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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Manchester United vs Leicester

I just can't believe it! Wayne Rooney has been dropped from the starting XI. After a disastrous performance midweek against Northampton, Rooney is starting on the bench. The pressure around Rooney has been growing particularly over the last few weeks. He hasn't been contributing anything going forward and has been a liability in midfield. He will always be a respected legend but he is not the same player he was 10 years ago and he's not good enough to get in this team at the moment.

After the win at Northampton midweek in the EFL cup, it's so important that we win three points today. Let this be a starting point for the new and improved Manchester United. We need to find our best starting 11 and stick with it for Premier League games.

After a positive first 15 minutes of the game, it looked for sure that Manchester United were close to scoring. The time finally cane in the 22nd minute where Chris Smalling rose highest to get on the end of a delightful Daley Blind corner.

From then on, Manchester United were clearly on the front foot and it only looked a matter of time before Manchester United doubled their lead. In the 25th minute the chance came to Marcus Rashford after a beautiful counter attack. However, the youngster miscued his shot miserably.

The next chance came to Ibrahimovic in the 27th minute which came from a cheeky chip from Paul Pogba, but the striker volleyed over. What a goal that would've been!

The man of the moment Paul Pogba came inches away from registering his first goal for United after his long range effort was palmed away by Zieler.

Our second goal was coming and the player to take it was Juan Mata! An 18 pass build up led to Juan Mata beating Zieler with a powerful strike from 18 yards.

Minutes later, Blind's short corner found Mata, who delivered a pin point cross for Rashford to tap in. That's 7 goals in 7 matches for Rashford for club and country.

In the 42nd minute came Manchester United's fourth with once again a great delivery from Daley Blind. This time, POGBA was on the end to score his first goal for us.


After an amazing first half performance, expectations were high for the second half. As expected, for almost the entirety of the second half, Manchester United dominated possession. However, out of nowhere Demari Gray managed to curl the ball, from outside of the box, into the top corner of a stunned David De Gea's net. The match finished 4-1

At last, Manchester United are finally playing some good football. We were creating chances left, right and centre and every player played with bags of confidence. Although most people will put the scoreline down to Rooney being dropped, it is clear that every player gave it their all today and played for the badge.

So, from 3 wins in a row, to 3 losses in a row, we have now recorded 2 wins in a row and we finally look like a team. Lets hope we can keep this good bit of form going as we are approaching some extremely tough games in the next month. But most importantly, today we have shown that the Manchester United that we all know and love IS still there!

Our next game is on Thursday in the Europa League, home to Zorya. This of course is a game which we are expected to win, and if we play like we did today, I can't see it being an issue.

Onwards and upwards!


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Watford vs Manchester United

After much a great start to the season with four wins out of four, things were looking great for Jose Mourinho's men. This week, things suddenly took a fall for the worst as we slipped to a disastrous defeat to Pep's Manchester City and then 5 days later, another embarrassing defeat to Feyenoord in the Europa League, a competition which we are expected to win. However, things aren't looking too bad for the Red Devils as a win against Watford this week could put us to 3rd in the League, 2 points behind Everton and 3 behind Man City. This game is most important for the fans, morale is low after two poor performances and it is now time for Mourinho's men to show that this last week was a blip in what could still be a title winning season.

At last, Marcus Rashford is starting a Premier League game! Today's line up looks terrifying. We are finally playing two wingers on the wings, what is going on?! Rashford and Martial will provide us with ecstatic pace and skill on the wings that would surely terrify any opponent. Also, after a poor performance last week against City, Blind (who was arguably at fault for both goals conceded) has been dropped for last seasons main man, Chris Smalling. It looks like this may be the first choice partnership in centre back for the remainder of the season. Everyone's favourite topic at the moment, Paul Pogba is starting after a poor last few performances. Hopefully it is only a matter of time until we see the Paul Pogba that we signed from Juventus for a world record fee.

In the first ten minutes, things weren't looking too bad for us. Despite creating no chances, we looked comfortable in possession and we didn't give the ball away carelessly. However, on the tenth minute Prodl's header almost fell at the feet of Troy Deeney who was unmarked at the far post. Just as we thought we couldn't get any luckier, poor communication between David De Gea and Chris Smalling led to Ighalo being given the chance of an open goal, which he somehow managed to miss.

From then on, it was clear that Watford were the team that deserved to be in front but De Gea didn't let that stop him from denying Deeney after a terrific powerful header towards the top corner.

Our only clear chance of the half came in the 21st minute where Marcus Rashford's deflected low cross found Ibrahimovic at the far post who shot into the side netting. A player of his quality should be hitting the target there.

In the 28th minute, a clash of heads between Anthony Martial and Janmaat led to Anthony Martial being subbed off for Ashley Young in the 34th minute. However, that was only after his naive decision to try holding the ball in our own half during a dangerous Watford attack, which inevitably led to him being dispossessed and Watford scoring through Capoue. Just before conceding, Paul Pogba came close with his long range shot rattling the crossbar.

The first half ended 1-0 to Watford after a pathetic performance by Manchester United. Jose Mourinho looks to have made a mistake by starting Wayne Rooney in CM. Not only did he offer nothing going forward, he didn't look comfortable in possession and was careless with his passing. Major changes must be made in the second half if we want to get anything out of this game!

