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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Ten Minutes Of Football From United

This is officially the most frustrating United side ever. We had crap teams, outstanding teams, hard teams, soft teams but this one is so frustrating it's unbelievable. Yet again, our players failed to grasp the concept of the kickoff and acted as if they had not realised the game was under way until the 80th minute and therefore only just managed to salvage a point against CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford.

Fergie opted for a partnership of Macheda and Owen up front and they looked dangerous but the service from midfield was so conspicously horrible that they were starved of chances. OK, Fletcher has the excuse of being a little rusty (and he was our best midfielder). OK, they doubled up on Antonio Valencia. But Paul Scholes should have enjoyed this one as in the first 30 minutes he had plenty of space to pass the ball yet his slowness prevented him of exerting any authority. Nani was just crap, as usual. I'm running out of excuses for him.

It was a tentative sort of start to the game but United had the upper hand, created a few chances and it looked like it would be one of those workmanlike routine wins we have come to expect recently. But an excellent finish by Dzagoev changed the complexion of the game - and though Owen conjured up a smart goal, our horrible defending quickly allowed CSKA to take the lead again. Offside trap? Nowhere to be seen tonight.

United, as per usual, struggled to get going, to increase the tempo. But that's liable to happen when the man in charge for that is so slow himself that he's in danger of being passed by patient tortoises. Maybe I'm being harsh on Paul Scholes who at least passed the ball well compared to his teammates but with him pulling the strings we can't expect to lay onslaught to the opposing goal.

But the introduction of Rooney could and should have changed that: finally, there was a man who was capable of changing a game. Yet it seems that becoming a father has taken its toll on Wayne (and he was marked with a cruel determination) and he was subdued. Macheda, who was our most impressive player in the first half, was a little less efficient after switched on to the left even though Evra's introduction in place of the hapless Fabio (he was awful tonight) provided him with better assistance than what Nani ever enjoyed.

But the truth is that United could not be bothered to be in a hurry. We were content in getting the ball out wide quickly and pump in crosses which were ineffective. Gary Neville tried and tried but his crossing was awful, Valencia tried and tried but he was marked out of the game and we simply did not have the nous or the patience to attempt to break them down through the middle, to play one-twos, to try drawing their defenders out of position.

As we were nearing the 80 minute mark it seems like something was switched on in the players' head. I have to say that Obertan's introduction had a positive effect even though it was a surprise to see Macheda coming off and Owen, who was totally ineffective in the second half, staying on but I assume Fergie's reasoning was that Owen's experience and nerves make him a better bet in such a situation.

But finally there was some urgency in our play: right before Obertan's introduction Macheda hit the post with a header, the absolutely outstanding Akinfeev twice saved from Rooney and he kept out a good Owen header as well. But there was no stopping Scholes' header - it vindicated Fergie's decision to leave him on even though I must admit I had been screaming for Anderson for a while by that point - and in extra time Valencia's deflected shot found its way into the net.

There were a couple of goalmouth scrambles after that and a red card for the Russians but we could not win the game and we were all left wondering what could have been if the team had started playing football ten minutes earlier. Or, God forbid, 80 minutes earlier. You know, right from the kickoff. And even though we should have had a penalty (how that could have been mistaken for a dive I'll never know, no wonder Fletcher was astonished and raging) and Aldonin should never have escaped red after planting his studs on Scholes' knee, we wouldn't have deserved to win this. Fergie will talk about the referee but the wider point here is that even Manchester United cannot afford to underestimate their opponents.




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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday November 3 2009

Time: 10:40PM

Your Comments

Og.. you lot are definitely lucky.
JT_daniel
Its a good wakeup call that even at home we cannot underestimate our opponents.We have to put in a performance inorder to get the 3pts.Also I have to agree that Nani once again blew his chance,infact obertan had more of an impact in those 5-10 minutes than Nani had in the entire game.
Antriksh (abmtd)
On a more positive note we might have seen our future goalkeeper and Krasic what can I say,this lad was top class,he reminded me of Nedved in a way.I hope our central midfielders would make forward runs like that.
Antriksh (abmtd)
Maybe Ljajic can help us in that area.I hope we get him in jan as he might be the one who can solve the goalscoring problem from the midfield.
Antriksh (abmtd)
We're lucky!? 2 goals in the last 10 minutes was kinda of lucky as well, JT. No were not lucky we're just good at it. I loved our attacking performance, i thought owen could've got another, its not like he was shy of opportunities. I just couldn't believe the defense it was horrible.
One United 92
Sorry, you may have had a load of pressure at the end of the game, due mainly to the negative tactics of the CSKA coach in taking off most of his main attackers, but that deflected goal was nothing more than pure blind luck.
fifthcolumnblue
13 shots on target, hitting the post, a penalty not given, 3 goals out of 4 shots in total for the opposing team and we are the lucky ones for a deflected shot? Take a look at ur own Pinball king, Frank Lampard, and the times u got away with one of his "elegantly" placed shots.
alexpant
Also, was it bad CSKA tactis when obertan, rooney, valencia and neville's crosses teared through their defence so many times at the end?
alexpant
Rooney was subdued??? He played better than anyone out there... (i know it's not saying much on the night but yeah) he and obertan lifted the team, and Rooney played one of his best games and should have scored. I'm worried about the defence, but hopefully the way we pulled the game back will give us some confidence.
Man utd champions
How was it bad by CSKA to go Defensive when winning 3-1, away from home, against a team which hasn't lost in yonks at home in the competition and against one of the biggest teams in the world? Sounds like common sense to me and they was unfortunate that it didn't get pulled off their defense were caught asleep one to many times, nothing to do with the tactics.
One United 92
Considering Barcelona "the all mighty conquerors of the world" couldn't beat Rubin Kazan over 2 games with their strongest team and we took 4 points with not our strongest team. Its a job well done. If we had lost it would have been catastrophic as European teams coming to OT would have fancied their chances a lot more. Last nights result showed we're proud of our home European record and aren't going to let it go without a fight.
NotoriousRedDevil
Really can't see you getting very far in the CL - and I suspect it will be an absolute pasting when you do go out. This is not anywhere close to the late 90's/early 00's team.
BlueWolfie
Talk about luck, your lot have had it in bucket loads already this year. United are overated and have been playing well below previous years efforts and have got out of jail a number of times this year thanks to a hell of a lot of luck. One thing is for sure your luck has to run out soon and when it does you will be in for some big loss's. Must say I'm looking forward to that.
bluesnozza
How many times does it have to be said? Luck is a one off, when you do it time and time again it might just mean we're good at it, we play til the last minute.
One United 92
Anyone who talks about luck should go tie up their tongue immediately! You see..... luck is something you're rewarded with after all your hardwork. Great thing about luck is, it doesn't come often to those who sit on their arses. CSKA asked us to come after them and that's what we did consisently for the last 20 minutes. We did that and got rewarded in the end. We also created our own luck with Valencia shooting from distance. Leave your superstitions out of football please. Don't anyone forget, we were also DENIED a stonewaller but all you blinded ABUs missed that one right? Well nothing new. So we were quite unfortunate to lose that one actually.
ForeverUnited
Ohhhh! So I must work really hard to win the lottery. Now I get it.
BlueWolfie
10 minutes of footie from manure, presumably that will be 5 minutes added on at the end of each half.
kennyclementstache
Who compares football to the lottery? oh yea of course, everyone knows you've got a 1 in 14 mil chance of scoring.
One United 92
 

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