ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Manchester United
soccernet blog
Manchester United
Posted by Mark Payne on 04/23/2012

It is easy to oscillate between extremes. Depending on who you read, and when, the title will definitely be won by Manchester City/United [delete where appropriate] this season. Nevertheless, this was not a great time to drop points at home.


With the clasico taking place this weekend, United were not supposed to be the big story. Whilst the Spanish behemoths hit lumps out of each other we were meant to quietly pick up three crucial points. Alas, Everton had not read the script.

Tremendous credit must go to David Moyes and his team. Having lost a semi-final to their great rivals only last weekend, their players could have been forgiven for turning off for the rest of the campaign. Instead, the Toffees played like their lives depended on it and fought for every ball.

United old boy Phil Neville was crunching into tackles all over the park and, for a team supposedly lacking bite, they certainly know how to score goals. Incidentally, Phil Neville is 7th on the all-time Premier League appearance chart, a fantastic achievement that is little discussed.

Conversations today are focussed on how United could throw away a two-goal lead with seven minutes to go. There is no favourable way to describe it, the defending was atrocious and it is hard to believe it would have happened if Nemanja Vidic were fit.

We can hardly blame injuries for this result though. Whilst it is a contender for game of the season so far, and the goals were basically high quality, it felt dreadful at the final whistle. Certainly all is not lost, but the momentum has shifted in the last ten days and it will take all of our experience to hold on from here.

It would be nice to focus on Wayne Rooney’s ascension in the United goalscoring charts. For a player so young to have overtaken George Best is phenomenal. He is such an important player for us, something which he proved again at Old Trafford this weekend.

In an ideal world we could also enjoy the boon of Nani’s successful return to the side. For half an hour here he was unplayable and the Everton backline didn’t know what to do with him.

Instead, my gaze turns to next week’s Manchester derby, the biggest of my lifetime, knowing that the destiny of this season’s title will rest on the outcome of that match. United rarely do things the easy way, and as Fergie himself said after the game, this “title race is back on”.

Thanks to ESPN's worldwide coverage Mark's blog has been nominated for a People's Choice Award in a far-flung land. Please click here and vote for 'Manchester United Correspondent'. Don't forget to scroll to the end when you are finished to make your vote count.

Follow Mark on twitter.com/markjpayne


Follow ESPNsoccernetFC on Twitter

Comments

Posted by David Smith on 04/23/2012

The title race most certainly is back on and we only have ourselves to blame. Rafael, who I have publicly praised on here several times, was absolutely atrocious. After putting in such a dreadful shift for Manchester United during squeaky bum time, serious questions now need to be asked of the Brazilian. Evra was no better and I'd love to see him replaced in the summer. It's certainly time; sentiment not welcome here. Nani's contribution was massive and we'll need another 90 minutes like that next Monday night. After an unbelievable run the past couple of months, the loss at Wigan was forgiveable. This capitulation, however, is not only more damaging, but equally unforgiveable. With that said, the two goals conceded at the end might just be the perfect tonic for our trip to Leastlands. Surely, the players will be hurting after this and I can see all of the criticism-to-come, galvanising our Boys, especially the back line. The derby won't decide things; Citeh at Newcastle will. Believe.

Posted by Nelson William on 04/23/2012

No doubt I am a Manchester United fan for a long time, I got admit that we will not be able to grab the 20th title this season. Team has been blowing hot and cold for 2 to 3 seasons now. Our central midfield is aweful as well as the full backs. Evra always tend to be out of position for most of the games. I am not watching the next game. I just can't see City tearing my beloved club apart. Poor decision makings in the transfer market as well. Anyway the players don't have the drive or passion as the fans to do for the club. How many times has lady luck smiled on our club and we manage to win the title by the teeth. Not used to be the club I have seen during the 90s.I hope Newcastle will do us a favor but again I don't think we deserve to win the title.

Posted by BAMIDELE OJAR AKINBAMI on 04/23/2012

life is all about up and down and it's does not bring what you expect but it brings what you deserve futher more achievememt belong to those who labour for it. so let go etihad stadium and fight like a gladiator who need to fight for his life on the arena. macini have said utd can play under pressure. so as a utd team let play for history to write itself.

Posted by maxitaxi on 04/23/2012

I agree with Mark and David on this. Our defense was atrocious on this day of all days. If Smalling was fit and on the bench and Rafael so obviously dreaming of his holidays back in Brazil, why did Fergie not bring him on as soon as Rooney made it 4-2 or even at 4-3 just to shore things up? Phil Jones has been a disappointment in the latter part of the season after a great start.

