Thursday, April 05, 2007

United's Champions League hopes bloodied and dented...

United lost 2-1 against AS Roma, and it wasn't a good night for English football, with Reds fans being pelted with missiles and then police batons during the game. Apparently 11 fans were taken to hospital, three were stabbed and two were kept in overnight.

United had predicted trouble before the game, and there was trouble in the city between the two sets of fans before and during the game. Uefa will decide what action to take. The visiting fans were not totally blameless, as they reacted badly to Roma's opening goal, when a few fans ran at the police cordon between the two sets of fans. However, the reaction of the police looked to be completely over the top with defenceless fans being repeatedly and viciously beaten, it was brutal thuggery on the part of the police.

Uefa will also no doubt ignore the fact that Italian football has been mired in troubles with fans this season and come down heavily on the English club. It was ever thus. Expect a ban if previous form is anything to go by.

As far as the football goes, United did not play well against Roma who looked nothing special on the evidence of last night - though to be fair - neither did the Reds. Going into the game, United had lost Vidic and Gary Neville through injury and their replacements didn't cover themselves in glory, as once again Wes Brown scored an own goal. This time like on other occasions, Brown turned away from the ball when going to close down the space between himself and the player with the ball and once again it ended up in the back of the net. Brown must have scored more own goals than any other United player in the last 10 years. One gets the feeling that Vidic wouldn't have let this happen. The Serbian is very much proactive rather than reactive when closing down opponents.

John O'Shea is too slow to play fullback and this was exposed several times last night and in part this led to Roma's first goal, on 44 minutes, Roma worked a quick corner from O'Shea's side, as United and the Irishman weren't quick enough or well organised enough to react. Taddei was credited with the goal that followed, but in truth it was another deflected Brown own goal.

It might seem a tad harsh to blame Brown, but marking and closing down opposition players inside the box is key to good defending and not many do that better than Vidic.

In midfield throughout the game Roma had too much space, this was in no small part down to Paul Scholes getting himself sent off for two yellow cards. As you'd expect the Italian's made the most of both tackles with led to the two cautions. Clearly Fergie wasn't happy with his player or the referee, as there was no arm of consolation as the little man trudged off the pitch. Ferguson went public on the referee after the game stating that it was ten versus twelve for most of the game - no doubting Fergie will get a swift Uefa kick in the nadges for that, thus inflicting more pain on the club, its manager and fans.

However, even before Scholes was sent off, Roma were getting too much room in midfield and this allowed them to have a fair number of shots from outside the box, though few troubled Van der Sar.

But in the second half when down to 10 men, United eventually paid the price for not closing down players on the ball as a long range effort on goal was only parried by Van der Sar only for Vucinic to score on 67 minutes to give Roma the lead again.

Earlier United had equalised, with the move and the only good goal of the game when Rooney scored after superb work by Ronaldo and then Solskjaer who found the England striker who in turn finished in style. It was a classic European counter attack, finished with the coolness of a mafia hitman.

On the balance of chances created and shots at goal, Roma probably deserved to win the game. United were let down by several players who didn't do their jobs well enough on the night, Giggs in particular wasn't in the game and the visitors badly missed Vidic and Neville.

United go into the second leg next week needing to win one nil, so in that context it isn't such a bad result. It is as they say all to play for. Before then, we have a difficult away game against Portsmouth.

One player who wont face the Italian's in the return leg is Scholes, so let us hope like against Blackburn, the little man does the business against Portsmouth this weekend to in part make up for his absence, but he will be badly missed next week.

We do have Fletcher to call upon and his legs and running might well be key next week against Roma and with our younger players and providing we collect no more injuries at the weekend then we could easily turn the tie around and go through.


  1. Uday, Another Manchester United Fan5 April 2007 at 16:07:00 GMT+1

    I agree, John O' Shea was completely shown up, and Roma made macaroni out of him. Although Scholes' challenges, those that got him the ire of the referee were unneccessary, you can see that in the first yellow card, where he fell through the player at the half line. A player with his experience must not run through players so obviously, and especcially in insignificant areas like those around the half way mark.
    I believe that Manchester United fought their hearts out though, and a 2 - 1 is an extremely good result for a ten man squad, without the likes of Vidic and Neville. Van der Sar had nothing short of an outstanding match.
    The only worrying aspect to be observed with this result is the over extended look of the Manchester United side, riddled with far too many injuries, and looking far too mortal to the standards set by the entire season. But the have the hunger, the spirit, the talent, the manager, the players, to fight it through.
    Great blog, by the way.

  2. Hey last nights game as Fergie put it was a 10 vs 12 man affair...yes i agree the scholes card was somethin that was a shocker, but then again the Devils never recovered from that. The equalizer was fantastic by rooney but then again i thought our midfield and the back four was sloppy and nothin in comparison to wat we guys are actually capable off and wat we have displayed throughout this season. The Roma players werent penalised for offenses like kicking away the ball and clumsy challenges(the ref always having his back turned on whatever was transpiring), although Heinze was shown a card for rolling the ball. The game accordin to me isnt over yet and the red devils need to pull up their socks for the Home Leg on tuesday..
    Long Live the Devils...


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