Thursday, December 29, 2005

Birmingham 2 - Manchester United 2

Manchester United’s deadly attack line succed in the victory over Birmingham. Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney both scored at St Andrew’s on Wednesday evening. However, that wasn’t enough because Jamie Clapham and Walter Pandiani, of the local team, also saw their names listed on the scoresheet.

It was a amazing performance from Steve Bruce’s side who pushed Manchester United all the way in what was a richly entertaining ninety-minutes of football.

Dutch striker Van Nistelrooy scored the lead only to see Clapham equalise for Birmingham before half-time. Rooney restored United’s lead but uruguayan Pandiani levelled again with thirteen minutes remaining.

The final score meant that the gap between Chelsea FC and United at the top of the table had been stretched to eleven points because Chelsea had beaten Manchester City 1-0 at Eastlands.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned after more than 18 months on the sidelines with a knee injury. He made a sixteen-minute appearance after replacing Ronaldo.

Manchester United’s line-up showed three new players from the side which put three goals past West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford on Boxing Day. Wes Brown, Ryan Giggs and Ji-sung Park were the players missing from that victory. Kieran Richardson, Alan Smith and Cristiano Ronaldo were named as the replacements for this Premiership fixture against Steve Bruce’s relegation-haunted side.

United fought hard in order to get a victory, but Birmingham had displayed some of their manager’s fighting spirit to snatch what could prove to be a valuable point.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Heinze may not fit for World Cup

Sir Alex Ferguson thinks that Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze may not be fit for next summer's World Cup finals in Germany.

The player has been out of action since September after rupturing cruciate ligaments and is not expected to be back before the end of the current season.

Ferguson said: "I would have thought it's really unlikely he'll play before the end of this season. I can't see that happening. I know he wants to play in the World Cup, as any player would, but I don't think he'll be available until next season."

Meanwhile, Quinton Fortune is down because of a knee injury and is no nearer to a first team comeback.

The South African has not played for Manchester United this season after damaging his knee during pre-season and he looks set to be more time on the sidelines.

"He's exactly the same as he was," revealed Fergie. "It's not cleared up at all and it doesn't look as if it's going to be an early one either - it's going to be lengthy."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Manchester United hits Wigan hard

The young English star Wayne Rooney scored twice and Rio Ferdinand made his first goal for Manchester United in a 4-0 rout of Wigan Athletic which pushed the Old Trafford club to second in the English Premier League yesterday.

In another match, West Ham United beat Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park.

Man. United's win, which took its tally to 34 points from 16 matches, helped Sir Alex Ferguson's men leapfrog Liverpool into second place, nine points under leader Chelsea. Wigan, with 25 points, dropped one place to eighth.

At the same time, former United captain Roy Keane is set to sign for Celtic, according to media reports. "Keano" ended a 12-year spell at Old Trafford when he left United last month.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

United out of Champions League

Benfica celebrates a historical result with a 2-1 win over Manchester United, which eliminated the english team out of the competition.

"Our defensive line was always solid, we didn't give up any room to manoeuvre," midfielder Armando Petit was quoted.

Benfica's victory at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday lifted them from bottom of Group D to second behind Villarreal, who won 1-0 at home to Lille 1-0.

Manchester United, who beat Benfica for the first of their two European Cups in 1968, finished last in the group.

"History is made at Light" ran the headline in Thursday's Publico daily. A Bola sports newspaper crowed "Glorious!"

Paul Scholes gave the English team a sixth-minute lead but Benfica replied with a header from striker Geovanni and Beto fired home a deflected winner before halftime.

"We spoke at the break and we told ourselves that no goal could go in. We would play all night and keep the ball out of our goal," Benfica defender Leo said.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who Red Devils bought from Benfica's arch rivals Sporting Lisbon, struggled to cope with the tension and the loud whistles every time he got the ball. The winger was substituted in the second half and gestured to the crowd.

Man. Utd. had clocked up a record nine consecutive appearances in the knockout stages of the competition. They piled on the pressure late in the game but failed to create any clear-cut chances.

"This is a huge frustration for everyone. Everybody feels really bad but we have to start over and look to the next game," dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar said. "There's going to be a lot of media pressure, I think that's obvious."

Benfica goalkeeper Quim Silva played down the significance of the win, saying, "Making history? In a month nobody will remember this. Right now we're thinking about our next game with Boavista."

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Manchester United defeats Portsmouth 3 - 0

Manchester United recovered their best performance and got a 3-0 victory over Portsmouth at Old Trafford on Saturday.Paul Scholes, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney scored the winning goals .With this result, Man. United remained in second place of the Premiership, but still sits 10 points leader Chelsea, which edged out Middlesbrough, 1-0, earlier in the day.

Paul Scholes opened up the scoring in the 20th minute breaking free in the penalty area and head in a corner shot sent by Giggs. Then in the 80th minute, Rooney made it a 2-0 affair after he took advantage of a Portsmouth turnover inside the box.

