Manchester United 1-1 Southampton….. The Misery Piles On

Manchester United vs SouthamptonManchester United were given a taste of their own medicine when an inspired Southampton side equalized at the death at Old Trafford on Saturday.

United are now 8th in the table which might get worse for the Red Devils after the weekend is over. One could say the result was fair given Southampton’s current form (they stand 4th in the table), but there are no excuses for the current Barclays Premier League Champions to not win on their home turf.

David Moyes put out a changed Man Utd with Phil Jones and Johnny Evans at the heart of the defence and Patrice Evra and Rafael da Silva taking up the full back roles. Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick formed the midfield with Nani and Adnan Januzaj on the flanks. The strike force up front was Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. David De Gea stood  between the posts.

Southampton started the game flamboyantly, pegging United back. Their ‘in your face’ defensive tactics, acute passing and quick pace showed they had no intentions of sitting back and hoping to get something out of the game in the end, The saints were firing on all cylinders and running on full steam. But as it almost always happens, the steam ran out and United started to take control of the game.

Robin van Persie improvisingVan Persie showed his genius when he improvised on the 10th minute and tried to volley the ball over the Saints golakeeper from an acute angle. Just 2 minutes later, van Persie was denied when he drove a low shot off Nani’s cross. At the other end, Southampton refused to go away and made the backline nervous every now and then. Rooney, who had a game to forget, lost the ball which presented a brilliant chance for striker Dani Osvaldo. The Saints should have been ahead but Osvaldo only managed to fluff the ball into De Gea’s safe hands.

van Persie scores

United, unlike Southampton, did not make a mistake and took the lead through van Persie on the 26th minute. Januzaj, who has been impressing everyone with his recent performances, drove a low cross for Wayne Rooney who failed to make a decent contact with the ball, but van Persie was at the right place at the right time to turn the ball into the far corner of the net. Rooney almost gave United fans another reason to cheer just 2 minutes later but his shot bounced off the cross bar.  The best chance for Southampton came from a distant, but accurate, shot from defender Lovren which did not bother De Gea much.

The second half started much like the first half, with Southampton on the front foot. Evans had to make a valiant effort to deflect a cross out and keep the Saints captain Adam Lalana from causing problems for United. United probably had their best chance to give themselves some breathing space right after the hour mark when van Persie’s header struck the cross bar from a corner. The deflected ball was put back into the mix by Evans to find Nani whose was denied by some fine goalkeeping by Artur Boruc. The Belgian was up for the challenge the very next minute and kept out compatriot Januzaj’s vicious drive from outside the box. Much of United’s attempts throughout the game were denied by the immaculate offside trap of Southampton’s defensive line. Rooney and van Persie fed lucrative balls to each other, time and again, but only to be caught offside.

As time went by, the crowd grew anxious and the Saints, more dangerous. Moyes brought brought in Ryan Giggs for Nani to use his experience and see his side over the line with all the points, But he also brought on Danny Welbeck in place of Fellaini, which baffled everyone. His continued faith in prodigal striker has effectively landed the Red Devils in the situation they are in right now.

Danny Welbeck

Welbeck soon showed why it was, and potentially will always be, a mistake to bring him on when he found himself galloping past the opposition’s defenders. He could’ve been the hero if only he had flicked the ball into oncoming Rooney’s pass who would definitely have scored, given the acres of space he had and only the keeper to beat. But no. Welbeck waited long enough for an opponent to come and rid him of the ball. Frustration grew with anxiety to see United be so wasteful. This was not to go unpunished as Southampton finally equalized in the 89th minute from a corner.

Lovren equalizes for Southampton

United tried piling on some pressure in the dying minutes to conjure up another chance but Welbeck was there again to make sure nothing could happen. He took a touch too many and cheaply lost the ball right when Southampton was scrambling to get the ball away. The game ended with Southampton sharing the spoils with United, deservingly enough.

