Wigan Athletic 1 Manchester United 0

Match played at the DW Stadium and corresponding to the Premier League.

Poor United performance that saw Wigan have upto 67% of the possession at one point in the first half. The controversy, that seems to follow United around, came midway into the first half when Moses appeared to have scored a legitimate goal. The linesman however spotted an obstruction on De Gea which impeded the keeper getting to the ball. Despite Trevor Francis’s disbelief Caldwell is clearly obstructing the keeper. Yet United’s midfield was constantly overrun and the closest United came was a Rooney shot blasted well wide. Half time saw Young come off and Tom Cleverley replace him to try and wrest some control. There was little initial impact and, indeed Shaun Maloney scored a wondrous goal, curling a shot past a diving De Gea. The goal came from a corner that should have never been as the last touch came from a Wigan player. Rooney, having an awful games, was taken off and replaced by Nani and for the first time United carried threat and promise but bore no fruit. United piled on the pressure but it was the 78th minute before Al Habsi in the Wigan goal was called to make any save of note. United very poor as City romped to a win against West Brom. 8 points were becoming 5! Great and well deserved 3 points for Wigan and life breathes into the title race again.

Manchester United Team

1   David De Gea
3   Patrice Evra
5   Rio Ferdinand
6   Johnny Evans
4   Phil Jones
18 Ashley Young
16 Michael Carrick
11 Ryan Giggs
25 Antonio Valencia
10 Wayne Rooney
14 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez

SUBSTITUTES
Tom Cleverley on for Ashley Young
Danny Welbeck on for Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez
Nani on for Wayne Rooney

Blackburn Rovers 0 Manchester United 2

Match corresponding to the Premier League and played at Ewood Park.

A lacklustre United was able to wrap up three extremely valuable points thanks to two stunning strikes by Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia once the 80th minute had gone. Blackburn had proved resolute in defence and clinical in attack. Their few forays often resulted in some timely and high class interventions by David De Gea. The Spaniard, early and mid season cock ups aside, has become one of the key men in this average United side that allows far too many chances as a result of its poor possession retention. At least 5 times David kept Blackburn out with high class and instinctive saves. A sure sign of this boy’s improvement is that when one watches United and shots rain on goal, confidence is there that the keeper will react. He even dispelled the spectre of that last minute Old Trafford corner that gave Rovers their unexpected, win with a solid punch out followed by a superb save from the shot in. As for United, well the usual sloppy play and sluggard approach play led to few chances. Antonio Valencia once again proved he is the leagues form player. Fast, powerful and incisive he was a thorn in Rovers’ side since the off. Hernandez was guilty of missing several chances, though he was unlucky not to get a goal in the opening seconds of the game. He was off after an hour replaced by Welbeck. With Rooney having an awful game the new striker did little to improve our finishing. It was thus left up to the Man of the Match to finish with a sublime shot with the outside of his right foot that cut through a crowded area like a hot knife through butter. A well deserved individual goal for United’s best player on the pitch. Ashley Young, who had come on for Scholes scored our second a few minutes later with a well worked goal from the edge of the area that slotted perfectly in the gap between the post and the flying Robinson’s hand. 5 points ahead now City so what you going to do? The next two matched could be crucial, United can even have the luxury of losing at the Etihad and still be crowned champions, over to the crumbling Blues and see how they cope!

Manchester United Team

1   David De Gea

3   Patrice Evra

5   Rio Ferdinand

6   Johnny Evans

21 Rafael

4   Phil Jones

22 Paul Scholes

16 Michael Carrick

25 Antonio Valencia (Goal)

10 Wayne Rooney

14 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez

SUBSTITITUES

Danny Welbeck on for Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez

Ryan Giggs on for Phil Jones

Ashley Young (Goal) on for Paul Scholes

Manchester United 1 Fulham 0

Match corresponding to the Premier League and played at Old Trafford.

Fuf! What a nervy performance by United, is squeaky bum time affecting the players? United were lethargic, nervy and very pedestrian. Old Trafford sounded more like a morgue than a football stadium and 25 minutes in David De Gea had already made two saves while Schwartzer in the Fulham goal still had cold palms! We lacked punch and are passing was sloppy to say the least. Considering Sir Alex Ferguson had already mentioned that goal difference was bound to be a factor on reckoning day our attack was feeble to say the list. Welbeck had something of a mare while Rooney, largely anonymous until his goal, seemed to be late to all passes. Antonio Valencia once again proved he is United’s, and probably the League’s form player but tonight his final ball let him down. Credit to Fulham, however, who maintained form and shape through out and moved the ball around elegantly kept themselves in the game until the final whistle and were denied a very plausible penalty by the referee. United’s slow tempo and lack of quality in the pass meant the match was dour and boring for many stretches of play. United’s goal game from a long Young cross which Evans bravely won and nodded back across the area to find Rooney with his gun cocked and loaded. A sharp pull of the trigger and United were one up. Rio Ferdinand limped off in the second half but with one whole week to go before our next game he should be fit for our trip to Ewood Park next Monday. Most important thing were the three valuable points that take us back to the top of the league. Long has it been said that the mark of champions is to win games like these in which you play like crap but still remain victorious.