I said Everton would be tricky and always give us a hard time but if Real can go to Camp Nue and get a result, then why not United go to Wastelands and at least get a draw if not a win.

It's sickening to have worked so hard to turn things around against the mercenaries in Feb/Mar only to drop vital points so close to the finish but let's have faith and even if we don’t manage to secure the 20th this year, we should remember how Wolves fans feel or even Spurs fans!

Come on reds, play with honor and do us proud next week, we broke Arsenal's invincible record, we can do City's.


Posted by Sumit on 04/23/2012

I will not agree with Mr Akinbami . It is definitely not over yet. I will agree that the Etihad fixture will be tough , but common its Manchester United after all. When have we done things the easy way...Riding through the storm and coming out strong has all been our thing. Yes , no doubt the defense needs to be tight now. No more let downs, Rafael was bad but do we have a choice in the absence of O'Shea.Dont forget , if Manchester United will be under pressure , so will be Manchester City. And remember , the attack of Man United was very strong against Everton. If the same pace n fire continues , the City backline will no doube be tested and might crumble. Manchester City has been a strong squad since the past 2 years now, but still we have shown them the door at every step. I will surely bank on Newcastle to finish the job for us once we take them down. Personally I believe..THERE IS NO BETTER PLACE TO BURY THE HYPE OF MANCHESTER CITY THAN THEIR OWN BELOVED ETIHAD STADIUM. GGMU!!

Posted by Otim Thomas Rays on 04/23/2012

You just have to see the beaming smiles on the faces of those City players & fans alike after they beat Wolves 2:0. It's like they had won the EPL already !!. How I wish they were wrong to think that it's over. Utd got themselves into the hole , they have to get out of it, no matter what and that starts Monday night.After all Utd is the only team to have won in Wasteland this season in the FA.They can do it again. Why not? besides they (City) still have Newcastle.The twists & turns may continue.I am hopeful.

Posted by Johanzul on 04/23/2012

Well as predicted, this season is going to be tight wif Man City. I'm still confident wif the team can pull a great result playing on Man City ground as this team got to prove to the fans that they are deserve champions for BPL. After all, this team are selected from the greatest Manager in history of England clubs, so they say. Most importantly, this team is so called getting near to the quality of Barcelona, so they say.

So? Prove "so they say" to the fans that statements above are valid to be acknowledge. As we the fans deserved something massive as we are the Manchester United fans. Is either BPL and/or CL, correction, is either BPL and/or EL, got to low the standard a bit. We got kick out from CL, then EL and possibility of not having our BPL this season. But hey, it's ok for the club, players and staff, is not that they got pay cut, ticket collections are good, owners and shareholders got their shares. Who got shitty result in the end, well, it's the fans of course.

Posted by Adam Vierthaler on 04/23/2012

Reply to Nelson William: Nelson, have faith. This is no time to give up or stop supporting! To your point about how bad we've been the last two or three years...HUH? We've won two consecutive league titles and on the brink of a 3rd. We've assembled more points to date going into the last game than ever in the past - including the 90's! I'll admit we haven't been playing with the traditional "swagger" of a MUFC side but being as critical as you are above doesn't make much sense. Perhaps you're attempting some reverse psychology or something? Oh, and as for the poor transfer window dealings - I disagree again. De Gea is arguably our POY, Ashley Young (when not diving) has been superb, and Jones had a great start tot he campaign & has a bright future - what have you been watching? Don't concede the title just yet - we always make it hard for ourselves...thumping "Citeh" at the Wastelands is something you won't want to miss if we're able to do it...

Posted by Sam, Jakarta on 04/23/2012

I'm an Arsenal fan but I like top teams including but not limited to Man United and Man City. So, I will watch this decider and enjoy the game as I will have no butterflies in my stomach. Either one to win the game will fine to me.

That being said, however, I think City has a slight advantage especially if their star midfielders Yaya Toure, Silva and De Jong play. Their defense is certainly very tough to break because their stopper is England number one. Unless... Unless a United midfielder can produce a shot like Arterta's when Arsenal beat Hart at Emirates lol.

Posted by Lim Chee Long on 04/23/2012

Ferguson cost us another game. Degea, Ferdinand and evans to name a few of our flops. We had a fit Jones who is supposed to be our CB and Smalling. Fergie is misusing Jones and it wont be long before he flops totally.

