Your Ad Here

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Always the victim

Ahead of our match at Anfield tomorrow it is worth reflecting on the media coverage over the past week. Since the early stages of the game against Wigan last Saturday when a section of the Stretford End sang 'Always the victim' there has been a great deal of teeth gnashing and vilification in the press. Although the chant, and the subsequent cry of 'murderers' was short lived and quickly hushed by and embarrassed majortiy, the storm that ensued has been impossible to quell.
For many reds, there is nothing wrong with the chant in its own right. 'Always the victim, it's never your fault' has been sung since the Suarez/Evra affair when most Liverpool fans found it impossible to accept that it was their man in the wrong. The chant is considered to be consise and perceptive, identifying the supposed 'victim mentality' of the merseysiders. Indeed, even the Everton fans sang it during the FA cup semi final at Wembley.
But there is no doubt that last Saturday's rendition was in poor tast. It was petulant. Having witnessed the ourpouring of affection toward Liverpool FC, many reds found the pro scouse sentiment hard to stomach, even in light of the horrible recent revelations. And no matter how much human sympathy or empathy an individual may feel toward a bereaved family, a United fan will never be able to sing 'You'll never walk alone' with any sincerity.
Reds have also found much of media comment unpalatable. Robbie Fowler's suggestion that Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra should be involved in some show of solidarity was particulary laughable. (Why should light be made of unrepentant racial abuse).
During the week, 'we're Man United, we'll sing what we want' rang out from the Stretford End. But pointedly, 'Always the victim' did not. And despite all of our instincts and inclinations, few of us would argue that tomorrow's commemoration should be marked with anything but deep respect and human dignity.

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kagawa Scores...

Shinji Kagawa scores his first goal in the red of United after great work down the left by Bebe...yes, Bebe... You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kagawa: How he will fit in to United's XI

After weeks of speculation United today confirmed the first signing of the summer, Shinji Kagawa from Dortmund. There is little doubt that the signing represents good sense off of the pitch, helping to boost the reds profile in Asia, but there is a strong feeling that it is also a very good footballing decision too.
Kagawa has had an excellent season in the Bundesliga, winning the league and cup. And he played a prominent role in his team's success. In 29 league starts he scored 13 and contributed 8 assists (source: He is also in the frame for Bundesliga player of the year.
The question that United fans will be asking now is where exactlty will the Japanese play-maker fit in to Fergie's team?

There are several possibilities, all of them interesting.

Kagawa is an out and out attacking midfielder. His defensive contribution will be minimal. For this reason it is hard to envisage Sir Alex playing him in a straighforward 4-4-2 which would leave the reds defence exposed against the better sides. The likely alternative is perhaps 4-2-3-1.

Assuming Darren Fletcher's continued absence (until we are told otherwise) such a formation would see Michael Carrick continuing his excellent work in front of the back four with Scholes or perhaps Cleverley alongside. Ahead of them, Kagawa would play the advanced central role.

So far so good; but the major question mark would surround the role of Wayne Rooney in such a formation.
It is possible that he will revert to the out and out striker's position that he occupied so spectacularly in 2009/10 but should Danny Welbeck continue his rapid development, he would surely have strong claims to spearhead the attack.

If that was the case, Rooney may find himself alongside Kagawa, probably to the left, with Nani or Valencia on the right side of the advanced 3. In many games last season United's number 10 found himself occupying similar positions.

But of course Sir Alex may preserve the partnership of Rooney and Welbeck, given the excellent understanding the pair displayed last season. In this case a 4-1-3-2 might be preferred.

This formation would require defensive discipline from both Young and Valencia who would both have to support Carrick when United lose possession.

A third option would be to play a 4-3-3  as shown below

Of course, all of these formations are fluid and interchangeable which is one of the most exciting elements of Kagawa's signing. It allows the reds to play in several interesting and exciting ways while removing some the creativity burden from the shoulders of Rooney.
Key to the success of the new formation will be it's effect on Rooney. He is United's main man. Our best player. And any new formation will have to allow him to flourish.

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

United sign Kagawa (video)

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Praying for a miracle

It should never have come to this; but sadly it has. Goal difference; bloody goal difference. Or maybe Sunderland will get a result against us and it will be decided on points. Either way it seems unlikely that United fans will be celebrating this afternoon. City will beat QPR; no doubt - and I don't mind if I end up looking foolish for having said that.

I have heard many reds say that losing the title on goal diffence would be a nightmare but I don't quite see it like that. Of course when you lose by such a close margin you are left with a thousand 'what if's'.
But if I lose I want to lose by the smallest margin possible. Of course there will always be a million miles between 1st and 2nd in spite of the actual margin, but still.