Just four minutes later, Van Nistelrooy put the nail in the coffin with a chip shot to cap off the scoring.

Gary Neville made his debut as skipper of Manchester United in the match. The 30-year-old defender replaced Roy Keane, who left the team two weeks ago. Neville has been with United for 12 years and is approaching 500 appearances with the club.

Another results on Saturday: Liverpool posted its sixth straight victory with a 3-0 win over Wigan; Everton blanked Blackburn, 2-0; Bolton knocked off Arsenal, 2-0; Aston Villa and Newcastle battled to a 1-1 draw; The Spurs edged out Sunderland, 3-2; Fulham and West Brom shared the points in a scoreless draw.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Manchester Utd. prepared to beat West Brom

Saha, Gary Neville, and Korean Park Ji-sung will be the key players in a match where a youthful Manchester United chases a place in the Carling Cup quarter-finals. The rival is West Brom.

Neither Neville nor Saha have started a game since their recovery from their injuries, and Park needs match practice after spending most of his time on the bench since joining from PSV Eindhoven in the summer.

Tim Howard replaces Edwin van der Sar in goal and Cristiano Ronaldo will be among the substitutes, while impressive teenager Giuseppe Rossi is handed the opportunity to enhance his glowing reputation in attack.

Lineups:

Man United: Howard, Steele, Bardsley, Neville, Brown, Pique, O'Shea, Eckersley, Fox, Martin, Jones, Park, Fletcher, Richardson, Ronaldo, Saha, Rossi, Ebanks-Blake, Gibson.

West Brom: Kuszczak, Hoult, Albrechtsen, Clement, Gaardsoe, Moore, Scimeca, Carter, Chaplow, Wallwork, Johnson, Inamoto, Greening, Kamara, Kanu, Ellington, Horsfield, Earnshaw.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Good bye, George Best

George Best, former Manchester United and Northern Ireland football star, has died at the age of 59.

"It was a long and very hard fight, but Mr George Best has died in the ICU at Cromwell Hospital," a spokesman for the Cromwell Hospital in London confirmed to the press.

"The thoughts of all staff at Cromwell Hospital are with Mr Best's family at this time."

Best who has had an alcohol problem for much of his public life, had been in hospital since the beginning of October and was put on a life support machine last week after he developed a lung infection.

A footballing legend who was dubbed the 'fifth Beatle' in his heyday, Best won the European Cup with the Red Devils in 1968 and was also crowned European Footballer of the year in that season.

After making his first team debut at just 17-years-of-age, he scored 178 goals in 466 appearances for Manchester United and was capped 37 by Northern Ireland.

A stint in the North American Soccer League with the Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and San Jose Earthquakes amassed another 54 goals in 139 games.

As famous for his off-field behaviour as he was for his wizardry on the pitch, Best once quipped: "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered."

As stated on the official Manchester United website, www.manutd.com, 'It is unlikely we will ever see his like again'.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ferguson: Man. Utd. should prepare for the next match and get over Keane

Sir Alex Ferguson insists his side is moving forward - and the coach works in the squad for the next Champions League game. The important matcj against Villarreal is very close, but Sir Alex fielded several questions about the effect Roy Keane’s departure has had on his squad.

"We must be focused on the game," said Sir Alex, speaking at his pre-match press conference.

Ferguson deflected one direct question on his reasoning for letting Roy Keane go. But he then discussed subjects such as the club’s next long-term captain and how the newer players in the team should add experience and consistency to their game. His message couldn’t have been clearer: he is only looking forward.

“That squad that won the European Cup in 1999 can’t last forever,” he said. “That’s natural, players age. That’s the bad part of managing this club for a long time, you watch your great players get older."

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Manchester United wins over Charlton (3-1)

Dutch player Ruud van Nistelrooy scored twice for Manchester United starting a new age without Roy Keane. The victory was 3-1 at Charlton. Alan Smith scored his first goal of the season to set the Red Devils on their way at The Valley.

Darren Ambrose drew the home side level after the break, before Van Nistelrooy restored United's lead and then settled it with a low, 20-yard effort five minutes from time.

The Dutch ace once again captained United as they began life without Keane.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Gary Neville returned in Manchester United victory

Manchester United's reserves beated West Bromwich Albion as Gary Neville was back on the field after a tough injury. The midfielder started the game and he was replaced by Danny Simpson in minute 62.

Kenny Cooper opened the scoring after 14 minutes, sliding to flick the ball in off the crossbar after a slick, incisive passing move that started in defence with Gerard Pique.

Giuseppe Rossi uncharacteristically spurned a golden chance to double the advantage 10 minutes later as he fired straight at Albion keeper Russell Hoult when clean through.