I still think we will win no.20 but if we dont, then as much as we give credit to the senile old man for our 19 titles, Fergie must also take the blame for the loss of this one.

Posted by Efon on 04/23/2012

Mark, i know we are Rivals but that doesn't mean you shouldn't help us out by informing ESPN that the Manchester City blog hasn't been functioning for a long time now, we are not happy

Posted by Jay on 04/23/2012

I'm a United fan as well as a football fan & I'm well aware of the fighting spirit we have. However, I don't think we'd be able to beat City in their backyard. The momentum is certainly with the blue half of Manchester after our capitulation yesterday. The way our defence imploded was one hell of a shocker. That being said, Sir Alex needs to reinvest in the squad in the summer. Evra has lost it, Rio too, and the need for a creative midfielder can't be overemphasized. Like I said earlier, I don't expect us to beat City, worst case scenario I hope we get a share of the spoils.

Posted by Ivan Ivanov on 04/23/2012

For one I believe that what went wrong on Sunday as mainly Sir Alex's decision making. What we needed was three point. With a 4:2 lead and 10 minutes to go, you need solid team. Giggs, Jones and Park should have been introduced to improve performance and bring some freshness to the field. On the positive side, we are still in better position going into the derby - two months ago I would have taken it without hesitation. Of course, two weeks ago, I was certain that by April 30, everything would be over.

Posted by Davidoff on 04/23/2012

So much for man utd's arrogance- i wish i could say inverted snobbery..so much for doing things the hard way. why didnt you do so at basle in the Champions League. mano-a-mano, man city has a stronger squad, utd has the edge becuase of the qwilly old fox in the dog out. But he has had his day, and his luck cannot keep holding forever.for players with such immeasurable experience as city- the yaya toure's, tevez, silva, ders no way they gob drop points in such a crucial match at home? what experience does utd have? is it rafael? smalling? phil jones?welbeck?. this team aint got what it takes to hold their nerve..definately not like the united teams of yore

Posted by mike singh on 04/23/2012

pack the midfield againsy citeh, rooney in the center, wellbeck alone upfront. all we need is a draw, if we get a breakaway then good. otherwise high tempo game amd lots of pressure on city on the ball. get the diver young in the game, he can fall over and get someone sent off e.g. de jong.

Posted by Patrick on 04/23/2012

Max,

As great as Nani was going forward, both of the goals created by Hibbert came on his flank. He never closed down Tony and the guy had all day to put in a great cross for Jelavic/Felliani. Your thoughts?

Posted by Kody on 04/23/2012

Mike

Trivia question: How many times has De Jong been sent off while at City?

Posted by Peter Xavier on 04/23/2012

I blame no one but Fergie! Season after season, he has the chance and funds to buy players BUT he just simply refuses. Time and time again, he pushes the existing players to the limit; to win and deliver results but he does not back the players with key acquisitions. I have always believed this and Roy Keane confirmed it; Man United won all the titles due to the quality of the players and NOT because of Alex Ferguson. He also keeps faith in "lemon" when they should be shipped out and replaced with quality players. And oh yes, he kicks out quality players who don't "kau tao" to him! Remember Becks, Stam, Ince, Keane, Kanchelskis, et all! He has simply been blessed by the legacy of the club and the players who give their heart and soul to the club's cause. It's simply time the hierarchy bought players to bolster the squad each season. We cannot continue the Fergie way anymore if we are to remain champions! In ending, I hope Cantona is named the best player of the Premier League era.

Posted by David Smith on 04/24/2012

Efon, I took it upon myself and informed ESPN you're not happy that the Citeh blog has been inactive for awhile. The supervisor I spoke to admitted he's never heard of Manchester Citeh, but promised to look into it. I suggested he try looking up "Mercenaries FC" on his computer and sure enough, Poulter's hairy mug popped up. The supervisor added that if you're unhappy now, wait until the end of the season. Typically, several "United fans" found their way on here to lay the blame for the 4-4 at the feet of Sir Alex. You lot are just as fucking ignorant and two-faced as the ABU's who make fools of themselves on this blog. You declare how shite our side and tactics are, while sat atop the Premiership looking down on the Noisy Neighbours. We've dropped 8 points since Newcastle away you fucking ingrates. Where were you when Sir Alex had us 8 points clear? The United Board needn't look any further than this blog for the Great Man's replacement, however. Number 20 looks large, even for you.