The torture of hope remains in spite of it all however but realistically lets just hope United win in style.

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Prediction Curve Latest

So far our prediction curve has been pretty close to the mark. City's actual and predicted curves have converged. We rightly predicted that they would have 80 points after 35 games. We had also expected United to be on 82. As it stands the reds have 83. Lets hope the rest of the season follows our expectations.

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

The Manchester United way is best.

The shock elimination of Barcelona from the Champions League at the hands of Chelsea has prompted a variety of responses across the footballing spectrum. For some, Chelsea's defensive resolve was the the defining aspect of a remarkable contest. In other sections however, notably in the Catalan media, the result was seen as a viscous travesty. ''Unjust, cruel, horrible, unmerited. Any adjective is not enough to define the incredible elimination of Barca at the hands of Chelsea. Few times has a team done so much to deserve to reach the Champions League final as that of Guardiola's. And rarely has a rival, with so little, gained that very prize. The fact is that the Blues scored three goals from three chances in 180 minutes. And they advanced to Munich.''
This was the response of the Barcelona based 'Sport' newspaper. And outside of west London there are many who would share these sentiments. Chelsea's uber-defensive approach would have won few admirers among the purists. Indeed the very existence of 'the Chelsea project' is an anathema to many; an expensively assembled mob of over paid mercenaries dressed in the colours of a 'soulless' club that is no more than an oligarch's plaything. 
For the blues to take their place in the final at the expense of a club like Barcelona - a club that prides itself on doing things the right way - seems to many like a disgusting injustice. 
But is it? 
Much of the sympathy for Barcelona is based on what is seen to be 'morally' right. The Catalans, who only recently succumbed to shirt sponsorship, have always wanted to be seen as a 'more than a club' or 'mes que un club' as their motto goes. Home-grown players make up the bulk of the team; the playing style is defined by aesthetics and the attitude of those representing the club has always been one of respectful and gracious dignity. They are the great ambassadors.  
Indeed, that they have been so successful with their brand of tiki-taka football has led many to see them as the one shining light in football; the saviours of the game. If only everyone played football like Barcelona. 
Anyone questioning this idea is branded a heretic; banished to the temple of the anit-christ, Mourhinho and his arch demon Ronaldo. Because, it was said, Barcelona's football is wonderful and morally superior to everything else. 
And yet, over the past four years of Guardiola it is impossible to recall a truly great match involving the pass masters. There have been many truly great performances, but where are the great matches. All the great sides, down through the years, have been involved in great games. Games that ebbed and flowed; were packed with incident and saw heroes emerge in the most remarkable ways. Think of the FA cup semi final replay in 1999 between Manchester United and Arsenal. The match between England and Argentina at the 1998 world cup; Holland v Czech Republic 2004 or the 2005 Champions League Final. The two 3-3 draws between pre Guardiola Barcelona and Manchester United back in 1998 were amazing football matches. 
And yet such wonderful spectacles have been absent in the Guardiola era as his possession greedy philosophy has smothered opposition teams into impotence. 
For this reason it is hard to understand how fostering a style of play that seeks to obsessively hoard possession can be good for football. Football is about matches, not mis-matches. Neutrals want to see a balance between the two teams opposing one another; to see a balance between attack and defence and while we can't critisise Barcelona for playing in a way that works for them, we can question their supposed moral superiority. 
Because Barcelona do not play in the way they do in order to benefit football as a whole. No club does that. Barcelona play to win and like all great clubs they play in a way that is compatible with their identity. It is a style that is designed to benefit Barcelona and only Barcelona. No club could be as successful as they have been without being single minded and having an uncompromising winners mentality.
