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Entries in Premier League (53)


The Final Games 

At the hotel, we had only a single sports channel available in the room, Fox Sports. And for the final Premiership game of the season, it showed the Liverpool-Newcastle game live. I was sure they would cross live to the Man Citeh-West Ham match should there be any important development.

United was away at Southampton, showed on another channel which we couldn't get. It wasn't a particularly important match, but it would be the last in a series of four matches with Gigssy at the helm.

We still have a chance at clinching sixth, which would still meant no Champions League football for next season.

At the rate I was going, I would possibly fall asleep soon, through combination of overeating during dinner and the long journey earlier. No goals yet so far ...

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Moyes Out

Even though the news was finally out, it was still hard to swallow. United was not your typical sacking club but at the end of the day, results on the pitch and the money men had spoken. Moyes was given the marching order.

As a fan, I had always stayed loyal to players who came to United, didn't quite hit the mark and left. Some of them went into obscurity, while others - like Forlan, Rossi in particular - moved on to greater things. But I wasn't sure if the same applied when it came to the manager?

I have always been a fan of David Moyes when he was the manager at Preston North End in the 90s. He was young and had a drive. He would have made a great assistant to Ferguson and would one day go on to replace the great man.

He did this, but via the wonderful job he did at Everton for 11 years. But his fate was sealed when he was schooled at his old stomping ground by his successor.

The fact that Roberto Martinez proved to be more than an able replacement at Goodison did not go unnoticed by the United hierarchy. Maybe, that kind of flair was what the Glazers craved in the first place. And by that very point, Ferguson choice on who to replace him was a flawed one.

Moyes did not endear himself by bringing in his own backroom staff to Old Traffic the day he checked in. Retaining some of the old guard would have helped in. Checking in late, on the 1st of July to this big job also meant that his pre-season was restricted.

To put it mildly, he did not plan his start well, and had been playing catch up ever since.

I felt that he should be given more time. The management thought otherwise. Maybe they wanted the new manager to be given time to plan for the next season. And as a result, Moyes had to leave, less than a year in the hot seat.

David Moyes had handled himself with dignity and I wished him the best for the future. The experience managing United would have been seen as a failure in his otherwise decent CV, but he could only learn from the experience. He was simply found out and didn't have the time or the opportunity to adapt.

Who would replace him? Well, I was sure that Mourinho had it written in his Chelsea contract that he would take on the customary stance of leaving the club straight after winning the Champions League. Maybe Chelsea would go on to become the European Champion and the Special One would end up in Manchester .... Watch this space ...

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I did everything I could. I followed all the ritual. But still we were soundly beaten. At home. To Liverpool. How painful was that. Not just the scoreline that was the worry, but the manner on which we surrendered did not bode well for the immediate future.

The scoreline actually did not reflect what actually happened on the field. I could see the players trying, but they lack a coherent tactic. Mata, Rooney and Van Persie kept occupying the same space, causing Mata to drop deep into Fellaini's territory to pick up possession. And that isolated Van Persie. He wasn't able to make any runs as the space between the Liverpool's midfield and back line was non-existant. Everything was compact and Gerrard and Henderson were able to pick the runners up easily and release their front two.

And in Sturridge and Suarez - and to a certain extend, Sterling - they really stretched our defense.

The penalties were fair except for the third - which resulted in Vidic's expulsion. They could've had a fourth a bit later but Clattenberg thought otherwise foe some reason. A let-off for us.

We just have to improve. We have an important midweek Champions League match, a must win. It would be our only chance to be in the Champions League draw for next season.

Losing that would pile more pressure on Moysey. And that might just be the final straw...‎


Another Setback

Let me be honest, I wasn't expecting much from the visit to Stamford Bridge. All I was asking was a good account of ourselves. To a certain extend we got that at the beginning of the game. And things began to unravel the moment Eto'o got the lucky looping deflection over de Gea. We were missing the clinical edge at the bottom and top third of the pitch.

Let's start with the defense. There was no real problem with the personnel. Vidic was solid especially, but the positional play as a unit was suspect. Often, Carrick had to drop deep to pick runners up, while Ashley Young lacked discipline in helping Evra out on the left side of the pitch.

Chelski found plenty of joy rummaging down our left side, and the astute Mourinho saw that from a mile away.

The right side was a bit more secure, due to great understanding between Rafael and Valencia, plus also the help they got from Jones.

The fact that Jones and Carrick being pulled to help the rest of the team allowed Ramires and David Luiz to dominate the centre of the pitch. And they were both adapt at making the simple masses and keeping things ticking while the more creative players do the damage.

Then the final third. Wellbeck and Adnan were a couple of schoolboys for the Chelski defense. They had to find space either deep or on the left to receive the ball. Any long diagonal would be snuffed out easily. At this level, quantity of possession was meaningless and you were unable to make it work. The lack of quality possession just spoke volumes. Put simply, we were unable to hurt them.

I think tactically, we were found out. No point pointing to the return of Rooney and van Persie, as it would not do much unless we deploy the right personnel on the wings. This was where Adnan and Valencia would thrive. And when we were this desperate, we have to play to our strength.


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Proper Wingers. That's what we need. 

We had yet to win a Premiership point this year. We were going through a barren spell, getting knocked out of the FA Cup and on the losing end of the first leg of the League Cup semifinal coming to the return fixture at Old Trafford.

It was clear that Moysey was under pressure. At least then crowd seemed to be behind him and that took some of the heat away. But he had to prove that he could handle the situation and winning last night was the first step towards that. Don't underestimate the importance of the win.

It also highlighted the tradition within the team. We always thrive with wingers. And they had to play and receive the ball in the wings. Switching Kagawa and Januzaj at halftime made the difference. That opened up the pitch and allowed the balance for United to built from then back from both sides of the pitch. Both the full backs were then able to overlap causing problems ton Swansea.

By widening the pitch, it also allowed United to dominate the centre of the pitch. It was congested in the first half and with the switch, Swansea had to be wary of attacks coming from the flanks. This allowed Carrick and Fletcher more space to dictate the pace of the game, and they surely did just that. They hardly gave the ball away in the second half.

We have to carry the momentum to push forward. And also wrap Januzaj in cotton wool.

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