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.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Getting there

Apart from the lapses in concentration at the back, yesterday's performance was, by far, the best of the season.

Rooney was clearly the man of the match, but the entire team played well, especially going forward. Hyppia's Leverkusen never really looked like they could get in the match, except maybe for that short period after they equalised.

To be fair, though, the German team probably was hard done by for the first goal. That should not have been allowed as Valencia was definitely offside. How can anyone argue that he was not interfering with play?

Rooney should have had a hat trick, but that miss when the score was still 1-0 was incredible. Actually, I believe he was caught in two minds. Having rounded the keeper, I think he dragged the ball a little too much and was left with a tight angle. He probably couldn't decide whether to go for goal or square for RVP. In the end, I believe he tried squaring the ball, simply because he used his left leg. If you look at his second goal, he went for it with his right. So, the conclusion, at least in my mind, is that he went for the pass.

Rooney, you have to admit, is on fire. He is now on 200 goals for MU. What a milestone, indeed. And that pass for Valencia's goal was absolutely inch perfect.

RVP wasn't having one of his best games, but his goal was just sublime. And on his supposedly weaker foot to boot.

Fellaini still needs a little time, perhaps, to gel with the team, but he was a pretty solid rock in midfield. And it was great to see Kagawa back, even if he began to tire a little towards the end of his stint. Not surprising, since he was just down with a virus.

So, with his first win in Europe under his belt, it looks like it can only get better for David Moyes. This win will surely give him more confidence, and the team too.

Good job lads!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

German test

Welbeck and Jones are major doubts for the visit of Bayer Leverkusen in this year's Champions League opener for the Devils, a game which will test United and Moyes' European credentials.

Also unlikely to figure are Rafael, who has just returned to training, and, to a lesser extent, Kagawa, who is recovering from a bout with flu. Exciting prospect Januzaj, meanwhile, has not been registered.

The biggest question, however, will be Moyes. With Everton, he never made it to the main draw in the Champions League. How the team performs tonight will be a reflection of his abilities in Europe.

Yet again, however, I repeat that I am not expecting much from Moyes this year. And, I repeat, it took Fergie a long time as well to get things going.

So, no predictions this time around.

I do, however, want to say that I support Moyes and Ferdinand in saying action should be taken against divers, and yes, that includes Young. But has the club or manager done anything with Young yet? They should set the standards by docking some of Young's pay, shouldn't they?

Meantime, I shall be looking forward to tonight's game.


I forgot that Nani is suspended due to that controversial red card when United got knocked out against Real Madrid last season.

Also, from the MU official website: The last time MU met Leverkusen at Old Trafford, in November 2002, the Red Devils beat the Germans 2-0 thanks to goals from Veron and van Nistelrooy.

Moro attacks won't derail peace talks

IN November, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Al Haj Murad Ebrahim met  Malaysian media members at the one-time rebel group's main camp in Mindanao.

A question was put to him about whether he saw the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) as a threat to the peace accord, which was already in advanced stages between MILF and the Philippine government (GPH).

The peace accord, after decades of fighting, was brokered by the Malaysian government, so journalists from Kuala Lumpur were, of course, interested in what Murad had to say.

He said the MNLF had broken into five factions, with only the one led by Nur Misuari having "reservations" about the accord.

He had also said that Misuari had 1,000 people in his group, but that no violence had occurred and he was optimistic that there would not be a threat from Misuari's group.

That optimism must have been shattered on Monday when hundreds of MNLF followers attacked several cities in Zamboanga, landing in several places, in what was described as a coordinated plan.

Although Misuari was in hiding -- some reports saying possibly in Indonesia -- it was reported that the attack came about after threats from the Philippine government that the MNLF leader would be arrested. MILF still maintains that MNLF members would not be a threat to the MILF-GPH peace talks.

Those talks will continue, despite the renewed violence.

MILF optimism comes from the fact that Misuari's followers are considered few, a small minority compared with Mindanao residents who want to see the peace talks work so that they can find better lives for themselves and their children.

Whatever attacks they have undertaken, or are planning, will not derail the peace talks and will eventually peter out, even if it will take time.

The fact that there are "few followers" also means that those who do follow Misuari, therefore, will be concentrating on their current plans in Zamboanga, leaving Sabah safe from attack, even though Eastern Sabah Security Command personnel have been put on high alert.

Still, it is right for Malaysian officials to put security forces on high alert in Sabah. It is merely a precautionary measure, so residents there should not be unduly worried.

