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Portsmouth 1 United 4

Fratton Park is nto an easy place to go, let alone when your journey includes driving across London on a Saturday in December. Forget the match, just getting there was a harship and eventually we abandoned the car around 2 miles away and legged it as quickly as we could to get in to the ground on time. As usual, United were housed in what can only be called the ‘crap end’. Despite the awful facilities and crumbling concrete, we at least had the roof and in this weather that was worth the problem of the pillars in our way that supported it. The roof also keeps the noise in and means that the away fans can finally be heard over all the bell ringing and drum banging that irritates all vistors to Portsmouth. The line up was slightly worrying, in that one up front is never a source of optimism in these types of games. It tends to stifle us from creating clear chances and lack a cutting edge. However, in the first half the problem was actually the defence and we looked all over the place with Pompey creating numerous chances. As they poured forward I could not help but think we lacked the Ronaldo type player that could kill a team with one burst of counter attacking place, and minutes later step up Valencia. He was fantastic all afternoon, but his run for the first goal carrying the ball half the length of the pitch in the build up to the penalty was pure class. Rooney duly converted it and as far as I was concerned that was game over.

However, Pompey showed great resilience and kept on coming at us. Kuschak made some great saves and did not make a mistake of note all day, but the home side kept going and did not let us take over the game. Their equaliser was never a penalty, but overall it was hard to argue they did not deserve to be level. I expected Pompey to come out and attack in the second half buoyed by their equaliser, but the reverse happened and United stepped it up. I am not sure what Fergie said during the interval but it seemed to have inspired Fletcher, Valencia, Rooney and Giggs in particular. Giggs was absolutely sublime- again- and his efforts, combined with Rooney’s deadly finishing, meant it was 3-1 soon after. Finally a game where the travelling away fans could celebrate a victory without a nervy ending. At 3-1 United really turned on the style. Cheeky flicks, one touch passing, Giggs skinng defenders, Evra pouring forwards and Rooney and Giggs at the heart of everything. It was fantastic to watch from low down behind the goal United were attacking and re-assuring to see after recent performances that lacked a spark.

Giggs’ goal at the death¬†was fully deserved. His performance was top class, although I ignore the 100th Premier League goal statistic as we all know top flight football existed before¬†Sky TV came along. The final whistle sounded and the players came over deserving of their applause. Then it was the long hike back to the car in torrential rain and mud, my shoes still soaking wet this morning as a result. But the rain was actually a blessing and turned the game around- United thrive in west conditions and the ball zipping about, just as we saw in Moscow against Avram Grant and just as we saw yesterday against him too.

I wish Portsmouth luck. The journey there might not be the best and the ground itself is not worthy of hosting top flight football, but there is something decent and honest about them. The players give their all, in Grant (and Hart beforehand) they have a likeable manager, they have authenticity as a unique club and not a new soul-less stadium, and I’d far rather see the likes of Birmingham, Wolves, Hull and Blackburn in the bottom three in May. For United though, the pressure is now slightly back on Chelsea and I will be supporting Arsenal (and Everton) later today.

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1 Comment

  1. Chris Odds :: December 13th, 2009 11:04 pm

    Find the latest Man United games! Go United.

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