The Catalan's hoarding of possession was a fascination to behold at first as we marveled at their hypnotic control of the football but after a while it became boring. Once you've seen them do it a few times you've seen enough and, as a neutral, you long for a competitive football match to break out. 
For this reason, critism of Chelsea is unjustified. Chelsea cannot play like Barcelona. Had they attempted to do so they would have been pulled apart. Roberto Di Matteo has a responsibility to set his team up to get a result. In the grander scheme he had a responsibility to football to make a match of it. Therefore he adopted the style of play that he did out of necessity. If Barca had wanted a more open game they should have ceeded some possession to the Londoners. After all, you can't play if you don't have the ball. 
By way of contrast, last Sunday I was at Old Trafford to witness the 4-4 draw between United and Everton. It was an extraordinary contest full of exceptional attacking football. United had 52.5 percent of the ball. It was enough to score four goals against an Everton team that are not too far behind Chelsea in the league. 
At Camp Nou, Barca had 82 percent of the ball against Chelsea's 10 men. They only scored two goals. Two years ago they had 70 percent of the ball at the Emirates and drew 2-2. Both of these matches were one-sided and boring in the extreme with the only excitement occurring when the inferior teams managed to break out and score. If Barca had scored a bag full against either Chelsea or Arsenal it would be hard to argue a lack of entertainment. Goals are goals after all and Messi's five-fer in the round of 16 was a pleasure to watch. But in the average Barca match they spend so much time knocking the ball around that the viewer switches off. 
It can be infuriating. 82 percent and you only score 2 goals? You feel like screaming 'give the opposition a few touches if you are not going to make the most of your possession. Let us see a contest.' 
That Chelsea survived the onslaught was a miracle. Had Messi scored his penalty the game would have been yet another one sided drab encounter. The high excitement levels were generated solely because it was knock out tie and Barca had to score again. Had the penalty been converted Torres would not have had the space to score the second and Barca would probably go on to win another Champions League without letting the opposition have a kick. As a neutral hoping to watch a contest it is infuriating to see them hounding their opponents like possession crazed zombies. 'Let us see the other team attacking too' we scream at the television. 'We came to see a match.' 
So forgive us for not lamenting the exit of the great Barcelona on this occasion. We have the utmost admiration for them and their ethos. They are the best team on the planet. But we do not share the view that they are morally superior. Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are easily their equals in terms of history, prestige and contribution to football. The great Italian sides gave as much to the art of defending. 
Watching the semi final between Real and Bayern last night it was hard not to feel a warm sensation that this was the kind of football we know and love. Two teams, both flawed and brilliant, playing a match that either could have won. It was exactly what we had tuned in for. How inspiring to see Ronaldo, Robben, Ribery, Kaka and Higuain charging at defenses with the match on a knife edge.
This is the way that Manchester United play football. We always do it the hard way; always give the opposition a sniff. As former England cricketer Michael Vaughan said of Shane Warne 'You always fancy scoring off of him which is what makes him so dangerous.' And United are similiar. Perhaps - along with jealousy - that is why have so many critics; we are always fallible but isn't that what makes us human. You attack/ We attack is the United way. 
So for now we've had enough of the suffocating blanket possession of Barcelona. Let 'matches' prevail for a while. We watch football to see our teams win of course. But we also watch it to see contests. That is why the Manchester United way will always be more exciting and romantic than Guardiola's possession fetish football. 

