Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dour draw

OK, so we were solid at the back. We had good shape. And we had a few chances up front to steal the game.

But seriously, RVP and Rooney are just not getting the service they should be getting. That pass from Rooney to RVP for a header which produced a sterling save from Szczesny was fantastic. But nothing else really worked.

Vidic, Smalling and Ferdinand were easily the best players for United yesterday. Evra was not his usual attacking force, and poor Rafael played his heart out as usual, but that horrible fall really took the wind out of him.

The ref didn't do too badly, though I was left scratching my head as to why there were only two minutes of time added on in the first half when Rafael was down for at least three and there was an injury to an Arsenal player before that (can't remember who, exactly).

Mata still needs time to really integrate into the team, although his sheer talent is carrying him by right now.

But there are still lots of problems. That Daily Mail report saying things are frosty between RVP and Rooney doesn't really play out for me. Yes, they have not been passing the ball to each other as much as they used to, but I don't think that's the reason. The whole team is just not playing properly right now and Mata is the one who has been tasked with making the passes, it seems.

The Dubai break should (hopefully) do the team some good. Let's hope they come back playing better.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ridiculous tactics

Two defensive errors, two goals, two points lost!

That should be enough to sum up United's latest sad result. But it is nowhere near enough. Let's look at some other numbers.

United had 75 percent of possession and sent in 81 crosses. Those are ridiculous numbers for a draw match. For all the possession and attacking moves, two goals were really not up to mark.

So Fulham parked the bus. So what? Every time a United player sent a cross in, there were six or seven Fulham players in the box, including that 6ft 7in giraffe named Burns. Burns alone cleared 22 of those crosses, apparently.

What in heaven's name were United thinking, sending in crosses into a packed penalty box with six or seven opposing players and not more than three Devils? Those tactics were all wrong.

I believe the starting line-up was a problem as well. Why Young is even in the squad is an enigma to me, let alone on the starting line-up.

Adnan Januzaj has been going great guns for United and should be starting every game.

Ultimately though, it was the defence that really let us down. Fletcher should have tracked Sidwell's run, and a defensive error gifted Fulham the second goal. De Gea did well to parry the initial shot, although there will probably be some who would say he should have pushed it out or over the bar instead of in the path of Bent. The way I see it, you can't blame De Gea. That initial shot was ferocious and De Gea did not have enough time to try to bend it around the post or over the bar.

One thing I have to ask though is where the ref got that extra five minutes which he added on. The norm is to add on 30 seconds for each substitution. Both teams used their allotted three subs, but Fulham made one change before the start of the second half, so that means only two and a half minutes.

Injury concerns would probably add a minute. So where did the extra minute and a half come from.

That is no excuse though for a miserable result.

David Moyes, if you're reading this (yeah, right!), please come up with better tactics. For a start, leave Young out and start with Januzaj for the match against Arsenal.

Also, how about a sort of diamond-shaped midfield lineup, with Valencia on the right, Carrick playing a holding role just in front of the back four, where he can splay passes, since that is his strength, and Mata just behind the top two (Rooney and RVP of course).

In defence, leave Rafael at right back and Evra at left back with Smalling and Ferdinand/Vidic in the middle. In years gone by, Vidic and Ferdinand would have been my automatic choices for the central defensive pairing, but to have "oldies" in the middle of defence against an Arsenal team which is skillful and fast would be suicide.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Good servant leaving

Vidic has been a good servant all these years, except for the few games against when Torres seemed to always get the better of him, so it was with a heavy heart that I read the news that he was leaving at the end of the season.

Having said that, however, it must be said that United would be better off getting a younger defender, one in the same cut as Vidic. Of all the leagues in the world, it has to be said that the English league is the toughest for defenders. It is fast and it is rough. So, having a younger defender, one who is tough and fast, would do United a world of good.

Let's face it. Though still a fantastic defender, Vidic is getting slow and a little bit too injury prone. We send him off with a host of gratitude and wish him well, though.

Rio Ferdinand, too, should be heading off soon, if not at the end of the season, then the next. He is older than Vidic, and even though he is still a fantastic reader of the game, he is also injury prone and a little on the slow side, to put it mildly.

Evans is a good central defender and the more games he gets under his belt the better he will become. With Vidic going, and you would have to think Ferdinand too, he should get more games and improve even more. The only thing is, he is injury prone as well.

I guess such are the demands of the English games that central defenders tend to pick up injuries easily.