Posted by maxitaxi on 04/24/2012

Don't understand Peter Xavier's point of Fergie not buying and pushing players to the limit. Heard of De Gea, Young, Jones and Smalling and that was just last year. These are the next generation.

I know some players you mentioned were moved on for the good of the dressing room and moral.

Maybe he should be more like the mercenaries and bankrupt the club buying anything that costs over thirty mil just because you can. What about Welbeck, Cleverly, Pogba and a host of reserves that have worked their way into the first team. How many City players come through their academy?

We've been so spoilt in the past twenty years with arguably the best manager in the world, that to maybe lose this championship has caused so much dissent. These are fans maybe not around in the seventies and eighties when we watched United swagger from mid table to top five and the odd FA cup now and again.

Get behind the lads and carry on Fergie, you've not done that bad!

Posted by usaid ahmed on 04/24/2012

Had we won 4-3 then no one would care about the lack of cover from nani when hibbert was given room to put in two assist crosses.
No one would care about the failure of the midfielders to drop back and cover the runs of pienaar and fellaini.
Everton had a simple tactic of lumping it or hoofing it towards fellaini and deal with the second ball won through him.
What did we do to avoid that?

We didnt bring Young to give more cover on the left side
We didnt bring smalling to fist it out with fellaini for the long balls so that ferdinand and evans could mop up jelavic and mcfadden

We can keep moaning but the points have been dropped

Its time to believe in our team and hope for the best in the derby
And i will agree that Newcastle will have a say in this title race for sure

Posted by Rick on 04/24/2012

After watching the game I thought that despite Nani's goals I would have started with Young. I suspect that Young was not played to shield him from the spotlight for the moment. Nani is good going forward but his defensive side has always been lacking and two crosses that led to goals came from his side. Fergie's tactics were also lacking. The game was very reminiscent of the capitulation suffered at City's hands in the first round and the question has to be asked whether the players are learning. At this level there really is no excuse for the frequency and similarity of mistakes that we are seeing from United. The team is in no other competitions and cannot use fatigue as a contributing factor. I'm a boyhood Everton fan and knew the game would be tough but was hoping for a better performance from United. Criticism aside I am still debating whether I have the courage to watch the Shity(sorry City)game since this level of inconsistency from United is not good for my heart.

Posted by curtis harris on 04/25/2012

I'm an arsenal fan and I'd honestly feel better if man u won the title. Remember gunners lost to sunderland and then proceeded to ruin the spurs season. Momentum is deceiving

Posted by maxitaxi on 04/25/2012

Just want to say very well done to Chelsea. Although a staunch Red all my life and beyond, I thought their performance last night was outstanding and if our defense/midfield can perform like that next week, we'll be alright.

Smalling for Rafael though because there is history between him and Tevez and he could get himself sent off a la Ribbery against Bayern a couple of years ago. I think Smalling has played well at right back when asked and has far more composure.

Screw the beautiful game, the win and points is what is important here, as shown in both of Chelsea’s games against Barca.

You've given me hope that arrogance and thinking you've won the game before it's started, can be beaten by hard work and belief but what a plonka Terry is!

Win or lose, we've still got the history City will never, ever have, no matter how many teams they buy. They've still got to go to Newcastle, so not sure why they think if they win on Monday, they have won the league!

Posted by David Smith on 04/25/2012

If we had defended a tenth of what Chelsea heroically did last night, we'd have managed to keep a two goal lead in the final 10 minutes. Infuriating.

The only thing cheering me up is knowing that cunt Terry is banned from playing in Munich.

The match last night immediately reminded me of United's 1999 semi-final, second leg in Turin. Down two-nil early, Keano dragged us back in it with a cracking header and the rest, as they say, was glorious history.

Win or lose the Final, Chelsea fans will always remember April 24, 2012.

Posted by Liam Rooney on 04/25/2012

I have to say that I was shocked by the result at the weekend against everton, however I watched the city game and they looked very nervous at times against wolves who let's be honest are a poor side. The 2nd goal city got started with what should have been a free for wolves.City seem to think that they only have to turn up on monday and the league is theirs...I say bollox, united have generally been excellent away from home this year and I think after the roasting that fergie would have given the players at the weekend that they will be well and truly up for it. Remember folks there will be big pressure on shity playing at home and even if we draw we are still in the driving seat. Come on United....