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

Friday, April 20, 2012

Premier League team of the last 20 years

Any Premier League XI of the past twenty years is bound to feature plenty of United players. Having won 12 out of 19 (with a chance of making it 13 out of 20) the reds have been the defining team of the Premier League years. To celebrate the twenty seasons of PL football have invited fans to vote for their XI of the last two decades and we couldn't resist contributing to the debate. Here are our selections.
In goal we chose Peter Schmeichel, and frankly if Schmeichel does not make the final team the whole exercise will have been a farce. There is no doubt that the Dane, in his prime, was the best keeper to play in the league and his 5 titles, including 2 doubles and a treble attest to his winning mentality. The difficulties United had in replacing the Great Dane are well documented and only the calm brilliance of Edwin Van Der Saar (4 league titles) came close to matching Schmeichel's influence between the sticks in the Premier League era. David Seaman won the title in 1998 and 2002; Peter Cech won 3 between 2005 and 2010; and each were fine 'keepers in their own right but its a no brainer that Schmeichel deserves the crown.
Gary Neville gets the nod at right back in the absence of any serious opposition. The former United captain held down his position in the United team from the mid 90's until injury struck in 2007. Lee Dixon was the only other right back of real and enduring quality in all of that time. Of course Neville was never the most naturally gifted footballer but his determination and application stood to him over the years and his position in both the United and England starting line ups was never really threatened for the best part of decade.
Denis Irwin was an equally obvious selection at left back and he was a footballer of supreme style and quality. His free-kicks and fierce long range drives were legendary, as were his ice cool penalty kicks. Defensively he was as solid and dependable a player as there has ever been. In fact, in all of his time he only ever cost United one goal, a bad back pass that allowed Denis Bergkamp to score at Highbury. The rest of the time he was faultless. It was a travesty when David Elleray harshly sent him off at Anfield in 1999, costing the Irishman a place in the FA cup final.
It was harder to choose a centre back pairing. It has always been our opinion that Vidic and Stam had been United's best centre backs in the Fergie era but the criteria for selection here was overall performance over the Premier League years. Stam played for just 3 seasons in England - albeit 3 title winning seasons - but over the Premier League Rio edges out the big Dutchman. Since his emergence at West Ham and his time at Leeds, Rio has been one of the most elegant and effective defenders in the English game. Having won the title in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 he is far more decorated than any of his contemporaries. Of course the Bruce and Pallister combination also won multiple titles but Rio cemented his position in the best XI by proving himself at European level and forming an equally formidable partnership with Nemanja Vidic.
Which brings us to Vidic himself; a defender well worthy of his place in the XI. Having arrived in England midway through the 2005/06 season Nemanja made his mark the following year in a title winning defence. Subsequent titles in 2008, 2009 and 2011 have confirmed his reputation and even though Carragher, Adams, Terry and Keown all have claims, between them they cannot boast as many titles as the United pair of Rio and Vidic.
Which brings us to midfield. And frankly, choosing the Midfield was easy. Ronaldo, Scholes, Keane, Giggs walk into any team - no debate.
Playing on the right wing Ronaldo was named  as the best player in the world in 2008 and scored a silly amount of goals in his last three seasons at United. Since then he has been a phenomenon, only bettered by Lionel Messi in recent times. The Portugal international is probably the greatest player to have played in the Premier League although his very best form has been seen in Spain. Viva Ronaldo Stretford End sang; and what a pleasure it was to have a genuine great of the game spend several of his prime years in our League.
In the centre of the park meanwhile, Paul Scholes has been the best midfielder in England over the past twenty years and the best in Europe if you believe the likes of Xavi, Zidane, Marcello Lippi, Gary Neville and Sir Alex Ferguson, all of whom have spoken of Scholes in the most adoring terms. And why wouldn't they? There is something poetic about the way the the Salford man plays his football. He was an inspiration to Barcelona maestro Xavi with the Spaniard saying ''In the last 15 to 20 years the best central midfielder that I have seen — the most complete — is Scholes. I have spoken with Xabi Alonso about this many times. Scholes is a spectacular player who has everything''
Alongside Scholes, Keane was the defining midfield general of the Premier League era; Bryan Robson having been past his best by the time the league was launched. But Keano was so similiar to Robbo in so many ways. At the time of his transfer to United Keane commanded a record fee. He was wanted by every top team in the land but thankfully Fergie got his man and Keane was to provide the engine for 7 title winning United sides.
And then there was Giggs. What can we say about the Welsh legend. He has played and scored in every single Premier League season. He is undoubtedly THE player of the Premier League era. 12 titles (so far) and hundreds of appearances. He has rarely been out of the top two in the league. But it's not just the medals. There has not been a better left winger over the last twenty years.
Choosing the strikers was the most difficult task. Having said that, for any United fan Cantona is a must. In the early years of the Premier League, Cantona was the man. There was simply no other player in England who could do the things that he could. He was the catalyst for Manchester United's  1990's success; the inspiration to the emerging generation of Beckham, Scholes, Giggs and as such he has defined the league in a way that only Sir Alex Ferguson can surpass. In short, Fergie's signing of Eric made THE difference. It was perhaps the most beautiful meeting of minds that Football has ever known. Eric was the king.
As for Cantona's partner in this fantasy XI, Alan Shearer, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Andy Cole and Denis Bergkamp were all brilliant and must be considered, with Shearer having the record number of PL goals (even if he only managed 1 title). But we have gone for Rooney; possibly the greatest English talent to emerge in the Premier League era. From the moment he exploded on to scene with that wonder goal against Arsenal Rooney has captured the imagination of the fans in a way that few others have managed. His goal against City in the derby back in February 2011 ranks among the greatest ever scored and to date he has won 4 Premier League titles.
So it's an all United team for us; surprise surprise; biased perhaps but the only serious non United contenders were Tony Adams, Jamie Carragher, Alan Shearer, Steven Gerrard and Denis Bergkamp. Viera, Zola and Petit were worthy of a mention too but ultimately only 11 can be picked and United have been the best.
So to recap, here is the team of the last 20 years. Schmeichel, Neville, Irwin, Ferdinand, Vidic, Keane, Scholes, Ronaldo, Cantona, Rooney and Giggs.