Smalling and Jones have the makings of good central defenders but they have a long way to go yet and one wonders if they will ever be as good as people like Vidic, Ferdinand, Stam, Bruce and Pallister were for United.

We need to buy at least two more central defenders, and at least one needs to be an established one, able to take hard knocks and give them as well (legally, of course).

Meanwhile, all eyes will be at Old Trafford tonight as the United faithful hope the season will finally get started in the bid for a Champions League spot, though Liverpool's drubbing of Arsenal last night has seemed to suck all hope away, if there is any still there.

Good luck United. Good luck Vidic.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mata-dor

No, I've been lax in updating this blog not because of the bad run United have had. I will always be a proud MU fan, no matter how they are doing. As usual, that lethal combination of workload, travel and (yes, I admit it) laziness caused the lapse.

What made me write this entry was the announcement of the agreement between MU and Chelsea regarding the transfer of Juan Mata. Pending the agreement of personal terms and the results of a medical, the Spaniard is set to become a Red Devil soon.

Lots has been said about Mata's transfers. Most have hailed it as welcome news, but there have also been detractors. Not surprisingly, rival EPL bosses have voiced their opinions. People like Wenger and Pellegrini. Surprisingly, one detractor is former United stalwart Gary Neville.

I am one who is elated at the news and believe Mata will justify the record amount the club will soon be laying out for him (reports say this is anything between 37 million to 40 million pounds). But let's start with the complaints from rival managers.

Wenger's, and perhaps Pellegrini's, complaint that there are elements of unfairness in the transfer. This evolves around the fact that United and Chelsea have already completed their league games against each other. In transferring Mata to United, Mourinho is banking on the probability that the talented Spaniard can lift the Devils and make it more difficult for teams like Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs and Everton, who are all above MU. This gives Chelsea a better chance at lifting the trophy.

Whether this is Mourinho's plan or whether the Portuguese manager simply decided to let Mata go because the player really wanted to join MU is beside the point. Wenger is right. There is the possibility that this sort of thing can be a little unfair, whether or not it is done intentionally. But let's face it: Wenger would do the same thing if he thought it would be an advantage.

As for Neville, well, I just think he has it all wrong. Mata is a quality player. I have always said Sir Alex should have brought him to United. Neville's doubts about where Mata will fit in are unfounded. He is the sort of quality player who would be able to fit in anywhere, whether it's on the wings, playing in the hole just behind a lone striker or calling the shots in the middle of the park.

Many a player has been taken out of his comfort zone, put in a spot and excelled. Take Thierry Henry for example. He was a winger until Wenger decided to play him up front. And what a striker he turned out to be!

Locally, we had Zainal Abidin Hassan. He was a defender before being made a striker, and he turned out to be Malaysia's best in his time. OK, so you can't really compare Zainal and Henry, but you get my drift.

So Mata, even if Moyes decides to make him the playmaker in the team, will serve MU well. And, his transfer will serve to boost morale.

I'm looking forward to having the talented Spaniard in the team. After all, how can anyone deny his ability when he's been voted best player in a star-studded team like Chelsea for the last two years.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A point is OK

It was a much better performance from the team this time around.

Overall, there was more determination in the team. I feel if Rooney had been there we would have won it.

It is indeed a pity it wasn't three points at the end of the night, but Shaktar didn't deserve to lose either. Taison, to me, was their best performer, and that goal was a hell of a shot, leaving De Gea no chance at all.

Still, I have some issues with the starting line-up. Welbeck did well to be in the position to score the goal, and he took it well enough. But other than that, he did practically nothing. I still rate him last in the pecking order of frontmen, so I don't understand why Moyes put him in instead of Chicharito.

Cleverley played well, coming in from the left often to operate in the middle, but Fellaini still hasn't integrated into the team. He did well to get the cross in for the goal, but gave the ball away too easily several times. Still, I think he can improve as the season goes on. One thing he needs to work on is his speed.

It was good to have Rafael back for this game. Overall, I think the defence did a pretty good job, though the Daily Mirror says Shaktar's goal came because of a costly blunder by Vidic. That was a bit unfair, I think. The cross was driven in at speed and all the poor captain could do was stick his foot out. It was just bad luck that it fell to Taison.

Now, let's hope they build on this and start improving by leaps and bounds. It should be much better this weekend as Rooney is set to return and RVP looks to be picking up somewhat again, despite not scoring yesterday.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tough trip

It's Moyes' first CL game away, and already the new manager has sprung a few surprises.

