Chelsea Refused Our Gift
Vital United is now back, folks, we'll produce the usual input after the quiet festive period.
Of course, it was quiet only for your humble editor but not for the Premiership. United played four games in 8 days and one of them had not been discussed here yet.
The fact is we've dropped two points at St. James' Park. But I'm not filled with the same fear I felt when we had lost at Upton Park. I'm frustrated but optimistic. The reason of this is simple. Unlike at West Ham, now we played well.
I don't think anyone who actually watched the game may disagree. We created a lot of chances, in spite of the two goals we lost I must say we defended well and the players attitude were also good.
So, why did it not yield a victory? I believe the Reds committed two major mistakes.
The first is painfully obvious: we failed to take a respectable percentage of chances. Giggs, Saha, Rooney, Saha again, Ronaldo again, Park - their names highlight only the absolute sitters of the first half. We should have done better in front of goal, our attackers should have taken a leaf out of Scholesy's book.
Yet we still could have won had it not been for the second major mistake. This requires a bit of an explanation.
Our second goal seemed to kill Newcastle. Conceding immediately after the start of the second half was a bitter blow and they seemed unable to recover from it. The Reds applied intense pressure for a quarter of an hour after taking the lead but they failed to score a third goal that would have all but sealed this game.
Afther the hour mark, this pressure ceased. United preferred to sit back a bit and that proved our downfall. I believe we should have kept on going for their throat until the third goal that looked inevitable. Instead of increasing our lead we conceded a very unfortunate goal and that was it. We could not put the ball into the net after that no matter hard we tried and even the instant difference made by the substitute Michael Carrick we could not win the game.
I still feel our defending was good. We failed to close down James Milner but his effort was a hell of a shot that could not be saved. It was his first goal of the season and it confirmed that opposing players still have a tendency to score the goal of their life against us. Nélson of Benfica, Baines of Wigan, Nakamura of Celtic (he's a damn good freekick-specialist but scoring twice in two games against us is incredible) and now Milner... frustrating, really.
Saha's injury is worrying but hopefully he'll be really sidelined for only two weeks, that would mean missing two home games against Villa and I believe we could cope without him.
A few more words about Monday's game. Scholesy was brilliant, no doubt and he still loves to score goals at Newcastle. Giggs had a good day in the office, too whilst substitute Park Ji-sung proved he's coming back to form but he's still unlukcy in front of goal as he looked certain to score twice in the game but failed at both instance.
Unfortunately, Rooney and Ronaldo both had a day off. Of course, in their case it means they did not take the chances that came in their path and created fewer than usual for the others.
Carrick laid a glorious pass to Rooney as soon as he had come in but that also did not win us the game. I was a bit puzzled to see Solskjaer not making even the bench. He played two full games in the last week but he could still have been here as a sub, in case of emergency.
Of course, Chelsea failed to capitalise on our slip-up so we do not need to worry. Any implications on the title race? I don't know, I miserably failed last time I tried to analyse the results so I will not take the risk now.