Archive for August, 2002
It is not very often that I leave a match angered by the United team. Yet today certain individuals behaved in a way that I cannot be proud of. Not only did we throw away two points, but we lost our discipline and pride. I have not seen the Keane sending off incident on TV, and therefore cannot pass judgement on it, but either way he DID react unneccessarily. Beckham too was a child today; diving, complaining, answering back and being wound up. Now we lose our captain for three matches including Leeds away, all because he retaliated.
The day started a lot better than it finished. The sun was out, and on current form I thought we would have no trouble getting three points. Before the game soul legend Edwyn Starr played on the pitch, and the team came out to huge exposions of fire.
The first dissapointment of the day came when i got to my seats and realised I was right at the edge of the United allocation, ie right next to the Sunderland fans. Not only did this mean being the target of abuse from the home supporters, but it also ensured I had a police officer standing right next to me. During songs that all 3000 reds were singing he would tell me to watch my language as there were kids. He was referring to the same ‘kids’ that were hurling foul mouthed abuse at me for the whole match, and they never seemed to get told to quieten down. It always puzzles me how the police are so sceptical and paranoid about away fans, yet refuse to even contemplate that home fans may sometimes too be to blame.
The match itself started brightly; within around 5 minutes Giggsy put us one up and we controlled the game. At half time it should have been over, but we had not taken our chances and there was still a long way to go. Sunderland set out very brightly in the second half and expolited the space we left on the left flank. They put in cross after cross and it was no suprise when eventually new signing Tore Andre Flo equalised.
United knew they had to score again, but could not find the net despite putting the pressure on the home team. Keane lost his temper, as did Beckham, and the game ended in bad spirits.
Praise must go to the Sunderland team, who were far more impressive than their fans, but this must be regarded as one United lost on their own accord. Five points from three games is not a disgrace, yet nor is it particuarly impressive. Now the team must go and put in a good performance against Boro if the intend to proove themselves. It is early days in the league, but we really need a good start this season to make it easier for ourselves. Hopefully Keano can bounce back from this too.
I cannot believe that I have just succeeded in yet again deleting an incredibly long report before submitting it to the web page. So therefore once again, I must apologise for the shortened report that will follow.
During the summer, journalists; fans and players alike questioned the hunger and desire of this United team. Last night the players did all they could to put their name back on the map and send shockwaves through Europe. Sure the Hungarian opposition were neither Real Madrid nor Inter Milan, but the way United played they would have swept aside anyone.
The Stretford End sang throughout, with renditions of all the usual chants, with loud roars of ‘Rio’ following every perfectly timed tackle by the new signing. The sky was clear and the air was warm; all in all it was a perfect evening for Reds at the match.
In the first half United powered their way through the Hungarian defence time after time, with cross after cross hitting the danger area. Zala were not allowed any time on the ball, it seemed as if United had more than 11 players on the pitch at times. The team needed a goal to settle them, and after only six minutes Ruud latched on to Scholes’ pass to take the lead. Within twenty minutes a stunning Beckham freekick and a calm finish from Scholes put United 3-0 up and in total control. The rest of the half was an awesome performance worthy of credit from every journalist who slated United during the summer.
The second half was not as classy as the first, but at 3-0 up United could afford to take their feet off the gas slightly. For twenty minutes possession football sufficed, with few clear chances, but the arrival of Ole and Diego caused mayhem amongst the Zala defence once again.
The half livened up when Ruud was put through on goal. Illic caught the ball but landed on Ruud’s knee with his studs, and was shown a red card. Ruud converted the penalty, despite the Stretford End calling for Diego to take it, and the Hungarians, down to ten men, were shattered. Ole soon added a fifth and the match ended with a scoreline that reflected the domination of the Reds over ninety minutes.
The result sends a clear message that United are back in form, and that they ought not to be underestimated. Every player, supporter and journalist alike must accept that writing United off is a foolish mistake to make. United are ready to take on Europe’s best once again, and silverware could well be on the horizon.
If you want to know the truth, here it is: I wrote a very extensive report of the match tonight, but then managed to delete it by accident. So what follows is a far briefer and less impressive piece of journalism, focusing far less on the events of the game.