The little Italian made no mistake three minutes before half-time, however, as he expertly controlled Markus Neumayr's superb chipped through-ball before rifling across Hoult and inside the far post.

Meulensteen's side effectively put the game to bed in first-half stoppage time through the aptly-named Adrian Manchester. The luckless defender applied the finishing touch to Adam Eckersley's cross which just evaded Rossi at the near post.

Though clearly deflated going into the interval the Baggies started the second half with more purpose, and reduced the defecit with a fine strike from Stuart Nicholson after 55 minutes.

Racing on to a long ball, the forward skipped away from Eckersley and Jonny Evans before rifling a shot high past Tim Howard.

Substitute Darron Gibson almost added a stunning fourth goal, but his 25-yard volley from Neumayr's corner was scrambled away well by Hoult.

Having been heavily involved in the first two goals and smashed a superb second-half drive against the upright, Neumayr deservedly etched his own name on the score sheet after 74 minutes.

Lee Martin's crossfield ball led to confusion in the visitors' defence and the German pounced after Hoult had spilled the ball to hammer United back into a three-goal lead.

The win gives the second string their sixth straight league win and puts them five points clear of second-placed Middlesbrough with a game in hand.

United: Howard, Neville (Simpson, 62), Eckersley, J Evans, Pique, Fox (Gibson, 46), Neumayr, R Jones, Cooper (Campbell, 79), Rossi, Martin.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fletcher has United support

Manchester United player Darren Fletcher says he's got Roy Keane and Sir Alex Ferguson support. The midfielder is believed to have been one of the chief targets in Keane's infamous MUTV rant.

However, Darren answered by scoring an apparently deliberate header in United's victory over Chelsea last Sunday, and now insists that he has the support of both his captain and manager.

"I'm feeling fit, that is the main thing, and obviously I'm being asked to do different roles - sometimes out wide, sometimes in the centre but I'm just happy to play wherever the manager and club want and if I'm starting I'm obviously pleased," he said.

"I've been through much more difficult periods, everybody knows what happened, we know at Manchester United and that's the way it will stay.

"I've been injured for a year and a half and have been through a lot worse than that and was just looking forward to the (Chelsea) game.

"I've got a great manager behind me and a great captain who supports me.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Locker room bugging alerts Manchester United

Manchester United is launching an investigatioin after its locker room was bugged during last week's victory over Chelsea.

Manchester United said Saturday on its Web site that audio tapes apparently recorded at Old Trafford locker room on Nov. 6 were offered to The Sun newspaper. The Sun gave United the tapes Friday.

United beat Chelsea 1-0, ending the Blues' 40-match unbeaten Premier League streak.

The tapes reportedly included pre-match and halftime talks, and post-game celebrations.

"We are grateful to The Sun for bringing this breach of security and privacy to our attention," United director of communications Phil Townsend said. "We have launched our own investigation and, if necessary, will involve the police."

United after Aldo Duscher

Apparently, Manchester United is looking forward to sign up argentinian Aldo Duscher. The Deportivo La Coruna midfielder is said to be an £8million target for Old Trafford, and defender Heinze would welcome his fellow Argentine to the club.

"I have read [the stories about United] and it would be fantastic to play together,” said Heinze. "Aldo is an excellent player who, for me, has already demonstrated that he is worthy of a team like Manchester United.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Fletcher scores for Manchester Utd. victory over Chelsea

Darren Fletcher scored with a header as Manchester United achieved a victory that cut out the results crisis. But the team still has 10 points to make up on Chelsea, which last lost in the league to Manchester City a year ago.

"We didn't deserve to lose this game," said Chelsea coach Mourinho, whose team now leads second-place Wigan by six points instead of nine. "Today we showed why we are champions and why we are top of the league. I believe that there is no problem for us. I am not afraid for the future.

"In the same way I give (United) credit. I hope they can realize why Chelsea are champions, top of the league and I believe will be champions again."

Chelsea's runaway start to the season, winning the first nine games to leave its big rivals well behind, had led to dismay that the English league had lost its competitive edge. But the 67,864 fans packed into Old Trafford were on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

Ruud van Nistelrooy sent an easy chance over the bar and Wayne Rooney saw a goalbound shot beat the goalkeeper but bounce off a defender.

When Chelsea had the United defense creaking in the second half, goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar dashed off his line to block Frank Lampard's close range shot and Chelsea defender Asier del Horno volleyed over the bar while unmarked.

"It was a fantastic game, a magnificent spectacle," said United manager Alex Ferguson, whose team appeared in crisis after a 4-1 Premier League loss to Middlesbrough followed by a 1-0 Champions League defeat at French club Lille.

"For the first hour we were terrific and then, until the last five minutes, we were under the cosh. They threw everything at us and that's what champions do."

Ferguson bristled when reminded that his team appeared to be in disarray during the buildup to the game with injured team captain Roy Keane criticizing teammates for the slump.

