Sunday, September 20, 2009

Giggs shines in magnificent derby madness: Taxi for Ferdinand and Foster?

Message to Rio Ferdinand and Ben Foster: You are playing for your futures as Manchester United players because today you were both a total disgrace. As far as Foster is concerned, even before today's derby howler, I think Fergie might well have decided that he will not be United's long-term replacement for Edwin van der Sarr.

There is no excuse for Foster's first-half mistake; it was the sort of error you might expect a 10-year-old to make. Foster should have done better with City's third equaliser too, but he was beaten too easily. If I was marking Foster on his performance today, I'd have to give him one out of ten, he was that bad. Foster does not inspire any confidence, his kicking is woeful and I'm surely not the only one whose heart skipped a beat every time the ball was played back to him. Foster is fast turning into a liability.

IF Foster's dropped bollock wasn't alarming enough, Rio Ferdinand was just as bad when he gifted Bellamy the ball in the 89th minute - what I ask was the United centre-back trying to do, what was he thinking of?

Worryingly for United, Ferdinand is starting to make stupid mistakes and his back injury looks to be giving him serious problems, because when Bellamy received that gift of a pass he simply raced away and Ferdinand couldn't get near him. It isn't the first really bad mistake Ferdinand has made of late - he was dire for England in a recent friendly when giving the ball away which led to a goal and he was also guilty of giving a hospital ball to John Terry in the same game. Ferdinand was rank bad in the Champions League final too and you do wonder if Ferguson should do what Wegner would do in this situation - that is off-load him as soon as possible and for good money.

It won't happen, but Foster and Ferdinand should give this week's wages to a local charity, because today they let the club down badly and frankly they do not deserve to pick up a pay packet. The pair of them should also apologise to the supporters for potentially wrecking the fans week.

Apart from the performance of Park and John O'Shea, the rest of the team played really well today. Park's lack of ability was in evidence throughout this game, the South Korean barely did anything right, his distribution was awful. It was obvious early on in the derby that Park would be the first one to be replaced - truth be told it was Fergie's only mistake in his starting eleven because Valencia is a far better player and he would have at least given Wayne Bridge something to think about which actually came about once the Ecuadorian was finally introduced midway through the second-period.

O'Shea is slow and really isn't well suited to play fullback, the fact is United have been getting away with it for too long. O'Shea was guilty of allowing Bellamy too much room as United once again paid the price when the Welshman equalised for the second time with a spectacular thunderbolt.

It wasn't all bad though, far from it, the mistakes turned the game on its head and as deeply annoying as they were, those errors helped make it one of the most exciting and open derby games for a very long time.

Rooney continued his excellent scoring run with a superbly taken early goal after great work by Evra on the left. Once United had taken the lead it looked like they would go on to steamroll City, but that was until Foster intervened with his one man comedy routine as he gifted the visitors a totally undeserved equaliser as Gareth Barry had the simple task of sliding the ball into an empty goal beyond the despairing lunge of Vidic. City played well for the remainder of the opening period. United made the mistake of allowing the visitors too much time on the ball at the back, United weren't pressing City enough and this allowed the Citizens time and space.

United got out of jail when Tevez clipped the post when he should have done better, but until Foster's intervention it was difficult to see any way back into the derby, which just made the keeper's error even harder to bare.

United started the second-half like they'd started the first-half, pushing City back in their own half and once again the combination of Giggs and Evra produced dividends for the champions as they combined which led to the Welshman supplying a fine cross that was headed home by Darren Fletcher, with a little help from Barry.

However, just a few minutes later City were back on level terms, apart from O'Shea and Park ball-watching, United couldn't complain too much about Bellamy's rocket of a shot that gave Foster no chance, but once again the equaliser was totally against the run of play because unlike the last thirty minutes of the first-half United were the dominant side.

How Berbatov didn't get his name on the score-sheet is something of minor mystery, but Shay Given was living a charmed-life in the City goal. Berbatov had four good chances to score, but it was just one of those games. It came as no surprise that Fergie finally replaced the Bulgarian in the 77th minute when sending on Michael Owen and just three minutes later Darren Fletcher gave the champions the lead, and once again it was Ryan Giggs who was the provider.

City had an excellent chance to equalise when Richards narrowly failed to connect with a wicked ball from a corner late on in this absorbing game, but then Rio Ferdinand made United's second schoolboy error of the day. Instead of lumping the ball to safety, Ferdinand gave the ball to Petrov who found Bellamy and he raced away and beat Foster with ease to make it three-a-piece.

