On the Bubble – Man U Ratings

April 30, 2018

Heading up the M6 to the Old Cowshed in the middle of a Europa Semi was always destined to be one of the least tasty sandwich fillings. Adding some match fitness to Mkhitaryan’s comeback and giving the youngsters a run out while hoping the scoreline didn’t do them any lasting damage, seemed to be the main aims. Fairly lowly expectations for a trip to our old adversary they were. The presentation to Arsene before the game was all very lovely but giving credit to their fans for applauding a man they’d abused quite hideously for so many years seemed a bit rich for my liking.

Two of football’s greats alongside a pimple on the backside of the game

First Half

The game began in fast and furious fashion with both sides closing down quickly and buzzing toward either goal without there being too many clear cut chances.

The Manc goal came after a quarter of an hour and we all thought it might herald the opening of the flood gates. When Hector was waiting for the cross to come in, he glanced behind to see Sanchez in acres of space behind him, but, inexplicably, did nothing to close the gap. By the time the ball was delivered to the back post, his only option was to attempt the block Sanchez’ goalbound header. He did manage to touch it on to the post but the rebound favoured Pogba.

Was Nelson fouled in the build up to the goal? One thing was certain, the ref wasn’t going to be giving us much of anything during yesterday’s game.

Micki nearly brought us back level 5 minutes later but failed to bend the ball around De Gea into the far post corner. A couple of headers from Aubameyang and Nelson were our other reasonable chances in the first period, the first powder-puff and the second wide of the target. 1-0 at half-time which was as good as most expected; with our defence largely untroubled with Mavropanos looking confident and assured.

Photo REUTERS/Phil Noble – Alex prays that Ashley Young will see some justice

Second half

The second period got off to a fine start with Henrikh squeezing a shot into the corner of the net through the defender’s legs, fooling De Gea. The assist came from Granit winning the ball back high up in the manc half – wonders will never cease!

Some of the Arsenal football was very encouraging with swift interplay, the youngsters enjoying their moment in the limelight.

Lukaku went off and was replaced by the ineffectual Rashford. Martial and Fellaini came on for the excrescent Herrera and lively Lingard. So, Maureen’s plan B was to put their most skillfull forward on to have a crack at our right flank and if that failed, hoof it up to microphone head. When Rashford was waiting to come on to the pitch, he was shown a book of photos, presumably detailing team layouts. I wonder what Fellaini was shown?

Danny came on with fire in his belly and had a fine driven effort after winning the ball back, but it was straight at the keeper.

The final stages of the game saw us unable to hold on to the ball, so it seemed like a non-stop procession of balls humped into our penalty area. Could we hold on for a deserved point, all things considered. No, was the answer as a Young cross skimmed Xhaka’s head and skidded off the afro beyond Ospina’s left arm. The keeper just touched the ball but the combination of short arms and the proximity of the post meant that he couldn’t keep the ball out. Fellaini celebrated as if he’d won the Cup which was a depressing end to what turned out to be a rarity for the Gunners this season, a fine away performance.

All in all, it was a case of job done as Micki seems fit, the kids did not get hammered by any stretch of the imagination, our new Greek colossus had a fine debut and youngsters Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Willock and Calum Chambers all played well.


Ospina – Didn’t have to produce too many saves – I wish his arms had been longer for the second … 6

Bellerin – Thank heaven he didn’t get injured for Thursday as we have no obvious back up – no idea what his thought process was for the first goal  … 7

Chambers – Seemed to respond to being the senior partner of the CB pairing and played very well   … 7

Mavropanos – Had Lukaku in his pocket, not afraid to inflict a little bruising; in a most cultured Arsenal way, of course – excellent debut … 8

Kolasinac (Monreal) – The Beast seems to always pass the ball back from whence it came with his arm raised that it needs to go over the other side of the pitch – Nacho came on and perked up the left flank for the last half an hour  … 6/7

Maitland-Niles – Still not sure what Ainsley’s best position is, but he looked classy in Arsenal’s midfield yesterday … 8

Xhaka – Got a bit of a clumping but one of his strengths seems to be his durability – great turnover and assist for the equaliser  … 7

Iwobi – Scampered around probing for an opening and looked more comfortable than recently – perhaps being surrounded by other youngsters helped  … 7

Nelson – Still looks a bit lightweight and was sometimes bullied off the ball too easily – a summer in the gym will do him some good; muscle and his undoubted ability could be a potent combination  … 7

Mkhitaryan – Looked dangerous and accomplished, though Ashley Young attempted to ruin his recovery by kicking him at every opportunity (why wasn’t Young booked for persistent fouling at the very least?)  … 8

Aubameyang – I get the impression that Pierre is in a period of stasis at present – he’s playing in meaningless league fixtures but not in the games which matter – doesn’t look as though he’ll get us a goal out of nothing for the time being, but I’d imagine he’ll explode as an Arsenal player from the start of next season  … 7


Willock and Welbeck both contributed but sadly not enough to help us avoid defeat 6/6

This game was an annoying mosquito buzzing around the Club’s ears with Thursday looming on the horizon. However the team produced a very good performance, so much so that, when we finally conceded to the mancs’ route one tactics so late on, it was bitterly disappointing for at least a few seconds after the final whistle.