"We once went 13 games without winning. There's always pressure here," said Ferguson, whose future after 19 years at the club appeared in doubt. "Winning is always important here. How you handle yourself and compose yourself is important. I think the players and staff have shown great dignity despite the criticism leveled at them."

Hoping to rebound from the defeat by Betis, the Blues could have been two goals up before going behind to Fletcher's header.

Didier Drogba expertly controlled a long through ball from Lampard but his hurried, angled shot was blocked by Van der Sar. Left back Del Horno was left alone at the far post when Damien Duff swung over a free kick from the right only to shoot wide of the post.

As if stung by those two close shaves, United put together two standout moves and went ahead.

Mikael Silvestre's long ball sent Rooney down the left and the 20-year-old England star pulled it back expertly for Paul Scholes. The midfielder met it first time but his shot flew just past the post with 'keeper Petr Cech beaten.

It was the prelude to a well worked goal which had a lucky finish.

Rooney won the ball on the edge of the Chelsea area and fed Scholes, who slipped it out to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese winger turned a defender and floated a cross toward Fletcher, who jumped to lob a header inside the far post.

"I believe that he didn't intend to score," Mourinho said. "He tried to play in into the central area."

Instead the ball looped over the heads of Cech and defender John Terry and inside the far post.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Live or die: Manchester United vs Chelsea

Manchester United is about to play the most important game of the season on Sunday against Chelsea FC and a defeat could dent their title hopes and even Champions League qualification.

United have been in dire form recently, slumping to defeats at the hands of Middlesbrough and Lille, causing matters off the field to hit the back pages as much as matters on the field.

Earlier this week, Red Devils skipper Roy Keane blasted his team-mates and claim players such as Alan Smith, Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea aren't fit enough to wear the United shirt.

However, the MUTV interview with the Irishman was not aired to the public but Sir Alex Ferguson will reportedly show the interview tomorrow afternoon in the United dressing room as motivation.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists motivation is not a problem for Manchester United and also insists United will bounce back. He said: "If a team is not used to losing, it's not easy to live or play when you do lose. Sunday is the best game for them. They don't need motivation or commitment.

"They will be speaking about this game as the one to bring them back to the good level. So it won't be easy for us.

"But while these are the most difficult matches to play, they are the easiest matches to prepare for because I don't need to motivate the players."

Sir Alex Ferguson is likening the fixture to the game his side ended Arsenal's unbeaten run of what would have been 50 Premiership games. "We stopped Arsenal on 49 games, we made sure of that. There are some similarities, but I think Chelsea are made of sterner stuff. They are a very powerful team and committed to defending. It’s not going to be easy to beat them, but I think we can. We need to start well and make them think for a bit. I know we have the ability to do it.

"If we get a good start and the crowd really get going then they’re a formidable lot our lads. I certainly don’t think they will let the players down."

Team News:
Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, Gabriel Heinze, Quinton Fortune, Louis Saha and Gary Neville are all noticeable absentees while Chelsea seem to be at full strength for Sunday's encounter.

Alex Ferguson demands fans support

Sir Alex Ferguson is demanding disgruntled Manchester United fans to get behind his players as they bid to bounce back from back-to-back defeats at the hands of Middlesbrough and Lille when Chelsea visit Old Trafford.

The Red Devils, who are without the likes of outspoken captain Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Gabriel Heinze because of injury, have come in for much criticism in the last few weeks which have seen them win just one of their last five matches in all competitions.

And Ferguson fears that negativity from the United faithful could bring untold damage to his team as they bid to get their season back on track and make inroads into Chelsea's 13-point advantage over them at the top of the table.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Van Nistelrooy tries to explain crisis

Van Nistelrooy saw the trudge over to the corner of the Stade de France, where the Manchester United fans who had bothered to stay to the end were standing, a few claps and a resigned shrug of the shoulders. Some United supporters responded with V-signs.

Ruud would not forget his short time as captain of Man. United and he might have wondered what - when his agent, Roger Linse, appears so keen to dangle his name in front of Real Madrid and Barcelona - he was doing out there at all.

"Is this our most difficult time?" he said when asked if he had known a crisis like this. "Yes, it must be. When I came here 4½ years ago, we were unbeatable but I have committed myself to the club and now, in the bad times, I want to give it my all and get Manchester United back to where I want to see them. I am not off."

The great Dutchman might have a long wait for United to regain this lost summit. When he scored the winner against Benfica - one of only two goals United have managed in this campaign - it was his 38th in 41 starts. It is an astonishing strike-rate, but what is more surprising is that only once have these goals brought him anywhere near a European Cup.

