Monday, 27 October 2014

Robin brings the house down.

Manchester United 1 Chelsea 1.

Cometh the moment cometh the man. That man being a certain Robin van Persie, a man that some quarters of Manchester United's world wide fan base thought was past his sell by date, at the end of his time at Old Trafford.

Some were even saying that he should be dropped when Wayne Rooney returns from suspension or even off loaded in the January transfer window.

Well, in the 94th minute in this match against Chelsea he answered those naysayers with a sublime left foot finish to rescue a point and send the fans inside the Theatre of Dreams into raptures, and judging by van Persie's team mates joyous reaction they enjoyed it too.

So relief all round that the mentor didn't lose against his pupil. Van Gaal and Mourinho hugged at the start and at the end of a match that quite frankly either team could have won. But I believe a point shared is a fair result. Before the match I think most of us would have been praying for a win but would have taken the point.

van Persie scores in 94th minute
So Robin van Persie brought the house down but a very special mention should go to Marouane Fellaini, who has not enjoyed the easiest of rides at United.

However, after last weeks goal at West Bromwich Albion he looks to have been given a new lease of life and yesterday played by far his best game for the Red Devils.

From Di Maria's free kick it was Fellaini's header towards goal that the Chelsea keeper could only clear into the path of van Persie who did the rest. Fellaini's all round game in the heart of midfield was great to watch as his height was a key factor against the shorter opposition. I sincerely hope that he continues his fine form for the upcoming matches.

Fellaini had his best game
Overall, yesterday's match was a game of tactics which had no winner not only from the teams but also from the managers.

There is obviously a mutual respect between van Gaal and Mourinho which was very clear to see.

Without both being able to pick their first choice strikers, Rooney and Falcao for United and Costa and Remy for Chelsea, striking tactics went out of the window.

There was never going to be a hat full of goals as most of the play was stuck in midfield but as a spectacle I think both teams did well to keep the watching millions happy.

Drogba did his best to keep up his record against United and Eden Hazard proved that he, like Di Maria, is a world class talent. Hazard would have scored when he was clean through on goal if it wasn't for the brilliance once again of David De Gea.

The resulting corner caught United napping and Drogba unfortunately benefitted from that with a header, which van Persie should have done better with on the line.

Great team spirit
Generally, I thought United played well during the match as a unit, and the philosophy of van Gaal is slowly seeping through to the players, at last.

I predict after watching the other teams over the weekend that finishing in the top four, even the top three is a strong probability, but as regards finishing as champions let's judge after another three months.

All credit to the United players for finally keeping going until the end and not letting themselves, the manager and most importantly the fans down.

Now it's onto the Man City match next weekend, which sees the return of captain Rooney and hopefully a fully fit Falcao, who shouldn't have any jet lag, knocks or any other problems that will stop him from giving us the performance that we have been waiting for from him since he came.

It's possible that Mata will be the player dropped to accommodate Rooney's return but I would be tempted to leave Mata in at the expense of Januzaj. This will be another huge match for the reds, so experience is the key.

As regards the midfield, if Herrera is not fit enough to play then Michael Carrick is available after many months absent, but this is a tough decision after Fellaini's recent displays.

Our main worry against Man City will be a certain Aguero against our still shaky defence. All the more reason to buy a quality defensive leader in the January transfer window to alleviate such worries.

West Ham United proved over the weekend that the best way to rattle Man City is to get at their defence, so let's hope our big guns up front will be firing on all cylinders next week. One thing is for sure Rooney will be up for it after his three match suspension.

Until next week thanks for reading my thoughts.

Miles Dunton.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Trouble playing away.

West Bromwich Albion 2 Manchester United 2

Blind saves Manchester United blushes with a late strike to rescue a point against West Bromwich Albion.

After the long international break it was great to see the Premier League return but it produced another disappointing away match for United this season with a draw at the Hawthorns and only one point.

Before the match Louis van Gaal stated that United are playing catch up in the premier league and after this result it is truer now than it was before the match.

Not for the first time this season our defence was shown to be lacking as West Brom took a 2-1 lead through Berahino, who was able to run through the middle of our center backs like dare I say it, a knife through butter,and gave David De Gea little chance in the one on one.

The need for a quality center back in the January transfer window is critical if United don't want a repeat of last season. Not only do United need a defender but they also need a leader in the defence as well, this is what was lacking last night. We miss the stature of Vidic to control the back four. Unfortunately, the weakest link in defence last night was Phil Jones.

Phil Jones
In the past he had been touted as a future captain, and some quarters of Old Trafford were liking him to the late great Duncan Edwards as he was big and powerful for his age, but last night and in his past games this season his below par performances have done nothing to prove this to be correct.

It was unfortunate not to have Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair available as they have shown that they are more than capable to fill in at the back.

Adnan Januzaj
Another player that flattered to deceive was Adnan Januzaj. I among many other fans have been championing his right to be given a start in the first team in the absence of Wayne Rooney, but I'm sorry to say he let himself and the fans down last night.

His performance was so lackluster, and knowing how ruthless van Gaal can be I'm not sure when he will be able to seize his chance again. He really is a fantastic talent but when you are given the opportunity you have to take it, he didn't.