 Another reason, however, for the alert is that if MNLF forces should suffer setbacks in Zamboanga, its proximity with the east coast of Sabah could see these armed rebels coming here. Should the MNLF head here, however, sources said they are likely to seek to "ride out the heat" by laying low instead of creating a problem in Sabah.

 "Still, there is no sense in allowing them to enter the country unannounced. Hence, the high alert."

It is no stretch of the imagination that MNLF followers may enter Malaysia to hide out. Misuari himself had hidden here in 2001 after leading a failed rebellion in Zamboanga. He was eventually deported to Manila, where he was placed under house arrest until the Philippine government freed him in 2008.

Another possibility is that ordinary, peace-loving citizens in Zamboanga may try to flee the fighting there, braving that short boat ride to the coast of Sabah.

The alert also makes sense on another count, one that hits closer to home. It has long been postulated that Misuari is being encouraged by certain quarters to ensure the peace accord fails, simply because it was brokered by the Malaysian government.

 It has taken years and the main players are, of course, the Philippine government and the Bangsamoro people led by MILF. But the peace accord, when it is finally set in stone, will represent a success story for Malaysia and its government.

It is this that these quarters do not want. To them, the Malaysian government -- in particular the Barisan Nasional government -- should not receive any form of recognition for a successful peace plan.

So, any action by the MNLF, particularly the faction led by Misuari, needs to be closely monitored and guarded against, no matter how small the threat against Malaysia's sovereignty.

This is despite the fact that Zamboanga City mayor Beng Climaco had reportedly claimed that he spoke to Misuari, who denied involvement in Monday's attack, and disowned Hadir Malik, who is said to be the leader of the attack.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fellaini's debut?

Will he of the wild hair make his debut this weekend?

All indications are that Fellaini will be in the starting line-up against newbies Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. He should be working alongside Carrick in the middle of the park, in place of Cleverley, who I thought did not have a good game against Liverpool.

With Palace having lost two and won one in their first season back in the top flight, I think this will be a good chance for Moyes to try out some of the other players. Players like Zaha, who could be a good one to have line up against his old club.

Before I go into the First 11 I hope to see, which I believe may just be the one Moyes uses, let's look at some team news.

Rooney is definitely out, though he is hoping to make his return in the derby next week. So is Rafael. Jones is likely out as well.

So, I believe Moyes will stick with De Gea in goal, Vidic and Ferdinand in the middle of defence, Evra at leftback. The rightback position, however, is a toss-up between Smalling and Valencia. Quite frankly, I would like to see Valencia in the game, but since I also want to see Zaha in it as well, I think my preferred line-up would be Valencia playing behind Zaha. That would be an awesome attacking force running down the right.

As I said earlier, Carrick and Fellaini should be calling the shots in the midfield. I'm hoping Nani will be out left as I think he did a decent job when he came on last time around. I think he will only get better.

That leaves the attack. Obviously RVP will be there as Moyes looks to catch the leading pack. He may have fired blanks in the last two matches, but you never, ever count him out. But who will be his strike partner?

The obvious choices will be either Welbeck or Hernandez. Frankly, I prefer Chicharito. Much better player, and has a better footballing brain. Harries the opposition a lot, too.

But for this game, I'm hoping Moyes will experiment a little and put Kagawa in the slot just behind RVP. No offence to Palace, but this is not top class opposition the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea or even Spurs. So an experiment with Kagawa playing in the hole would be good, with both Chicharito and Welbeck on the bench ready to be called upon later in the game.

Oh, and I would also like to see Januzaj on the bench and making an appearance some time during the match as well.

Crystal ball says: MU 3-0 Palace

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Remi Moses returns

I had forgotten all about Moses until a colleague posted the headline above on FB!

I had a good laugh about it, but I really have to say Moses looked bald compared to Fellaini's mop. The big Belgian is now with the Red Devils and all that hair comes with him. One post I saw on the Net was even funnier than my colleague's status update: "I hope he's hiding Coentrao in there".

I like Fellaini. He is strong, can shoot and is a good header of the ball. Not too sure about his passing ability but I still think he is an asset. If he can marshal the midfield, that would leave Carrick free to do what he does best, splay the ball around.

The biggest plus point has got to be his aerial strength. He will be a huge asset when it comes to set pieces. Get him the crosses and he will score.

I have to say I am a little disappointed with the transfer exercise this time around. But I still believe United can be up there.