While Ferdinand has a groin strain, Moyes himself admitted that the veteran defender would not have featured anyway in the game against Shaktar. Also left out of the team which flew out are Anderson, Fabio and Zaha.

Ferdinand's absence should mean a chance for Evans to impress, hopefully alongside Vidic, who was rested against Albion. De Gea, Rooney and RVP will probably figure in the starting lineup, but the rest of the squad is still up for grabs.

I hope Rafael gets a chance. He is one of United's most consistent performer, and always a threat going forward. I think he combines well with Valencia, so hopefully the Equadorian will feature as well.

For lack of a better option (since Januzaj was not registered for the CL squad), I would play Nani on the left. Kagawa is a better player, but I still think he should be played in the middle. I think Moyes should go for the kill and play Carrick and Kagawa in the middle, instead of Fellaini. Once the team is ahead by a couple of goals (or more), then bring in the big Belgian to shore things up a little.

The other option down the left is Giggs, but the Welshman rarely plays the wing these days and I think we need Nani's speed more. I still say Giggs is the best crosser of the ball, but perhaps bringing him on a little later in the game would be the best option.

At left back, it's likely to be Evra, since he was rested for the WBA game. Still our best left back, though Buttner is looking better and better as he gains experience.

Here's hoping for a change of fortunes after the dismal performances in the league so far.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stiffer penalties for sex offences apt

NEWS over the past few days must have set women's rights groups  rejoicing, and rightly so.

Stiffer penalties for those who assault or use criminal force against spouses, gang rape being made a new, separate offence, increased jail terms for incest between 10 and 30 years and lengthier jail terms for inciting a child to an act of gross indecency. All these and more are among proposed amendments to the Penal Code.

The amendment bill had its first reading at Dewan Rakyat over this past week, and news of it must have been much welcomed.

Women's Aid Organisation director Ivy Josiah lauded the move to have stiffer penalties for assault or the use of criminal force against spouses. She told the New Straits Times the move was long overdue, however, with women's organisations pushing for it for some time now.

It is no wonder she feels that way. For the longest time, people were of the opinion that what happens between a husband and a wife should stay between a husband and a wife. It's not something that should be aired in public. Marital problems are not to be brought to the attention of anyone outside the family.

But, marital problems are marital problems. Assault, rape, coercion and force are not. These are crimes, no matter who does it or who the victims are. In fact, if you look at it from a different perspective, it is an even bigger sin if the perpetrator and the victim are married to each other.
Should not a husband protect his wife, after all? Should not a wife be more loving to her husband than anyone else?

(Yes, spousal abuse works both ways. There are cases out there, though few and far between, of wives beating up their husbands.)

Then there is the amendment which will see minimum jail terms for rape increased from five years to 10. This and news that another amendment will put an end to concurrent prison sentences should be taken as a triumph by women's groups.

Rape, despite the fact that it is classified as a sex crime, is not merely about sex. It is about power. It is violent and leaves the victim terribly traumatised.

Having a minimum prison sentence of 10 years for rape is befitting. It shows that the government deems rape a horrible crime indeed. And, this is only strengthened when you do not allow prison sentences to run concurrently.

Why? Let's say a man is charged with two counts of rape. If the court finds him guilty on both counts and sentences him to the minimum amount required by law on each charge but rules that the sentences should be served concurrently, then he only serves 10 years and not 20.

It is somewhat akin, you can say, to a person purchasing two units of the same thing, but paying only for one.

This was the problem in 1997 when an Indonesian man with permanent resident status here was arrested on suspicion of having raped several women.

The story then was that police were in a quandary because at that time, courts were inconsistent when meting out jail sentences for rape and tended to hand out concurrent sentences for multiple counts of rape.

The rumour also was that this suspected serial rapist was one who could not control his urges. The story goes that he was taken to hospital for a potency test. As a nurse walked by, he nudged the cop to whom he was handcuffed and told him that if he had been loose, he would attack the nurse.

Because of these factors -- again, as the story goes -- police were sure he would get out in only a matter of a few years and be back to his ways in no time. They were at a loss.

 The policemen would not have had to worry if the minimum sentence then had been 10 years and sentences had to run consecutively.

As an aside to that story -- whether or not it is true -- the investigators' worries were all for nought, thanks to the actions of the suspect himself.

He claimed he had murdered one of his victims and buried her in a secondary jungle. He was brought to the area with his hands cuffed at the back, as is standard operating procedure.

