Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What a bore!

Evra said it, didn't he? Mourinho went to Old Trafford looking for a draw.

How else would you explain the line-up, without a recognised striker? How else would you explain the way Chelsea played?

OK. So he may have been hoping to snatch a win from counterattacks. But, it was obvious that he didn't mind the draw, so he set his tactics that way.

I was looking forward to the game. It was the first big match-up this season. Two of the big boys going up against each other. The way Chelsea played took the joy out of the match for me.

It was sad that we couldn't break down the Chelsea defence though. But, overall, I think the team played well. The MU defence played well and were very disciplined. De Gea was hardly tested. Evra did well going forward as well, though Jones was average in this aspect.

Carrick and Cleverley played well too, as did Valencia, who is looking more like his old self this season, though still lacking a bit. On the opposite wing, however, Welbeck was a disappointment. I think he was the weakest link in the entire team.

Up front, RVP was having one of his off-days, by his spectacular standards. Rooney didn't have a fantastic first half, but really came into it in the second. United's best performer of the night, with some good shots and great passes, especially in the second 45.

Giggs and Young were OK, but didn't really have too much impact.

There has been some debate about whether MU should have had penalties. Some are saying they should have had one or two, some agree with referee Atkinson's decision not to award any. I think there should have been one, going by current standards of refereeing.

Let me explain. When the ball struck Lampard's hand, those who say Atkinson was right in not awarding a penalty say the Chelsea midfielder had no chance to avoid the shot. But, we have all seen penalties or free kicks given for less.

One thing people forget is that going by current standards, the foul should have been awarded as Lampard's hand was not by his side. It was stretched out. Yes, he had no chance of avoiding a ball struck with that amount of ferocity, at that short a distance. But, his hand/arm should not have been out there in the first place.

Atkinson's performance as a referee on the night was worth maybe an average three stars out of five. He did well in most areas, letting the game run and making several good calls, most notably the other penalty shout by the MU players and Old Trafford faithful when there was a handball earlier on in the match, which he waved away.

He started well, too, when he only gave a warning to Cole for the late tackle on Cleverley. So early on in the game, a yellow card would have spoiled it. But I think he made a mistake when he did not flash the card on Valencia for that studs up challenge (on I forget who) later on. He only gave Valencia a warning, and quite a few people vilified him for that.

Now, while I agree Valencia should have been carded, I don't think Atkinson should be taken to task for not doing it. I believe Atkinson merely thought that since he had only given Cole a warning, Valencia should be given the same consideration. A mistake, I believe, but not one he should be vilified for.

I also believe he made a mistake in not giving Cole a card when he went down in the penalty area looking for a penalty. That was a clear dive. If there was any contact, it occurred well before that. The England defender definitely should have been booked for that.

Anyway, what's done is done. Let's just bring on Super Sunday at Anfield and show the Reds that the Red Devils are better. YNWA? Sure. Cause you'll be walking with the other 18 losers!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Added importance

It's only MU's second game, but Man City's loss to Cardiff last night means there's added significance tonight.

Chelsea winning their Villa game, which was brought forward to mid last week, made it somewhat important for United to win their first home game of the season, even if it is still so very early on. But Man City losing means United have the chance to pull away from the other pretenders to the throne -- the noisy neighbours.

Having said that though, a draw or even a loss would not be the end of the world. Like I said, it is still so very early in the season.

The biggest question right now is whether Rooney will feature for United against the team he supposedly wants to join. Quite frankly, I don't believe the rumours. I think Rooney just wants an assurance that he will play in his favoured forward position and not be subjected to playing in the midfield.

So, I have the feeling that Moyes will play him, either sacrificing Welbeck or pushing the speedy striker to the wing.

Most pundits are going for a draw, with some saying Mourinho's lads will nick it. I have a feeling, though, that the Red Devils will prevail.

My prediction for the starting line-up: De Gea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Jones/Smalling, Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa, Valencia/Zaha, Rooney, RVP.

The crystal ball says: MU 2-1 Chelsea

Monday, August 19, 2013

Banish 'it won't happen to me' mindset

Another round of Op Warta may be on the horizon, according to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar. If you don't know what Op Warta is, well, it's when the cops go knocking on the doors of traffic offenders who have not settled their summonses. Previous Ops Warta have worked, to a certain extent.

The mere embarrassment of having people see policemen knocking on your door is sometimes enough to make people pay up. Many will actually run off to settle their summonses as soon as an Op Warta is announced, just so they don't find the men and women in blue or white turn up at their door.
But there are even more who don't do anything about it. And, this is because they are not even living at the addresses listed in the records.

