Sunday, February 22, 2009

United heading for Milan nightmare?

Manchester United's victory over Blackburn came at the expense of losing defender Jonny Evans to injury. Fergie says that the Ulsterman is unlikely to be fit for the Reds biggest game of the season when they face Inter Milan on Tuesday. United are already without Wes Brown (injured) and of course Vidic is suspended. The United manager rested Vidic for the visit of Blackburn in preparation for the trip to Milan; the Serbian's absence could prove to be very costly as Fergie is now desperately short of central defenders.

Earlier this week I posted that it was all going a little too well for the Champions and I also added that hopefully United's many injury and suspension problems were over - but having followed United for nigh on forty years I for one fully expected many twists and turns ahead.

United have been in impressive form; they are eight points clear of Liverpool, but Blackburn's Roque Santa Cruz scored on Saturday, in so doing ending that record breaking run for not conceding in the Premier League.

The manner of Blackburn's goal will have annoyed Fergie and many United supporters, because it came about following some very sloppy play by Nani, the Portuguese winger allowed Ooijer to pinch the ball and then play in the Paraguayan striker who rounded Ferdinand, to compound matters Kuszczak slipped leaving an open net. The United manager has every right to be annoyed with the schoolboy errors made by Nani and Kuszczak.

Fergie will not be too concerned about that 14 game shut-out record coming to an end, but any doubts about the futures of Nani and Kuszczak will have been further underscored. Nani is a very frustrating player; he is capable of brilliance as he proved with his superb first-half pass which led to Rooney's opening goal yesterday, but on too many occasions he loses possession cheaply. As far as Kuszczak is concerned; goalkeepers' need presence and they need to inspire confidence, sadly the Polish stopper does neither.

United won the game courtesy of a brilliant second-half free-kick from Ronaldo, but the winner came about after Blackburn had hit the woodwork and the visitors also had a late penalty claim turned down by Howard Webb, who once again made some very strange decisions.

Webb is supposedly England's top referee, but he had a stinker in the Manchester derby when sending off Ronaldo - which came about after the official wrongly booking the Portuguese winger for a challenge on Wright-Phillips in the first-half at Eastlands.

Yesterday, Webb bizarrely disallowed Jonny Evans' first-half headed goal. Having made a basic error of judgement, it's fair to ask if 'England's top referee' had been made aware of his error at half-time, because it could be argued that he over-compensated by giving United a few second-half decisions in a bid to 'even things up' as referees often do.

Leading up to United's trip to Inter Milan the media has been full of stories plotting United's route to an improbable quintuple, but following the Blackburn game many will now be revising their thoughts on the probability of Fergie winning five trophies - such are the vagaries of top-flight football, because in the space of ninety minutes the whole scenario could come apart.

The odds on United winning that quintuple will surely be affected by injuries, but while it is still possible the fans and media can continue to speculate. IF United can go to Milan and come away with a good result everyone will be talking about the Reds winning the lot again. On the flip side if United take a hammering in Italy in midweek there will be added pressure going into the Carling Cup final.

Later this week I will be previewing the Inter game - the thought of Gary Neville trying to match Adriano in the air is good reason for a few sleepless nights.

Whatever happens this season, United have done something that no other English club has ever done having already secured an unprecedented treble.

1 comment:

  1. I also wonder, is it a possibility that maybe SAF has the nerve to call upon one of the players in the reserves. I would have suggested Chester, but I believe he is off at Peterborough. Other than that I am not sure who else we could call on in the reserves.

    With all that being said, I think that O'Shea will be fit to play. When he came off at midweek it didn't seem to be something that he could not carry on. But rather he came off as a precaution. In the end, I think that he will be fit to play.


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