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

Fergie's Recipe For Disaster

It's been a bad day. Watching Arsenal knocking the ball around with the City players not even making a token effort of closing them down... it was obvious that they were saving their energy for the derby at Old Trafford.

Of course the Gooners still needed a lucky deflection and a goal that was clearly offside to claim the three points... but never mind, we always win at White Hart Lane, I thought.

The starting line-up was predictable. I voiced my doubts about the wisdom of starting Scholes in a game which was surely going to be fast and furious but Anderson watched from the bench as Scholes ran out onto the pitch.

The madness did not quite bite in from the start. We were reasonably good early in the game, keeping our shape and stretching Spurs. One particularly fine ball from Ryan Giggs found Tevez in the box but as he pulled the ball back from the byline, nobody arrived to fire home. Why Giggs did not follow the attack is a mystery.

But as the match went on, the full scale of the weirdness of the tactics hit home. It seemed that BOTH Giggs and Ronaldo were instructed to move in behind Tevez to act as playmakers while Rooney (the second best playmaker in the squad) was shunted out onto the right wing where he was laughingly ineffective.

It meant that we had no left side, thus allowing new signing Alan Hutton a very easy and relaxed afternoon, since we could not reasonably expect of Evra to deal with Lennon and provide attacking thrust at the same time. Another effect of the line-up was that the positioning of Giggs and Ronaldo totally nullified Scholes who had no space to exploit with his wonderful passing ability.

Therefore, Fergie managed to take United's most important quartet out of the game. Our only hope was that the defence would be as impenetrable as usual and that we would somehow nick a goal. Well, it was not to be.

We usually have no luck with deflected shots - opposing players' efforts usually go in or at least deflected for a corner while ours are completely blocked. So the consequences were predictable when the impressive Hargreaves lined up to shoot.

His effort was blocked by Dawson (how could he play? He was sent off with a straight red at Old Trafford, how that did not earn an automatic three-match ban?) and it deflected out, right to a Spurs player (of course, such is our luck). Jenas was released into our box a few seconds later where he theatrically tumbled. No yellow card for the dive nor for the handball that allowed Lennon to continue the attack. His cutback was palmed away by Van der Sar... to none other than Berbatov who rolled the ball into the net.

Not spotting the handball was only one of baffling decisions that Clattenburg made, all of which helped Spurs. Van der Sar got a yellow card for indicating the handball whereas Jenas avoided the booking after he hacked down Ronaldo mercilessly and then complained to the referee. Not to mention that somehow all the dubious (and some of the obvious) incidents were all judged against United...

But we could still have won, had Fergie made the right substitutions at half-time. Yet he brought on Carrick for Hargreaves... I was struggling to see why. Hargreaves was our standout performer in the first-half and though Carrick did well, the system did not change, he practically wasted one substitution.

In the meantime, Spurs did very, very well to exploit our stupid tactics. They were keeping possession cleverly, launching counter-attacks, trying to exploit the unusual uncertainity of Nemanja Vidic. Yet their good performance does not explain while we were watching with open mouth as Berbatov advanced from the touchline, then feeded Robbie Keane who stabbed his shot at Van der Sar, fortunately.

So it could have been game over but that would have been unjust. Fergie, in the 60th minute, finally did what he should have done at half-time: brought off Giggs and Scholes, and introduced Anderson and Nani. They did not make an instant difference, taking their time to settle in but finally, Ronaldo was sent out to the left, Nani did his job on the right, Rooney was allowed the freedom of the middle, ably supported by Anderson and Carrick.

The last 20 minutes were simple: United battered Spurs and as the chances and half-chances went, we were screaming in frustration, mainly due to the baffling question: why did we reserve this kind of football for the last 20 minutes? Clattenburg improved after the break but kept on making outrageous decisions: Rooney got a yellow card for diving, deservedly, but Berbatov and Jenas got away with the same offence. Ronaldo got yellow for dissent yet all Spurs players were allowed to complain to the ref whenever they felt necessary...

But Wayne, apart from that stupid piece of diving, started to demonstrate why he is regarded a great player and why is it a crime to keep him in exile on the right. Working together with Tevez who was United's best player along with Hargreaves (the latter only until the break, obviously) he looked threatening every time he touched the ball in that final period of the game. But the breakthrough still did not come and I was beginning to accept another frustrating 1-0 away defeat.

Fortunately, the players are made of tougher stuff than me. Our last attack of the game, orchestrated by the impressive Anderson, brought a corner. Nani swung it in low, Tevez lost Dawson at the near post and poked it home. He got a yellow card for celebrating by taking off his shirt but we did not care: it was a wonderful goal, another proof of the Argentinian's predatory instincts.

Credit to Tottenham for their spirited approach, good tactics and fast football but we deserved a point, even if the equaliser came in the 94th minute. I still believe we are the best team in England but it will be bloody difficult: teams keep on surrendering to Arsenal before kick-off, as City have shown again, whereas they are fighting against us as if their lives were on stake. I would say that's the lot of the champions, but it's not true: I start to believe that the media hype of Arsenal cause teams to fear them and not exploit their obvious weaknesses.

But we'll fight on and hope that Tevez's strike will prove vital come May.




