Sunday, March 28, 2010

Coyle on wrong end of United masterclass, but Van Gaal will be tougher nut to crack...

Manchester United travelled to the Reebok on Saturday evening where they faced struggling Bolton. Earlier in the day Chelsea thumped Aston Villa 7-1 at Stamford Bridge and went back to the top of the Barclays Premier League. It was therefore vital Ferguson's team didn't slip-up against what turned out to be a dogged Bolton side who have improved since Owen Coyle took charge in January.

Predictably, with the three points looking like a good bet, Ferguson elected to shuffle his pack by omitting Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand from the squad. We have been told both players were carrying 'slight knocks'. However, when Ferguson decides to gamble, it isn't unusual to axe a brace of big name stars. With United set to travel to Germany to face Bayern Munich on Tuesday and Chelsea the following weekend for the biggest games of the season so far, both decisions looked sensible. Ferguson also took the opportunity to rest last weekend's goal hero Park Ji-Sung, as Ryan Giggs was brought back into starting the line-up.

As things turned out, Bolton were a good match for the champions for most of the first half; Jonny Evans spurned United's best chance of the opening half hour when blasting over from close range following a lay-off by Darren Fletcher. At the other end, Edwin van der Sar had to be at his very best to deny Elmander and Muamba. The save from Muamba was world-class; United's Dutch stopper flew through the air at full stretch as he pushed the ball to safety with his fingertips.

Jack Wiltshire looked more than useful in central midfield; the on-loan Arsenal youngster looks to have the potential to go far in the top flight, but it was United who dominated the possession with Scholes pulling the strings.

The crucial breakthrough came about on 38 minutes - as on so many other occasions this season, it did so from a wide position - but this time from the boot of Ryan Giggs whose cross was expertly steered into his own net by Samuel.

Dimitar Berbatov made it two-nil on 69 minutes; the Bulgarian striker took advantage of Jaaskelainen who initially saved Darren Fletcher's effort on goal, only to deflect into the path of the United striker who made no mistake from close-range. From that point on it was pretty much game over as the champions broke Bolton's resistance.

Berbatov added his second goal of the game and his 12th of the season and once again it came from the left, but this time it was Nani who supplied the killer pass. Just a few minutes later it was Nani who was tormenting the visitors when out-smarting two defenders before supplying Darron Gibson with an inviting cross from the left; the Ulsterman made no mistake when lashing home the final goal of the game from just inside the Bolton penalty area.

In his post-match interview, Owen Coyle went on the offensive when bleating about what he perceived to be a deliberate elbow by Vidic on Elmander, who had to be substituted as a result, but TV replays of the incident were inconclusive.

United should be a full strength when they take on Bayern Munich on Tuesday. Amazingly, Ferguson and Louis Van Gaal have only met each other twice in their long managerial careers; that was back in 1998 in the Champions League in what were two of the most entertaining games in the competition's history.

In the build-up to this season's quarter finals, many pundits are talking about the Arsenal vs Barcelona tie, but United vs Bayern could prove to be the tie of the round. Bayern have already made up for the events of the 1999 final, when dumping United out of the competition just a couple of seasons later. IF anything, it is United who owe the Germans one.


  1. I believe it's 7-1 for Chelsea and not 5-1.

  2. I believe it was! The sub editor has just been shot...

  3. Chelsea is a threat indeed !! loL


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