Date: 6th April 2009 at 8:22am
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I think that its fair to say that our efforts and much improved performance deserved something out of this game, a fact that even surely the most ardent and one-eyed of Manchester United supporters would have trouble taking issue with. The truth is though that our depressing run of results continues, and we now find ourselves a mere point ahead of David Moyes’ Everton, who interestingly enough are our next opponents when they roll into town on Easter Sunday afternoon.

That game has become very much a must win game for probably both teams, although no doubt our visitors from the blue half of Liverpool would be the happier of the two camps, should the points be shared.

That mouth-watering head to head remains a week away though, so for now let’s concentrate on our trip to Old Trafford, for arguably the toughest fixture in our premier league calendar, and another visit to a stadium that has not seen us reign victorious since two Peter Withe goals secured us the points back in season ’83/84.

I always enjoy attending the United vs Villa game up in Manchester. After all if you cant enjoy the atmosphere of being in amongst 75,000 plus other supporters, watching a game being played in such a magnificent stadium, then you really have no right calling yourself a football fan. On the other hand though, our results there down the years make far from happy reading, and the drive home is nearly always a somber occasion, as you relay over and over in your mind yet another reversal, all too often by a pretty unhealthy looking scoreline too.

After the depressing afternoon spent up on merseyside during our last visit to the north-west, Mart brought back into the starting line-up Gabby to replace the injured Emile Heskey, and recalled, long overdue in many supporters opinion, Nicky Shorey, in to fill the left back slot, allowing Luke Young to switch over to his favoured right back position.

Made sense to me. I’ll never quite understand why our summer 2008 signing from Reading has been snubbed and overlooked for so long. I personally haven’t seen him play a bad game in a Villa shirt. Yes he’s made the odd mistake or two during the occasional games, but overall I don`t think he could ever have been singled out as having a shocker, deserving of banishment from the starting line-up, with no suggestion or hint of a recall for weeks on end. Whereas other players have been allowed the luxury of keeping their places in the hope that they might play their way out of bad spells, Shorey has been discarded to the bench and left to rot. All very strange, particularly when you consider that our lack of a naturally left footed player performing at left full back, has all too often seen our line-up lacking balance across the back. Oh well, mine is not to reason why, mine is just to turn up and support the players given the task of performing week in and week out. Isn’t that how it goes?

Anyhow, this was Mart’s choosen starting line-up and bench, for the latest meet up with Sirs lot.

Friedel, Luke Young, Cuellar, Davies, Shorey, Milner, Petrov, Barry, Ashley Young, Carew, Agbonlahor.
Subs: Guzan, Delfouneso, Knight, Salifou, Reo-Coker, Gardner, Albrighton.

We started the game off brightly, very brightly in fact, and for the opening minutes we pushed United back, spraying the ball around confidently and comfortably, almost taking a very early lead, when a John Carew header that had left the home keeper well beaten, was bundled off the line, possibly via a post, by a United defender.

We didn’t look in any trouble, yet out of the blue in the fifteenth minute, we found ourselves behind.

James Milner rolled a pass-back wide of Brad Friedel and our goalkeeper, who I thought was slow to come out and collect before Milly had to make contact, was left with no option other than to handle the back pass. Ryan Giggs rolled the free-kick to Cristiano Ronaldo, who struck a quite superb effort into the top corner. Bright start maybe, but now we found ourselves 1-0 down. Quite needlessly too.

On the half-hour mark though we grabbed a deserved equaliser, Gareth Barry floating in a tremendous ball from out on the right, for the man ‘whose bigger than me and you’ to nod home. 1-1 at the half, and we were certainly deserving of the scoreline, and perhaps unfortunate not to be ahead. Certainly our best showing since the 2-0 victory up at Ewood Park, before our slump kicked in.

In the 58th minute, Stilian Petrov dispossessed Cristiano Ronaldo, and released John Carew for the cross from the left that Gabby was on hand to convert.

We deserved the lead, no doubt about it, the question of course being whether or not we could see out the final thirty minutes to return back to Brum with the points. We were certainly playing with confidence, looking a much improved team to the one that rolled over at Anfield without so much a murmur just a mere fortnight ago.

O’Neill substituted Milner for Reo-Coker, a move I strongly questioned at the time, and an opinion that was shared by many of the travelling Villans around me. It`s a move that I question even more so now. I thought that Milner was enjoying a very good afternoon, keeping the United defenders on their toes, while also doing a fine job for us defensively. The team looked balanced, and in control, and I thought that we lost that edge when Milner went off.

With ten minutes left on the clock, Ronaldo grabbed the equaliser with a low, left-foot effort from 25 yards, a goal that United barely deserved, and then well into the five minutes of added injury time (where did those five minutes come from?), United youngster Macheda`s goal, cracking effort though it admittedly was, broke the claret and blue hearts.