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

Monday, April 16, 2012

Get off Ashley Young's back

Ryan Taylor has branded Ashley Young 'a disgrace' and has described the United winger as 'the biggest cheat in the league' in a hot headed twitter rant after Young won a penalty for United against Aston Villa yesterday. It was the second controversial penalty the former Villa man has won for United in a week, having earned a similiarly contentious award on Easter Sunday against QPR.
Taylor's comments came shortly after ref Mark Halsey pointed to spot yesterday and he quickly deleted the offending tweet but by the time he did, the damage had been done. And frankly, the tweet was a disgrace.
Nobody associated with Manchester United condones cheating - and Sir Alex Ferguson has always discouraged diving in his teams - but what Taylor, and millions of others, fail to understand is that diving is only one form of cheating and it is far from the worst form of rule breaking that occours in football today.
Watch any premier league match and witness the array of cheats that exist in the modern English game. Defenders who pull shirts are cheats. Players who take free kicks from incorrect postions are cheats. Time wasters are cheats. Any player who commits a foul is a cheat.
Yesterday, John Terry celebrated Chelsea's second goal even though he knew quite well that the ball had not crossed the line. That is another form cheating. And yet all of these things are tolerated. When Terry leans across a striker or grabs him to prevent him from winning a header in the box, he is cheating. But you will never hear an outcry from the public because that is a form of cheating that is accepted.
Every week skillful, artistic players are thwarted by cheating defenders who, unable to match them for ability, resort to every underhanded trick in the book to prevent the audience from enjoying the spectacle of their skills. A tap on the ankles is accepted; a cynical foul. Conceed a free kick...' yellow card...round of applause for the big defender who pulled down the striker knowing he would get a red card; sacrificed himself for the team.
Strikers who dive are cheats too - of course they are - but they are far from the worst kind of cheats. If a defender can call upon a litany of illegal to tricks to support his game why can't an attacker do likewise? When your opponent fights dirty you have every right to respond in kind...some may say that you have a duty to do so. In such an enviornment strikers have every right to dive. And good luck to them. Football is about goals. When we debate who is the best player in the world it is nearly always an attacker or a midfielder we talk about. Defenders do not capture the imagination in the same way. And yet we allow defenders to cheat our favourites all the time whilst expecting attackers to be whiter than white.
Fairness is a difficult concept to grasp at times; indeed some would say that it is a double edged sword and that sometimes to be fair you have to be unfair, but to go around accusing one man of cheating while ignoring the cheating of another is cleary inequitable and could be described as a form of cheating in itself.
This is a lesson that Ryan Taylor must learn before he goes around slandering his fellow pros. If all cheating was punished it is the forwards who would benefit the most. It therefore stands to reason that as things stand it is forwards who are suffering the most. Once in a while it is okay to allow the sinned againt to commit a sin of his own? Is that fair? Sure, this may be a general argument that is not related entirely to the specific event that inspired it but nevertheless, let's get off Ashley Young's back...or least condemn all cheating equally if we want to ride the high horse.

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Win the next two and we'll be fine

It would be easy to panic after City closed our 8 point lead down to just 2 points today - and in such emphatic style that should it come to goal difference the title will not be heading to Old Trafford - but looking at the fixtures there is no reason for the reds to worry just yet.
Wins against Villa tomorrow and Everton next Sunday should be enough to secure title number twenty. Not mathematically of course, but if United arrive at the Etihad on April 30th 5 points ahead the hard work will have been done.
For City, the Derby represents one last chance to reel in the reds. United on the other hand will be hoping to make it an irrelevance. Just as in 2007/08  when United went to Stamford Bridge late in the season with a deliberately weakened team, Sir Alex will be hoping that come Derby day his team have the required points cushion to absorb a defeat. 4 points would be enough. Wins against Everton and Villa would ensure a 5 point cushion at least.
Not to be disrespectful to either Swansea or Sunderland - who United face after the Derby - but if any of us were told at the start of the season that we'd have to beat those two to win the title we'd have been delighted. As it stands we can afford to lose the Derby. 6-1 or 10-1; any score they like as long as we win the league.
Of course I don't want to sound over confident - I am not - and I still fear that Everton at home may yet be a tricky match, but 6 points over the next week will go a long way to putting our nerves as ease.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Small news but good news

Today's results put United 19 points ahead of 3rd placed Arsenal with 18 points left to play for...which means United have today qualified for next season's champions league.
Now for the title!!!!

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Video of a rare win at Ewood Park

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

City going as well as expected.

