Manchester United 2 Benfica 2

Match corresponding to Champions League Match Day 5. Following on the 1-1 draw in Lisbon on Match Day 1 Benfica visited Old Trafford. A stunned silence soon followed after Phil Jones knocked in an own goal 3 minutes into the match. United were stooped into a lethargy all too common this season, especially in midfield. The team sported seven changes from the match at the weekend with Wayne Rooney falling from the list due to injury and a returning Ashley Young filling in in the Number 10 spot. Dimitar Berbatov scored his first goal in Europe for three seasons to equal the score and United dominated the closing stages of the first half. United exploded into the second half and Darren Fletcher scored our second but 80 seconds later De Gea and Ferdinand cocked up to gift Pablo Aimar, the ex Valencia midfielder, a tap in to once again level the score. Benfica’s fans were very vocal throughout the match and at times it sounded like an away match, a very un Old Trafford like moment in Champions League matches. Benfica’s keeper, Artur, made a very good save from Fabio Da Silva as the United defender tried to chip him from close range. Benfica’s defence held a good line with United, Young in particular, being caught offside repeatedly. The 2-2 scoreline means that United need to win away at Basle in Switzerland to ensure qualification. Once again a total lack of quality in midfield made an average Benfica team seem much better than what they actually are!

Manchester United Team

1    David De Gea

3   Patrice Evra

5   Rio Ferdinand

4   Phil Jones

20 Fabio Da Silva

17 Nani

24 Darren Fletcher (Goal)

16 Micheal Carrick

25 Antonio Valencia

18 Ashley Young

9  Dimitar Berbatov (Goal)

SUBSTITUTES

Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez for Antonio Valencia

Chris Smalling for Fabio Da Silva

Swansea City 0 Manchester United 1

Match corresponding to the Premier League and played at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium. Once again another anemic performance by United that had Chicharito Hernandez to thank after he tapped one in after 10 minutes from a Ryan Giggs pass. Swansea dominated the ball for long passages of time and made David De Gea pull off a reflex save early in the second half. United’s problems continue in midfield, where Ryan Giggs had a very poor game. Wayne Rooney, once again playing upfront, had to drop deep and his only telling contribution to the game were three half hearted attempts from 30 yards out. Well done the Swans and three valuable points for the Reds that keeps them 5 points behind City.

Manchester  United Team

1   David De Gea

3  Patrice Evra

5  Rio Ferdinand

15 Nemanja Vidic

4  Phil Jones

13 Ji-Sung Park

11 Ryan Giggs

16 Michael Carrick

17 Nani

10 Wayne Rooney

14 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez (Goal)

SUBSTITUTES

Fabio Da Sailva on for Patrice Evra

Darren Fletcher for Ryan Giggs

Antonio Valencia for Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez

Skyrim: First Impressions

Well after three solid days playing Skyrim I feel qualified enough to comment on it.

 

The Pros

Graphically it is an immenesly beautiful game that has captured the gruff essence of a Scandinavian setting perfectly. Bit disappointed about the lack of DX 11 support, considering I got my new graphics card specifically for Skyrim, but is still a wonderful game graphically.

As with all Elder Scrolls games a lot of effort had gone into the lore and history of the setting of the game. Immersion is a must for me in RPG’s and one can immerse oneself into Skyrim and its lore and people. Bethesda have this dow to a tee!

Elements of the Radiant AI make me enjoy the game more, I got told off by a guard for dropping a mace in the middle of a city saying children may pick it up and thus be a danger (has ‘Elf N Safety invaded Tamriel :O )

So far, less than 10% of the map uncovered, so good in terms of quests and things to do. Im playing a straight fighter class as a first run through before I do my normal role play with a pure mage character.

The fact it runs great on my PC, which I was considering upgrading and I think I ultimately will depending on whats left in the kitty after Christmas.

The Cons

The UI for the PC is too consolish for my liking.

Perks, something new in the games I play though I think I’ll get used to them in the long run.

Removal of a lot of spells and skills, though this started in Oblivion (Morrowind I guess is still the Holy Grail of RPG’s).

Handling of Factions, I was a big fan of how you could track your progress in them in MW and OB.

 

That said I would reccomend this game to one and all if you are into the RPG genre. This game, I feel, will attain legendary status once the Construction Kit is released and the best mod community in the world gets its hand on it.

War in the Pacific Admiral’s Edition. Game vs Herb

4th January 1943

IJN ships have been spotted returning to Truk en masse via Kusaie Island. SS Grouper reports being heavily damaged when engaging a battleship of the Kongo Class and is returning to Tarawa leaking fuel oil. Happier news came from SS Thresher who reports hitting an enemy tanker off Tawi Tawi. The target erupted into orange flames as its cargo engulfed the ship in a sea of fire. The 20% drop in dud rate has already had a positive effect as this is the second consecutive hit in as many days!

The Washington and the South Dakota failed to make a mid ocean intercept of the enemy’s main carrier body. Despite the radar no contact was made and it is assumed that the enemy carriers pulled back Westwards mindful of the demise of the Junyo in these waters by surface action. Both capital ships will withdraw East to refill thier bunkers. Washington has very light damage and one 20mm mounted knocked out of action by the two bomb hits she received on the 3rd.

