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.