This time around, though, if the police force does hold an Op Warta, there will be a slight difference. Whereas in the past, operations were held because there were too many unsettled summonses piling up, this time, it will be because the nation's top cop is unhappy with the initial report of Op Selamat.

Again, for the uninitiated, Ops Selamat is the integrated operation aimed at reducing road crashes and deaths, as well as crime, while Malaysians go about celebrating a major festive season.

Khalid was unhappy with one particular aspect of Op Selamat -- the traffic aspect. While not releasing the figures just yet, Khalid said there had been a slight decrease in the number of crashes, but an increase in the number of deaths during this season's Op Selamat.

He said tougher measures needed to be taken to bring down the number of road accidents and deaths, and to change people's mindsets. One aspect would be to hit people where it hurts the most -- their wallets. Hence, Op Warta.

But Khalid also needs to tell his men that they have to strictly enforce road rules. How many times have you seen someone breaking traffic laws in front of policemen and getting away with it?

Take, for instance, the Federal Highway. There are dedicated motorcycle lanes, but every so often, you will see a few silly daredevils speeding down the highway, weaving in and out of traffic, sometimes doing the "superman". A number of times, these motorcyclists even speed past police patrol cars, but none of them are stopped.

Hitting the culprits in their wallets, so to speak, seems like a good idea. But ultimately, it is their mindset which needs to be changed, and the only way such a change can be effected is for them to want to change.

The biggest problem is surely the "it won't happen to me" attitude. It's an attitude that can be argued as being part of human nature. Most, if not all, of us are affected by this attitude.

Read about a fatal crash? It won't happen to me. See a fatal crash right in front of your eyes? It won't happen to me.

And it's the same for anything and everything.

Boy loses fingers while playing with firecrackers? It won't happen to me. Man struck by lightning while playing football in the middle of a thunderstorm? It won't happen to me.

Do a quick survey and you're more than likely to find that the vast majority of the people you ask will tell you that.

"It won't happen to me... I'm a good driver."

Newsflash people: You may not be as good a driver as you think you are, or the other person on the road isn't a good driver. Then, there are all the other factors that play a part in road crashes -- weather, road conditions and the occasional cow, tapir, dog, elephant, human or, worse, non-human crossing the road.

So, yes, what is most needed is a change in mindset. Only then will we be able to bring down those horrible statistics, which, at present, shows that more than 7,000 people lose their lives on our roads every single year.

In the meantime, dear Tan Sri, do get these people where it hurts. Do whatever you can to change their mindsets. And, make sure your men enforce road rules all year round and not just during festive seasons.

Great start

So I was a little off in my predictions for starting line-up and score.

Quite frankly, after predicting a scoreline of 1-3 in MU's favour, I had second thoughts. I have a lot of respect for Swansea and Laudrup in particular. Plus, they were playing at home. But it was a feeling I had that it would be a big scoreline, so I dismissed those second thoughts.

But the no BS evaluation of the game was that United were lucky to have that big a scoreline in their first match. Just before the first goal, the stats flashed on the screen showed that the Swans had 60 per cent of possession. That's an incredible bit of statistics.

After the goal though, MU grew stronger. All four United goals were brilliant, though Welbeck's first was brilliant more for the pass. So, let's look at the goals in detail.

RVP's first took me by surprise. I had thought it was another attempt gone wanting when the ball popped up at such a height, with a defender closing in. It was truly something else, a fantastic bit of acrobatic skill, which saw van Persie burying that ball in the back of the net.

Valencia should take most of the credit for the second. He could have taken the shot, but decided to square it for Welbeck instead. Kudos for that footballing brain and unselfish bit of behaviour. Credit also to Welbeck for moving into position for that pass.

The third goal was really well struck, though there was a huge element of defensive error there, considering the Swansea defence didn't put any pressure on RVP when he was on the ball. But credit should also go to Rooney and, I believe it was Welbeck, for drawing a couple of defenders away with their runs.

The final goal was, for me, Welbeck's finest since he began playing for the first team. It took the replay for me to realise just how good the goal was, as I initially thought his shot was deflected over the keeper. But no. It was a clean lob over the keeper and into goal. Extremely well taken and shows the improvement in his thinking abilities.

Last season, Welbeck scored only one league goal, meaning he has already doubled his tally this season. I think the pressure to score in the league last season caused the young lad to be a little hurried when trying to score last season. This led to some bad decisions while on the ball. I believe he now has a cooler head on his shoulders. Kudos to the lad.