Manchester United Team

1   David De Gea

3   Patrice Evra

5   Rio Ferdinand

6   Johnny Evans

21 Rafael

18 Ashley Young

16 Michael Carrick

11 Ryan Giggs

25 Antonio Valencia

10 Wayne Rooney (Goal)

19 Danny Welbeck

SUBSTITUTES

Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez for Danny Welback

Chris Smalling on for Rio Ferdinand

Paul Scholes on for Wayne Rooney

Athletic Club de Bilbao 2 Manchester United 1

Match corresponding to the the last 16 of the Europa League and played at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao.

Well they carried on where they left off at Old Trafford and if they had better aim this could have been an epoch ending hammering of biblical proportions. Athletic are worthy winners proving much, much better than United over the two legs. Frankly they deserved to go through on the Old Trafford performance alone, this one tonight just vindicated it! United seemed to be up for it after a quick fire attack straight from the kick off, but that was it. Bilbao once again asserted their dominance over a midfield that included an invisible Ashley Young, I frankly noticed he was on the pitch when he fouled someone on the 85th minute mark! Ji Sung Park once again demonstrated that he is not a United player, Cleverley cannot handle the pressure of carrying this midfield, Rooney was MIA (until his wonder strike) and the defence was jittery all night long. Llorente once again struck but this time with a sweet cushioned volley, though Rio should shoulder some of the blame as he should have been marking the Spanish forward more closely than he was. The already electric atmosphere raised a notch or two to hellish proportions reminiscent of the Turkish stadiums. Half time saw a shell shocked United retire into the dressing room expecting a Fergie rocket. Bilbao had hit the post and were guilty of some woeful finishing, that may explain their 37 points almost 40 behind Real Madrid in the league (this stat I suppose puts their humiliation of United into stark contrast). This lack of profligacy continued into the second half. Yet De Marcos scored their second after his shot, which De Gea had well covered, took a wicked deflection off Evans. United were bereft of steel or skill in midfield, though Pogba showed why United should keep him when he came on putting himself about and trying to get the ball in United’s control. Rooney scored a wondrous goal to give United some hope 10 minutes from time but it was to no avail. Athletic’s supporters proved to be a class above by giving Ryan Giggs a thunderous ovation as he was subbed off. Just the Premier League title left and 10 do or die games that will surely culminate on the 30th April at the Etihad Stadium! Congratulations to Atheltic Bilbao for the masterful performances in this tie. United truly, truly woeful.

Manchester United Team

1   David De Gea

3   Patrice Evra

5   Rio Ferdinand

6   Johnny Evans

21 Rafael

13 Ji Sung Park

16 Michael Carrick

23 Tom Cleverley

11 Ryan Giggs

18 Ashley Young

10 Wayne Rooney (Goal)

SUBSTITUTES

Paul Pogba on for Michael Carrick

Chris Smalling on for Rio Ferdinand

Danny Welbeck on for Ryan Giggs

Manchester United 2 West Bromwich Albion 0

Match corresponding to the Premier League and played at Old Trafford.

Apart from the opening 10 minutes this was pretty much a stroll in the park, unlike the catastrophe on Thursday. United had the measure of West Brom quite quickly and rapid wing play by Ashley Young had their full backs going  in the opposite direction. All three of United’s forward players looked very sharp and it was the Hernandez/Rooney combination that struck to get United’s firsts. Chcicharito curled one in with his left and the ever wily Rooney anticipated West Brom’s keeper and defenders to hammer in from close range. West Brom had the wind well and truly taken out of their sails. They also had a fair penalty appeal when Patrice Evra appeared to trip Peter   Odemwingie inside the corner of the United area. None of the officials seemed think it was cause for a penalty and the game continued. David DeGea has kept his habit of game saving saves pulling off two great saves, one in either half. Certainly a new man! The second half saw a small 5 minute West Bromwich revival that was cut short by United’s incisive attacking play. Javier Hernandez hit the post while Danny Welbeck saw it fit to push the ball wide of an open goal. Ashley Young then provoked a penalty as he was tripped over by Keith Andrews. West Brom was by now with 10 men as Ollson had been sent off for two yellows, both justified. Rooney stepped up to score his second penalty in as many games to put the game beyond any reasonable doubt. What made the points even sweeter was the result filtering in from the Liberty Stadium where Swansea had beaten City 1-0 despite having a penalty saved by Joe Hart. All in all a much excellent end to a horrible week. Squeaky bum time Mr Mancini, can you cope with it?

Manchester United Team

1   David DeGea

3   Patrice Evra

5   Rio Ferdinand

6   Johnny Evans

4   Phil Jones

18 Ashley Young

16 Michael Carrick

22 Paul Scholes

19 Danny Welbeck

10 Wayne Rooney (2 Goals/1 Penalty)

14 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez

SUBSTITUTES

Paul Pogba on for Paul Scholes

Tom Cleverley on for Danny Welbeck

Manchester United 2 Athletic Club de Bilbao 3

Match corresponding to the last 16 of the Europa League and played at Old Trafford.

