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Gone the Way of the Oily-Palmed Milkman?

fans viewsPaul's second article looks at the Bolton game and how it somehow escaped from United's grasp, asking the question what was missing? If you agree or disagree send in your thoughts and articles using the contact form (link at the top).

A panoramic scan of the seated milieu at the Reebok Saturday teatime would have been enough to put the heart thudding firmly in the mouth of any Manchester United fan. Is that Alex Ferguson, in the crowd, CHATTING AWAY ON HIS BLEEDING PHONE? Relax, you might say, it’s the 21st century, probably just catching up with the wife, and he’s got a strong coaching team…but wait, your man Phelan’s on the phone too, and I suppose Carlos is on Facebook poking his mates in Portugal-this is a technological outrage!

Well, it isn’t and wasn’t. Our puce-faced leader was banished to the stand after rather concisely summarising referee Mark Clattenburg’s first-half performance as, well, not to his taste. Clattenburg, no doubt slighted, acted and Ferguson was left with the very avant-garde technique of tactically setting his side through telecommunication with his coaching staff. For me, it would have been far more amusing for Ferguson to shout the instructions in his hoarse Glaswegian brogue, bellowing like a hooligan from on high or, even better, to smuggle notes like you would at school, along the lines of:


Shall we push Carrick further on? YES/NO/MAYBE


You’ll have to forgive me this levity, for the footballing week I’ve experienced has been as pleasurable as being held down and kicked repeatedly between the eyes by an enraged horse that, with a Pritt Stick as a visual hint, has been told there is no Horse Heaven. We all know about England, and the silver lining is that never again will we have to endure the evasive, inept, clueless imbecility that characterised McClaren’s tenure, not to mention his asinine grin, with teeth so pearly white to stand in front of him requires the use of ski goggles, lest snow-blindness claims you. Watching a comedy film with him must be like sitting with a strobe light…

Anyway, moving away from the luminous qualities of McClown’s (oh, tabloid perfection) gnashers, the Premiership thankfully returned at the weekend, and with it a tricky, although definitely attainable three points at Bolton. By dint of a neophyte fit of defensive pique by Pique, the hugely promising Spanish defender, and some inadequate finishing by Tevez, we left with nothing but the receding back of Arsenal to look at and the horrid stench of Liverpool’s breath hot on our necks. Saha was his usual bustlingly ineffective self, though the performance of the team as a whole was not bad by any stretch, the tireless Owen Hargreaves putting himself about energetically as well as displaying some rather accomplished set-piece technique. The man who scored Bolton’s winner is, for me, the type of player we possess but don’t have; quick, French and a reliable goalscorer, though Anelka might prove more hardy than Saha, that’s not difficult, as I’ve seen Rich Tea biscuits soaked in tea that are hardier than our sporadic French centre-forward. I would’ve thought Ferguson will be looking long and hard across Greater Manchester with a view to bringing the temperamental Frenchman to Old Trafford in January and it’s certainly a move I would agree with, especially as he could play in the Champion’s League.

We have already heard why Ferguson was sent away, and in some senses he was correct. Bolton, in the direct, no-nonsense style so their own, set about United with seasoned vigour, the stocky Patrice Evra absorbing a lot of the punishment from the bellicose and limited Kevin Davies and Bolton merely there to stop us playing, which they didn’t really do; every time I see Tevez darting front post I’m convinced he’ll score, and yet the ball contrives to squirm away from the net. We passed the ball fairly well and to look at the players absent, Messrs Ronaldo, Rooney and Scholes to name a few, it is understandable why our attacking play seemed slightly blunted.

My primary worry however is that United moaned about the battle. For years, Ferguson has prided himself on the fact that he builds talented yet robust teams. Admittedly, United were missing some of the more feisty players yesterday, namely Neville, Rooney, Scholes, Vidic and even Ronaldo (you wouldn’t want to fight him), the type of players who don’t mind mixing it as well as playing the pretty stuff. I just don’t think you can imagine the likes of Robson, Bruce, Hughes and Keane complaining of the rough stuff, and they all could play a bit too. I just worry that when you look at the likes of Carrick, Nani and Saha, you see the ability but maybe not the grit, and that is as necessary as anything over the course of a season, especially in an improved league like ours. I just think that on Saturday, United, like the oily-palmed milkman, dropped their bottle, and in a very un-Man Utd thing to do, looked to the referee for protection we should have provided ourselves.

Onwards and upwards though, and we have a European tie against Sporting tomorrow night (Tuesday). Having already qualified, expect run-outs for some of the younger lads, Simpson and Pique primarily, and full games for Nani and Anderson as we seek to expand their experience. Sporting have been in dreadful form of late, and providing United turn in a proficient performance we should walk away winners. Then we’re on to Fulham next Monday night, another game we really should win and hopefully there we can get ourselves back on track.

Come on United (and come on Mourinho for England J)


Paul M

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