More on that last goal. The through ball from Rooney was perfectly weighted and the supposed wantaway striker did really well. sadly, the Sunday Times of London chose to slag Rooney off saying that his decision not to celebrate the goal showed that he is still set on leaving United. The journo who wrote that should get the facts right. After playing the defence-splitting pass that led to Welbeck's second goal, Rooney was fouled from behind. It left the striker on the ground for a while, and limping for a bit after. Can you blame him for not joining in the celebrations?

All in all, it was a great start, but not the best performance. Now, let's see how we perform against Chelsea and Man City soon.

Friday, August 16, 2013

And so it begins

Finally! Let the games begin!

United kick off the season at Swansea in DM's first league game as manager of one of the greatest clubs in the world. It promises to be a tough match, but I am pretty sure they will start on the right foot.

Rafael, Hernandez, Nani and Young are all expected to be sidelined for the match. With the latter two out of business for the moment, we can expect exciting new kid on the block Zaha to step up for his first EPL match.

The biggest question, however, will be whether Rooney starts the match, having played almost 70 minutes in the England-Scotland friendly at Wembley. Somehow, though, I don't think he will. My guess is Welbeck will be given the task of partnering RVP up front, but Rooney will be brought in later in the match.

My guess for the starting line-up: De Gea, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Smalling, Carrick, Cleverley, Kagawa, Zaha/Valencia, RVP and Welbeck.

And the crystal ball says: Swansea 1-3 Man United

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A sign of things to come?

So David Moyes has collected the first trophy of his Manchester United reign.

And, of course, you hear the detractors and United haters saying that it's just the Community Shield. It's nothing to shout about.

Sure. No doubt. It's just the Community Shield.

But what would have happened if United had lost the match? You know they will be saying things like: "United have no hope in the league this year. They can't even win the Community Shield!"

Do not doubt it, people. It may have just been the Community Shield, but it will be a confidence booster. Let's just hope it's not the one and only thing Moyes wins with MU.

A football website I follow,, has posted its predictions for the coming season. The writer, Matt Stead, believes United will struggle this season. In fact, in listing his top six, Stead predicts United will finish fourth, behind Chelsea, Man City and Spurs, in that order. For the fifth and sixth slots, he named Liverpool and Arsenal, respectively.

Stead also predicts that MU will win the FA Cup, however.

As far as I am concerned, I am not expecting much from Moyes. After all, it is his first season in charge and even SAF took a while before getting in a winning side. I do agree with Stead's assessment that Chelsea and Man City will be up there. But I see United challenging for it with the two clubs.

All said and done, I am really looking forward to the start of the new season. The weekend can't come any sooner.

Friday, August 9, 2013

It's over. Or is it?

So Fabregas, speaking here in Kuala Lumpur, has said he isn't going anywhere. That ends United's interest in him.

Or does it?

We've seen things like this before. When a club says they won't sell a player, but does so later. When a player says he won't move, but does later. So, will Fabregas stay or will he leave? Only time will tell.

Frankly, I don't really know what I think about whether Fabregas would be a good buy for United. I've always thought he was a good player, but not a fantastic one. I don't know if he will fit in at MU.

I do, however, think he is wasting his time in Barcelona. I don't think he will ever be an Iniesta or a Xavi for the Catalan side. But you can't blame him for wanting to stay, can you. It's Barca, after all, with players like, apart from the two already mentioned, Messi. Best player in the world at the moment, and has been for quite some time now.

So, still no significant signings to mark the beginning of the Moyes era. I really wonder whether the new gaffer will be able to get a big name signing in this season.

Again, only time will tell. In the meantime, looking forward to the Community Shield in two days' time.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ibis a big step in the right direction

ON Oct 16, 2000, American television station CBS premiered a new cop drama starring a team of crime scene investigators working for the Las Vegas police department.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation soon grew into a mega hit, spawning two spin-offs featuring such investigators in Miami and New York, and paved the way for a number of similar shows on other television networks focusing on the procedures involved in solving crimes the "scientific" way.

In actual fact, such investigators in Las Vegas are called crime scene analysts and it is actually the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, but nobody cares. Also, solving crimes is not as easy as what it is made out to be in the television shows, but then again who wants to wait several episodes before you can find out whodunit?

Lord knows, if the CSI series were to follow the same time frame as the daytime soap operas, where you could miss several days worth of episodes and come back to find the characters in the same scene, the likes of Gil Grissom, Horatio Caine and Mac Taylor would never have become household names.

But the show has actually come in for criticism where the procedures are concerned. Some crimes, it seems, get solved within 24 hours and this has left, law enforcement experts say, an unrealistic expectation. For instance, the rapid analyses of fingerprints in the show. Just pick any such scene in CSI and within minutes, the computers they use will come up with a fingerprint match. Experts, however, say this process can take days and sometimes even weeks.