Ferdinand had a stinker of a game - it wasn't just his mistake that led to City's third equaliser. On the three separate first-half occasions the England centre-back was guilty of booting the ball up field to no one in particular, and today United really needed to retain possession - such a shame then that Ferdinand didn't engage his brain late on and do what he'd been doing throughout the first-half and launch the ball up the park or else to safety in the 89th minute...

City got what they finally deserved deep into injury time when Ryan Giggs played the ball of the game to the feet of Michael Owen who controlled the ball with his first touch and then scored with his second and just how sweet was that? Fergie has rightly described Owen's finish as world-class and it was.

Many United fans will not have been aware of the poster that was created by the City fans when Owen signed for the club, but who's laughing now? Ferguson was questioned about that controversial signing but Owen has repaid the manager's faith in spades, his winning goal will be savoured for many years to come.

United fans can go to work next week and have a good laugh at the City fans, it is going to be a wonderful micky-taking week. Ferguson got it pretty much bang on today and it is hoped he will continue to use 442 because at times today and last weekend against Spurs it was like watching the old United with those crosses being fired into the visitors penalty area.

My man of the man match was Ryan Giggs, at times today he was simply magnificent, he nutmegged Wright-Phillips on at least one occasion and he had the beating of Richards too. Giggs best position is wide-left, as he proved today he still has much to offer, but his versatility was highlighted when he popped up in an advanced central position to supply the winner. Ryan Giggs we love you, we really do.

As for Mark Hughes carping about the added minutes, City deserved NOTHING today. It should be noted that the City players were still celebrating their third equaliser into the 91st minute and no doubting that accounted for the additional added time, that plus a United substitution.

Finally, the FA and quite possibly the police will surely be taking action against Craig Bellamy for punching a supporter after the final whistle, at the time the supporter was actually being held by a steward. The FA should also take a look at TV replays for a clear attempted stamp on the leg of Anderson by Bellamy, this was when the Brazilian was lay on the ground after the Welshman had fouled him. Bellamy is a snide and a coward.


  1. Let's see, where to start?

    I agree with everything you said. Rio, Anderson, and Park had nightmares in Rome last May. While Anderson has shown improvement, Park and Rio just aren't cutting it anymore.

    As for O'Shea...why isn't Rafael playing more. He is quicker, more athletic, and his attacking ability makes him an asset. Perhaps he would relieve pressure from Valencia. His crosses would be better than O'Shea's as well. Let's pray for a healthy Ryan Giggs. If I have another son, I swear I will name him Ryan Giggs Cantona (insert last name).

  2. Evgenii,

    Rafael has a shoulder injury, but you are right...

    I have just watched the highlights on MOTD2 and Giggs was simply magnificent.

    I know someone who named their son Ole Gunnar :0)

    I like Ryan Giggs Cantona too :0)

  3. hahah, absolutely brilliant match! I was extremely furious at Foster and Ferdinand too.

    Early on this season, I thought United's reliance on Giggs might become a liability but, he looks in line to maybe win another PFA player of the year title, as he has simply rolled back the years. But I'm not sure if City count just yet as world-class opposition though, given their lack of coordination at the back.

    Anderson and Fletcher had good games too, but you're right, Giggs has to be the man of the match with three assists in one of 'the greatest derby games ever' according to Ferguson.

    I loved his post-match interview too, United did give away two goals, and it could have been 6-0 or 7-0, and its disappointing they couldn't accomplish that. And also the City are noisy neighbours, sometimes you have to turn your on TV up and get on with it, hahah, classic stuff.

    After the 90th minute equaliser, I had actually switched of the TV in absolute disgust, and ten minutes later just checked the score in vain hope that United won, and could really not believe that Owen had done it, amazing stuff.

    Let's see if Kusczak gets the next match, Foster looked far too nervous for the stage of career he is in. I think even in the Tevez chance he could have closed him down better, if you watch the replays, he was standing really far back, which allowed Tevez to pick his spot, and understandably (as it was Tevez), miss.

    United might have scored just a bit too early, as their focus drifted off slightly in the first half, but with the introduction of Valencia, it was simply a siege. As for Berbatov, any top keeper, Casillas, or Buffon, Van der Sar, dare I say even Foster would have made those reflexive saves as all the shots were extremely close to the keeper, in the first couple of chances he really should have done better. With the quality he is expected to have, he can't head it on target and expect to score, especially from such close-range.