When they came to a hill, however, police detectives had to cuff his hands in front so he could make the climb. At the top of the hill, a detective uncuffed him so he could again have his hands cuffed at the back, but he then tried to escape.

In a scuffle with one detective, he managed to grab the policeman's revolver, but as he pointed the gun at the detective, another policeman shot and killed him.

 A search of the area later, however, found no body buried there, as claimed by the suspect.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Worst start in years

Woeful. Simply woeful.

Albion were, on the night, the better team. They deserved the three points. it's now two defeats in a row for United and Moyes must now decide what needs to be done.

Frankly, I think Moyes got his tactics wrong. I still prefer 4-4-2 formations, and lining them up 4-2-3-1 was just not on. Anderson is another player that should be gotten rid of. So much potential, so little returns. I say get rid of him, Welbeck and Young. Nani too, since he has not lived up to potential as well, despite a slightly better performance this time around.

With the likes of Januzaj and Zaha lurking on the bench, and with Valencia slowly getting back to his best, we can get rid of Young and Nani.

But the biggest mistake Moyes made was taking off Kagawa at the break. Why do that? Introducing Januzaj was a good move, to me. But Kagawa was playing well. Moyes should have taken off Ando and reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with Kagawa and Carrick calling the shots in midfield.

The other sad thing now is that RVP is in a slump. It's not just that he hasn't scored. It's also that he isn't contributing to the team much. Rooney is famous for such slumps, but even when he isn't scoring, he is contributing. RVP, unfortunately, is not contributing.

Having said that, however, it is only a matter of time before RVP is back to his unstoppable self. Hopefully it happens in the next game.

Thankfully, Rooney is still playing blinders. But one man can't do much if the rest of the team isn't firing on all cylinders.


But take nothing away from WBA. Albion defended stoically and had some great attacking moments too. Kudos to them. Amalfitano's goal was very coolly taken, and Berahino was dangerous throughout his time on the pitch. Sessegnon had a great game as well, and Amichebe did well holding up the ball against the likes of Ferdinand, whenever the ball came to him.

But man of the match for me was Olsson, who marshaled his team's defence brilliantly and was dangerous at set pieces as well up front.

Let's move on now. Get your act together, lads. Start showing the world what United is like when you mean business. We, the fans, don't like seeing the team in the bottom half of the table. It's not something we're used to.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

So much better

Why couldn't MU have played like that against Man City? Against Liverpool, a full-strength (minus Coutinho) Liverpool mind you, they played with fire in their bellies.

I guess it helps that the majority of the players there have a thing or two to prove to the boss. It also helped to have Rafael back. So much speed and penetration down the right when the Brazilian is in the side. And his defending has improved by leaps and bounds over the last two years.

That goal by Chicharito was well-taken too. I have always said I would take him any time over Welbeck. Definitely the third choice striker for me. Welbeck doesn't even come close. Kagawa played well, too. And Nani was lively, though he is still not putting away the chances that come his way. As with Hernandez and Welbeck, Nani over Young any day, any time, for me.

Evans did well marshaling the defence, and Smalling is definitely more comfortable as a central defender than a rightback.

I only wish Januzaj could have gotten more game time, and Zaha could have been brought on. Still, I can forgive Moyes as he probably did not want to bust up the team dynamics too much.

More of this please lads!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Recover, we will and MUST!

Simply atrocious! That is the only word to describe the team performance against the Noisy Neighbours.

The only person to stand out in that horrible display was Rooney, but that great goal is terribly overshadowed by the lack of commitment and skill showed by the team. Vidic, to a certain extent, can be left out of criticism. Pretty sure he tried his best but was just left too exposed. De Gea, too. I don't think he could have done anything more.

But the rest of the First 11....!!!! Fellaini's weakness was utterly exposed. He's a good player, and has yet to work out a good understanding with the rest of the team, but his one major weakness is that he is slow. Man City are an incredibly fast team and Fellaini was just nowhere to be seen, left eating everyone's dust.

It was just woeful. What is Moyes doing playing people like Young and Welbeck when you have the likes of Chicharito, Kagawa, Nani and even the two exciting youngsters, Zaha and Januzaj? Give me Hernandez anytime over Welbeck, and the other four could play in place of Young in any lineup.

The game against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup should see Moyes make major changes to his lineup. He should play the younger ones and see what they can do. Let's hope he does.