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Reading 1-1 Man Utd

United went to Reading expecting to win. Despite their very good home record United would not have felt threatened by the Premiership new-boys, and probably had a bit of a shock. Reading are a good team. Not good enough to take points off us, but good enough to with us not being at full strength and not performing to full capability. United had enough chances to win the match but ultimately the performance was not remotely satisfactory.

Going to a new stadium is always more exciting than just another trip to the same old places year after year. However, Reading might as well have been Boro, Sunderland, Derby, Southampton, Leicester or any other generic new stadium. Four stands, one tier, built near a motorway in fields with nothing else about, fans full of replica shirts, PA announcer getting far too excited, music when they score a goal and small time supporters.

Anyway, back to the match itself, as the atmosphere from our support was not that great and the home support bored us with the same old ‘we support our local team’ and booing Ronaldo nonsense. Ronaldo, incidentally, was superb. His powerful free kick, mazy runs, sense of urgency, tricks that came off and low wipped in balls across the box provided United’s greatest threat. Every time he was booed he looked better, and the United fans gave him the usual defensive reaction, cheering him on and winding up the home Ingerlund fans with Portugal chants.

A special mention must go to Darren Fletcher, so often the recipient of unwarranted abuse. He ran his heart out today and made a tackle in the first half in the opposition box that was simply sensational. He worked tirelessly all day doing a role that went unnoticed but was of huge importance. Other players did not perform so well though, his midfield partner Michael Carrick being one of them.

The second half started badly. A penalty given to Reading a minute from kick off, for alleged handball by Gary Neville in the box. It was never intentional and his arm was by his side; a crazy decision. Doyle, a boyhood United fan, stepped up and just squeezed the ball in. Lucky lucky lucky.

United suddenly woke up. It is almost comical and disgraceful that it takes going a goal down to add some urgency and fight. Almost at will United were spurred into action and it only took a few moments between Richardson missed an absolute sitter. Fortunately ego boy was taken off straight after. The only saving grace of Richardon’s miss was that Rooney made it. It signalled a change to the boy wonder and gave him confidence to take men on and produce chances again. He was fantastic for the last 25 minutes and played a role in the Scholes deflected shot that somehow did not go in. Ronaldo again played a great role is this chance too with his sheer persistence.

Finally the equaliser came; a solo effort from, of course, Ronaldo. For the remaining period of the game United camped in the opposition box, but no goal came. Reading will look back at a game in which they had no efforts on goal and only scored from a dubious penalty. United can look back at missed chances, the return to form of Rooney and the fitness of Heinze and Vidic. However, on a day when all United’s rivals and title challengers won, this was just not good enough.

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