United share the points

David Moyes cut a frustrated figure as  United have only managed to get 11 points from a possible 24. One can say its too early to start ringing the alarm bells but its been more than a decade since United have gone below the 6th position in the table. But Moyes needs to find his strongest 11 soon or the situation will go from bad to worse in no time. If things stay the way they are, the season will be a success for United if they manage to qualify for the Champions League next season. A truly sad thing to say about the current English champions. Regardless, it is the duty of the fans to stand by their team through thick an thin and ride out the storm!

Glory Glory Man Utd!!

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Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City….Too Little, Too Late

Manchester Derby

Manchester United were on the wrong end of a 1-2 score line when they hosted second placed Manchester City on Monday night at Old Trafford. It was United’s 2nd defeat at Old Trafford this season, the first being to Tottenham Hotspur in September.

The Red Devils, being 15 points adrift of their noisy neighbours, had only pride to play for as they looked to do a double this season over the reigning champions, having defeated them already at the Etihad Stadium earlier in the season. The blues, however, aimed to win the match in order to restore a little respect back to their name, seeing how disappointing their season has been. 😛

The Reds had a rather depleted back line with Vidic, Smalling and Evans, all missing out with injuries. The fifth different pair, and the first time, this season of centre halves this season was Ferdinand and Jones. Rafael and Evra were back in the lineup to complete the back four. The midfield had the experienced Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs and the young and fast Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young on the wings. United’s strongest striking pair, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, were back together to complete the lineup. Ofcourse, David De Gea between the posts was inevitable. 🙂

The match started on  a high note as both the teams were quick on the ball and created some half opportunities within the first 10 minutes. The visitors were the ones to grab the opportunity first and had a decent spell of possession with some opportunities to take the lead. The first came from a fierce James Milner cross which De Gea palmed away confidently. City got closer a few minutes later, when Kompany’s long pass found David Silva in the box who selflessly back heeled it into oncoming Tevez’s path. Fortunately, Jones, who has had a terrific season so far, was up for the task and knicked the ball away from Tevez just in time.

Outright chances were few and far between with both goalkeepers having not much to do for most of the first half. United, slow and steady as they are, started to assert their dominance in the game towards the end of the first half by first letting Manchester City commit themselves fully in attacks and then launching swift counter attacks and hoping to catch them off guard. Nonetheless, United failed to conjure up any threat except for Rafael having a tamed shot kissing the cross bar on its way out which meant both teams headed into the tunnel level on score.

James Milner scoring for City

United started the half rather strongly but that did not last long as City were the first to draw blood at 51 minutes when James Milner struck low to beat De Gea. It was Giggs who made a rare error when he tried to back heel the ball but instead ended up losing possession in a threatening area. City were quick to capitalize on the chance and James Milner managed to strike between diving Carrick and Jones. De Gea got his fingers to it but could not manage to keep the ball from falling into the net.

Phil Jones winning the battle

United needed just this to wake them out of their lethargic  display. As so many times before in this season, United fell behind and that is when they get into top gear and start making things work. It took just 8 minutes for United to bring things back on level terms. 🙂

He thought he scored!

Rafael was fouled by Yaya Toure near the corner and van Persie stepped up to take the free kick. Contrary to what most of the viewers had in their mind, van Persie whipped in a strong, fast ball at the far corner where Jones was waiting to head the ball home. As luck would have it, the ball bounced off Kompany last as it went over the line. Nothing was gonna stop Phil Jones to celebrate what he thought was his equalizer, which would eventually be marked down as Kompany’s goal.

Old Trafford was brought to life again as United looked more dangerous everytime they went ahead but were missing the final spark to add to their lead. City knew better to sit back and play out a draw (afterall, they needed to play for their pride as there is nothing else left to play for this season! :D) and they brought in the man who win them the Premier League last season. Sergio Aguero had an instant impact on the game with his sudden bursts of pace piercing the United defence which eased the pressure on his team’s back four (or three, whatever they play).

Sergio Aguero spoiling the party

Probably the most hated City player by United fans, Sergio Aguero gave the red half of Manchester all the more reason to hate him when he practically flew past four red shirts and struck home City’s second on 78 minutes. As much as i hate to say this, it was indeed a peach of a goal, worthy of winning any match. The sheer pace and fineness of his shot left many wondering why United’s squad does not have such players anymore, leave the players required to stop such strikers.

