Archive for April, 2002
I cannot even begin to express the diappointment I feel about our exit from Europe. There was such an optimism all season that this year we would win it, and to not be going to Glasgow is a real blow.
The trip itself was fantastic; the atmosphere, the beer, the weather and taking the lead all made the journey worthwhile. Yet the result was the reason why we went out to Germany and was the reason we came home depressed.
Everyone will form their own opinions after the match varying from the sublime (Fergie must quit) to the ridiculous (Giggs is a crap player). Yet it is important to keep a sense of perspective and remember that we have come so far. 10 years ago who could have predicted the success that we have had? We owe that to Fergie and his players and it will do no good to turn on them following a defeat.
I am not going to write anymore, there is little to be said. The season looks as if it will end trophyles, but we must remember the good times. Villa Park, Elland Road, Stamford Bridge, Coruna, Nantes and Portman road are just a few of the great trips this season. Ruud and Larry have been great signings and the future is still bright.
Follow, follow, follow, cos United will win it at home. We’ll all be pissed up, when Keane lifts the cup, cos United will win it at home. `
It would be highly inappropriate to write this column without referring to Liverpool’s defeat at Spurs today. Their poor performance has ruled them out of the title race and means four more points will ensure United of second place. Whilst winning the title is still a possibility, I can assure you that myself and other reds will settle for finishing above the Scousers.
So on to United. We arrived in Ipswich before kick off and, despite our best intentions, we never made it into the town centre. The red army filled up the stand as the clock counted down to kick off, determined to make the most of Liverpool’s defeat earlier in the day. “Twelve long years” echoed to the tune hat the scousers sing “Liverpool” too. of course referring to their long absence without a championship.
I was suprised to hear United’s team selection; despite existing injuries to Blanc, Barthez, Becks, Veron, Giggsy, G Nev and Johnsen, Fergie still opted to leave Ole, Silvestre and Scholsey on the bench. I had thought that it would have been Ruud who would be dropped as he has looked tired in recent games and not as sharp as he was a month ago. Yet no red could question the solid performances put in my Brown, Irwin, O Shea and Butt; they were all superb. Forlan was excellent except for his finishing, and Chadwick still has to practice his final pass and shot. Also of note for all reds was the return of Keano fit and raring to go, a big plus in anticipation of the Leverkusen game.
So United won 1-0 thanks to a dubious penalty scored by Ruud. Ipswich had their chances but overall United controlled the match and deserved the win, albeit in contraversial circumstances. The reds left the ground happy; the title race is alive, the Scousers lost, and Keano is ready to destroy the Germans. Follow follow follow…
Its rare that United ever make life easy for themselves and let the nerves of their fans settle down. Following United has often been compared to living on a rollercoaster and tonight was a perfect example.
Having defeated Chelsea, Leeds, Deportivo and West Ham away in recent weeks there was a general air of optimism around Old Trafford. United were expected to win, and despite warnings from all over that this would not be an easy game most people thought United were destined a place in Glasgow in May.
But singing songs is not enough to ensure a place in the final. The team has to taje it chances and score more goals that the opposition. Tonight United allowed Bayer too much of the ball and after missing a few chances the final result was unsatisfactory. Leading twice in a home match really should be enough to win but 2 were also conceded and now United have to go away to a team with a superb home record and get a result.
The atmosphere was electric. Every red was tanked up and all 4 stands got behind the team from the start. Throughout the whole match the fans were behind the players and played their part. Unfortunately the players’ second half performance was not good enough, and there is a grave concern that we might be punished for it. A team is only as good as their last result so we have no divine right to win in Germany.
Yet the tie is not yet over. Keano is back and we have shown we can score away goals. There is no reason why we cannot go to Germany and win as we did in Coruna. Follow, follo, follow, and we might still yet be going to glasgow.
If I had predicted consecutive away wins against West Ham, Leeds, Deportivo and Chelsea I am sure I would have got great odds at the bookies. Unfortunately for my bank statement I did not realise just how determined this United team, complete with injuries, were going to be.
Without Becks, Keano and Johnsen United still managed to play Chelsea off the pitch, and fully deserved the three points. After a quiet start ,United got the opener thanks to a scorcher from Scholsey, and there was no turning back. In beautiful weather but a poor atmosphere United passed the ball stylishly and purposefully, carving Chelsea apart. Just as I commented Ruud looked jaded, following a missed one on one, he rounded the keeper to slot home our second just before half time.
The second half was disappointing, but only because Chelsea were awful and never took the game to the reds. United spent forty five minutes stroking the ball around the park without being chased or pressured, and concluded nicely with a great team move that was smashed home by Ole.
Also worth a mention was the man of the match performance by Nicky Butt who took over the Roy Keane position and even questioned whether Roy and Becks would be able to get back into the side!!! Blanc and Scholsey also had world class matches, any red who criticises Blanc is likely to be lynched by the Strettie.
A great day and more importantly a great result, although the atmosphere was pretty awful. I think early kick offs, ticket prices and touted seats that appeared to end up in the hands of tourists and hospitality packages made a big difference. Yet the one thing we could have hoped for was a result, and that we got. Although we are still relying on others to slip up, there is a new hope that we really could sneak this title if we are given the chance.
For anyone who read my article on the away game, let me assure you this report will be far less exciting. Just to warn you I didnt meet any players or discover a new city this time around. But for those of you who did not read my article on the away leg it is worth a read, unless you have a jealous disposition that is.
With Liverpool out and a 2-0 advantage the evening had a good air about it, and I was sure we would progress through to the semis. The journey to the game was not as straight forward as planned, and involved a detour to Wales, but thats a whole other story. We did manage to get to the ground on time and the atmosphere was electric before the match even kicked off. All the usuals bellowed out, with a special mention of our friends down the East Lancs Road who are no longer in the competition.
I wont mention the Beckham injury, there is nothing to be said that has not already been, But Ole coming on was no problem and with his first touch we were winning. Typical of the man who took Sir Alex aside before kick off and told him he understood why he had been dropped, and would wait patiently for his chance. Old Trafford went mad and the semis beckoned.
Yet of course United cannot do things the easy way and before half time it was 1-1. A period of tension began that continued after half time, and although Depor had few chances there was a general fear around the ground that one slip would open the ties wide up again. Fortunately a moment of genius from Veron split open their defence and Ole was on target again to seal the tie. 2 sendings off and a Giggsy special later we were already discussing the trip to Leverkusen, and United were enjoying the game spreading the ball around with every pass being cheered.
It was a comfortable victory that sent shock waves through Europe. We outclassed Depor over two games and the score lines from both legs did not even reflect United’s domination. Special mention must go to Veron; despite all the criticism he rose to the top of his game to assist all three goals and claim his place in the team while Keane and Becks are out. If anyone feels like paying for my trip to Germany it would be appreciated; when we keep winning it takes its toll on bank balances. Yet money will be the last thing on my mind if we make it to Glasgow. Follow, follow. follow…