It seems unlikely he will be returning to Paris in May for the final unless United can address an abysmal run of away results. In 2½ seasons they have played 10 away games in Europe, of which two have been won - against Rangers and Panathinaikos, the last in November 2003. In the last five matches they have not managed so much as a goal, and now they are stumbling within the walls of their own fortress. Should they fail to beat Villarreal at Old Trafford later this month, there is a real possibility that a side who have failed even to make the quarter-finals of the European Cup in the past two seasons will not clear the group stages for the first time since 1994.

With United's aircraft due to depart Charles de Gaulle Airport on Wednesday night, Van Nistelrooy might not have had time to list all the reasons why the club have declined so sharply. However, he did his best.

"We are not playing well, we have difficulties keeping the ball. It is not fluent when the ball goes from player to player and we don't have fluent attacks. We don't tend to play in the opponents' half, with good crosses coming in and winning the second ball. We don't put teams under pressure and our confidence seems to be down."

Specifically, Van Nistelrooy thought the service that once fuelled his shooting had begun to run very dry indeed. "Things are different now. I remember games when I was having four or five chances, constant service, which is great. I enjoy that but now it is very different and I have to give my all in this situation."

It is quite a list for United's management to correct before the champions arrive at Old Trafford on Sunday. They might yet attack Chelsea with all the edge they displayed when Arsenal came to Manchester last October in search of their 50th Premiership match without defeat. They would probably settle now for a stalemate and Van Nistelrooy did not pretend the two teams would be meeting on equal terms.

"When you compare our squad with Chelsea's in terms of numbers, that says it all. Whether they play team one or team two, they are both full of internationals who have been at World Cups. You can't compare them with any other team."

Lille wins over Manchester United 1-0

Lille got an historical victory over Man. United when Acimovic ran onto a pass from Gregory Tafforeau that split United's defense, took a touch to control the ball and struck it into the roof of the net. Lille has five points from three matches in Group D, the same as United. Villarreal, which won 1-0 at Benfica, leads the group with six points.

"We deserved the win in terms of the way we played and the spirit we showed," said Lille coach Claude Puel. "We've been on a learning curve in the Champions League. We had to play at our best level tonight, and we did that."

Tafforeau nearly added a second-half goal for Lille in the 54th, but United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar tipped his curling free kick over the crossbar.

Ruud van Nistelrooy had the best chance for United when his 58th-minute header rebounded off the crossbar and dropped close to the goalline.

"It was a difficult game, whoever scored first ... it would be hard for the other team to come back," United coach Alex Ferguson said. "The pitch was poor, it's hard to pass on it. The ball jumped around a lot."

Ferguson felt his team "didn't deserve to lose" and dismissed talk of a confidence crisis in the team following a 4-1 loss to Middlesbrough last weekend.

"I think the pitch was more of a problem than the confidence," he said. "We just have to regroup and not feel sorry for ourselves."

The match was played at Stade de France because Lille's temporary stadium at Villeneuve d'Ascq was considered too small.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Manchester Utd. with new captain against Lille.

Dutch player Ruud van Nistelrooy will captain Manchester United for the first time on Wednesday night in their Champions League game against Lille. The choice has been a polemic topic ever since Paul Scholes was sent off in the first meeting with the French side a fortnight ago.

With Scholes suspended and Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville all injured it had been suggested that out-of-form Rio Ferdinand could take over the captain's armband - even though it is an honour he has not been given by Sir Alex Ferguson since his much-publicised contract dispute erupted at the back end of last season.

However, even though Ferdinand will play at the Stade de France, Ferguson will make Dutch international striker Van Nistelrooy his captain, overlooking the obvious claims of compatriot Edwin van der Sar, who captains the Holland striker at international level.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Ferguson admits United flawful Defence

The manager was obviously disappointed with the result but also concerned about the defensive performance, especially with an important trip to Lille looming on the midweek horizon.

"We start with the second minute when we allowed one of their players to receive the ball and move forward without one challenge from 25 yards. When you're away from home, you hope to start with a tight, balanced midfield and see how the first few minutes go until you get your own tempo and rhythm. But we were on the back foot right away and we never recovered from it. The second and third goals were terrible goals to lose at our level. We can't afford to do that." Ferguson said.

Middlesbrough 4 - 1 Manchester Utd.

Gaizka Mendieta scored two goals to lead Middlesbrough over Manchester United, 4-1, at The Riverside.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Yakubu Ayegbeni also found the back of the net for Middlesbrough, which won for just the second time in six tries at home this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo netted the sole goal for Manchester United, which suffered is first road loss of the campaign.

Mendieta opened up the scoring right away for Boro in the second minute when he sent the ball though the hands of goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

"The start didn't help us," said United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. "From that moment on, we chased it, and when you chase it, you are susceptible to the counterattack which we never handled that well."

Hasselbaink pushed the advantage to 2-0 in the 25 minute when United failed to clear the ball and Yakubu made it a 3-0 affair at the intermission courtesy of a penalty shot.

