Home > Soccer > Les grandes equipes… The Champions!!!

Les grandes equipes… The Champions!!!

As Manchester United sank to another defeat, at home, yesterday, there is a renewed level of enthusiasm among supporters of the other members of the Big4 club. Countless of my Chelsea and Liverpool supporting friends have not shied away from rubbing the twin defeats in my face. I guess that is the price one pays for vociferously supporting the Red Devils. What however interests me is the number of people who support Chelsea, and supported Bayern Munich on 30 March, only because the team(s) had the potential to beat ManU. It speaks volumes for the team’s popularity that there actually exists a section of fans who are united by the shared hatred for the club. It reminds me of the Green Goblin’s dialogue in the movie Spiderman.

The only thing they like more than a hero is to see a hero fail, fall, die trying.

It is a similar case with ManU. People have now become fans of other teams so they have reason to celebrate when the Devils lose.

Coming to the defeats, now I know that all my aforementioned friends (of the Chelsea/Liverpool/Arsenal ilk) are promptly going to label this post as “excuses” but then again… my blog, my rules! What happened at Allianz Arena on 30 March cannot be described in simple terms. Suffice to say that the Devils got a taste of their own medicine. Manchester United have always been a second half team, amping up the pressure, making run after run, counter attack after counter attack in the second half, wearing down their opponents and then punishing the weariness. This has led to some of the greatest wins in the history of the club as the guys came from behind and thumped their opposition. Wonder what Sir Ferguson says to them in the break? However, in Germany last week, Bayern Munich kept good possession throughout the first half after Rooney popped in the opener in the second minute of play. Possession usually translates to goals but the Germans were unlucky on more occasions than one when attempts were thwarted by the goal posts, uprights, deflections and occasionally van der Sar. In the second half the hosts were more aggressive frequently penetrating Manchester United’s defence. Their tenacity was rewarded in the 77th minute when Gary Neville who had been brilliant throughout the match inadvertently conceded a free kick because of a hand ball right outside the box. Franck Ribery duly took the kick and converted it, albeit with some assistance from the wall. As the game trudged along towards a draw the ball stayed in the midfield changing hands frequently as both teams tired. Couple of attempts on goal from both sides went to a waste as shots were fired wide off target on more occasions than one. Van der Sar was pressed into service more number of times in the second half but performed admirably. Then, in the last minute of injury time Franck Ribery made a run for the opponents’ box. As Vidic and Ferdinand took down the danger, Evra was busy escorting the loose ball back to his keeper. No one realised Olic had made a run for it. As Evra lost the ball to Olic without a challenge, the most disastrous thing happened for the Devils. If you think it was the goal it wasn’t. You can pull back a goal. Apparently there was one person who had seen Olic’s intentions. A striker himself, the baby faced assassin saw the opportunistic striker’s intentions. Without any care for personal safety, Rooney threw his body in the way of the shot. This has been a trademark of the young striker’s game where he takes personal responsibility for every loose ball, every lost tackle, every missed chance – his and his team’s.  The veteran Croatian managed to complete the strike but his follow through made him run into Rooney who was sprawled in his path. And as his feet inadvertently tore into Rooney’s foot, the worst had struck for ManU. Their talismanic striker would be out of the game for some time. As Rooney limped out of the game on the shoulders of the support staff, no one knew the extent of his injury. Every Manchester United fan watching the match held his breath. The loss was forgotten. Everybody was worried about Rooney. When Sir Ferguson declared that it was a ligament tear and not a fracture as was feared earlier, the Devils’ fans were relieved. But they also realised the uphill task that faced them in the form of playing Chelsea at OT in 4 days’ time.