The same can also be said about ballistics analyses. The process seems so smooth and simple on the idiot box, yet is a long, drawn-out process, even with the aid of super-fast computers.

The fact remains that, even if you can match a bullet to a gun, and each gun and bullet used in a crime with a firearm used in a previous crime, this may never lead to solving a case, or both cases.
Now, it seems, the Royal Malaysia Police has entered the hi-tech fray at last, with the procurement of the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (Ibis). And, it was high time.

With Ibis, the police force will be able to analyse ballistics in a faster and more efficient manner. Matching firearms used in the commission of a crime can take as fast as 20 minutes. As we all have learned from Grissom and the gang, a gun leaves distinctive markings on bullets that leave its chamber as well as the casing itself. This is what Ibis looks at and matches to other bullets fired in previous crimes.

Whereas in the past, this was done manually by our boys in blue (or, perhaps, white lab coats), they now have the aid of a sophisticated computer, cutting down analysis time and, for sure, the possibility of mistakes.

With the spate of shootings which has occurred off late, this bit of news will most definitely be very welcome. Not least because of the public outcry that has ensued, nor the fact that no less than the prime minister himself has expressed concern.

One can't help but wonder, however, whether the so-called unrealistic expectations born of the CSI series will also be a factor here, now that we have such sophistication at our forensic policemen's fingertips.

You can, perhaps, expect more cases to be solved, and in a more efficient manner. But no one should expect that all cases will be solved, nor should anyone expect the crime rate to drop drastically, or the solving rate to increase exponentially.

Yes. It is a step in the right direction. A step which should have been taken a long time ago. But it is only a step. A big one, mayhap, but only a step nonetheless.

The government and the force have shown that they are trying to solve the problem of crime in the country. Apart from Ibis, more closed-circuit television cameras are being installed, more equipment such as patrol cars and motorcycles have been purchased and distributed to stations and a new department -- the Crime Prevention Department -- has been created. But, things should not stop there.

If there are other areas that need to be improved, if there are other bits of hardware or software which need to be purchased in order to bring the force up to speed in crime fighting, solving and prevention, then things need to get done.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What gives?

I have never put much faith in sports reports in the UK. It's really funny, actually, as the papers just fall all over themselves in their bid for scoops, especially when the transfer windows are open.

Take today's papers for instance. The Sunday Mirror says Rooney will be handing in a transfer request soon, while the Daily Star says he does not want to leave Old Trafford despite a pending increased bid from Chelsea.

Total opposites.

Behind closed doors

Man United played a friendly behind closed doors at Carrington yesterday, against Spanish La Liga side Real Betis.

According to Soccernet, the Devils walked away 3-0 winners with Nani, Rooney and Vidic getting the goals. The trio and Chicharito all started for United as the quartet search for fitness after missing the pre-season Far East tour.

Unfortunately, that is all that Soccernet wrote.

Good to see Nani and Rooney on the scoresheet. I've always said Nani is a fantastic player. But where Ronaldo almost completely dropped his selfish ways and became more of a team player, his compatriot has yet to learn that. He is still selfish and tends to be wasteful.

It's also great to see Vidic back. And scoring. Hopefully he can get more games in this season and score more goals.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A long hiatus

Yes, it has been almost a year since I last posted anything. This blog will change a little. It will contain my thoughts, and not just focus on Man United. And hopefully, I will be a little less horrible in keeping it updated regularly. Fingers crossed!

As it stands now, it doesn't look too good for United. I have my doubts about Moyes. I have always liked him and was impressed how he took a not-so-rich club like Everton and made the players into a good team. And with the players at his disposal now, there is no doubt that the team can challenge for the EPL crown. But can he do better than that?

The results on the Far East tour were not very encouraging. Let's just hope that the results are not a true reflection of the capabilities of the team and the manager. But the youngsters impressed, didn't they? Lingard and Januzaj seem to be coming up the ranks and knocking on the door of the first team, and Zaha seems to be a good buy, so perhaps the future is bright, with or without added firepower in Fabregas or Ronaldo or whomever else the papers seem to be linking the Devils with.

Let's not forget that it took many years before Sir Alex brought glory to MUFC, so Moyes still has some time to prove himself. And if he does, then perhaps we will get the signings we go after.

And who knows... we had the Busby Babes and then Fergie's Fledglings. Will we have Moyes' Minors, or Masters?

Hmmmm... just not the same ring to it. Maybe the British Press will do a better job at coming up with a name!