In the 78th minute, Mendieta netted the final Boro goal on an assist from Yakubu before Ronaldo recorded a meaningless tally in the final minute.

"The great thing about our club is that we have to bounce back," said Ferguson. "There's a lot expected of us. There's a great fascination about how we play every Saturday and what the result is. Today is another page in the history of Manchester United. Middlesbrough has cuffed us 4-1 and we have to get over that because on Wednesday night we have a really important match in Europe."

Capping of the English Premier League on Saturday: First-place Chelsea pushed its unbeaten streak to 11 games after getting by Blackburn, 4-2; Wigan shut out Fulham, 1-0; Tottenham and Arsenal battled to a 1-1 draw in the North London derby; Everton blanked Birmingham, 1-0; Charlton failed to build on its Carling Cup victory with a 1-0 loss to Bolton; Liverpool edged out West Ham, 2-0; Portsmouth cruised past Sunderland, 4-1.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Manchester United 4 - Barnet 1

Barnet's Carling Cup trip to the 'Theatre of Dreams' took just 100 seconds to turn into a chilling nightmare.

Boss Paul Fairclough's plans for the League Two outfit's eagerly-awaited clash with Manchester United were so meticulous, he even had the crowd noise from Saturday's Premiership encounter with Tottenham piped across training on Monday.

What Fairclough could not account for in his preparations was a total brainstorm from his goalkeeper and the jobsworth attitude of referee Richard Beeby.

Ross Flitney had advanced a few yards out of his area as Barnet pushed forward but when United countered, the hapless goalkeeper got his measurements all wrong and plucked a routine pass forward out of the air under no pressure at all a yard before the ball had gone back into the area.

If ever there was a case for referees being allowed to use discretion in administering the game, this was it.

Virtually to a man, the 43,673 crowd - the lowest at Old Trafford for six years - disapproved of Beeby's decision to reach into his pocket with a shrug and wave the red card in Flitney's face.

After spending so long looking forward to a day he should have been able to remember with fondness forever, Flitney was inconsolable as he headed to the dressing room.

Spare a thought too for striker Louis Soares, the man sacrificed for the introduction of Flitney's replacement Scott Tynan, substituted without even kicking a ball.

To make matters worse, Liam Miller, a man who definitely had something to prove, exacted even further punishment by superbly curling the free-kick into the top corner.

Even Sir Alex Ferguson was probably shaking his head at the injustice of it all, but the unexpected development at least allowed his young side to give free rein to their talents.

As usual on these occasions, Ferguson had packed his side with youngsters. Three 18-year-olds, two 19-year-olds and a couple of 20-year-olds represented one of the most inexperienced United sides ever seen, in which Adam Eckersley and Richie Jones were handed their debuts.

It was also the first chance many Red Devils supporters had to cast their eye over Lee Martin, the England youth international whose promise persuaded Ferguson to commit £1million to luring him north from Wimbledon as a 16-year-old.

Martin's development has continued during the intervening two seasons and the Taunton-born teenager revelled in the extra space he found on the right wing even if his night was eventually to come to an unhappy end.

Equally impressive was Eckersley, whose darts forward from left-back were a constant source of menace to the Barnet defence.

Given he is now an England international, Kieran Richardson probably should have stood out against 10 men from a lower league. And, pushed into midfield, he duly did.

After bringing a superb save from Tynan not long after Miller had opened United's account, Richardson went on to double United's lead, although the effort had an element of freakishness to it, a touchline free-kick which floated across the box and into the far corner with no-one getting near it.

By that time, a close-range Giuliano Grazioli effort had been ruled out for offside, so Fairclough and his side presumably knew it was not going to be their night.

At least Tynan was enjoying himself as the man who expected to spend the night watching emerged as the main barrier to United recording a landslide victory.

On at least five occasions, Tynan came to his side's rescue, with Sylvain Ebanks-Blake the man most often denied.

There was nothing Tynan could do to stop Giuseppe Rossi making it three though.

Of all the youngsters on United's books, the US-born Italian has the most glowing reputation, having followed up his free-scoring season at reserve-team level last term with his first senior strike at Sunderland earlier this month.

And although he had wasted a couple of decent chances earlier, when Martin cut a cross back five minutes after the break, Rossi fired into the corner with clinical efficiency.

It proved to be Martin's last meaningful involvement before he was stretchered off in extreme discomfort after crashing into an advertising hoarding.

Dean Sinclair did bring the visiting fans to life late on when he seized on Gerard Pique's blunder and fired home.

But the final word went to United, and Ebanks-Blake, who nipped in after Rossi had knocked Miller's long ball into his path, swerved round Tynan and tapped into the empty net.

Teams

Man Utd Howard, Bardsley, Brown, Pique, Eckersley, Martin (Gibson 75), Miller, Jones, Richardson, Ebanks-Blake, Rossi.