United being the comeback kings went on the front foot again, but this was not gonna be one of those nights. Ofcourse, it WAS gonna be one of those nights where the tempers boiled over and the players got ‘carried away’. 🙂

Whats a derby without a little drama? :)

David Silva conveniently went to the ground holding his hamstring after he cheaply lost the ball. City players cried for United to kick the ball out but surely United were under no such obligation as they carried on. When the ball, eventually, did go out, the fireworks started with Gareth Barry being the first to spring into action. Sergio Aguero too, couldnt stop pushing every red shirt that came in his sight! Rio Ferdinand, surprisingly, kept a cool head and calmed things down before Barry was shown a yellow for his emotional outburst. Referee Mike Dean knew better than to get involved with the hotheads as he chose to step aside and let the players sort it out themselves! 😀

What followed for the remaining time was a string of yellow cards to a number of players from both teams as United tried to equalize. Nothing worked for United as the final whistle blew with City winning the match.

Sure looks irritated

Sir Alex Ferguson looked less than pleased, to say the least, seeing his side go down at home to their bitter rivals. United’s lead was cut down to 12 points with 7 games remaining in what was probably the most insignificant Manchester Derby in the history. 🙂

United have failed to score in the last 3 games (barring the own goals, ofcourse) and this surely comes as a wake up call for the Red Devils if they are to prevent a repeat of last season. But as we all know, Sir Alex does not make the same mistake twice. 🙂

Glory Glory Man Utd!! 😀 😀

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Mancheester United….. The Biter is Bitten

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Machester United

Yes. The specialists of late goals were undone by one this time. Tottenham Hotspur managed to grab a late equaliser against Manchester United at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

It was a chilly evening in London as the snow came down heavily. But the match referee Chris Foy decided against cancelling the match. Sir Alex Ferguson made 9 changes to the side he put out against West Ham on tuesday. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic partnered in the defence for only the 8th time in 18 months. Accompanying them were Rafael da Silva and Patrice Evra. Phil Jones and Michael Carrick were elected to fill in the midfield while Tom Cleverly and Danny Welbeck took to the flanks. Shinji Kagawa played off the lone striker Robin van Persie.

Both the teams started the game cautiously, trying to retain possession. Within 5 minutes Defoe pounced on a long pass but Vidic cut the move short by tripping him over (this might not sound very important right now, but it is. Read on!). The first chance was created by United as Shinji Kagawa crossed the ball in for Robin van Persie who couldn’t do much more than get a shot on target. A routine save for the French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Things panned a little differently in the 25th minute though. 🙂

Robin van Persie scores against Tottenham Hotspur

United conjured up a quick counter attack through Welbeck. Welbeck found Cleverly in space at the edge of the box who crossed the ball in for van Persie to head his 18th league goal of the season.  Soon enough Tottenham started piling up the pressure on United. Aaron Lenon got into space and fired a grounded shot from the edge of the penalty box. De Gea managed to parry it away with Defoe reacting to the loose ball first, but was rightfully flagged offside. United had a few chances of their own post the goal but failed to materialise any of them. Tottenham had their best chance of the first half on the 40th minute with Gareth Bale volleying the ball straight towards the goal but De Gea was up for the challenge and made a brilliant save with his leg (for the hundredth time this season!). United looked to end the half on a high when Welbeck ran half the field into the box, but wasnt able to deliver the final ball.

Wayne Rooney denied a penalty

Tottenham started the second half on the front foot looking to equalize, and they had their chance when Defoe was put in the box with just De Gea to beat. But the goalkeeper stood firm and denied him a chance to make things even (again with his legs this time). Wayne Rooney was introduced near the hour mark in place of Kagawa to stabilize things a bit. The most controversial, perhaps match altering too, decision came when Rooney was clipped by Caulker in the penalty area and Man Utd were denied a clear penalty. The same tackle had been dubbed a foul by Vidic on Defoe in the beginning of the game.

