Archive for November, 2002
The last few weeks have really aggitated me. 909 listeners, people on this forum, fickle fans and generally too many people have been writing off a team who have proven time after time that they are capable of embaressing their critics.
Every team in the history of mankind has bad patches; look at Liverpool and Arsenal in the last few weeks. Real Madrid are way down in the Spanish league, as are Bayer Leverkusen in the German. But the point is it’s only Novermber, and titles are won in May.
Despite bad form, disappointing results and major injury worries we are still up there at the top challenging; imagine what we will be like when we hit form and get the likes of Becks, Rio, Keane and Butt back.
“Fergie should have resigned”
“Forlan and Veron are shite”
These are comments I cant believe I actually hear from United fans, and those fans ought to be hanging their heads in shame. Because the likes of Fortune and Diego were crucial in today’s win, and are players we need in our squad.
It was a great day today, one that answered our critics and showed that, as always, United can’t be written off. The era of domination is NOT over, we are still fighting. Our players have not given up, the hunger IS still there, and we CAN win trophies at home and abroad.
Everyone has seen the game today. As well as the amazing skill, pace, passing, belief and ability, there was also passion. The players looked as hungry for victory as I have ever seen them, desperate to avenge previous blunders. Apart from one soft goal that we gave to Bellamy, we were faultless. The defence (namely returning Wes Brown) dealt with every ball and sent it forwards with conviction. O’Shea was once again a hero, and Larry alongside him was rightly the captain. Silvestre was clinical both at the back and up front, showing his real value and strength for the second goal. Scholes was back on form, spreading passes in every direction, always in control. Fortune played the holding role brilliantly, avoiding the limelight but crucially hustling Geordies off the ball and setting up our more reliable options in attack. Forlan was notably dangerous, his passing and off the ball running had the Newcastle defenders baflled, and he ought to have scored. Giggs answered every question asked of him; a magnificent display full of passion and creativity. Up front Ole and Ruud were unstobbale, the scoreline says it all. And in goal Barthez showed he IS world class. He collected very ball and none of the goals were remotely his fault.
The atmosphere too was electric, better than most early kick off games. Shearer was persecuted by the Strettie as always, booed on his every touch he stirred up the crowd. Twat. “Shearer shearer whats the score?” followed chants of “one greedy bastard” and “cheer up alan shearer, oh what can it mean, to a sad Geordie bastard and a shit football team”.
The result silenced a lot of critics. I hope a lot of words are eaten this evening and there is more belief in the team in future. The car journey home cheered us up even more; Arsenal, Scousers and City all losing made a great day.
Form is temporary, class is permenant. I hope those ’supporters’ who havent been doing too much supporting of late stop whinging and start believing. The likes of Giggs, Veron, Beckham, Scholes and Barthez , who have all been criticised, dont go bad overnight. Bring on the Scousers.
I haven’t seen the highlights or replays, nor even discussed the game in much detail with anyone, so please excuse my lack of insight into the fine details of the game which are all a bit of a blur to me right now.
I hate Upton Park. Nasty, bitter and violent fans allowing you into their cauldron of hate is not my idea of a good Sunday afternoon, unless we win that is. Outside the ground leaflets condemning Roy Keane, and T-shirts slating the Reds were fuelling the hatred. Quite sad really; I’ve never seen anti-West Ham merchandise being sold at Old Trafford.
Inside the ground we watched Liverpool slip up to Sunderland, and with texts coming in telling us Leeds were losing at home to Bolton it looked like being a good afternoon. Meeting up with some of the regulars and a couple of people we had spent the evening with in Nantes last season, we sang our hearts out and made our way to the seats for kick off.
It was a reasonably weak United team, the most notable absentees being Keano, Becks, Gary Neville, Butty and Rio. Plenty of Reds were not too confident and 2-2 seemed to be the general consensus when predicting the scoreline. West Ham were, as always, up for their biggest game of the season and their first home win for a very long time.
The first half was fairly uneventful. Possession was even and both sides had a few half chances. West Ham hit the post and had a goal disallowed for offside, but rarely threatened. United looked jaded too, and when Ruud score shortly before half time it was unexpected. We got the feeling it was a result we would grind out.
Coming out in the second half United looked more confident. The passing was more crisp, but as the game wore on we became camped in our own half. West Ham’s equaliser was clearly offside, but on the other hand they deserved to be level overall. In the dying seconds United missed two sitters, both of which we were celebrating before realising they hadn’t actually gone in. Gutting.
The walk back to the car through dodgy alleys and quite narrow streets consisted of me doing all the talking with a London accent, and the rest keeping their mouths firmly shut. Yet on arrival at the car we realised our subtly had all been in vain; one of the girls was wearing a United scarf and we couldn’t have been more obvious as away fans! Luckily there was no trouble, which is a rarity for me at Upton Park, and we made it home safe.
Bad bad result, the hunger and desire needs to come back for us to turn the season around. But it is not all doom and gloom. It is worth noting that at this stage of the Treble season we had three points less than we do more…..