Barnet Flitney, Hendon, Yakubu, King, Gross, Soares (Tynan 3), Lee (Batt 87), Sinclair, Bailey, Strevens, Grazioli (Hatch 75).

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Tottenham ties Manchester United 1-1

Tottenham held Manchester United to a 1-1 tie in the Premier League on Saturday while Arsenal missed a bizarre penalty kick in its 1-0 win over Manchester City.

The tie at Old Trafford extended Tottenham's best start to a Premier League season. Charlton, Tottenham and Wigan all have 19 points, eight points behind leader Chelsea, which plays Sunday. United has 18, Manchester City 17 and Arsenal 16.

United took the lead after seven minutes when Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson dropped Ruud van Nistelrooy's header and Mikael Silvestre kicked it into the goal. Jermaine Jenas evened the score in the 72nd minute with a free kick.

Manchester United Squad

1 Howard
2 G. Neville
4 Heinze
5 Ferdinand
6 Brown
7 Ronaldo
8 Rooney
9 Saha
10 Van Nistelrooy
11 Giggs
12 Bellion
13 Park
14 Smith
16 Keane
17 Miller
18 Scholes
19 Van der Sar
20 Solskjaer
22 O'Shea
23 Richardson
24 Fletcher
25 Fortune
26 Bardsley
27 Silvestre
28 Pique
29 Spector
30 Steele
31 Jones
33 Eagles
40 Ebanks-Blake
42 Rossi

Manchester United History

Manchester Utd. have had four successful big stages in it's history, under J. Ernest Mangnall in the 1900s, in the 1950s and 1960s under Sir Matt Busby, and in the 90s to present under Sir Alex Ferguson. Apart from these successes, the most significant event in the club's history is the Munich air disaster in which eight of the club's players died.

The club's most successful season was 1998-99, when they became the first and only team to win the Treble - winning the FA Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League in the same season.

Early years (1878-1945)

The club were formed as Newton Heath (Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway) (Newton Heath (L&YR) for short) by a group of Manchester railway workers in 1878. The name was soon shortened to Newton Heath. They were founder members of the Football Alliance in 1889 and joined the Football League in 1892 when it merged with the Football Alliance.

The club faced bankruptcy in 1902 and was rescued by J.H.Davies who paid off the club's debts and changed the name to Manchester United, and changed the team's colours from gold and green to red and white. They won the league in 1908 and, with financial assistance from Davies, moved to a new stadium at Old Trafford in 1909.

The team struggled between the first and second world wars, and by time the second world war began they were £70,000 in debt.


The Busby years (1945-1969)

Matt Busby was appointed manager in 1945 and took a then-unheard of approach to his job, joining the players for training as well as performing administrative tasks. He was immediately successful, with the club finishing second in the league in 1947 and winning the F.A. Cup in 1948.

He adopted a policy of bringing in players from the youth team whenever possible, and the team won the league in 1956 with an average age of only 22. The following season, they won the league again and reached the F.A. Cup final, losing to Aston Villa. They also became the first English team to compete in the European Cup, and reached the semi-final.

Tragedy struck the following season, when the plane carrying the team home from a European Cup match crashed on take off at a refuelling stop in Munich. The Munich air disaster of 6 February, 1958 claimed the lives of eight players and another fifteen passengers. There was talk of the club folding but, with Jimmy Murphy taking over as manager while Matt Busby recovered from his injuries, the club continued playing with a makeshift side. They somehow reached the F.A. Cup final again, where they lost to Bolton.

Busby rebuilt the team throughout the early 1960s, signing players such as Denis Law and Pat Crerand. The team won the F.A. Cup in 1963, then won the league in 1965 and 1967 and the European Cup in 1968. This team was notable for containing three European Footballers of the Year: Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best. Busby resigned as manager in 1969 and was replaced by the reserve-team coach and former United player Wilf McGuinness.


1969-1986

United struggled to replace Busby, and the team struggled under Wilf McGuinness and Frank O'Farrell before Tommy Docherty became manager at the end of 1972. Docherty, or 'the Doc', saved United from relegation that season but United were relegated in 1974. The team won promotion at the first attempt and reached the F.A. Cup final in 1976, but were beaten by Southampton. They reached the final again in 1977, beating Liverpool and preventing their opponents from completing the first domestic treble, which they would go on to win in 1999. In spite of this success, and his popularity with the supporters, Docherty was sacked soon after the final when he was found to have had an affair with a colleague's wife.

Dave Sexton replaced Docherty as manager in the summer of 1977, and made the team play in a more defensive formation. This style was unpopular with supporters, who were used to the attacking football preferred by Docherty and Busby, and after failing to win a trophy Sexton was sacked in 1981.