Apologies for the lateness of the report but I was well pissed off last night after the match to write anything. Firstly congratulations to Atheltic that totally deserved this result if not a better one. This is further compounded by the fact that in a footballing world where millions of pounds or euros dictacte success, athletic on signs players of Basque or Donosti descent. As such all of thier players come through their famed Academy system. Secondly congratulations to their 8,000 fans that shamed Old Trafford into silence, what has happened to the Stretford End (though with the shower of shite on the pitch I do not blame them) and its fearsome atmosphere? Thridly David De Gea, you sir are one hell of a goalkeeper and I hope the bloody press get off your back. 8 saves, 7 world class saved us from a 2-7 scoreline. As to the match , an excillerating contest, end to end stuff and one where Bilbao gave United a masterclass and ‘El Loco’ Bielsa maybe showed SAF that either time is up or, more ot the point, that our average signings will produce average results. United took an undeserved lead through Wayne Rooney that tapped in from close range after the Bilbao keeper palmed a Chicharito shot into Rooney’s path. Llorenet, who like all the Biblao players had an excellent match, then equalised from a header at the stroke of half time. United could not keep up with the possession and rythm Bilbao had set and went in rather shell shocked. Phil Jones was having a nightmare but the worst was still to come. The second half carried on like the first, Bilbao harrying forward and United’s pathetic midfield unable to compete or keep the ball for more than 30 seconds. Biblao kept having chances but DeGea proved his over and over again, one particualr save reminiscent of the one against Chelsea. Bilbao’s second came after a classy chipped ball was half volleyed in by De Marcos. The fact he was clearly offside was missed by the linesman. Then came a truly bizarre incident. United were carrying out a promising attack when Rooney stepped on Evra’s foot and took off his boot. Evra played the ball and the ref calls for a foul, apparently a player must leave the field of play if his feet are not properly attired. Bilbao launched a long ball, cue a classic Evans/Jones cock up, De Marcos shoots low and hard, DeGea makes save number 8 and palms the ball away. Enter the brainless Rafael Da Silva that, instead of busting a gut and racing to clear the ball, watches as Muniain, who had an excellent match in midfield, speeds past in and knocks in a third, disastrous for the Reds. A late penalty converted by Rooney gives United some hope but the Lions at the cathedral of San Mames will not give up their lead easily. Well done to Athletic Bilbao and another wake up call for Sir Alex. We have no attack, no midfield, a clueless defence but thankfully we have a hell of a keeper. An embaressing defeat, but will this mean a change in the summer? The list of players currently on the books that are clearly not of a class to play for Manchester United is long.

Manchester United Team

1   David DeGea

3   Patrice Evra

6   Johnny Evans

12 Chris Smalling

21 Rafael Da Silva

13 Ji sung Park

4   Phil Jones

11 Ryan Giggs

18 Ashley Young

10 Wayne Rooney (2 Goals/1 Penalty)

14 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez

SUBSTITUTES

Micheal Carrick on for Chris Smalling

Anderson on for Ji Sung Park

Nani on for Ryan Giggs

 

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester United 3

Match corresponding to the Premier League and played at White Hart Lane.

Well if United do win the league and retain their title this match will be one of those that are often described by pundits as characteristic of the one champion teams win. We play badly, dominated in the first half in fact, but end up winning. Undeservedly so but such is football. Spurs played very well in the first half dominating possession and midfield. Though they lacked bite up front David DeGea had one save to make from Adebayor. The controversial moment came when the referee disallowed an Adebayor goal for handball. The irony is that the Spurs forward was on the line and he blocked a goal bound shot after a cross from out wide from Lennon. As the ball hit him, Adebayor used his left hand to help position the ball to allow him to flick into the back of the net. The ref got this one right in my opinion as without the touch with his hand Adebayor would not have been able to position the ball to be able to tap it in. Wayne Rooney that added salt to the wound as he headed in on the 44th minute. A clearly undeserved lead. The second half started pretty much the same way. Spurs dominant and any rocket SAF delivered at half time seemed to have hit the mark. Yet it was United again that took the bull by the horns. Nani floated in past Modric on the right and drove in a cross that was expertly volleyed in by Ashley Young. His second goal was reminiscent of his one against Arsenal earlier in the season. Drop of the shoulder, cut into to midfield and curl one away from the keeper with his right foot. Jermaine Defoe got a late consolation for Tottenham but United game Spurs a lesson in clinical finishing and shooting. A 100% ratio of shots/shots on target with three goals to boot. Back to two points difference with City and everything points to a title decider at the Etihad in late April!

Manchester United Team

1   David DeGea

3   Patrice Evra

5   Rio Ferdinand

6   Johnny Evans

4   Phil Jones

17 Nani

22 Paul Scholes

16 Michael Carrick

18 Ashley Young (2 Goals)

10 Wayne Rooney (Goal)

19 Danny Welbeck

SUBSTITUTES

Ryan Giggs on for Paul Scholes

Ji Sung Park on for Nani