Hey ho, on to the big one.



Another 1- 0 to The Arsenal?

May 17, 2015

Can we continue the winning run at OT?  Though we are unbeaten at the Manchester Main Library in 2015 the portents are mixed.

The nine years without the glory of winning of both silverware and at what is the PL’s most prestigious and largest ground has finally been resigned to history; can Arsenal win both the FAC and at OT twice in a year? Why not?

Firstly, we have to re-discover the scoring form of earlier in the year and Giroud in particular could …..

I had better stop this now. Quite honestly I am not in possession of the facts nor the passion to write about this afternoon’s game in any depth – you will have to get the runners and riders elsewhere, instead let us look back in time (it is almost always the best place).

Weds May 8th 2002.  Jubilee year. We went up to the Toilet in fine form and the previous weekend had won the FA Cup at Cardiff thanks to goals from Ray and Freddie. The team was without the injured Pires, Adams and TH14 but was so good that Dennis was on the bench for this important fixture!

United were Champions and hurting. This was the team of Beckham, Van Nistelroy, Roy Keane, Scholes,the Neville Brothers and Laurent Blanc. They needed the points to ensure CL qualification and above all, Ferguson hated the idea of his nemesis Mr Wenger winning the title at his “fortress”.

These were the years of  the bitter rivalry between the Professor and the Rednosed Glaswegian. a time when on-field battles were a regular occurrence (remember the docked points?), the PV4/Keane feud, the heinous Neville assaults on our fleet-footed marvels, the Keown/Nistleroy contretemps was just a year away. It was the biggest fixture of the season and although I couldn’t attend I was excited with a serious E.

We needed just a point to win the title but from the off we attacked. Kanu passed to Wiltord who hit Blanc with a stinger which went for a corner. Freddie buzzed around causing havoc. Scholes picked up his customary yellow for a dreadful tackle on Edu (he shouldn’t have left AFC so early), Neville and Keane followed him into the book as MU realised they couldn’t compete trying to play football (expect the same today). Then on the hour Ray sent Freddie clear, his shot hit Barthez and rebounded to Sylvian who slotted it home. Cue bedlam in the away end. Our solid defence saw out the game without further trouble.


We had won the title at our most hated rivals (OK, I know we also won the League at WHL – but give me some artistic licence!) and not just won the Premiership but the Double as well.

Happy Days.

There is no reason why we cannot win at OT this afternoon, MU will surely have to attack at home and the game should be a cracker (unlike Swansea).  We need to find a way past the wonderful De Gea which is not easy but can be done. OG has to occupy the CB’s and create space for our little fellows, the defence has to be resolute with Le Coq vital insurance as Ramsey/Wilshire venture forward.

I am 50% confident



A False Hero

April 28, 2013

Firstly, BR would like to congratulate Sir Alex and his team upon yet another Premiership title. Well played – you have been the best team this season showing remarkable consistency and efficiency.

OK, that’s out the way 🙂

Would Salford have won it without our craven submission over the traitor? Who knows, but Mancini insists this player was the difference and he knows more about football than I do. What is clear is that he has had another great season and achieved his ambitions; more money and a PL medal, but in the process lost any dignity or respect he once had.


No Explanation Necessary

From a personal point of view I found watching the Dutchman score against us at Old Toilet one of the most painful of my footballing experiences, but I don’t want this post and today’s discussion to be all about one man. Man Utd at home is always one of our biggest games and today is no different.

Should there be a Guard of Honour? Definitely, we would expect one if it was the other way round.

I love this game – win,draw or lose. The tension, the rivalry, the battle between efficiency and artistry, it is all so blood-pumpingly exciting. Win today and we are well on our way to Europe, lose and we have problems.

Will United be less enthusiastic than normal? Can you imagine SAF telling his team that today doesn’t matter because we have achieved our season’s target? Beating Arsenal at any time is important to the red-conked Sweaty (cockney rhyming slang) and despite a softening of attitude Wenger and he are hardly mates.

Have we got the team to beat the Champions? If all our lads turn up then definitely. We know what to expect from MU – rotational fouling early in the game on both Santi and Jack, a closing down of Theo (whom Evra has in his pocket most games) and counter-attacking football.

My Team:

arse v manu

Losing Giroud for three games following a poor refereeing decision and an even more ludicrous FA tribunal could be costly. OG may not be scoring of late but he remains the fulcrum of our attack. His absence will allow Podolski to finally get his chance in the middle but perhaps it will be Theo. Who knows?