So, I am looking forward to seeing the unmistakable figure that is Fellaini out on the pitch in MU colours. And though I can't stand his hair, he can keep it.

Who knows? Maybe he's like Samson.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Merdeka is about nation's struggles

TOMORROW (Sept 2) marks the anniversary of the signing of a very significant piece of paper in Malaysian history.

It took place thousands of kilometres away, yet it was as significant here as it was where it was signed. It was significant in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. It was significant in many parts of the world, especially in the Pacific.

Tomorrow marks the 68th anniversary of the surrender of Japan in World War 2, aboard the battleship USS Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay surrounded by more than 200 Allied vessels.

And while the main players on both the side of the Allies and that of Japan were the focal points of the ceremony, there were many among those seated on the sidelines who were of equal importance, having been prisoners of war under the Japanese. Among these was one Lt-Gen Arthur Percival, the man who surrendered Singapore in February, three years earlier, after the Imperial Japanese Army had swept down the Malayan Peninsular in double-quick time.

Whether he was the one to blame for the capitulation of Malaya or not, Percival was perhaps the most important "representative" of this country at a significant event, even though he most likely did not even begin to think so. At the hands of the Japanese, many Malayan heroes lost their lives, whether in combat or during 31/2 years of brutal occupation. Then there were those who had suffered in the hands of the dreaded Kempetai.

And there were many such souls, the most obvious being Lt Adnan Saidi, killed on Feb 14, 1942, while defending Singapore.

And while we forgive our once "masters", we should never forget those who sacrificed their lives in defence of our freedom. Nor should we forget those who lived on despite their struggles for the same goals, whether in times of war or times of peace.

Where would we be without those who fought on during the Japanese Occupation? Where would we be without those who resisted a war of terror conducted by Communist insurgents? Where would we be without those who defended our freedom during the Confrontation?

Most recently, this country suffered an armed intrusion. And while this was a localised affair which would never have grown to such a size that it would threaten the entire nation, the contribution of the country's security forces during this time is of no less import.

After all, Sabah and her Bornean sister Sarawak are as much a part of Malaysia as any state in the peninsula, and an attack on either is an attack on the entire country.

With the intrusion by Sulu gunmen and the loss of 10 security forces personnel so recent in our memories, it is fitting that the government came up with the theme "Malaysiaku berdaulat: Tanah tumpahnya darahku" for the 56th Merdeka celebration.

Merdeka, after all, is not just about achieving freedom; it's not just about the people who peacefully negotiated our independence from our former colonial masters. It's about the struggles of a nation and its people in keeping that freedom.

It's about the soldiers in our army and the sacrifices they make. It's about the sacrifices of other members of our security forces, like the police, the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Royal Malaysian Air Force. It's about the sacrifices of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency personnel.

It's about the sacrifices of the former members of the Home Guard. It's even about people like former police sergeant Arthur Albert Waters, a Briton who loved Malaysia so much he stayed on after serving in the police here, dying just days before Merdeka this year, at the age of 92.

It's about the sacrifices of civilians such as Gurchan Singh, the Lion of Malaya, who published communiques giving the true picture of the war during the Occupation at the risk of execution, or his many "agents" who helped him spread the news, some of whom were executed or tortured.

It's about people like Sybil Kathigasu, known as Malaya's Florence Nightingale, providing medical supplies during the Occupation, who also suffered torture, and those countless unnamed souls who helped prisoners of war on death marches.

From Merdeka Day to Malaysia Day this year, at the very least, remember these heroes, both known and faceless, and remember that we live in a peaceful country because of them. Remember that they loved this country.

 Perhaps then will we appreciate not only the sacrifices of those who have gone before us, but learn to appreciate and love, even more, this beautiful land we share.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bad start

A win, a draw and a loss. Not the best of starts to the season!

The worst part is, the loss had to come against Liverpool. Been getting it non-stop from friends who are Liverpool supporters.

But there are some positives. First of all, it is no shame to lose to Liverpool. Still a good team. And at Anfield, so no shame there for sure. And it was only a 1-0 loss.

Liverpool definitely got off to a better start. And I'm not just talking about the early goal. They showed the greater urgency and didn't let MU settle in, harassing the Devils non-stop.

United came out with all guns blazing, however, in the second 45 and really turned on the pressure. But we still couldn't score, thanks to some great defending by Pool.

All-in-all, it was a good game. But we could have done better. If Rooney had been available, I think we may have done better.

I do have one wish though. Send Welbeck back to the bench!