Tottenham kept the pressure on United for most parts of the second half by pumping ball in the box with every chance they got but the Red Devils kept hitting them out everytime. Defoe again got a glorious opportunity to equalize when he slipped away from United’s back four and only had to place the ball past the goalkeeper. But Rio Ferdinand came back in time and deflected the shot out for a corner. Clint Dempsey, who had a quiet game for most of the time, had his chance but De Gea was there again to deny him.

Clint Dempsey eqalizes in the 92nd minute

The way they were defending, United looked set to get away with all the three points. Unfortnately, Dempsey finally took his chance and equalized in the 92nd minute. Heartbreak for United as all their defending went in vain, celebrations for Tottenham as they are the only team in the top 5 who have managed to take points off them.

Sir Alex Ferguson demanding a penalty

Sir Alex Ferguson sure made his views clear about the referee’s decision to not award United a penalty during the post match interview. Apparently, it didnt go down too well with the FA and it might land Ferguson in hot soup.

This leaves Manchester United’s lead on the top of the table cut down to 5 points. Nevertheless, they still have a lead! 🙂

Glory Glory Man Utd!! 😀

Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool….. The Champions March On

Manchester United vs Liverpool

Manchester United came out on top once again this season against arch rivals Liverpool by beating them 2-1 on Sunday at Old Trafford.

Man Utd started the game with David De Gea between the posts. The formidable defensive pair of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand were back together after a long time accompanied with Patrice Evra and Rafael DaSilva. The midfield consisted of the in form duo of Tom Cleverly and Michael Carrick with Shinji Kagawa floating in and out. Ashley Young And Danny Welbeck took to the flanks and Robin van Persie played as the lone striker (as if he needs someone to support him! :D)

Robin van Persie, Manchester United

United started the game on the front foot and pinned the opposition in their own half for most parts of the first half.  The hard work finally paid off on the 19th minute (a fitting minute :)) when Robin van Persie tapped home a sweet cross from Patrice Evra, his 20th of the season. The move was a perfect show of one-touch-pass game United execute in such style. Cleverly found Evra in space on the left wing who laid a grounded pass right into the feet of van Persie who was bound to score from 4 yards out.

The Red Devils kept the pressure on with Ashley Young finding van Persie yet again with an acute pass but van Persie failed to double his lead by firing his shot into the stands. Ashley Young once again was the provider with a cross inside the box which Joe Allen heading the ball away, but only to find Tom Cleverly. Cleverly blasted a volley just inches the wrong side of Pepe Reina’s goal post. Joe Allen was again guilty of giving away possession cheaply with a stray backpass. Welbeck pounced on the opportunity but failed to seize the moment by taking too long to pull the trigger and allowing Daniel Agger to block his shot. Another opportunity went begging when Rafael managed to stumble into the penalty box and play it into the path of van Persie but his brilliant effort from a backheel was saved by Martin Skrtel on the goal line. The ball fell into Kagawa’s feet but he rather felt like going for Pepe Reina instead of playing the ball. 😉

It was all Manchester United in the first half. David De Gea hardly touched the ball with Ferdinand, Vidic and Carrick making sure Raheem Sterling and Luiz Suarez (Liverpool’s star players, at the moment) never had the ball with them for more than 3 seconds!

Patrice Evra celebrating his goalNemanja Vidic, the scorer of the second goal

The second half started no differently. Nine minutes into it, United get a freekick at the edge of the box. Van Persie stepped up and delivered it right on Evra’s head. The ball was goal bound, for sure, but since Vidic had his head brushed on the ball last, Vidic got onto the scoreboard. Although Evra didnt get his 5th goal of the season, he did get his 2nd assist of the match. 🙂

Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool

It is said that the most dangerous lead in football is a lead of 2-0. It proved to right as Daniel Sturridge was lucky enough to pop up in the right place at the right time to score his first premier league goal in Liverpool colours. It was a replay of the first goal conceded by United against Newcastle at Old Trafford on boxing day. A shot by Steven Gerrard on the 57th minute which De Dea should have dealt with comfortably, but failed to do so, lead to Sturridge pouncing on the deflected ball and putting it in the net. Liverpool grew in confidence after that and created many opportunities only for Sturridge to fire them all into the side of the net.