Knowing SAF’s propensity to pack the midfield we will need to play the 4-4-2 AW has used over the past few games. I have to say that I am not  a fan, and believe we play better with a 4-3-3. We need a big game from Wilshire but more than that we need a referee who will protect him from the SAF hackers.

Today’s English Explorer:  This series has concentrated on explorers who spent their time finding new lands but there are also those who explore by going up and today we have another of our finest, but almost unknown, heroes. Bill Tilman (1898-1977).


Not a False Hero.

Major Harold William Tilman CBE, DSO, MC and Bar was both a sailor and mountaineer and as you can guess from his decorations, a warrior. At 18 he went to war and fought at the Battle of the Somme, by war’s end he had received the Military Cross for bravery twice. Bill started his climbing career in Africa, climbing both Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. Rather than fly home he chose to cycle from East to West Africa!

After another war and more medals (he was at Dunkirk), Bill took on his life challenge which was of course the Himalayas. Starting with Everest (reaching 27,00ft, which was the highest any man had stood until the ’50’s) he was the first to summit numerous Himalayan peaks. Tilman then took up deep sea sailing and went both to the Antarctic and Arctic in search of new challenges and peaks to climb. In his 80th year he tried to climb Smith Island in the South Atlantic. On the journey back to Rio de Janeiro his ship sank with the loss of all hands.

Now that is the spirit we need today.

Another massive game. The return of a man who not so long ago was a hero. A Top 4 battle. Exciting times.


Big Raddy

Manu’re Decomposing …….. Jack’s a Diamond

November 6, 2010


Imagine you are a 68 y.o. football manager, a man who without question is the greatest club manager in English football history ( difficult for you Chary 🙂 ), you have recognised your powers are failing and that your legacy is under threat.

You have assembled some very expensive talent, you have 3 players for whom you have paid over  €30m a man, and bought some of the most expensive foreign kids available. Yet the team is ordinary, reliant for it’s imagination upon the fading talents of ageing greats and the mercurial talents of a bully boy who was touted as the future of English football but is now going through a breakdown (perhaps!). Your perennial rivals down the road have suddenly become serious contenders and threaten to be take your throne as England’s glamour club, something you have spent 20 years achieving.  Can you leave the team like this? Is this team going to be your legacy or can you quiclky create  a team that can last another 10 years?

And if you are to do so how can you achieve your aims?

I will tell you, you go out and buy the most talented and expensive kids in the Premiership – as you always have done, and here we come to today’s subject matter. Who is the Premiership’s new young golden boy, the boy/man already lauded as the best prospect since Gascoigne? Yes, our cheeky chappie, our Little Jack. . The best 20 y.o keeper in the World?  Szczesny.

Man Utd are a team in crisis. They need an entire back 5 as Van de Saar picks up his OAP alongside Neville, Rio is 32, Vidic unhappy, Evans crap and Brown/O’Shea not good enough. However, defence is not where SAF will be looking to base his next team. His midfield is a desert of creative talent, take out Scholes/Giggs and you are left with the water carriers that are Carrick, Hargreaves, Fletcher and Anderson. Scholes has been the bedrock of MU’s success for 15 years, a monster of a player and which young PL player plays in a similar vein?  Yes – Jack again.

I think Jack Rodwell will be at United before the start of next season as Ferguson makes his final signings prior to retirement (he will be 70 summer of 2012). Henderson at Sunderland , Bale from Spurs, all young talents who must be on Sir Alex’s wish list. With the new contract for Rooney, the Glazer’s have made clear their intention to spend the Ronaldo money. Expect a huge signing spree over the next year.

And why from the Premiership? Because Ferguson is proud that his teams have always included the best young British talent, from Scholes to Becks to Ferdinand and Rooney. Plus his record of buying expensive foreign talent is less than perfect (Veron 🙂 )

Now, you may say it is ludicrous to imagine Wilshere or Szczesny going to Man Utd and I sincerely hope that to be the case. However, Rooney left Everton, Ronaldo left MU at the very height of his powers. Sol left Spurs (:-D ), Liam left us ( 😦 )  etc etc. Nothing is impossible. That  both players would be  very attractive to Ferguson is beyond question and money talks.

I realise that Jack has just signed a 5 year contract but so has Rooney, and in all honesty do you imagine he will see out the 5 years at Old Trafford?

Would Wenger sell Jack should a fee of €30+ be mentioned? Of course not, but it has been a fun ride thinking about it.

Written by Big Raddy

Fletcher admits ………… Ferguson’s a hypocrite

July 23, 2010

Just over a year ago, having watched Darren Fletcher commit foul after foul against Arsenal without receiving a single booking, Arsene Wenger coined the term “anti-football”.

