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Only Anfield Was Worse Than This

Well guys, it is quite definitely stinking now. All our favourite hunting grounds - Anfield, Goodison Park and now Villa Park - seem to have lost their charm. We are dropping points here, there and everywhere.

Team selection was fairly straightforward. Berbatov, Scholes, Hargreaves, Fletcher, Brown all injured, Anderson, Nani and Ronaldo travelled from overseas - we barely had 11 fully fit and ready players.

Still, including Giggs was just asking for trouble. Villa were bound to press us, to harass us and Giggs is known to be prone to be marked out of the game completely. It happened here and once again his midfield partner, Michael Carrick should have held the midfield together all by himself.

Carlos Tevez provided no ammunition for those who want to see him dislodge Dimitar Berbatov: the Bulgarian's link-up play was badly missed and I must admit I was cringing as Tevez's 472nd heavy first touch saw another attack breaking down.

Park looked dangerous in the first half and he could have given us the lead when he was sent clear by Rooney but hesitated too much and he was tackled before he could have shot. But he also faded badly in the second half and became totally anonymous.

We defended well and reduced a spirited Villa side to half-chances but with Chelsea and Liverpool drawing a win would have been vital. However, the players seemed to lack the urgency, like it wasn't clear to them that we could have cut the gap to six points with a game in hand. Looks like it's not sufficient motivation.

Rooney was also poor and seemed lost among Villa's defenders. He spurned the best chance of the game: Carrick's instinctive lob behind the defence fell in front of him but he fired into the sky from 5 yards - unbelievable miss.

Replacing Tevez with Nani with 20 minutes to go wasn't a bad idea but in truth Giggs shouldn't have been on the pitch by then yet he played the whole game. O'Shea who looked shaky on the right and offered nothing in attack was not replaced by Rafael though the game was screaming out for the skills of the little Brazilian.

And then of course there was Ronaldo's injury which forced Fergie's hand. Not that Ronaldo was any good: no. His dribbles never came off, he always took the ball into crowded areas where he duly lost it. Apart from his rasping effort in the first half he was poor.

We were suffering in attack and were too often outnumbered in midfield. Once again, as so often this season, the difference was that the opposition's players were prepared to run that extra yard, to cover a bit more ground. They fought for every ball while we shirked away from the challenges. It's just not good enough. We had a fair stinking away performances this season but it was worse than the Goodison or the Emirates: we had chances in these games. Not today.

We're still good enough to beat almost everyone at Old Trafford but we need to start getting results away from home or the season will quickly become a stroll to third place - and while many teams would happily accept that, I can safely say that no United fan is longing to experience 2004 and 2005 all over again...

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday November 22 2008

Time: 8:47PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
I hope u will experience that.
Report Abuse
22/11/2008 21:09:00

you'd hardly begrudge us a point would you ? and yes 3rd would do me nicely!!
Report Abuse
22/11/2008 21:31:00

villa wanted it more today, they played hard and didnt want to settle for a point, no doubt united will be up there by the end of the season IMO they are still the best team in the league but you are really missing someone who will get stuck in in the middle of th park. villa seemed to win every 50-50 challenge and had 3 men around the ball whenever united had posssion, credit to villa on this one they didnt put 10 men behind the ball for 90 mins and gave as good as they got
Report Abuse
23/11/2008 01:16:00

what a stupid article
Report Abuse
23/11/2008 17:45:00

Villa wanted it MORE??? Have you watched the game? They were playing on the counter, we had all bulk of the possession and they just sat back! If not, why would they play ONE striker at home?? They wanted to disrupt our play rather than try and score. We should've won that game but at least we didnt lose!
Report Abuse
24/11/2008 15:21:00

Thought both teams wanted it, just Villa dont' surrender like we once did. We do play on the break foreverunited, totally true, but with our pace it is still usually decent enough attacking football and it plays to our strength in speed.
The Fear
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24/11/2008 18:31:00

I think it's fair to say that a draw was the fair result, but over the whole game, United just shaded it. We were brilliant in the first half. Rooney does lack sharpness (I think he's low on confidence again) but some of his vision was spectacular. More and more when he isn't scoring, he looks more like a creative midfielder than a striker. I think confidence is totally key to his game - when he's scoring game after game, you think he will go on for ever, and yet, when he stops scoring, you wonder when he will start again. He needs a goal, and fast, to rescue his (and United's) season
Man utd champions
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25/11/2008 16:07:00

I made the point earlier on, Zae. The teams we normally beat we are struggling against. We start to score, and then the season threatens to get off, but then we just struggle again. We have to find consistency and FAST otherwise we will be out of the title race before we know it. Having said that, if we'd have won against Villa, we would have been in a very promising position, but that's how narrow the gap is in football
Man utd champions
Report Abuse
25/11/2008 16:11:00

foreverunited i think you misunderstand me when i said villa wanted it more. i mean they fought for every ball harder, chased lost causes all day. i was not saying they were the better team infact maybe man utd just shaded the game. all in all i thought a draw was a fair result. im sure you probably have not seen to much of villa this year so ill let you in on the fact that recently we have been playing with one up front and on the counter attack because the pace we have in the team and that is enough to frighten other teams thus allowing to play 3 in the middle of the park to support our forward and also win every ball possible.
Report Abuse
25/11/2008 16:26:00

Struggling to keep up lads?....sounds like youre starting to get worried boys.Liverpool fan.
I Bling Red
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25/11/2008 16:45:00


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