Man Utd did shake up a little at the back but Sir Alex Ferguson sent in Chris Smalling and Phil Jones to make sure United got all the three points out of the game they should have won in the first half itself. In the end, thats what happened and it was an important victory over Manchester United’s oldest rivals in the game. United also made sure they keep their 7 point advantage over the noisy neighbours intact (Man City defeated Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium 2-0, after 35 years).

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manager, Manchester United

Another fantastic attacking display by the frontline and a strong defensive show by the back four. Although Ferguson might not have looked too happy going down the tunnel after the match ended, he sure would be content, to say the least, by a massive result. 🙂

Glory Glory Man Utd!! 😀

Manchester United 2-0 West Bromwich Albion……. The Perfect Match

Manchester United vs West Bromwich Albion

Manchester United maintained a 7 point gap between them and the noisy neighbours Manchester City by defeating West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The pitch had to go through a pre-match inspection after enduring the torrential rains, which made the ground more muddy than grassy (have a look at Smalling in the above picture!). Man Utd, as a result, had a tough time maintaining their pace in the game.

Sir Alex Ferguson made 5 changes to his side with bringing in Danny Welbeck and a surprise in the form of  Shinji Kagawa who was out since October with a kee injury. The Red Devils took the game to the baggies’ doorstep right from the starting whistle. The growing pressure finally yielded results in the 9th minute when a cross (or a shot, as he perceives it) was deflected by Gareth McAuley into his own net.  Man Utd grew stronger with every attack as they inched closer to a second goal every time they went on the front foot. Shinji Kagawa, who was dearly missed for two months, showed just how brilliant he can be on the ball when he let loose Antonio Valencia on West Brom’s back four with a peach of a pass. Valencia cut the ball back into the path of arriving Ashley Young who looked certain to score, if it wasnt for a one hand save by the former Man Utd man, Ben Foster (he wouldnt have been sold in the first place if he had shown his abilities at Old Trafford!). Ben Foster, on whom West Brom splashed their whole summer transfer budget proved his worth by deflecting Michael Carrick’s goal bound effort from a corner.

Nemanja Vidic, Manchester United

Other than the attacking skills shown by Man Utd throughout the match, their defence also deserved appreciation this time. They managed to earn the 2nd clean sheet in the league this season (shocking!). The Baggies, who have been exceptionally brilliant this season have managed to take points off all the top teams, even beating most of them. Their team spirit grew by the end of the first half and they grew stronger every time they attacked. But it was United’s day as the back four held their nerve and defended with everything they had, literally! The presence of Vidic and Evans at the back, standing firm like a wall proved, too much for Shane Long and Co to deal with.

Robin van Persie replacing Shinji Kagawa

Sir Alex Ferguson, just to make sure his side got 3 points, intoduced his hitman Robin van Persie in the 64th minute replacing Kagawa. Like always, van Persie showed why he was worth every penny splashed on him. Keeping the possession in difficult situations, making brilliant runs, almost setting up Welbeck for a second were only the few things he contributed in. Man Utd almost got their assuring second goal through Danny Welbeck’s effort in the 89th minute, only to be saved by Ben Foster, yet again! But the final touch of perfection had to come from the master. None other than Robin van Persie! His 90th minute curling shot from the edge of the penalty box landed at the back of the net. Not even Ben Foster on his best day could do anything about it! 😀

Robin van Persie, Manchester United

Someone who deserves a special appreciation is Michael Carrick. Each attack that United started seemed to initiate with or go through him. And when it came to defending, he made sure the ball didnt reach the back four easily. A perfect midfielder, putting in his share of effort for the team. He seems to be in top form and will surely play an significant role to help United clinch their 20th league title this season.

Michael Carrick, Manchester United

All in all, a strong performance by Manchester United against a West Brom side causing upsets all over the league table this season. Strong attack, stronger defence, moments of brilliance by players, keeping the noisy neighbours in their rightful place, BELOW Manchester United! In short, just another day at Old Trafford for the Red Devils. 🙂

GLORY GLORY MAN UTD! 😀

Champions League Draw – Some Mouth Watering Clashes Here!