Two other players who failed to perform to their normal high levels were Juan Mata and Robin van Persie. Mata especially, wasn't involved in a position he normally thrives in and with Rooney due to return after the Chelsea game he has, I believe, one more chance to show the manager that he can fit into his system. Robin van Persie didn't seem his normal self throughout the match. He came close when he hit the post but that was about it. Let's hope that this was a one off.

The substitution of Di Maria, who had been United's one bright spark in attack, to be replaced by Ashley Young was I hope a precautionary measure to save him for next Sunday's Chelsea match and not a tactical move as once again Young looked out of sorts.

Blind celebrates with Fellaini

On a more positive note it was pleasing to see both Fellaini and Blind score their first goals for the club. Fellaini has waited a long time for his moment but unlike Blind.

I still feel that he makes to many mistakes in the middle of the park, like the free kick he gave away before West Brom took a 2-1 lead. But let's allow him to savior his moment.

Fellaini shoots and scores

Blind's strike in the last few minutes to pull United level was a superb finish, and added to his work rate during the 90 minutes he was my choice as man of the match.

Falcao jet-lagged?

When the teams were announced before the match I was scratching my head as to why Falcao was on the bench. Then I saw a report stating that he was jet-lagged after travelling to play for Columbia in the recent internationals.

If this is the case then this proves that United's plan to play mid week high profile friendlies in the winter months is a ridiculous idea. Sure it would further the coffers and promote the brand but is it worth risking the fitness of the players, I and many others think no.

Once again this week sees the return of the Champions League without United. I think the players should watch the upcoming matches very carefully because that's what we are striving for this season.

We seriously need to up our game for the forthcoming matches against Chelsea, City and Arsenal, otherwise we could be in a tricky situation like last season.

Even after last night I still believe that  Louis van Gaal is the man to turn the club's fortunes around and as regards the team I just hope they believe in themselves.

Until next time thanks for taking the time to read.

Miles Dunton.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Arise King David

Manchester United 2 Everton 1
This was the match when David de Gea proved what everyone at Old Trafford had already known, the Spaniard is a world class keeper.

Another win and another three points. United have now moved up into the top four of the premier league, but this match had similar events to the last match at Old Trafford against West Ham United.

United took the lead through the outstanding Angel Di Maria after which they missed a hat-full of chances, then our opponents came back into the match but United held on to claim the victory. When will we win a match without ageing our supporters over the last half an hour?

We did learn a few important things from the victory over Everton. To start with United can cope quite well without our captain Wayne Rooney, with Mata performing admirably in the hole behind the strikers, Falcao can score goals, David de Gea is the best shot stopper in the world and lastly Louis van Gaal does put faith in the younger players.

This was a big match for United and after Everton had shamed us not once but twice last year it was also a match to put the record straight. For a match like this, as United are going through a teething process, you need big time players and boy did we get them with Di Maria, Falcao, Blind and Rafael all putting in outstanding performances.

Falcao benefited from the immense skill of Di Maria to score his first goal for United after missing so many chances beforehand, Daley Blind once again showed what a superb buy he has been by quietly getting on with his job in midfield to huge effect and Rafael didn't stop running all day and provided the much needed balance on the right hand side.

Di Maria celebrates another goal

But all their efforts were overshadowed by the world class performance by goalkeeper David de Gea.

He was brilliant between the sticks saving Baines' penalty on the stroke of half time then pulling off three stops from shots that were destined for the net. The last being a finger tip over the bar in the final minute. Sometimes keepers make saves that are as good as scoring goals and that was definitely the case in this match.

Honestly speaking without de Gea's heroics Everton would have left Old Trafford with at least a point. I hope Louis van Gaal pays him a well earned bonus. It was also pleasing to see Di Maria sportingly say that he was not the man of the match and accepting that de Gea had literally saved the day.

De Gea saves the penalty
After all the comments at the start of the season that van Gaal won't give his younger players a chance having spent millions on superstars, it was very pleasing to see him put his faith in Paddy McNair again by starting him at the back and being rewarded by another sterling performance by the 19 year old.

Also, Tyler Blackett and James Wilson were brought on as substitutes in the second half, with Blackett making a superb block when he threw his body in front of a goal bound shot in the last few minutes. By the end of the match we had a good mixture of experience and youth. Jones, Evans and especially Smalling must be slightly worried about their place in the team. Let's stick with what is working.

One question that has been raised is what is van Gaal's opinion of Adnan Januzaj? As once again he was on the bench and not even used as a substitute.
What must he be thinking?

Januzaj is banging in the goals for the under 21's but can't get a look in for the first team. I wonder how he felt seeing James Wilson replacing Radamel Falcao. Even his compatriot Fellaini got on the pitch ahead of him.

Next week there is no premier league action as there are the latest round of international matches, so we have a break which should enable the injured players have the time to recover for the big matches coming up, which includes the visit of Chelsea at the end of this month. Hopefully our international players will all come back injury free.

That's all for this week. We have a king in goal.
De Gea celebrating with the fans

Thanks for reading.

Miles Dunton.