons - & he should be left a moment to vent that, as poor a spot to do so it was.
The punishment will deter any player from every thinking of doing anything close to this again but it seems like Wazza's getting strung up a little too high.

Posted by Somnath Mallick on 04/05/2011

Hi Mark,

Well we won this one. And kudos to the team. But things like these don't often happen, but somehow we have shown we can conjure up goals out of nowhere. Rooney was invisible in the 1st half and he pops up to score a 10 mins hat-trick!! Maybe because its West Ham and they have been appalling this season we came back. But that too takes a lot of doing. I am not trying to take away the credit. Because clubs in the EPL, are tough to play against. But i hope we don't get into the same situation against Chelsea as it maybe too late for a comeback. I am happy with the result and i think we can breathe a little easy now with 7 pts. gap at the top.
Eagerly waiting for Wednesday now. I hope we put our best team out on the pitch from the start.

Posted by Kripa on 04/05/2011

What a game! I went back to the TV after half time only thinking that, well, it's my team, winning or losing I should watch them play, that's the only way to give support from thousands of miles away to players who fought on the field, no matter what the results are.

I didn't know that a surprise is on the way, a very pleasant surprise indeed. The first goal got my heart beating fast again, the second made me jump up and down while the third left a big grin that lasted till the day after :)

And it's not just about goals, it's about the will and hard work everyone is showing on the field. We're without many of the first team, some coming back from international duties (step down, Blatter, too many friendlies would just lessen the meaning of international games) and some were played out of position.

Lots of great games this year, but this one will be remembered for years to come. Now, if just we can keep this momentum ... let's dream it, and hope it will come true.

Posted by seth on 04/06/2011

Go for it chelski! we dont want the UCL this season - we want the record 19th! Would be great to see a reserve team go out on Wednesday and see them get a draw! But considering the injuries we've had this season that fact that we go this far is nothing short of miraculuous!

Sending out a reserve team would be a clear message to chelski... a challenge... go get the UCL chelski cos u sure as hell aint gonna get the league!!!

BTW: Great blog Mark... keep it up! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when you were at the wedding!

Posted by Tapiwa Mubonderi on 04/06/2011

It is squeaky bum time now, time to separate the men from the boys. The squad of 2011 is vintage and we will be happy come June. The premiership is being won on a weekly basis, the knock out cups are going to require herculean performances but we are more than ready.

I knew SAF would not let another injury crisis wreck the season. He should sign Casillas and Fabregas to strengthen the team.

Posted by David Smith on 04/06/2011

WTF are you on "Seth"? United don't want the Champions' League this season? Send out the reserve team? You're a door knob of the highest order.

Great result tonight at the Bridge on the back of a good performance. We rode our luck at times and Evra got away with conceding a late penalty, but we're coming home with a precious lead and a vital away goal. Big props to Valencia, who filled-in heroicly for Rafael; Rio, who's been out for two months, yet didn't seem to miss a beat; Carrick for being a massive presence in the middle of the park and to the Man of the Match, who even though he's being picked on by the F.A., showed why he'll be missed on Saturday against Fulham. For me, Evra once again tried to throw it away for United, but you can't deny the lad's effort and willingness to get battered for the cause. His clearance just before halftime was massive as well. Chelsea should of been given a late penalty, but so what. It's about time we got the rub of the green at that dump.

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