UEFA Champions League 2012-13

The UEFA Champions League draw for the knockout stages took place today and several eye catching fixtures are lined up for February! 😀

Galatasaray vs FC Schalke

Probably one of the few straight forward fixtures of this season. Schalke were the only team unbeaten in the group stages of the Champions League while Galatasaray had to wait till the last day to qualify through to the knockout stages by the skin of their teeth. Schalke’s star man Klaas Jan Huntelaar could prove to be lethal. The downside for Schalke is that Huntellar is in the last year of his contract and is nowhere near to signing a new deal. Schalke will have the January transfer window to cash-in on the striker (and maybe get a good enough replacement) as Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur line up their bids, or risk losing him for nothing at the end of the season. The best case scenario for Galatasaray would be to take an advantage on their home ground, which shoouldnt be very difficult for them considering the hell they give to the visitors on their home soil, and then hang on for dear life in the second leg. But as much as it sounds like a plan, I still see Schalke going through to the quarter finals with ease.

Celtic vs Juventus

Celtic, the team that beat Barcelona. They are the only ones who have managed to deafeat the Catalans so far this season. They certainly have the squad to cause an upset but playing the second half in Turin might prove to be the reason they dont qualify. Juventus, on the other hand, are responsible for knocking out the holders (Chelsea) in the knockout stages for the first time in the history of the competition. The Italian Champions look the favorites to come out on top in this fixture, but you may never know! Lets wait and watch! 🙂

Arsenal vs Bayern Munich

Atleast its not Barcelona that they have to face this time! 😉 But Bayern are nothing less, specially after they were left heartbroken last season, in the Finals, on their Home Ground! Considered as one of the strong contenders this season they will surely be looking to resurrect their Champions League dream. Arsenal too, look much stronger with the likes of Cazorla, Wilshere, Walcott, Podolski and Arteta. This should be a thrilling encounter but I see Bayern Munich going through as they have the advantage of playing the second leg at their home.

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Borussia Dortmund

Another interesting fixture with two sides known for their fluent and rapid footballing styles. Dortmund winning the ‘Group of Death’ have certainly come out as a force to reckon with. Beating the Spanish, English and Dutch Champions certainly is good for their confidence going into the knockout stages. Shakhtar, however, have not been able to remain consistent in the group stages. In the end, Dortmund might prove too big for Shakhtar.

AC Milan vs Barcelona

No comments here. Tough luck for Milan. The club is struggling on all fronts after its star striker Ibrahimovic and defender Thiago Silva left for PSG and if that wasnt enough to deal with, rumours are that the Brazilian duo of Alexander Pato and Robinho are set to leave next month too. Barcelona stroll into the quarter finals, without a doubt.

Real Madrid vs Manchester United

The fixture of the season! 😀 One might think, I would be pretty worried after being drawn against Madrid (being a United fan, ofcourse). On the contrary, I have never been more excited with a fixture! The last time they met in the round of 16 (1968), United beat Madrid and went on to win the Champions League that year. Any guesses where the final was that year? WEMBLEY! 😀 Somewhat of a good omen?? 😉 Man Utd are looking deadly with all the players peaking in their form and almost no long term injuries. Madrid, as strong as they might be, have their own inner problems with rift between players and manager, Mourinho wanting to leave at the end of the season. But we all know this has little effect on their performance on field. United do have the second leg at Old Trafford which can prove to be the deciding factor in this fixture. I see United going through :-).

Valencia vs Paris St Germain

Valencia are in a bit of a mess with the sacking of their manager, under performing in the La Liga, losing games they are expected to win. PSG have problems of their own with their lack lustre performances in the French League, its star midfielder Javier Pastore wanting away after having a fallout with the French media, but they have managed to pull it together in the Champions League. Unless an upset is on the cards, PSG should see it through with ease.