Much further to the West a mass of ships leave a port to a top secret destination…

Book Review: Guadalcanal by Richard Frank

  

At 618 very dense pages, Richard Frank’s Guadalcanal is best described as encyclopedic in nature. The detail contained herein of the unit by unit, ship by ship, hour by hour detail of the entire six month campaign on both sides is epic.
 
Mr. Frank has said it took over a decade of research to produce this work, and I believe it. Its meticulous research is clearly evident and its sourcework impeccable. If you truly want every detail of the true turning point in the war in the Pacific, this is where to find it. I can truly say I enjoyed the book, and I now feel sufficiently educated on the conflict. I came to the book knowing only the most common known of facts and some basic knowledge of the units involved, greatly because of my palying War in the Pacific.
 
The book is so detailed and so filled with facts, figures, individuals, tactics, units, etc. that one cannot but have total respect and admiration for the author and his researching skills. The appendicies in the book are also an excellent addition to the vast amount of knowledge already in the preceding pages. His handling of the naval battles is masterful, it made it very easy for a novice naval history reader as myself to understand to and to follow the nuances of a naval engagement. I particularly like how he wrote about several engagements from the point of view of each side. It is incredible how much naval battles can turn on one incident! Likewise I was surprised at the amount of frinedly fire involved. His handling of Savo Island and Tanaka’s action at Tassafaronga made me feel inside those ships at time.
 
What struck me the most was the amount of mistakes both sides made, though I am well aware that hindsght is a substantial luxury! From bothced American planning in the initial stage to the sloth like reaction by the Japanese High Command. Though his retelling of the land battle can get somewhat bogged down at times it is realtively easy to make a clear picture of whats going on. His writing style also adds a lot of character to the book, I particularly enjoyed his retelling of the Tokyo Express convoys but was surprised at the frequency these were intercepted by PT Boats and by the Cactus Air force. I was also pleased that he gave the US Army and the USAAF its rightful place in the conflict. An uninformed opinion may be right in assuming it was just Marine Corps grunts and fliers with some help from the USN that won the battle, though in no way am I belittling their contribution especially in the defence against intial Japanese assaults, eg Ichiki. I was also surprised to learn about the extent of eventual Japanese commitment to Guadalcanal, two and half divisions but also in the lack of foresight displayed by IJHQ.
 
It seemed the Guadalcanal campaign came down to the side that made the least mistakes. Both sides are guilty of naive (USN Savo Island and Tassafaronga) and unforgivable mistakes (lack of air cover for the main Japanese reinforcement convoy). Though both sides had great and inspirational leaders (Tanaka, the Japanese major who commanded the rear guard, Halsey, Vandergrift, Ellis, Foss) these are counter balanced by other leaders less inspirational and decisive (Gormley for example). I was also very surprised at Frank’s handling of Fletcher, perhaps here I am showing my lack of in depth reading into the Pacific Campaign as I had always assumed the Fletcher had always received good press.
 
In summary a great, though long read, well researched and I am now much more conversant with the Campign at Guadalcanal and in many ways I agree with the author that though Midway was a dramatic defeat for Japan, Guadalcanal was THE turning point in the Pacific War as the US was able to, in the face of superior Japanese Naval power and support from Japanese bases, gain Henderson Field, defeat the attempts to retake it and to inch its way across the island and start, from there, its march up the Solomons.
 

War in the Pacific Admiral’s Edition. Game vs Herb

2nd-3rd January 1943

Japanese carrier operations continued off the Marshall Islands. American responses during these past two dyas have been somewhat disjointed and uncoordinated. The IJN has pushed its main body to the East of Tarawa seeking sighted USN capital ships loitering in the area. The RNZ ship Leander led its destroyer squadron in an attempt to intercept the carriers at night but was unsuccessful in locating any targets.

Heavier Japanese units vented their fury on both Tarawa and Mili. Battleships closed Tarawa’s airfiled on the 2nd and Mili was hit by heavy cruisers on the night on the 3rd. SUBCOM has ordered its boats to three possible return routes back to Truk. Long range search planes have located enemy ships on a westwards vector passing in the vicinty of Kusaie Island. Having expended a lot of ammo and operationg close to their bases, the enemy’s vessels must be ready to revictual. The proximity of Truk may have meant that no fleet train accompanies the Japanese ships, at least the 5 subs tasked with operating in the rear Japanese areas have not come across any Japanese oilers.

Casualties on the bombed islands have been moderate bu materially there has been little loss. 16 SBD’s were shot down on the 2nd after strikes on the many Japanese task forces could not all have an escort. On the ground aircraft casualties have also been lighter than expected. At sea the only ships lost have been two light RAN minesweepers off Ocean Island. On the 3rd however, elements of the KB’s strike force found the Washington but the only two bomb hits bounced harmlessly off her armoured carapace.

Japan’s main body has been at sea for at least a week and engaged on full operations for three days now. The time for an interception may be now…