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Archive for March, 2002

Leeds 3-4 Man Utd

I really hate Leeds. It’s a great city in terms of its bars and clubs, but the people and football club have a lot to be desired. Going to Elland Road is rarely a pleasant experience, but today was one I wil always remember.

Quite simply this was a must win game. If we had not collected all three points we could have waved goobye to the title, and when I saw Ruud was only on the bench I have to admit I was concerned. Yet the word of the season, which may still backfire, is BELIEVE, and so I put my trust in Sir Alex and he did not disappoint.

On arrival at Elland Road the aim is usually to get into the stadium as quickly and quietly as possible to avoid confrontation with any of the rather unwelcoming locals who loiter around searching out Mancs to batter. Fortunately this year passed without incident and we made it in okay just before kick off.

United scored early on thanks to a solid finish from Scholsey, but I have to admit that it reminded me of going 1-0 at Highbury in November. When Leeds equalised not long after I feared a repeat of that match, but 2 quick goals from Ole put all doubts out of my head.

With United a sizable lead is never enough, and even Giggs’ goal did not put the game out of reach for Leeds. As the second half went on Leeds managed a few goals and for the last ten minutes even the most confident of reds worried about an equaliser. Yet United contained Leeds and left with all three points. The usual repetoire of songs mimicked the home contingent and we all left as happy reds. The riot police did their best to restrain the rather eager Leeds scum but could do little to prevent the chaos that ensued. Fortunately we got away safely and with all three points. Now its off to Coruna with Ruud back in the line up. Bring on the sunshine!

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Man Utd 0-1 Middlesbrough

Today was far from ideal. Picture waking up in a foul mood knowing 3 points is the only thing that could cheer you up, and then imagine how much worse things were by the final whistle.

Losing at home to Boro did not appear to be in the season’s script, and the implications are not funny; just look at the league table. Arsenal must now be favouties due to their remaining fixtures and current form. Their fixture congestion is no longer as bad as it could have been due to their elimination from Europe, and if I hold my hands up I have to admit they are playing the best football in the league.

But let us keep our heads up, United can never be written off. By this time next week Liverpool could have slipped up against Chelsea, and Arsenals injury and suspension lists could affect them. United must go about beating Leeds at Helland Road to keep the title race wide open.

The game itself today was strange; whilst United showed plenty of hunger and desire they never created enough chances to really threaten Boro. The atmosphere was fantastic with full support for the lads until the last kick of the game. The solidarity from the Stretford End should have been enough to at least force an equaliser, but in an unpredictable season it never came.

We are United supporters, loyal through and through; over and over, we will follow you. Keep the red flag flying high, Man United will never die.

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West Ham 3-5 Man Utd

Upton Park is not the easiest place to get three points. Add to that their win over us at Old Trafford, the determination of Di Canio to show his worth and their current home form, and all in all this was a potential stumbling block.

Yet if United are going to win the chamionship again this is the type of game thet need to win, their experience and desire must be spot on. Today United got the three points which is all that matters. The defence was not solid, passes went astray and it was a nervous afternoon, but a win is a win at this stage of the season.

As usual the Upton Park crowd were up for the match, and they took every opportunity to sing about Munich and generally be abusive. No surprises then that they booed Becks every time he got the ball, seeming to forget they cheered his goal that took England to the World Cup. No surprises either that Becks proceeded to play out of his skin eventually scoring two and assisiting another; as one commentator once said, “love him or hate him, you cannot keep a great player down.”

After going behind early on a quick equaliser was needed. Beckham’s first time chip over David James (once a scouser always a scouser) nestled perfectly in the net sending the red army mad. Yet soon sloppy defending meant we were 2-1 down, and again the nerves set in. Fortunately it was only another few minutes before Beckham’s cross found Nicky Butt who spectacularly use some acrobatics to get us back level. After this United found their rythym and the game was there for the taking.

The second half started brightly and United’s passing improved as the game went on. West Ham could not handle Keane, Scholes, Butt and Beckham in midfield and it was not against the run of play when Scholsey popped up in the box to put us in front. Soon after Ole got on the scoresheet and the floodgates could have opened. Chance after chance went begging before Defoe came on and suddenly the hammers were back in the game.

At 4-3 it all could have gone wrong. Memories of a dropped two points at Derby came back, as did memories of past encounters at Upton Park that cost us titles. Yet this time the home crowd, most of whom had gone home by this stage anyway, were not to have their way. Scholes was pulled down in the box, and Becks smashed home the penalty to wrap up the points.

A fantastic game full of great attacking play, three points, 5 away goals, and still top of the league. Bring on Boavista and the quarter final draw; somewhere sunny please!

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Man Utd 0-0 Bayern Munich

It was a predictable result in a predictable game; two tactical managers cancelling each other out in a game that never looked like a classic encounter. United showed they could match the best, but also failed to capitalised on a lack lustre Munich side who passed the ball with typical German efficiency, if not flair.

There were few chances of note, although Ryan Giggs deserves full praise for his role in prising some openings. It must also be emphasised how solid United were at the back, rarely allowing Bayern a sight on goal. Blanc and Silvestre were excellent, and when needed Barthez did not allow the ball past him.

The atmosphere was good, but died slightly as the game went on, with the exceptions of roars whenever Giggsy got the ball. SPS did their best to annoy the Stretford end by trying to ensure fans were sat throughout the game, but they were fighting a losing battle as cries of “Stand up for the champions” echoed around the ground.

The result was a good one, as we qualified for the quarters which was the first aim. Now it is our own hands whether we qualify top of the group or not, and this would help us avoid Real and Deportivo. Yet if we come second it brings back memories of 1999 where we came second to Munich and went on to with it.

In the quarters of the Euro Cup and top of the league; and they call this a crisis?! Follow, follow, follow….

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Man Utd 4-0 Tottenham

With Liverpool beating Newcastle and Arsenal seeing off Derby the night before United desperately needed all three points against Spurs to keep them in contention for the title. Beckham opening the scoring early on, therefore, was a great relief to 65,000 reds at Old Trafford. Before the Liverpool game had even kicked off (scousers stealing their own team’s floodlights; oh dear) United were in a driving position. Wave after wave of attack through a rather shaky looking Spurs side deserved more goals. It was not until the stroke of half time that Scholesy was judged to have been knocked over in the opposition area, and although it was a very dubious decision Ruud had no trouble doubling the lead.

The second half marked the ageing of Forlan. Although his finishing had much to be desired his all round play was superb. His pass to Ruud led to Beck’s second, and soon after a great piece of coolness lead to Ruud’s second and United’s forth.

A good atmosphere, three easy points, a clean sheet and still top of the table. All in all a great night.

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