Porto vs Malaga

Probably one of the most unpredictable fixtures of all. Both teams look lethal in attacking, are consistent performers, play stylish attacking football. Again, the second leg on home phenomenon comes into play, and Malaga might win it over two legs. But then again, Porto aren’t a team to be underestimated.

Looking at the fixture list, it surely would be sad if the world came to an end NOW! 😀

You Don’t Step on the Tiger’s Tail!

I would like to start by telling you why my analysis of the match between Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers is coming three days after matchday. It’s becasuse I had to go out for dinner with my fiancee’s parents when the match was on. You know what they say, family comes first! 🙂

Lets begin by feeling sorry for QPR. Coming into the game without a Manager (Harry Redknapp was to take up the managerial job the day after the match), 4 points from 12 games, facing league leaders MANCHESTER UNITED! Things could not be worse. The result was evident. One can applaud their approach towards the game during the first half; defending with everything they had and hoping to catch Man Utd on counter attacks, which seemed to work pretty well for them too. Jamie Mackie even managed to put a cross from Djibril Cisse at the back of the net but he realised soon enough that he was offside. The best QPR could have done was to maintain their rhythm throughout the game and hope that their opponents were having a bad day.

Too bad, they managed to score. They took the lead in the 52nd minute. They took the lead at Old Trafford. They took the lead in front of the Comeback Kings of Europe! In short, they dug up their own grave. 🙂
You don’t poke a wounded tiger; you don’t rattle his cage. Long story short, it took 2 substitutions and 9 minutes for Manchester United to rip apart QPR’s defence! 😀 Result, QPR made the worst start in the history of Barclays Premier League by bagging a mere 4 points from 13 games.

Now, coming to Manchester United, what do you say? Another superb display by the formidable strike  force at the disposal of Sir Alex Ferguson. Two assists by Wayne Rooney from set pieces, equalizer by Johnny Evans on 64 minutes, Darren Fletcher giving the lead 4 minutes after (you gotta be happy for the lad, after all that he has been through in the last 12 months), and Anderson serving the ball to Hernandez  on a silver plate on  72nd minute for his 7th goal in 8 games (I personally call him Ole Gunnar Solskjær Jr, the super sub!). But as much as i like to praise the team for its performance in front of the goal, only a true fan can point out the shortcomings in the team he/she supports.

It is pretty evident to everyone who watches football that Man Utd aren’t the best when it comes to defending. The problem behind this is Manchester United’s over-reliance on their ‘old gaurd’. There is no doubt that the likes of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick bring valuable experience and stability to the side; but what they bring in experience, they take away in speed and agility. One would know what I’m talking about if they saw Man Utd play in the season of 2009-10. The way they left teams exposed with their lethal counter attacks was  not only breathtaking to watch, it also got them results. Man Utd go all out when they attack, which leaves them vulnerable to counter attacks and conceding simple goals. The 55 minutes that Paul Scholes was on the field, QPR took all the liberty to launch frequent counter-attacks and made quite a few chances to score. Let’s face it, you can’t expect him to have the stamina he once used to have to run up and down the field. Tom Cleverly, Nick Powell, Anderson, on the other hand, do! Give them more time on the field and see what wonders these young lads can do!

At the end of the day, it was just another day at the field for Manchester United. Football pundits can’t stop criticisising Man Utd’s defensive lineup, but I say, when you have a strike force consisting OF Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck, they can certainly afford a defensive blip every now and then! 😀

End of an Era- What happens next?

Sir Alex Ferguson. A name synonymous to Manchester United. It is undeniable that he has been the greatest manager ever in the history of the game. Twenty-six years running; he still is a force to reckon with in the business. From his policy to invest in and develop young players, his trademark ‘hair dryer’ treatment during halftime, right down to his six pack of gum that he buys before every match from the same store, he has been a figure in the game that many look upto, for a quarter of a century now!! It truly would be the end of an era when he decides to step down as the manager of Manchester United.

His retirement plans have been a hot topic of gossip for a few years now. Questions like ‘when is he gonna hang up his boots’ and  ‘who will be his successor’ are doing the rounds ever so frequently. Here are a few names who seem to be the  front runners of the race.