Unaware, as I was, that City had been 3-1 down to Sunderland until late in the game today, the discovery that the blues had drawn 3-3 with Sunderland drew a yelp of satisfaction when I finally saw the results, shortly after five O'Clock. Even when I later became aware of the full nature of the match at Eastlands it was hard to surpress the feeling of glee that had been my first emotion in reaction to the scoreline.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Viera mouths off again; implying that premier league refs are biased

Undeterred by Sir Alex Ferguson's withering riposte last week, City 'ambassador' and Arsenal legend Patrick Viera has had another go this week claiming that refs favour United
'' When United play at home they get some advantage that other teams don't get," Vieira told BBC Sport.
"I think when you go to United, Madrid, Barcelona, or Milan, when the referees referee these kind of games, it's always difficult to go against these kind of teams'' the Frenchman said.
"This is the way it is.
"It's something the teams who are used to winning get all the time, so we need to win games so we have this advantage in the future."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Latest title race prediction curve

Title race prediction curve latest 

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wolves V United match analysis

It was another easy win in the end for United who played half of the match against ten men. As you would expect with the numerical advantage, the reds were dominant in all areas and, happily, improved their goal difference significantly; something which they should have done against ten man West Brom at Old Trafford last week.

Highlights v Wolves

szólj hozzá: Wolves Man Utd 0:5 ALL GOALS

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page ed@otmcr

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Who should start against Wolves?

We think Sir Alex may start with the above formation tomorrow, depending on the severity of Rooney's injury.
Valencia and Cleverly are available but with the Ecuadorian short of match fitness, Welbeck may resume the role he has played recently on the right while the boss may prefer the experience of Scholes in the middle.
The central defensive pairing of Rio and Evans seems straightforward and it would be a surprise if Evra did not start on the left. Phil Jones has filled in at right back in recent weeks but the former Blackburn man is recovering from flu, which may keep him out. In that case, Rafael should continue in defence. Carrick is certain to play. Ashley Young is in decent form at the moment and with Welbeck possibly playing on the right, Chicharito should get the nod up front.

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page ed@otmcr

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Easy win for United

It was a relatively straightforward victory at Old Trafford today against the baggies. Last season, West Brom were the only team to take a point at the theatre of dreams. There was no danger of a repeat today as United were completely dominant and were unlucky not to have won by a greater margin.
With Rooney, Chicharito, Welbeck and Ashley Young all threatening, West Brom did well to escape without a hiding, particularly after they went to ten men in the second half.

City drop below the curve.

A couple of weeks ago we laid out our predictions for the run in. The graph above shows the actual performances of United and City versus our predictions for each team. As we see from the graph United are ahead of the curve courtesy of their win at Spurs. Today however City were beaten at Swansea while we had predicted a draw for that fixture. It was a result that leaves United two points better off than we predicted while City are a point worse off. Come on you reds!!!!!!

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page ed@otmcr

Monday, March 5, 2012

United ahead of the curve

Following on from our title race prediction article posted a few days ago, we have prepared a graph to be published each week charting United's progress relative to the predictions we made. As you may remember we had United to clinch the title on the second last day of the season.
With the win at White Hart Lane, United have already exceeded our cautious expectations. The chart below shows that City are currently exactly in line with the prediction curve; but happily United are two points ahead of the rate as things stand.

Click graphic to enlarge. 

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page ed@otmcr

Sunday, March 4, 2012

United beat Spurs 3-1

While we all wanted three points at White Hart Lane today, I think many United fans would have secretly settled for a draw. With City's tough run in there are plenty of opportunities for the reds to close the gap on Roberto Mancini's side; a draw at Spurs would have kept Fergie's men in touch. The fact that United won the game in North London is a fantastic bonus.

Another week, another milestone

Today, Sir Alex will surpass Sir Matt Busby's record. The Telegraph has the story.

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page ed@otmcr

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thoughts about Spurs

As we have analysed here in the past, Spurs have the worst head to head record between the the top 5 teams in the league, having managed only 1 win and 1 draw from their 6 games against Arsenal, City, United and Chelsea. It stands to reason then that they must have a fine record against the also-ran's of Premier League. We have seen the Londoners playing some very stylish football for much of the season with Modric, Bale, Van Der Vaart and Adebayor conspiring sweetly in most of the adventure. Behind them, Scott Parker has been excellent, helping to lay a foundation for the attackers to progress and allowing the full backs, Assou-Ekotto and Walker to get forward in support.