Sky decided to break all the rules again and screen this match on a friday night. Now imagine you have a 9-5 job, and have to explain to your boss that you have to take yet another day off work for football. Then look at travel prices on a friday afternoon, and you will see why many reds simply had no choice but to miss this fixture. Along with Chelsea charging a staggering £40 for away fan tickets, travelling down was just not an option for some. United I am sure were delighted by this, as it left them room to sell more ‘travel packages’ to tourists who took their seats amongst us at Stamford Bridge. But at least we were enterained for our money.
People who wrote United off last season may be forced to eat their words in coming months. Of course it is far too early to talk about winning the title, but tonight the form of previous years was there for all to see. Crisp passing, determination, a will to succeed, and the creation of many chances give all of us reds hope.
Ultimately this was only one game, and one which we did not even win, but the second half perfomance was as good a show of skill and desire as I have seen in a while. With the domination United had they ought to have won in the end, and should even have been awarded a blatant penalty in the second half. Yet Chelsea also played their part in the game and could have had a larger advantage in the first half; they will think they deserved a point.
The Chelsea supporters were as welcoming as ever, doing their Munich impressions and insisting we would be going home in ambulances. In return we reminded them that they had not won the league for a very very very long time, and that their beloved Ducth striker Jimmy would soon be off to a big club. The atmosphere was good overall, but no new tunes or chants to inform you of.
Back to matters on the pitch, there are a few individuals who ought to be singled out. John O’Shea was awesome at the back, marking Zola and Hasslebank out of the match totally. At 21 he is so confident and capable that Rio will be worrying if he will get his place back in the side! Keano and Beckham played their hearts out, and Silvestre also had a cracking game assisting both goals.
There is a long season ahead, but tonight has filled me with confidence that the passion and hunger is back in the side. Now let’s get back in the Champions League where we belong, and look forward to coming months.
The first game of the season is never easy, especially against a newly promoted side who will play their hearts out for 90 minutes. West Brom were certainly no exception; their players gave 100%, making life very difficult for United.
The facts are as such; we won, kept a clean sheet, created chance after chance, and were by far the better side. Fergie was even confident enough to finish the game with only two defenders on our side! Yet the story of the game is not as simple as the above suggests. For 79 minutes we failed to take the lead, and many doubted whether we would score the goal that substitute Ole Solskjaer eventually provided us with. In my opinion the West Brom sending off WAS a red card offence, but had it not been we would have struggled to have scored the all important goal.
Keane, despite off the pitch headlines this week, looked as determined as ever. Veron, along side him, ripped open the West Brom defence several times, and the Stertford End was not happy about him being substituted off. Giggs was quiet, Becks looked jaded, and the team in general did not look as organised as they should. Never-the-less, three points and a clean sheet is no bad way to start the season.
In the stands the volume levels were good, with supporters drinking in the bright sunshine before the game. The West Brom fans were loud and enjoying their big day out, unfortunately they lost any credibility by resorting to taunting us with Munich chants. For that I wish them relegation.
Anyway, all in all a good day out, although I am not too confident about our form. Hopefully a result at Chelsea will improve confidence and get us off to a winning run of games.
When I write these reports for unitedonline.co.uk I have to choose which photo appears next to the headline. Today was a hard choice, due to so many potential options.
Rio made his Old Trafford debut which is certainly worthy of a headline. Even more worthy was the fact he was taken off with a worrying injury. Then there were Ruud’s two fantastic first half goals, which on most days would have stolen the limelight. Other options included the appearance of 007 star Roger Moore, cheating Argentinians diving and being sent off, the return of Roy Keane to Old Trafford since his world cup exit, and an amazing 56,000 strong crowd for a friendly game.
But the star of the show was Juan Sabre Veron who played 60 minutes of inspired football, worthy of taking any headlines. His passing, vision, touch and skills all were worth the admission fee alone. In fact, when he was take off in the second half, the game ceased to entertain. Let’s hope this form continues until May and he answers is critics in an appropriate manner.
The atmosphere was dull, mainly due to non-regulars getting the opportunity to buy a ticket to Old Trafford. And once in a while it’s very important to get kids involved, after all they are the future of the support at United. However, it was irritating hearing the high pitched cheers and giggles when Becks touched the ball, and it certainly wasn’t appropriate to sing the regular hardcore sings in front of such young kids.
All in all an enjoyable day out, but the match lacked atmoshere and passion. Im not going to Budapest on wednesday, but will be watching and cheering the lads all the way. My next report will come after the West Brom match next week when hopefully Rio could be back, and Ruud could be scoring again.