    Maybe this is asking too much, but do you think that after scoring Rooney's passing slightly tailed off, I saw him miss many regulation passes outside the City penalty box for the rest of the match, and was slightly concerned. He had a good game though overall.

    A brilliant match, was ecstatic after finding out about the result, really sets up a good week for all of us.

  4. Uday,

    As ever you make some excellent points. In terms of opposition and looking at the game objectively, on the basis of this match neither team is going win the big prizes this season - there was simply too many mistakes. But as you say United really could have nailed City in that second period and we could easily have scored six or seven if not more.

    I cannot believe you turned off your TV though.

    Sadly Kusczak is worse than Foster and by some distance.

    But I think you make a good point about the occasion getting to Foster, who is supposedly technically sound - but whatever the experts say about him, his kicking is woeful and his decision making was awful yesterday. I'd have to see the replay of that Tevez effort to make further comment about his positioning, but I take your word for it.

    Regarding Berbatov - you're right his headers were too close to the keeper, if he'd tried to direct them into the corner he'd surely have scored at least one if not more.

    You are also right about Rooney, he was very average yesterday, and yes he lost the ball on several occasions. Dare I say he looked a bit jaded - remember my warning about player burn-out?

    I'd also like to make a point about City's second goal. It was Rooney who lost the ball on the half-way line in the build-up, but if Park hadn't run on the wrong side of Rooney and thus forced Rooney's attempted back-heel then he wouldn't have lost the ball as it would have been a simple lay-off to the South Korean, so dopey Park should shoulder some of the blame too.

    Regarding Owen. I said to my son in the first-half "wouldn't it be sweet if Owen came on and scored the winner" and so it was. I even said it's time to bring him on just before the decision was made.

    Fergie got it right yesterday and he now needs to stick to 442.

  5. Ok, I have two additional thoughts.

    1) I will be the first to pillory Foster. He had a terrible game again. But we have done this before with Howard and other Schmeichel replacements. They made some big mistakes in big games and Fergie immediately yanked them, thereby destroying their confidence. Schmeichel made quite a few horrible mistakes but he already had his confidence. I say just let Foster work it out (crossing fingers I am right).

    2) I am worried for the Wolverhampton match on Wednesday, not because of the opponent, but because we will see a squad of Park and Carrick, etc. to rest our starters. I don't think we'll have any major issues but it will ruin any chance at having momentum from Sunday's win. If we stick with our main starters, we could easily put them down like a dog with rabies. But I bet we'll see Evans, Kusczak, Carrick, Park, maybe Scholes, Nani and maybe Gibson, maybe Macheda. I think it's great they are getting playing time, but they will struggle and we lose our momentum. Am I just being paranoid?

  6. Evgenni,

    I think you are being a tad paranoid. In all honesty the Carling Cup is low on Fergie's priority list and whatever team he selects the result won't affect our confidence, not when we've just beaten Arsenal, Spurs and City.

    You might be right about Foster but I suspect it soon be a case of sayonara.

  7. I suppose I am being paranoid. I have been frustrated with their consistency and what you have rightly pointed out as their lack of playing 442. One positive note is that while everyone is high on Chelski, they haven't played any of the big four and haven't lost their African stars like they will in the Winter. We play them in November and then they play Arsenal a few weeks later. I try to look for silver lining.

    Sorry if I highjacked your blog, it's just nice to read and comment at a place where there are great incites. There is hardly anything like it in the US so I rely on British-based coverage.

  8. I had high hopes for Foster but he does look to be a liability by making a number of basic errors. He then seems to redeem himself by making an outstanding save e.g. the one against van Persie. From what I had seen of him in the past his kicking & distribution had been very good so it's strange to see it going wrong. Still much prefer him to Kuschak who instills no confidence whatsoever.

    I despair with Park who is seriously lacking in skills. Yes he can run around a lot but he offers so little from an attacking sense. When we need to contain the opposition he can do a good job but we are MUFC so should be attacking from all areas of the pitch. I'd much prefer us to lose when we go for it rather than putting in a timid defensive performance. I thought that was also one of Valencia's strengths in that he can run & track back?

