Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why Southend beating United is good for football..

Every now and again you get a shock result that sends shockwaves round the world of football. Last night was one of those occasions. No one including the Southend manager expected his team to dump United out of the Carling Cup.

On paper results of the like we saw at Roots Hall should never happen. United's team was full of internationals, Rooney and Ronaldo were in the starting line up, but it did happen and even as a United fan I have to say it is good for the game. The home fans went to that game with only a faint glimmer of hope rather than any tangible expectation.

Southend are currently rock bottom of the Championship table, they are suffering their worst run of results for 20 years. It was a fairytale result that restores some faith in the game, which these days is all too often tarnished by over-paid whingeing stars and moaning managers. United got what they deserved, precisely nothing. Southend matched United all over the park, so much so that United were reduced to long range efforts from Ronaldo. The home team created the more clear cut chances, Sodje and Eastwood could have really rubbed United's noses in it late on.

From United's perspective, the result shouldn't be that much of a surprise, but of course it was. True the reds are top of the league table, but whenever Fergie has played anything less than his first choice eleven and especially without Saha United have really struggled, we lost against FC Copenhagen and we could have easily lost against Crewe.

Anyone who reads this blog will know that I've been writing about United's weakness up front when Saha isn't in the starting line up and last night once again his absence was sorely missed. The concern is there's no talk of new strikers arriving, usually with United they cannot keep a secret regarding incoming star names. Fergie seems to be totally focused on getting Hargreaves. However, if the alarm bells aren't ringing they should be, because if Saha gets injured United's season is effectively over as far as any hope of silverware goes.

Of the players on duty last night, Alan Smith should be sold at the first opportunity as should Richardson, they are going nowhere and simply are not good enough to hold down a regular place. Richardson took most of United's corners, on most occasions he couldn't beat the man at the near post, time and time again his crossing was woeful, in contrast, the balls in from the flank for Southend were superb.

Fergie needs a clear-out and some new blood especially up front. Smith didn't appear to be at all interested last night, his movement off the ball was none existent, getting taken off as he did highlighted how poor he'd been and as he walked off there was no arm of consolation from Fergie, the pair exchanged looks that could kill. Forget about his injury problems, it looks like Smith is an unhappy bunny. Fergie please get rid ASAP.

One thing that cannot be levelled against Fergie is that he has fielded weakened sides against the likes of Crewe and Southend. United started the game last night with 10 full internationals, but once again it shows you that football can still be a game of fine margins even against lower league opposition.

Fergie says United will learn from the defeat. So what do we learn? We know we got beat fair and square, we know Smith and Richardson aren't good enough, we know United need another top striker, one hopes that is what Fergie learnt last night, in the weeks ahead we will see by the results of his actions.

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