Monday, January 17, 2011

Unconvincing United continue to perplex, but the point won at Spurs was a good one....

United were in action on Sunday afternoon when they travelled to Tottenham for what was always going to be a difficult game. Along with Manchester City, Spurs are among the most improved teams in the Premier League. It finished 0-0 and both managers will have been reasonably happy with a point each. As a result United are back at the top of the division, but in many ways it was yet another very unsatisfactory performance.

The downside from a red perspective was the sending off of Rafael; hapless Mike Dean brandished his yellow card twice at the young Brazilian, one in either half. Frankly, neither one of the incidents merited a caution; but the home fans didn't help - every time anything which resembled a challenge by a player in red was greeted with mass appeals for a free-kick by the home crowd, who it has to be said played their part when putting pressure on Mr Dean who caved in. At times, it was akin to playing a game on Merseyside, where the scousers have perfected the art of the mass appeals from the stands.

Spurs fans might well argue that their team hasn't had the rub of the green where big decisions are concerned against United over the last few seasons, but if that is the case we should be asking why referees get it so wrong and so often. The problem is our referees are just very average and until we see a big improvement where judgement and consistency is concerned we will have to collectively put up with second-raters like Dean.

As for United's performance, like on so many occasions when playing away from Old Trafford this sesaon, overall it was very poor, but once again the defence ensured that that the team came away with a share of the spoils. Vidic was at his commanding best as was Ferdinand, despite an early injury scare.

Rafael would have ran Vidic close for United's man-of-the-match award, but for his sending off. The Brazilian had a fine game and at times he looked like the one who might unlock the Spurs defence with his surging runs from deep. Sooner or later, Ferguson will surely give Rafael a game in central midfield, where his energy and skills could be more effective.

The Bale v Rafael contest was a pretty good one; both players will have felt that they did well at times, but by and large the United fullback had the better of things, because Spurs never really troubled Van der Sar.

Sadly, once again United's passing was collectively rank bad for much of Sunday's game. Wayne Rooney and Darren Fletcher had games to forget. If it hadn't been for the Rafael sending off, it's a fair bet that Fletcher would once again have been substituted, but he got lucky and ended up slotting in at right-back.

Berbatov was little more than a highly paid passenger on his return to his former club, so it came as no great surprise when Ferguson replaced him with Hernandez in the second-half. United's Mexican striker struggled to make any sort of meaningful contribution, but at least he tracked back and did well when asked to defend.

Nani did precious little of note and so he too was replaced in the second-half by Anderson. United's Brazilian midfield star did okay and ran at the Spurs defence on several occasions, but it was one of those days when not very much went right from an attacking perspective. Giggs didn't have a great game on the opposite flank, but he at least worked hard for the team.

To use boxing parlance, United have been performing like a punch-drunk boxer, one who is on the ropes appearing to invite trouble and the killer punch. We the fans have been expecting it, as was the case at White Hart Lane, but the killer blow never landed. In point of fact, so good was United's defence, Spurs barely landed a telling blow all afternoon; but if you keep on giving your opponent time and space and you keep on gifting away possession sooner or later you will pay the price. United are not so much playing "Rope a dope" - it's more a case of "Dopes on the ropes". It simply has to get better or else City will soon be taking the high ground in the title race.


  1. Hoho

    The Rafael tackle was far worse than the one by Gerrard on Carrick and deserved a straight red

    He also got away with waving an imaginary yellow card in Dean's face

    And of course Vidic got away with trying to tear apart VDV's shirt

    Typical Manure glasses article

  2. You have got to be joking. You don't think either of the 'incidents' deserved a booking. The first one could have been a red card and he certainly should have been booked for unsporting conduct when brandishing an imaginary card to the ref after a challenge by palacios. He shouldn't have even been on the pitch to trip BAE. Grow up and report it like an adult or don't even bother mate.

  3. "Ferguson will surely give Rafael a game in central midfield, where his energy and skills could be more effective."

    He might have already done so but for the fact that O'Shea is injured and Neville is... well, we all saw the last game he played.

    It's funny; history shows us that Fergie's team tends to pick up steam after the New Year, but instead the fans are left pining for the form of last November, for even that was better than the display we are getting now.

  4. Insert / Stoney,

    You need educating: There is NO comparison between the Gerrard and Rafael tackle.

    Gerrard launched himself into TWO footed tackle and they are potential leg breakers.

    Rafael won the ball and even United hater Andy Gray said "was unlucky to be booked!". Gray also pointed out that Crouch made a similar tackle on Carrick but he got away with it. IF Dean booked Rafael then he should have booked Crouch.

  5. Jesse,

    I don't know what Fergie is thinking half the time (who does?). Anyone barring a blind man can see that Rafael is more dynamic and twice as skilful as Carrick and Fletcher. FWIW, I'd also play Rooney in midfield.

  6. "Typical Manure glasses article"

    That's a strange comment to me. I find this blog more interesting than others simply because I find the writers (well, Ryddel at least) to be quite honest when handing out praise and criticism.

    "Rafael is more dynamic and twice as skilful as Carrick and Fletcher"

    Yeah, but contrary to what Fergie keeps telling us, Rafael has neither the maturity nor the patience required to run the midfield. This can only come with time. Although I do agree that his ball control and creativity are a great foundation; there is no doubt he can become a great playmaker in years to come.


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