    I know you've harped on about Tevez on a number of occasions & yesterdays game epitisomed him. Lots of energetic running but lacking a certain amount of quality. In a choice between Owen & Tevez I'd always take Owen due to the much superior quality of his finishing. He could prove to be an inspired signing by SAF.

    Great match & great result - shame I now live down sarf so haven't got any bluenose colleagues to wind up!

  9. Evgenni,

    You're more than welcome to add as many comments as you like. Irrespective of your completely valid point about Chelsea having yet to play any of the top teams I honestly believe it is going to be their year.

  10. Vaud,

    Reports were linking United to a Russian keeper' even before Sunday's events. I think Fergie might have already decided that Foster isn't goint to cut it, but yes he is better than the Pole.

    Agree with you about Tevez, but we have to remember, like Rooney and Berbatov they are all second-strikers and so it was always going to be a struggle for them in the derby without Adebayor.

    As for Owen, yes he can score goals and it's looking like a "masterstroke" now, but we are still short of a top quality number 9 IMO. Owen is being used correctly, that is from the bench.

    Don't you agree that Rooney looked a bit jaded/tired at times on Sunday? That is why we need that other striker.

    And what about Rio? United could have tried to sign Lucio in the summer - but he went to Inter for just 6m Euros - he is better than Rio in every respect. Time to get shut of Rio me thinks - like I posted it is exactly what Wenger would do, he knows when is the time to sell.

  11. hmm, ya, Lucio was the signing of the season (maybe after Eto'o), but if United entered the bidding war, he might have cost a lot more. Maybe Ferguson has faith in Evans. I certainly don't see the manager selling Ferdinand now, maybe City will come knocking? And even then, Ferguson might refuse.

    While it might be correct, Ferdinand's departure is extremely unlikely, but we saw Eto'o, an essential play for Barcelona last season leave, and have seen some other moves. Hughes would be most likely to swoop in on any opportunity given by Ferdinand or Ferguson.

  12. Uday,

    Ferdinand (like many footballers these days) has plenty of personal advisors (I've met of some Rio's people) and about 10 days ago a story appeared in the press saying that a close source says Rio would welcome a move Barcelona. I honestly think the time is right to get shut, providing Fergie can find a replacement. Evans is ok, but he's not in Lucio's class.

  13. Agree ref Rooney looking a bit jaded. He has had a fantastic start to the season & maybe needs a breather. I'm hoping we'll see something of Macheda soon as he is a player I really rate for the future.

    Rio is a quality player who is just back from injury & looks rusty. It would be a very brave decision to sell him & I think there is a few good years left in him yet. Agree that Wenger is very astute & knows when to sell a player but he makes mistakes - isn't he after their former defender! I've not heard the rumour about Rio to Barcelona but I thought that was Vidic?

  14. How would that defense have looked? Rafael, Fabio, Lucio...through in Anderson in front of them and maybe we could induce Roberto Carlos out of retirement!

    I would think that SAF would spend some of the money during this transfer window to buy players before stocks get over inflated by the WC.

  15. That is really surprising. Ferdinand moving to Barcelona would be an astounding move. I suppose it makes sense with Milito, Marquez and Puyol aging. Anyway I don't know if you came across this.

    This might have been before the derby, but he seems to posit a lot of faith into the 4-3-3, which we have seen, does not work. What do you make of it?

  16. Evgenni,

    While in some ways having a team flooded with Samba stars sounds like a good idea, I think I'd be happier if it was flooded with local lads from Salford and Manchester - but it it will be interesting to see how things pan out. We'd never get Lucio for the sort of cash Inter paid - that was a steal of deal.

    The thing is with the South American players they will always be drawn to the warmer climates of Spain and Italy and so it is unlikely there will ever be any genuine long term loyalty / affinity with a club like United.

  17. Uday,

    Thanks for the link. I suspect/hope that interview took place before the Arsenal and Besiktas (especially the former) because if Fergie has analysed those two performers he we hopefully have to come to the same conclusion as us, which is that 433 isn't working with the current squad of players.

  18. Vaud,

    Forgot to add that I completey agree with you about Macheda.

  19. Vaud,

    Like I said Rio has many associates and he has his finger in quite a few pies and he has very ambitious has plans, it wouldn't surprise me if there's more to this story. The link below isn't the one that I read initially but it basically confirms the story. With all that said, the way he's shaping up at present no one would touch him, I'm putting some of his recent problems down to injuries, but some of his errors like the one on Sunday have been unforgiveable.


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