The youngster received the ball from Ryan Giggs just inside our penalty area, turned Luke Young, and sent a superb right-foot curler past Brad Friedel to give United their victory.

What a kick in the teeth. A defeat we didn’t deserve, but as we all well know, you don`t always get what your efforts deserve from this wonderful game. We’ve won games this season when perhaps when viewed overall we didn’t deserve to.

Today the boot was on the other foot. Not that that makes the result any easier to take though. It doesn’t!

Right, the average marks out of ten from our little party of four who travelled up to Old Trafford:-

Player Ratings

Brad Friedel – 6

Luke Young – 6

Curtis Davies – 7

Carlos Cuellar – 6

Nicky Shorey – 7

James Milner – 6

Stan Petrov – 6

Gareth Barry – 7

Ashley Young – 7

Gabby Agbonlahor – 6

John Carew – 7

Nigel Reo-Coker – 5


15 Replies to “Glensider At Old Trafford”

  • only united get five minutes injury time at old trafford when they need it. I know they scored in the 93rd, but when 5 minutes goes up on the board it is a different game, tails up so to speak. how right was benitez when he went on his rant? i hope liverpool d.ick them, and as for riley – i dont think i have ever hated or wished harm on another man as much as i do today.

  • good review… scores I think could have been higher. Still think most of them played out of their skin – not for the last 10 mins though… Surely we can take everton… dear god…

  • Good points about Shorey, he nearly scored when he went on that mazy run and ended up in the box. Thought Carew was the best player on the pitch

  • Great report as always – thanks. I am away so often in Korea now that your reports make the games live for me – especially as wife and son support Manure! Seems to me from reading this that Shorey must be kept at left back for the rest of the campaign. Should Mon also be considering Guzan instead of Brad 1, who seems to be making a few errors now?

  • why wasn’t someone tall like carew stood on the goal-line for ronaldo’s first? this isn’t hindsight speaking, i truly did wonder it before it was taken. having said that, i thought this was one of carew’s best ever performances, worthy of at least an 8. i don’t know how you could think a.young’s performance was on a par with barry’s or carew’s: he was wasteful with his dribbling and it seems recently like he is believing his own hype.
    anyway, i like having shorey at left back – no one seems to ever mention his very good passing ability – much better than bouma. again, however, i read a convincing article in the guardian talking about how full-backs are the most important player in modern football; we would do well to acquire a pair of athletic, composed FBs – most probably from the continent. still, good performance, desperately unlucky.

  • Top report chap. Mon got the team selection right with 4-4-2. Shorey deserves his chance and i was delighted to see luke at RB again. Carew and Gabby were born to play together. Why does it happen to us??!! Heart-breaking

  • Great report as usual GS… I think there is a lot of positive stuff can be taken from this venture into the theatre of dreams. We playd without fear, we passed the ball with confidence. These are all ingreidents that have been missing over recent weeks. I know we lost but we can take confidence from this. We played ManU on there turf and gave them a run for there money and should of won IMO. WELL DONE THE LADS!!! Lets move on from here. UTV

  • Sorry must have missed it but what exactly did Ashley Young do to deserve to be on a par with Barry, Shorey and Petrov ?

    Good performance so why.was it to do with a weeks rest, the team selection, no need for motivation or a poor Utd side, be interested to know your views

  • great match report, totally agree Shorey made the team more balanced and to play our players in the right position was a welcome change for sure.

  • I wonder Mr avfc48 if you would have made any comments, had we have won or even drawn the game? I think Young played his part in a good performance, it was a good team effort. As for Petrov! Is this the same Petrov you said was a waste of money?

  • I’ve been very critical of Ashley Young of late ’48, but I thought that he was back to close to his best at Old Trafford. A constant threat to the United defence, he kept them on their toes throughout, always looking for the ball, getting involved, and playing with the confidence that seemed to have been lacking in recent works. Cant remember exactly what marks out of ten I gave Ashley (four of us take part, total points awarded then divided by four), but yes, I think he was one of our better performers, on a day when many performed much better than they have done of late. Good to see you ‘biggin’ Stan up by the way.

  • As for the improved performance ’48, yes, I’m not stupid enough to ignore the very fact that that was the weakest Manchester United line-up we’ve faced in a long, long time, certainly since Ferguson sent a bunch of reserves and kids to face us at Villa Park in ’97. We could and should have won the game on Sunday. The removal of Milner was a turning point. I felt it was a wrong decision at the time, as did many sitting/standing around me, it disrupted what until then had been a confident team display, in a game that we pretty much had control of. MON should have left well alone. Milner was doing a very good job, both attacking United at every opportunity, and tracking back and defending when needed.

  • Admittedly I watched it on sky but milner seemed to be limping badly when he came off, a knok that made MON bring him off as a precation?

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