He said: “’I have seen today a player who plays on the pitch only to make fouls. The players who are never punished and get out of the game without a yellow card.

I think it is anti-football. I don’t know why it is this way. You should ask the referees. Look at how many deliberate fouls some players get away with. That’s a bigger problem because it cuts the flow of the game. And people pay to see football, not free-kicks.”

Of course Fletcher and Ferguson both said afterwards that Wenger was a sore loser and that Fletcher was an honest, skillful footballer.

A year later, and Fletcher has realized that Wenger was completely correct and he has now decided to admit to the error in his ways. Fletcher said that it is his job to “…break up play, sometimes to commit a tactical foul to stop the other team counter-attacking…”

Now I’m no Premiership referee, but I believe that what he is talking about is called unsporting behaviour, and should ON EACH AND EVERY OCCASION be dealt with by a yellow card.

I very much hope that referees were listening to Fletcher’s comments and will act accordingly in the forthcoming season.

And what are Ferguson’s true views on the types of fouls that Fletcher sees as wrtitten into his job description? Well, they are rather different when they happen to his team.

Here is what he said after Manchester United were knocked out of the FA Cup by a Portsmouth team that included the Fletcher-like Lassana Diarra: “He [Lassana Diarra] doesn’t get a booking [for a cynical obstruction of Ronaldo in United’s first attack],” said Ferguson. “That sets a tone for Pompey knowing that they can get away with so many things. He had eight or nine fouls in the match. It’s incredible. I don’t blame Portsmouth. If any team comes here and finds that a referee won’t do anything, won’t do the right thing, then they will keep on doing it. And I think that’s a tragedy.”

Yes that would be a tragedy – so let’s just hope that Premiership referees will call an end to this behaviour this season.

They can make a start by getting Fletcher’s name in the book the first time he makes one of those “tactical fouls”.

I’m not holding my breath though….

Written by mjc

“I’d just love it if we beat them”

March 25, 2010

Alex Ferguson – Lord of the Sith or Rab. C Nesbitt?

We all know “Sir” Alex is supposedly the master of mind games and at the level of a Jedi master if you were to believe the entirety of the Man IOU worshipping media and pretty much all of TV sports channels.

The most obvious example often quoted to back this assertion being when Kevin Keegan famously lost his cool and let rip with the “I’d just love it…” tirade, which terminally branded him as a “bottler” in the 1995-96 season.

Take a more recent example of how ole 65% proof nose used his dazzling psychological dexterity to become a winner on Sunday against the Dippers. It was another “Old Traffordish” decision given to the Salford reprobates that resulted in an undeserving penalty duly converted by everyone’s favourite Dreamworks character, via the rebound, to gain his team three valuable points.

The referee was Howard Webb, another referee that Govan’s finest has previously criticised publicly and none too subtly. Take your minds back to the season before last when we met Glazers Gimps at our place when we twice came from behind to salvage a draw while allegedly benefiting from being favoured by Howard the Coward. Not only did the whiskey infested sour puss moan about the refereeing but he deemed the atmosphere at our place hostile – a few quips of “siddown Taggart!” enough to offend Fergie’s tender and fragile persona.  Incidentally you may compare Fergie’s whinge about nothing to the treatment handed out to our manager during the league visit to Old Toilet this season; sent to the stands for the heinous crime of kicking an empty water bottle so he could spend time amongst the slavering hordes of mono brain-celled mank glory-hunting numb nuts.

So, having publicly undermined Howard Webb our Whiskey enthusiast, who in common with all managers assesses the referees in his post-match report, let his displeasure be known in that public way.

OK, if a few FA disrepute charges come his way it’s a fair price for the later benefits (benefits such as the soft penalty for Valencia’s act of simulation that had more ham than Dewhursts) that arise from pressurising referees pre match. Of course every referee will say he is not effected by anything managers say, yet subconsciously Webb, and the likes of Riley before him, the need to get Sir Alex of Govan’s approval hangs heavily on them.

Earlier this season the FA finally attempted to reign in Fergie’s one man crusade against the “Respect” campaign when he said referee Alan Wiley “just wasn’t fit enough” to officiate the Salford Red Sox’s game against Sunderland.

It is significant that part of the judgement made by the FA committee on the disrepute charge subsequently brought contained this proviso “ Each member of the commission recognised Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievements and stature within the game.”

This implies that some degree of leniency was applied because of who the person being judged was – a clear and blatant example of footballing authorities falling over themselves to appease the mad old Scotsman’s rantings; what on earth has his achievements in the game got to do with what the appropriate punishment should be for bringing the game into disrepute? Furthermore, it suggests that managers who have not won trophies will get harsher judgements – what next, a sliding scale of penalties for managers based on how many trophies they have won?

by guest writer charybdis 1966