Manchester United: Festive Round-Up
So, happy new year to you chaps! It's been a great 2007 for Manchester United I think and would have been all the better if we ended it on top of the table. But no reason to worry as the Red machine is still very much there and that is what Fergie always wants.
So, last time we've met the team outclassed Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. More of the same was expected at Upton Park where Alan Curbishley is considering fielding the tea lady amid a horrible injury crisis. Maybe the treatment list lulled our players into a false sense of security, as to that, I cannot be sure. What is certain is that we have started well, scoring from a magnificently orchestrated counter-attack and looked set to enjoy a great end to 2007.
What happened was that the team fell asleep. No bite, no hunger, very little effort. West Ham's pressing game paid huge dividends but they could not put the ball into the net for a long time despite having the upper hand and had our lads concentrated better we could have put the game beyond doubt by finishing off one of the more promising counterattacks.
And it really should have been game over 20 minutes from time when ex-United defender Jonathan Spector handled the ball in the box. Ronaldo stepped up and I was completely relaxed and was convinced that the ball would end up dancing in the net. Well, it did not. It still pains me. Tevez, having received a standing ovation at the start, was poor and substituted. That should not have meant defeat of course. Two perfect set-pieces, that meant defeat. And a toothless attempt to equalise in the last few minutes.
It was a sickening blow and then, stupid as I am, I watched Everton playing Arsenal off the park with sublime football but profligate finishing and Arsenal winning the game by cheating a bit (no surprises there) and hoofing long balls up towards Eduardo da Silva (that was less predictable).
West Ham's 'obscene amount of effort' (yet again) was put into perspective yesterday when they rolled over and surrendered without even thinking of resistance at the Emirates. Well, I've come to expect that in the Premiership down the years so can't be really shocked.
But back to United. Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick both suffered from viruses during the last few days and Fergie rotated the team really ingeniously, surprising everyone, his players included. Did not work out quite well at London but so be it. Rio admitted losing to his own brother was a real sucker punch, Tevez was moved by the wonderful Upton Park reception and Fergie sent a clear warning to his partying players with a magnificent rant against modern footballers and their values.
New signing Manucho Goncalves might not receive a work permit but if he does, he will strive to become a star, according to himself. We'll see, mate. And of course Dimitar Berbatov's departure is still denied in every corner of White Hart Lane while Wes Brown could join Newcastle and become one of the countries most ridiculed players. As a Newcastle defender, that's quite automatic. That's it, our win over Birmingham will be discussed in a separate article if you don't mind.