When Chelsea came out to play yesterday they clearly were the better side at least on paper. While missing key players like Essien, Ivanovic and Cole, Chelsea had some respite with Drogba being declared and kept on the bench by Ancelotti. Also, while the Blues were rested and prepared, the Devils had returned only a couple of days ago from Germany, having suffered a loss and an injury to their key player. The visitors started off proceedings in style with their fourth minute effort rattling the upright. In a half dominated by the visitors, Manchester United struggled to get the ball forward, often being content defending their own goal. In a brilliant combination play, Malouda ran down the wing to put in a low pass to Joe Cole who deftly back heeled the ball from between Evra’s legs and into the goal. Chelsea had scored! With the score 1-0 against them, the Devils had to do play out of their skins. And it was vintage Reds on display as they came out of the tunnel for the second 45 minutes. They fought harder, ran harder, tackled harder. More commitment was shown to win the ball in midfield and then pass it up to their lone Bulgarian striker, Berbatov who was a forced change to the starting XI following Rooney’s injury. While it was the Devils who made numerous runs on the visitors’ goal, a long pass which found substitute Drogba in the open brought the controversial second goal for Chelsea. As the ball found the back of the net, TV replays showed Drogba clearly offside. At a distance of barely 10 yards from him, the linesman should have done a better job of flagging down the striker but unfortunately didn’t. Appeals for offside by the defence were turned down and Chelsea stood 2-0, the victory sealed. A late burst from Nani deflected off Cech onto Macheda’s chest and then into the goal to give Manchester United their lone goal of the match but it was too little too late. A match that was poised to be the Championship decider was lost on home turf to bitter rivals as their best striker looked helplessly from the press box.

All the fans of the Red Devils are hopeful of a strong comeback against Bayern Munich and in the League. While the home leg of the Bayern Munich encounter is important from the point of view of staying alive in the Champions League, they would also need to get their game together for the League games. Rooney would be out for about a month which means he would surely miss the return leg against the Germans, as well as a couple of League games including the one against neighbours, Man City. The Premiership is not yet lost and who would know better than ManU of late season twists. Manchester United are not chasing the Premiership title. This time they chase history. An unprecedented 19th League title and an unprecedented four in a row beckon the Reds. As for what happened in Germany. ManU probably deserved the loss, but definitely not the injury to their best player.

Here’s to ManU proving that they are truly Champions!!!! GO REDS!!!!!!!!!

Categories: Soccer
  1. Ninad
    15 September 2010 at 19:27 IST

    Hey SKS,

    read this article today! Guess too late, but thought it would be fun to comment on this one. I completely agree with “The only thing they like more than a hero is to see a hero fail, fall, die trying.” And that is one of the reasons I want to see ManU go down. The other reason being the sheer arrogance of ManU’s players and the countless refreeing decisions going in favor of ManU.

    I wonder why everyone ends up mentioning Drogba’s offside in the match but NO ONE ever mentions Macheda’s handball in the SAME match!

    This apart, how much ever I try to analyze ManU’s success in Prem’s modern era, it eventually boils down to Paul Scholes (with respect to all other devoted players in the team). It was proven so right recently in the match against Rangers. The midfield had zilch creativity, they were just taking shots at the goal to no avail. Wonder what will happen when the likes of Scholes, Giggs, Neville, Fergie and Van der saar retire! I am waiting to see that 😛

    • 15 September 2010 at 19:56 IST

      Ninad actually most big teams get away with a lot of things just because they’re big…
      I agree Scholes has been the driving force behind ManU’s success over the last decade and more… His ball distribution and vision is exemplary… Gibson yesterday was just firing away at the goal from any and everywhere… Had you posted this comment yesterday instead of today I would have mentioned the name of Antonio Valencia who was/is a good replacement for Giggs but his injury last night rules him out of this season and I fear it may already be the end of his young career in the top flight.
      And yes it is a scary thought to contemplate what after the people you mention retire. VDS has proven himself to be irreplaceable, the defence is all over the place without Vidic, Neville is out of starting eleven for good, Rio is a shadow of himself, Roo is now in a mega-controversy that could see him beating a hasty path to another club outside England, SAF is definitely in his last year(s). The situation is truly bleak… but this is where the ManU spirit shines through… The same spirit that made them world beaters even after losing most of their first team to that unfortunate air crash in Madrid years ago… I am sure they will rise out of this again… Some of the youngsters are showing promise – Hernandez, Smalling, Obertan, Macheda, Fabio and Rafael… Sadly there is no keeper but hopefully that too would be resolved soon….

  2. Ninad
    16 September 2010 at 22:21 IST

    This apart…I came across this hillarious comment.

    Sam Allardyce blamed Arsene Wenger for trying to influence refs to protect his own players. And one of the readers replied with this:
    “Arsene Whinger and his troop of school girls should either learn to bear tackles or get destroyed” hahahah
    Fab, Arshavin, Walcott, Van persie, Nasri, fall so well into that category!!! I can’t stop laughing…

    • 17 September 2010 at 11:01 IST

      Btw you have just proven the point I made at the start of the post: united by a common dislike 😉
      But seriously… “Arsene Whinger and his troop of school girls” FTW!!! 😀

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