As the second half kicked off we started by showing more intent, with Wayne Rooney going further forward and Marcus Rashford becoming more influential in the game, it looked like a matter of time until we scored an equaliser.

In the 62nd minute, we finally got what we deserved. Great play from Zlatan Ibrahimovic led to Marcus Rashford smashing the ball into the bottom corner of the net from close range. We were controlling the game and we were hopeful of getting another and continuing to win the game. In the 79th minute, Zlatan's header was brilliantly saved by Gomes.

From then on, we went back to slow attacks and allowed Watford to have more possession of the ball. In the 83th minute, our dreams were shattered as Zuniga scored for Watford with his first touch of the ball. Things were not looking good for Mourinho's men. From then on, cynical play from both teams led to a spray of yellow cards being awarded.

Just as we thought things couldn't get much worse, poor defending from Bailly led to Fellaini bringing down Zuniga in the box and Troy Deeney made no mistake from the penalty spot, slotting home down the middle to win the game 3-1.

In the end, once again Manchester United slip to defeat to make it 3 losses in 3 games. For the first time in the Jose Mourinho era (which has only just started), it looks like there is reason to worry as a Manchester United fan. The dream of winning the Premier League this season seems just that, a fantasy. It doesn't look like we have a team capable of getting top 4, let alone winning the league. Is it time to start being realistic and have the ambition of Arsenal fans - to secure 4th place? NO, we are Manchester United and we must fight back. It is clear that we have individuals that are capable of winning us games, but right now, after this performance, it is clear that they need to improve. The issue with our current team is that we have not gelled. We do not look like a team at the moment. This can be fixed over time, but lets start with the match away to Northampton in the League Cup.  Let's have faith in our manager to drill this message into our players. 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Manchester is Blue for Now: Lessons from the Derby

Mkhitaryan is not a winger

With his abject performance against the Citizens, the Armenian is now going to be thrust into the "Dortmund players flop out of Dortmund" narrative. The truth however is simple: he is not a winger.

The player was named the best player in Germany last season, not for his compatriotism with the Kardashians but for his exploits down the middle of the pitch, making vertical runs on and off the ball as most of Dortmund's dynamic attacks and counter attacks went through him.

It remains a wonder why Mourinho signed him only to play him in a position he so notoriously struggled during his early days at Dortmund.

The most promising sign of what he can do came in the first half hour when he caught City defenders unaware with an excellent run – although he was slightly offside – through the middle.

If Mou has no plan to play him there, he might as well put the player out of his misery early on.

Manchester United v Manchester City match analysis

It's here! Possibly the biggest game in the history of the Premier League. The eyes of the world casting their eye on Old Trafford for Jose v Pep, Manchester United v Manchester City. Jose Mourinho made two changes to his Manchester United team changing both wide players. Jesse Lingard and Henrik Mkhitaryan replacing Anthony Martial and Juan Mata to exploit the space in behind the City lines with their direct running. The height difference between the two teams was notable too with Manchester United boasting a very tall lineup compared to the lineup of Guardiola's team.

The first half began as you would expect with Manchester City dominating the ball. However what was not expected was the disorganized nature of Manchester United's play. The back four were being pulled all over the place, the City players were finding all sorts of space in between the defensive lines. The City players were everywhere and United simply could not cope with it. That soon showed when a pinpoint pass poked through to Kevin De Bryune left Daley Blind bamboozled and gave De Bryune a clear run at goal to slot it past David De Gea to make it 1-0 to City. Manchester United were all over the place and looked like collapsing just a quarter of an hour into the game.   

Manchester United simply could not get a grip on the game and soon found themselves 2-0 town after a shot from De Bryune hit the post and fell to Klechi Iheanacho who tapped it in to double City's lead at Old Trafford. United were far too defensive and it played into City's hands, United could not get on the ball and get forward. However, a long free kick floated into the box on top of Claudio Bravo caused City all sorts of problems leading to the new goalkeeper dropping the ball allowing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to smash the ball into the empty net to make it 2-1. Somewhere in Italy Joe Hart had a smile on his face watching the Bravo horror show.

Jose Mourinho made two changes at half time bringing Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera on in place of Jesse Lingard and Henrik Mkhitaryan both were anonymous in the first half. United took a much more direct approach in the second half with balls launched up to Ibrahimovic and Fellaini. United also pushed further up the pitch not allowing City to play out from the back. A controversial moment came when another mistake from Claudio Bravo allowed Rooney to pounce on the ball and Bravo slid in on Rooney bringing him down. It should have been a penalty but nothing was given. A particular highlight of the game was the constant play acting from Bravo in the City goal, falling to the floor at any given opportunity. Mourinho's men huffed and puffed but could not get the equalizer.

Overall a very disappointing performance from Manchester United. The first half was far too defensive and showed too much respect to City and made things easy for them. The second half was a bit better but United lacked any real composure with the team resorting to long balls into the City box. There was no real quality from Mourinho's team and City looked comfortable throughout and were by far the better team. This was not what we were hoping to see in Mourinho's first Manchester Derby.