1. Pep Guardiola. Ex manager of Barcelona FC who is on a one-year sabbatical to ‘regain his strength and love for the game’ (winning all the trophies you possibly can with a club can certainly exhaust you of both, RIGHT! 😀 ).

2. Jose Mourinho. Manager of Real Madrid FC. ‘The special one’ or ‘The ONLY one’ (as he prefers it).

3. Jürgen Klopp. Manager of Borussia Dortmund.

Chelsea seemed to be interested in roping in Pep Guardiola when they fired Roberto di Matteo a few days ago. But Guardiola could not be lured out of his hibernation. Some might say he refused Chelsea because he is waiting for Ferguson to retire at the end of the season so he can take up the job at Manchester United, that Ferguson and Guardiola have a secret mutual understanding. Ferguson has been known to play his cards pretty close to his chest. But then again, it all might just turn out to be a piece of gossip conjured up by the rumour mills. Who knows? 🙂

Jose Mourinho– the special one. He prefers calling himself the only one. And rightly so. He is the only manager to have won the top three football leagues of the world (English, Spanish, Italian). His laurels speak for his greatness. He currently is seeking to win the Champions League with Real Madrid. Judging by what has been so far in the knockout stages of the competition, he might have to wait another season to win the coveted cup. Which rules him out of the race for the mangerial position at Manchester United (provided Ferguson DOES retire at the end of this season). But then again, there have been rumours in the past that his contract at Real Madrid contains a clause which allows him to leave the club when Sir Alex Ferguson decides to retire from Manchester United. Who knows what the truth is, but Mourinho,  right? 🙂

Jürgen Klopp– the underdog of the race. His work at Borussia Dortmund clearly hasnt gone unnoticed. The Bundesliga Champions for two years, he certainly has come up with a team that can give the biggest clubs in Europe a run for their money. His fluent style of football, his policy of investing in and developing youth players into star footballers will surely make him an instant hit at Manchester United. 🙂

Being the man that he is, Sir Alex Ferguson will want to end his extraordinary career on a high note. Which means he will look to win the Champions League and the Barclays Premier League atleast once before he retires. Lets see if Machester United are able to do it this season. Will Sir Alex Ferguson really retire at the end of this season? If he does, who will step up to fill in the huge hole he leaves behind? Lets wait and watch! 🙂

Someone who Should have got the boot!

Mark Hughes, the Manager of Queens Park Rangers Football Club, got sacked today after failing to win any of his 12 Barclays Premier League matches so far. The only thing that comes to mind after reading this piece of news is, “Now here is someone who should have got fired a long time back.”

QPR have managed to earn four points from their 12 games. To be more straight-forward and ruthless, QPR have managed to earn just four points from a possible 36! They have yet to win a game. Here is a Manager who couldn’t have done a worse job of running the club into mud (it makes more sense in my language 🙂 ). Moreover, he got all the time he needed (and more) to achieve this ‘remarkable feat’! He literally recruited a whole new team worth of players over the last transfer window. And not just any random players from average clubs. He picked up players from teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Fulham and still, somehow managed to come up with a team that couldnt register a single win since the beginning of the season. Trust me, its really difficult to do what he managed to do, and quite effortlessly at that!

The question to ask here is, is it too litlle too late?

Mark Hughes’s last match as QPR Manager was against fellow strugglers Southhampton at Loftus Road (QPR’s homeground). They were beaten 3-1. Is the damage done by Mark Hughes’s ‘managerial skills’ irrepairable? It is safe to say that QPR WILL be relegated this season, unless Pep Guardiola shockingly decides to take THIS up as a challenge and come out of his sabbatical! 😉

No, I dont see a way back for QPR even then. :-/

These are the things which make the game of football amusing. A manager is given all the time and money to practically ruin the club, and then given his marching orders. On the other hand, a manager evidently working hard to realise a certain club’s high expectations is thrown out just because he failed to win a couple of matches in a row. (I know I seem pretty hung up about RDM’s sacking, but he did not deserve to get fired!).