Posted by kingra on 04/26/2012

I am a die hard United fan.It would be nice to win no 20 especially with the money Citeh invested in the last 2 years ...
As for the Monday derby however as much as I try to be positive I don't see United winning at the ETIHAD or even getting a draw....City is too strong and our central midfield is currently too weak to say the least.
Honestly I don't either see Citeh losing their remaining games even against Newcastle.It will be terrible if we miss on the title on goal difference.... !
As for the Everton debacle,Fergie should have made changes at 4-2 and seen of the game..!
Hope we buy next season....

Posted by maxitaxi on 04/27/2012

Just read on ESPN that Mancini is lining up Balotelli to play against us on Monday. By putting that nutter in the side, who is he going to drop, Aguero, Tevez and how will they feel.

Only good news for us and what a woman Mancini is forever changing his mind. "They will never play for City again", to "Oh I hope they stay next season". My teacher used to say, "When in doubt, say nowt" so shut up twat!

A good lesson in how not to manage a dressing room. Quote, "It's like a family when a child does stupid things," said Mancini. "The affection of the parents is still there". Told you he's shagging Balotelli's mother!

Hope it all collapses on you Mancini, your behavior as a manager has been poor to say the least this season and your treatment of your players and wanton waste of money has been shocking. If you deserved the trophy, I'd say well done, but if you do win it, there is no justice, this season as least!

Posted by oz on 04/29/2012


@ Peter Xavier

You are a drop kick! fans like you are an embarrassment, piss off and follow Chelsea or Liverpool please

what a load of nonsense about SAF- as Maxitaxi stated we were not that good in the 70s when I first started following united.

check your facts- SAF did not force Kanchelskis out of the club - there was some dodgy Russian deals involved.

Posted by Aaron Mark Hendrix on 04/30/2012

The game of the season for us then.For Citeh too.On paper,and lets not kid ourseleves,Citeh look like they're gonna piss all over us.The only good thing is we've been scoring goals,though not defending them.Still believe that we can win tonite,but for that to happen,we'll need a clean sheet.That's the part I aint too certain of,but who knows,we are Man Utd afterall.I still do believe,but in recent weeks I've seen us let slip a good lead and now have to do things the hard way.But I've seen enough United matches to know that it aint over till it really is over,so fingers crossed then tonight.There'd be nothin better than winning tonite and proving that money aint gonna buy anyone instant success..

Posted by maxitaxi on 04/30/2012

Well, D-Day has arrived. I love my team, I really do and followed them through good and bad times since my first game my mum took me to in 1963.

However, I fear tonight might not go the way we want it to and the fact that Newcastle seems to have bottled it, leaves me to worry about our chances of retaining the title.

I think against Wigan and Everton, two teams who attacked and bullied our defense, they exposed problems we already suspected as against Basle and Bilbao and I think that City will attack us full force tonight. If we get to half time at 0-0, we could do it!

My hope is that we perform as resolute and as bravely as Chelsea last week against all odds and that Evra and Refael/Smalling or whoever, do not leave their posts gallivanting down the wings and they stay in position and man mark the likes of Silva, Tevez and Aguero.

I've let my nails grow so I'll have something to chew, so sing your hearts out for the lads tonight and whatever happens, we're proud of you.

Posted by aussiered on 04/30/2012

Three attempts on goal pathetic effort boys.
Believe in united

Posted by cas cas on 04/30/2012

Ok we are not as good as we thaught. We have now given city the title. For crying out loud not even a shot at goal the whole match smells of failer. We cannot run and cover our spaces like city did. We cannot pass. We cannot defemd set pieces. Citeh did everything perfect and they deserved to even win by a 6:0 scoreline. Alex furgerson should know that the game has evolved and one must evolve with it. He should know what we fans go through when we play shit like that and yet we pay our hard earned cash to watch crap like that. I am bitter about this lose big time. All we had to do was at least to fight for a draw. All our new players apart from scholesy were useless. I have one big question for fergie? WHY THE HELL DO YOU ALWAYS j.s park in such high pressured matches? This guy spends all the match falling over his shoe laces like a 2year old kid. Lets hope we make it up in the last matches and hopefully citeh drops a point or two as well. We can still win it the 20th title is ours.

Posted by SH on 05/01/2012

As a city fan! The best team won tonite!
No excuses Fergie was poor.
And for those criticising Mancini....do u really believe that Man Utd deserves to win the title this year....
Naaaaaaaaaaaaah

  Post your comment
Name:
Email Address:
Comments:
characters left