Famous wins against Spurs

2001; a famous comeback

1999: Part one of the treble

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page ed@otmcr

Judge blasts Suarez for provoking wife attack

A judge in Manchester has condemned Liverpool Striker Luis Suarez for refusing Patrice Evra’s handshake at Old Trafford last month; an act that caused an Eccles man to become so enraged he hurled at TV remote control at his wife’s face.
Speaking at Manchester Magistrates court Judge Taaffe said of Suarez  The actions of Mr Suarez were at best ill-considered and at worst the actions of a petulant individual who behaved like a spoilt child and brought contempt on both his club and the many professional footballers who conduct themselves properly week-in, week-out.
“It's undoubtedly the case that the actions of a so-called role model can affect the behaviour of many and the need to act responsibly both on and off the field as they hold privileged position and are idolised by many.”
Although the judge absolved Suarez of any direct responsibility for the assault, the court heard how Mr. Graham Trelfa of Eccles had been angered by the Liverpool striker’s refusal to shake United captain Patrice Evra’s hand and as a result he had flung the remote control into his wife’s eye, promting her to call the police.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Eric's new movie

Here is the trailer for Eric Cantona's new movie Switch; out in the UK on March 30th

You can subscribe to OTmcr by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right of the page(just above the twitter feed) ed@otmcr 

Crystal ball: Title race predictions

With 12 games left in the Premier League season, it is all to play for in the title race as far as United and City are concerned. The reds are well placed on the shoulders City and just 2 points separate the Manchester rivals after 26 games. In recent weeks United have had to negotiate a string of tough fixtures; travelling south to face both Chelsea and Arsenal before 'welcoming' Liverpool to Old Trafford. Happily, Fergie's men remain in touch at the top in spite of the difficult run.
This weekend that run continues as the reds must travel to third placed Spurs. Meanwhile, back in Manchester, City entertain Bolton.
It is not unreasonable to expect that the blues will stretch their advantage over the next few days. At best Manchester United fans are probably hoping to wake up Monday morning still only two points adrift Roberto Mancini's side and only a foolish punter would bet on the reds actually closing the gap in this round of fixtures. But beyond Sunday, what awaits us in the coming weeks?
Today, we will have a look at what to expect over the rest of the season starting with this weekend's round of fixutres.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Strikers report card

As we approach yet another title run-in, United fans, more than any other followers, know what to expect. It is the time of year when every game assumes colossal importance. When each goal is cheered that bit more fervently; when opposition attacks induce nail-gnawing desperation; the sight of the fourth official's stoppage time board draws roars of exasperation or cries of encouragement depending on the scoreline. Serenity becomes an almost mythical, unattainable state. Squeaky bum time, Sir Alex calls it and it is no wonder given United's unshakable habit of leaving it to the last possible second to score. Ryan Giggs' winning goal at Norwich was a perfect example. There are plenty more of them too. So with such vital games coming up, we decided to have a look at the men charged with firing the reds title challenge; the ones trusted to grab the potentially title winning goals; United's strikers.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Who should play against Spurs?

Apart from City at the Etihad next April, United's toughest looking remaining fixture is the trip to Tottenham on Sunday. Last year, the reds earned a hard fought point at White Hart Lane (click on image left for a reminder) on a day when it was United's defenders who were the heroes - Vidic in particular drawing praise. It was the second time in three seasons that the fixture ended scoreless but in the context of the title race it was a point gained for United rather than two dropped.
This year, with City showing no sign of stopping, a point may not be enough. Indeed Paul Scholes claimed during the week that United may have to win all of their remaining games to win the title. If that is true, how should Sir Alex approach Sunday's game at White Hart Lane.

Fletcher undergoes hypnotherapy

Darren Fletcher has revealed the lengths he has gone to in order to beat a debilitating illness which has kept him sidelined for much of this season. Suffering from Ulcerative Colitis, the Scotsman has been searching desperately for a treatment to help him manage his condition and resume his role in the champions' midfield.
'It’s something that will never leave me, but you have to find somehow a way to manage it so that I can still play my football. “I’m trying everything under the sun at the moment, diet, hypnotherapy' Fletcher told reporters at a United Foundations charity event last night. The Scotsman then went on the say that he hoped to return to football next season. 
'I’m taking all my medication and listening to the doctor. “It’s a week by week situation so I’ve not got any timescale on recovery, but the target for me is next season now. If I can come back then that would be great for me.'

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

After twenty six games; how are we doing?

