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United Reserves Held To A Draw

With a totally depleted team, United still managed to dominate Newcastle but the lack of cutting edge was all too obvious.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Luis Nani, Anderson, Ji-sung Park, Louis Saha, Owen Hargreaves - we had to open our title defence without them which meant that the midfield and the attack were down to the bare bones.

Wayne Rooney, having recovered from a virus, was obviously still not fully fit and when we lost Carrick after 25 minutes of football, it just about confirmed that it would not be our day.

Still, United started brightly. We should have been ahead after only a few minutes' play, when Rooney's pinpoint cross found Campbell whose powerful, well-struck header hit Given on the had. Then the Irishman made some more conventional saves when he kept out Rooney's and Scholes' efforts.

You could sense a goal was coming but what we did not expect was that Newcastle scored it. From one of their first forays into our territory, they won a corner from which one of the smallest players on the pitch headed them into the lead. Sir Alex was not impressed with the marking.

Fortunately, the equaliser came right away: Giggs got the ball on the left, looked up and sent a perfect low cross into the path of Fletcher who sweeped it home from close range. Relief and joy - but it was short-lived.

We played our best football against Portsmouth when Carrick and Scholes were together on the pitch so when the former was forced to come off there were reasons to worry. These worries were subsequently proved well-founded: United's passing and attacking play just petered out afterwards.

We huffed and puffed, kept possession and tried, tried and tried some more but we lacked cutting edge and creativity. Rooney was far from his best, Campbell played quite well but he's inexperienced at this level - he will only get better, all the talent and the predatory instincts are there.

The Scholes-O'Shea central midfield was simply not good enough, not even against Newcastle and I think Fergie should have sent on Possebon right away after Carrick's injury: the Brazilian is much more confident in possession and has more pace than old O'Shea.

Sending Evra to the wing and introducing Rafael ten minutes from time were signs of desperation and despite all the efforts from Fergie to give the team a bit more width, our only meaningful effort was a Vidic header that bounced back off the crossbar.

Once again, like last season, all the Big Four won on the opening day bar us. (In fact, everything was quite the same: Arsenal played first, at home to a weak team and won unconvincingly then Liverpool played away and won with a goal in the last few minutes. Chelsea were next, on Sunday like last season and won at home and we were the last to start the season and we drew at home.)

I could say this is a good omen but it isn't: quite simply we are once again in the middle of a ridiculous 'selection crisis'. We need to sign Berbatov as soon as possible, stop the wrangling with Spurs in order to be able to field something distinctly resembling a title-chasing team at Portsmouth.




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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday August 18 2008

Time: 3:22AM

Your Comments

We were missing a multitude of players and as if it couldnt get any worse, the players on were also getting injured!!. Wasnt really a great performance but we had some pretty good chances we should've put away. Oh and Berba finally speaks about United move - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/tottenham/article4553779.ece
ForeverUnited
1-1 at home to Newcastle isn't in itself a bad result, but when you consider our next three games (Portsmouth, Chelsea, Liverpool - all away) it does get you slightly worried. Hopefully we'll sign Berbatov, Tevez will return from Argentina soon, and Rooney will get back to full fitness. It's not as bad as last year (yet) but I just can't see where United are going to get out of this. When goes Anderson get back?
Man utd champions
Carrick is out for two weeks. What will our midfield for Pompey be? No Ronaldo, Nani, Carrick, Anderson or Hargreaves! I hope like you say Fergie opts for Possebon instead of O'shea. I really dont want to be going to Stamford Bridge and Anfield with this team......GET BERBATOV NOW!
united4life
I know it's not reasonable, but I'm getting really worried about this team. Rooney's understandably rusty, we have no midfield, we need a striker, our defence looked worrying unconfident at times against Newcastle, and in the stands Ronaldo looked disinterested. Could this be the root of our troubles?
Man utd champions
Ever since we won that European trophy, everything, just everything, has gone wrong for us. We lose our coach, and then we start losing our best players (Rooney, Ronaldo, Carrick, Hargreaves, Giggs, Anderson, Nani, Tevez...) we then start the season disappointingly (again) whilst Chelsea run riot, and even Arsenal and Liverpool sneak wins. Why is it always us that everything goes wrong for???
Man utd champions
We have a good knack of picking ourselves up though...
Tosswink
Yes, tosswink, we do, but it's not so easy to do that this season, with Portsmouth, Liverpool and Chelsea (all away) coming up next, as well as the Super Cup against Zenit to add to our worries.
Man utd champions
Looking back in a calmer state of mind, there were positives to be drawn. For a start, Fletcher scored, which is somewhat of a rarity in itself, and hopefully United's midfield will pick up on the goalscoring which rather dropped last season. And all things considered, with the team we had, and the condition they were in, though it was a disappointing result, I've decided it wasn't too bad. The long term impacts, however, will only be realised when we count the points from our next three Premier League games.
Man utd champions
I worry about the next game (Portsmouth away) because we statistically struggle there. Then we've got the Zenit Super Cup game, so the chance of three points against Fulham is gone. Our next two games are then Liverpool and Chelsea (both away) which, in current form, we'd be lucky to escape from with two points. Therefore, we'd have just four points out of four games, and could be eight points behind the rest... I am worried. Could out title defence be over before the middle of September, or am I too distrusting of United's abilities???
Man utd champions
 

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