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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday February 3 2008

Time: 1:41PM

Your Comments

And you lot never get a dodgy decision go your way. *****in' little women, have a cry.
Ozi Gooner
That's a good laugh. Teams just agree to give Arsenal the three points in advance, probably over the phone or something, maybe by email, but never by post. The point is that teams just want to give us three points and that's just really nice of them. So therefore based on this new found generosity from the opposition, this logically makes Man Utd the best team in England, and the league table is just a bunch of blatant lies or a Jedi mind trick where the best team is actually second but for some reason we just can't see it. You Man Utd fans are good for a laugh.
Professor Calculus
I like how the writer mocks Arsenal for needing a "lucky deflection" when Utd's goal was clearly knocked over the line by Dawson. Who actually claimed it as an owngoal. "We'll be back in May, to take it away, walking in a Wenger wonderland!!"
Rocky7
the write up started well with good tactical points,that made me feel you knew something about football,then you had to go and spoil it by being bitter,twisted,very short sighted and extremely bias,dont hate ....congratulate!
fran merida
"teams keep on surrendering to Arsenal before kick-off, as City have shown again, whereas they are fighting against us as if their lives were on stake"--Not true at all. take portsmouth for example. Against us at theur ground, they pack everybody behind the ball, but against you at old trafford they just play an open game and let u win within 15minutes. We are top by merit!
ian7
Maybe a decent analysis of youUr tactics yesterday- couldn't care less. United fans are well known for not watching enough football outside of OT to be able to give a balanced view on anything. It is hilarious that you think teams just surrender to Arsenal. We have to deal with your manager telling every Tom Dick and Harry how to handle us (i.e. kick lumps out of us). You can rest assured that Man City will try to give you a game the same way every single London club does for us. As for luck- don't make me laugh. No one can buy a decison at OT- some much so that when the opposition actually get a penalty the muppet red army call for a national enquiry. As for media bias- I had to watch this game on setanta yesterday (I'm an arsenal fan and i actually watch other teams play before pontificating) and listen to Lou Macari co-commentating. To give but one example- after Rooney's dive he declares 'Thats the first time I've ever seen Wayne do that.'. Don't make me laugh. Rooney is one of the Engerland players who dives week in week out but its not his fault cos he learnt it off the evil johnny foreigners like Robert Pires. I couldn't understand another word after that cos lou had his head up Sir Alex's backside for the rest of the game.
Gerry Gooner
the tactical nousse in this sterling critique of Fergie's tactics by the writer makes me wonder њхѕ the manure gaffer hasn't been sacked all these years, while geniuses like Zae are stuck behind a comp playing FM08. And as for lucky deflections, what a wonderful goal by Tevez... or was it Dawson?
G4L
Now all the ManU crybabies will have hand full of work...
KnightOfARSENAL
"United fans are well known for not watching enough football outside of OT" - hahaha dont make me laugh you silly hypocrite. gooners are so far up their own @rse they actually belive media hype that they are somehow gods gift to football. listen, utnited fans its a flash in the pan, we did honorably to get a point after playing that badly away when others wouldnt. whateveer these self-praising gooners tell you spurs are a very very good team and tbh we were outplayed yesterday bar the last 20 mins. remind me, how ddid arsenal fare at whl last time they tevalled. the sheer "look at us were so great" attitude ahs quickly reminded me why they are my most hated club, something i had foolishly forgotten in the last three years while chelsea were our only rivals and arsenal were ditch-digging with the likes of cesspool. but as i was saying SAF is a master of getting a reaction and i couldnt be more confident going into a derby match. arsenal WILL drop points, and contrary to many peoples bel [Edited by hekmat]
united4life
you guys are ***** without ronaldo
anonymous
Its hypocrite you idiot. The last time we travelled to whl it was in the semi final of the competition which Coventry City knocked your 100 million reserves out of about 3 months ago. Anyone who states 'Eduardo will never be a good player' (he's never scored for Croatia see) & 'Fabregas is ***** again' (from a fan who's team paid 35 million for hargreaves and carrick) must be smoking something. Come may if the team that costs 200 million can't win the league by a stretch then i'd be embarassed. As for your last comment- merely re-enforces the stereo type mate.
Gerry Gooner
like i said dont hate...congratulate..u4l i pity you,because you are so pathetic,i was thinking of many insults to throw back at you,but i realised that im so much above that,so i wont lower myself to your extremely immature level,i will just take a moment to remember the tragic loss of those gentleman and ambassadors of MUFC in 58, R.I.P
fran merida
fran merida, this is an argument about football, do not try and bellitle such tragedies as the munich air disaster. to bring that into this light-hearted argumnt totallt goes against the rules and im afraid it in fact shows your immaturity. fair enough,get your kicks out at patronising me but DO NOT patronise a tragedy. i do not weant to go on about it, s i think it is better left alone, bu what i will say is that you should be ashamed, and it is i who pity you.
united4life
Yeah but its ok to call Wenger a paedophile....cos thats just hilarious. Ronaldo's a rapist, Paul scholes is blind, Fergie's an alco....United4Life I don't intend using the tragedy of munich to score points but then I don't find your comments about wenger too appealing. I'm sure spurs fans don't like anti jewish jokes either. Expecting people to respect whats important to you e.g the whole country having a minutes silence etc (which i don't have an issue with) requires a bit of respect on your behalf too. You lowered the tone initially- no one else.
Gerry Gooner
anonymous, I'd like to see how you guys play without fabregas. rubbish.
Star 3000
The fact is guys that City rolled over and allowed you to tickle their dummies... nobody says you are not top on merit but it's always been the case that teams make greater effort against United than anyone else... Anyway, it would be interesting to see what would happen if both Adebayor and Ronaldo were taken out of the two teams. Who would be able to successfully replace their number one goalscorer? Both? Neither?
midlothian99
Must play the best team available against quality
cyjax
M99- have you not realised that arsenal are already without one of our MAIN Goalscorers in van persie. AND STILL TOP. Imagin a fully fit van persie, ade and eduardo to pick from.
ian7
Oh Star, Cesc has not been at his best for 1.5 months now and we're top. LOL Again it tells you how 'much' football you watch outside of OT. Maybe you thought a game at City wasn't worth it? Right, of course you'd hate to watch a City home game, you guys lost there this season.
Lou the Gunneress
 

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