Home > Soccer, Sports > Between the Devil(s) and the deep ‘C’!

Between the Devil(s) and the deep ‘C’!

A moment of inspiration and the result was the title of the blog post. And so it is necessary that I also explain the context. But first for some background.

As regular followers of my blog would know, I am a supporter of the Manchester United FC team. And so I revel in everything that is Man United!

The last few days saw Wayne “Shrek” Rooney mired in a new controversy in which he decided it was a good idea to shove his elbow into the face of Wigan’s James McCarthy and then referee had an even more brilliant idea to overlook the incident when it deserved a booking. Well, to cut a long story short, the incident was the subject of an FA inquiry but fizzled out when the referee reaffirmed seeing the incident and dealing with it. Every person even remotely associated with football (except loyal Devils’ fans) condemned the FA for being spineless and scared of The Gaffer instead of handing out a deserved 3-match ban to the United striker.

Staring a 3-match suspension in the face, most fellow supporters of the club would have relived horrible memories of a similar period in the previous season. The team had suffered a 2-1 loss in Germany at the hands of Bayern Munich. But more worrisome than the loss was the injury caused to their talismanic striker, Wayne Rooney. The ankle injury turned out to be United’s Achilles’ Heel and in less than 10 days the entire season unraveled as United suffered a defeat at the hands of Chelsea in the domestic league and though we won against Bayern Munich at home, we lost on the away goals to lose grip on both the Premier League and the Champions League silverware. In with a slim chance at the Premiership title which would have handed United an unprecedented four-in-a-row and a 19th Premiership title, their hopes were blown to smoke when instead of Steven Gerrard, the professional Liverpool player we saw Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool supporter backpass a ball to Didier Drogba allowing him to win the match and the silverware for Chelsea.

Today, a year later, we stand at the same crossroads. Man United have drawn goalless with Marseilles in France and host them at home in a fortnight. In the intervening time, they also face Chelsea and Liverpool in away matches. Man United have been circumspect away from home and Stamford Bridge would surely be a challenge. And herein lies the biggest dilemma for the Liverpudlians! They must choose – to support the Red Devils and probably see their record of 18 League titles smashed this year as Man United become the most successful football club in English Football history. Or they could choose Chelsea and see their chances of making the fourth place and a resulting chance at the Champions League play-offs go up in smoke. This is sweet justice – divine vengeance. A year ago, Liverpool held Man United’s fate in their hands and they sacrificed the match to deny us. Today, we hold their fate in our hands.

  1. abhishek
    1 March 2011 at 18:00 IST

    ya very much tables have reversed………..no doubt………the biggest problem is chelsea has been loosing frevelously………and they will sooner or later will buck the trend. when they will do it ur guess is as good as mine.

    but they will be up for it. despite a gooner i am goign to watch it in the night 😀 that is kind of testiment to the magnitude of this game. very tight it will be. i think 1-1 draw is what we will look at.

    • 1 March 2011 at 18:05 IST

      I have my doubts of how effective Nando would be today. With Drogba out, the attack is weak but definitely not toothless. Plus at home ,Chelsea are very good. They will stretch the defence and our only chance is to attack them from the wings where their defence is vulnerable and then hope Cech obliges us!
      My chief concern is United’s worrisome away form and though they did win 4-0 away against Wigan couple of days ago, it can only be considered a statement of intent and nothing more. Hopefully Rio will start today for, though Smalling has done well, he may not have enough experience to handle Anelka and company

  2. EN-Boy
    2 March 2011 at 18:17 IST

    Refree-ing decisions always even out buddy. Though I feel they are skewed a little towards ManU, as many ppl think Fergie owns the FA. Mr. Coward Webb helps ManU a lot and lets not forget Clattenburg’s invaluable contributions. So to even it out, Chelsea got one in their favor yesterday, whoa what a sweeeet victory 🙂 That will help us a lot to finish in the top 4!! And in all probability ManU will lift the 19th this time, though I haven’t counted any unforeseen casualties in the injury department.

    • 2 March 2011 at 18:39 IST

      The penalty was unfair definitely. And Vida’s sending off is catastrophic considering that we travel to Anfield on Sunday with Ferdinand already injured. This would mean Wes Brown and Smalling handling the CB positions. And I get a feeling that they would not be enough to stall the much more physical Andy Carroll. We really needed Vida out there on Sunday. The best we can hope for now is a draw but looks like it is going to be defeat number 3 on Sunday. Hopefully, we won’t have an encore of last season where the whole campaign collapsed in 10 days!

  3. En-Boy
    2 March 2011 at 20:23 IST

    I would agree the PK decision was “soft”. Fair for CFC, unfair for Utd. Vida sending off was catastrophic, but he demanded that! He brought down Drogba, which is when he should have been cautioned. But the ref gave him the benefit of doubt, the next time he pulled down Ramires right on the edge of the box, he had no choice but to send him off. Neville had gotten away with so many (can’t even count) dubious decisions. It was I guess pay back time for a United CB.

    And yes pool must be planning a slaughter at Anfield, given Utd is missing their two most prolific CBs!

    • 2 March 2011 at 20:30 IST

      Just an aside… ManUtd’s best CB, Vida is notorious for getting himself red-carded in fixtures that feature Fernando Torres! I doubt how good the remaining CBs would be but I would still rather have John O’Shea and Smalling take the CB positions and leave the twins to take the flanks. Wes Brown and Jimmie Evans have been too “out-of-form” to take the risk of fielding them in this crucial fixture. The Gaffer may even look at going to the more defensive 4-5-1 formation asking Rooney to drop back in the midfield… and I hope he fields Berba in the starting lineup. Chicharito is good when you sub him in with 20-30 minutes to go. The defence is tired and his pace is useful. Against big defenders, he gets body blocked too often.

  4. En-Boy
    2 March 2011 at 20:46 IST

    I thought Brown did well against Crawley in the FA cup, and he has been sitting out of league matches because of a rumored clash with SAF?? You are right on money regarding pea. He gets manhandled against big defenders and only proves useful when they are tired..

    • 2 March 2011 at 20:50 IST

      Brown, unfortunately for us, does well against the little teams but against the big boys he gets bullied too much since he avoids contact at all costs. We will need big guys like Smalling (oxymoron!) and O’Shea who are capable of standing their ground against a striker on the run.
      In fact, I think, had Brown been in place of Smalling yesterday, we may not have conceded the penalty since he would have jumped out of the way unlike Smalling who stood his ground, got body barged by Zhirkov and hence conceded a penalty!

  5. En-Boy
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