He was replaced by the flamboyant Ron Atkinson who immediately broke the British record transfer fee to sign Bryan Robson from West Brom. Atkinson built an exciting team with new signings such as Jesper Olsen and Gordon Strachan playing alongside the former youth-team players Norman Whiteside and Mark Hughes. United won the F.A. Cup in 1983 and 1985 and were overwhelming favourites to win the league in the 1985-86 season after winning their first ten league games, opening a ten point gap over their rivals as early as October. The team's form collapsed, howver, and United finished the season in fourth place. The poor form continued into the following season, and with United on the edge of the First Division's relegation zone, Atkinson was sacked.


The Alex Ferguson Era (1986-present)

Alex Ferguson replaced Atkinson and guided the club to an 11th place finish. The following season (1987-88), United finished second, with Brian McClair becoming the first United player since George Best to score twenty league goals in a season.

However, things started to go horribly wrong. Many of Ferguson's signings did not reach the expectations of the fans and United struggled badly throughout 1989. There was speculation that Ferguson would be sacked at the beginning of 1990 but a win in the third round of the F.A. Cup kept the season alive and United went on to win the competition.

United won the the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1990-91, beating that season's Spanish champions Barcelona in the final. The following season was a disaster for United, though, as a late season slump saw them miss out on the league to rivals Leeds United.

The signing of Eric Cantona in November 1992 inspired United, and they finished the 1992-93 season as Champions for the first time since 1967. They won the double [the league and the F.A. Cup] for the first time the following season, but legendary manager and club president Matt Busby died that year, on 20 January, 1994.

In 1994-95, Cantona received an eight month suspension for kicking a supporter, and losing their last two matches left United as runners-up in both the league and F.A. Cup. Ferguson then outraged the supporters by selling key players and replacing them with players from the club's youth team, the so-called 'Fergie's Fledglings', but the new players did surprisingly well. United won the double again in 1995-96.

They won the league again in 1997, but Cantona once again shocked the fans by retiring from football at the age of 30, several years earlier than most players. They started the following season (1997-98) well but their results were affected by a series of injuries and they finished the season in second place, well behind the champions Arsenal.

1998-99 was the most successful season in the club's history as United became the first English team to win the Treble - the league, the F.A. Cup and the Champions League in the same season. The final was especially exciting as United were trailing 1-0 with one minute to go, but two goals in stoppage time, including a flick from Ole Gunnar Solskjær, gave them a win over Bayern Munich. Ferguson was knighted for his contributions to British football as a result

United won the league by enormous margins in 2000 and 2001 but the press saw these seasons as failures as they failed to regain the European Cup. Ferguson adopted a more defensive style to make United harder to beat in Europe but it was not a success and United finished the season in third place in 2002. They regained the league the following season (2002-03) and started the following season well, but their form nosedived as Rio Ferdinand received an eight month suspension for missing a drugs test.

In spite of spending millions on the forwards Alan Smith, Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha, the 2004-05 season was characterised by a failure to score goals. A series of 0-0 draws left United behind Arsenal and Chelsea early on and they finished the season in third place. The disappointment was increased as United became the first team to lose an F.A. Cup final on penalties, with Arsenal winning after the match had finished 0-0. The success of United's bitter rivals Liverpool in unexpectedly winning the European Cup for the fifth time simply increased the frustration. Off the pitch, the main story was the possiblility of the club being taken over and at the end of the season, the American Malcolm Glazer acquired a controlling interest in the club.

Edwin van der Sar became the first purchase in the off-season as the club looked for a new goalkeeper after releasing Roy Carroll and Ricardo. No goalkeepers had been convincing ever since Peter Schmeichel left the club. Midfielder Park Ji-Sung became the first Korean player to play for United when he signed from PSV Eindhoven for an undisclosed fee.

Manchester United F.C. Main Info

Manchester United is the greatest English football club. It's based at Old Trafford in Greater Manchester. The club is also referred to among supporters as Man United or simply United. The more frequently heard Man U., while sometimes used by supporters and the press, is also heard from fans of rival clubs, and is sometimes met with annoyance by extremes of the club's fan base.

The club was formed as Newton Heath LYR F.C. in 1878, as the works team of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway depot at Newton Heath, becoming Manchester United on 26 April 1902. Another suggested name was Manchester Celtic, but this was not chosen. The earliest known film of Manchester United is the 2–0 victory at Burnley on 6 December 1902, filmed by Mitchell and Kenyon.

Traditionally one of the largest and most-supported clubs in England, United under manager Sir Alex Ferguson achieved a degree of dominance in domestic competitions in the 1990s unseen since the great Liverpool F.C. sides of the mid 1970s and early 1980s. This culminated in 1999, with the club winning an unprecedented treble of the English Premier League, FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League.

In qualifying for the group stage of the Champions League in 2005, United achieved the tenth successive year of qualification, extending their record. In spite of this achievement, United have been largely unable to transfer their domestic dominance to European glory. In fact, the club's two European Cup wins (in 1968 and 1999) are the only two times they have reached the final at all.