Games like this can either be great or awful. When both teams have qualified they can either use it as a training ground practice game full of flair and tricks, or they can stroke it around half heartedly knowing the result does not matter. Strangely, this match was neither and came somewhere imbetween the two categories. It was a not a fully weakened side, with the likes of Rio, Scholes, Giggs, Beckham and Ruud all starting, yet nor was it a fully strengthened attempt at winning the game at all costs. Bayer, on their third visit to Old Trafford in two seasons, also fielded a young, weak side, yet they offered little to the match.
United had pride to play for following Saturday’s awful defeat at the hands of City. They didnt do enough to win totally back the support of a fickle United crowd, yet they won the game anyhow. An early penalty from Bayer ballooned over the crossbar and from then on it was United’s match.
The Reds seemed to knock decent crosses in to the box with ease and it was only scrambled clearances from the Germans that kept the scores level. Two minutes before half time, in a subdued atmosphere, Veron set up a shot for himself, then passed it beautifully into the back of the net from outside the area. I smiled as Veron had just answered his critics perfectly and silence the guy to my right who had been hurling abuse at him earlier in the game.
The second half continued as the first left off, yet United created more chances. As Van Nistelrooy stroked the second into the back of the net echoes of “Are you watching merseyside?” reminded everyone that only decent teams qualify for the second group stage! A third was ruled out for off side, but the game was won and United ended the game top of the group. It might not have been as exciting as Newcastle’s win in Holland, but it was a job well done, with special praise for O’Shea and Fortune who did well.
The best moment of the night came in the second half when Gary Neville was borught on as a sub. The clueless United fans had been slating him all week since the derbym but the Old Trafford faithful value their passionate right back. As he came on the stadium echoed with a chant of “Gary Neville is a red”. That is how we ought to treat our players; loyal to the core.
In the next group we have a good trip back to Coruna, and a journey to either Milan or Turin; lets hope its Milan. Well doen Reds, it was a job well done.
There are two types of United fans. The first type are loyal fans, mainly match going, who know their stuff. They form opinions by watching the players every week, not by echoing comments written in The Sun and other anti-United media outfits.I would regard myself as one of these people.
The other type of United fan is very different, and unfotunately gets the rest of us a bad name. These are the ‘Fergie should quit’, ‘Veron is crap’, ‘Diego will never score’, ‘why do we play Phil Neville’ believing twats whom I despise.
The people of this country love to knock those who succeed and for various reasons United are pretty much hated throughout England. For some reason that I cannot explain, people would rather see United lose than their own team win. When DiCanio knocked United out the FA Cup fans from many teams sang his name; bizarre. When Real Madrid knocked us out of Europe, Southampton sang ‘one team in Europe’ referring to Arsenal; they dont even own passports in Southampton! Such bevaviour also explains why United get higher TV audiences than England do; people watch desperate for us to lose.
These ABU’s (anyone but Uniteds) love to slag us off, and most journalists and those in the media have joined the bandwagon. The way Keane, Beckham, Phil Neville and Cantona were treated sums up the hatred. Compare Becks dartboards being distibuted with tabloids in 1998, to the way everyone jumped to Seaman’s rescue after HE tossed up. And so as reds we must see beyond the media.
And that entails loyalty, knowledge and a brain. I will defend Veron, P Neville, and Forlan til the cows come home, because they are loyal players who give their all. I am not saying Veron has been as good as we anticipated, or Forlan has scored enough goals, but slagging them off achieves nothing, and wanting them sold does not help the team. What helps the team is support and loyalty, as shown by the treatment of Diego.
Whilst the country laughed out loud at our Uruguian striker, the Stretford End went about singing his name louder than ever as the goalless games amounted. And what happened? Thats right, he kept his confidence levels up, kept having shots, and scored 2 vital goals this week.
Similar treatment will pay off with Veron, who had an absolute blinder against Southampton, by far Man of the match. Phil Neville also had another great game, although he has made some howlers in his time he is a solid player and I have never understood the abuse he gets.
And as for Sir Alex, lets not be fickle enough to write him off. The man is a legend and sections of alledged United fans are saying his time is up. I remember hearing the same in 95 when we lost the league then sold Hughes, Kanchelskis and Ince. I also remember the same when Arsenal did the double in 98. With hindisight we should know that to write off Fergie after sacrificing one title is crazy.
United were not at their best yesterday, but they did what was required. Three points was all the crowd wanted, and we left happy. Our options upfront are still lacking and the atmosphere needs to be improved, but all in all it was a good day for those loyal enough to stay until the end and see the winner, and not nip off home early to miss the traffic.
The papers will remember this match for Diego not getting his shirt back on, but I will remember it for different reasons. it was the day Diego silenced knob end Reds who slated him for 9 months, and the day Veron showed he will deliver at the highest level. It was the day that served as the perfect reminder that loyalty, patience and spirit pays off. And for those of you still want to slate Fergie, Keano, Diego, Neville and Veron, you should go down the M62 and watch the Scousers instead.
Veron, Veron. Form is temporary, class is permenant.