As things stand in the title race, United are in second place with 61 points. The leaders, City, have 63. Third placed Spurs have 53 points while both Arsenal and Chelsea are level on 46 points each. But how does this season compare with previous years?
Below is the Premier League table as it was after 26 games in the 2007/08 season; the year United won a league and European cup double; and it is quite similar to today's
(The table is in the format Total p w d l f a, Home p w d l f a, Away p w d l f a, gd pts)

Welbeck and Cleverley chewing cutlery: plus Danny's stats

Danny Welbeck has revealed the extent to which both he and team-mate Tom Cleverly are desperate for the title this season. "I'm so hungry' the United striker explained to Inside Untited magazine. 'I was just talking about it before in the canteen with Tom Cleverley. Clevz was biting his fork as well as his food and growling. We both want it so much. I don't think anybody understands how hungry we are for this title. We want to fulfil our dreams, win the title and keep winning and keep winning. There's nothing going to stop us.'
While Cleverley has endured a frustrating campaign due injuries, Welbeck has played a key role in the reds title defence; establishing himself as first choice to partner Wayne Rooney. 
Ahead of Berbatov, Chicharito and Owen, Welbeck has made the starting line up in all the reds' big league games; against Spurs (h), Arsenal (h & a), Liverpool (h & a), Man City (h) and Chelsea (a). Only injury prevented him from starting the home game against Chelsea.
From those games he has harvested 3 goals, the openers against both Spurs and Arsenal at home and the winner at the emirates. That is not to mention his fine strike against City in the FA cup. Overall he has 9 goals to date this season. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

How much of a difference has Paul Scholes made?

For many, United's re-signing of Paul Scholes last month was a blatant act of desperation and clear evidence that the reds could no longer attract the top talent or compete at the higher end of the transfer market. Some portrayed Scholes' return as a slap in the face for the reds' emerging youngsters; a signal that they could not be trusted; that an ageing veteran had to be summoned instead.  Others took it as Fergie's overdue admission that his midfield was not up to scratch.
As for United fans, most were delighted to see a legend return but, privately at least, some had their doubts; even if they would not have admitted it. Indeed early in his comeback, the 3rd round FA cup tie against City, those doubts seemed well founded when his stray pass resulted in a goal for Sergio Aguero at Wastelands. A week later, Scholes scored against Bolton but seemed off the pace at times.
But how has it gone since then?

Giggsy's season so far

For Ryan Giggs the plaudits have been justifiably deafening over the past twenty four hours after his match winning 900th appearance for United at Carrow Road on Sunday. At the age of 38, the Welsh flyer shows no signs of slowing down, displaying remarkable awareness and hunger as he strained every sinew to reach Ashley Young's cross at the far post in the last minute of injury time yesterday. To last 90 minutes in the Premier League at his age is an achievement in itself. For a 38 year old to be hurtling in at the far post toward the end of a tough, physical top flight contest is nothing short of incredible.
And yet United fans are well accustomed to such timeless displays from the evergreen midfielder. It has been another remarkable season for the Welshman; contributing well above what might be reasonably expected from a man of his age.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

On the subject of last gasp winners...

...ever tire?

Giggs to the rescue; 900 not out for the Welshman.

As we expected, Giggs and Welbeck started the game today at Carrow road. The two were instrumental in turning the game at Old Trafford back in October so it was no surprise that both were named in the starting line up today. It must also be mentioned that Ryan Giggs made his 900th appearance for Manchester United in this afternoon's match; an amazing achievement - truly amazing.
The fact that it was Giggs who eventually won the game for the reds was a wonderful touch; a moment that warmed the hearts of United fans everywhere.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

For all scousers going to Wembley: remember this?

I'll be there for you, says Chicharito to De Gea

Javier Hernandez has joined Jonny Evans in backing under fire United keeper David De Gea. Yesterday it was Evans that came out in support of the Spaniard, who has made a string of fine saves since his recall to the side (click image). Although De Gea's talent was never in doubt, his physical presence and judgement under high balls has been exposed occasionally since his arrival from Atletico Madrid. But as Evans highlighted yesterday, the young goalkeeper is growing into a popular member of the squad. 
Striker Hernandez agrees. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Norwich v United: Giggs and Welbeck were key last time out.

On Sunday United travel to Carrow road to face Norwich; the first of two back to back away games. When the sides met at Old Trafford back in October United had just beaten Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea in their previous three home matches by a combined score of 14-3. There seemed to be little hope for Norwich.
But the canaries made it difficult for United that autumn Saturday afternoon. It wasn't until Giggs and Welbeck were introduced after the hour mark that United were able to break the visitor's resistance; and but for some wayward finishing Norwich could easily have caused an upset.

De Gea beginning to settle says Evans

After his wonder save in last night's game against Ajax (click on the image, left),Jonny Evans has backed David De Gea to shine for Manchester United, claiming that the former Atletico Madrid stopper is finally settling into the red's dressing room. The spaniard has endured some difficult moments since his move to England but Evan's reckons De Gea's lack of English has spared him the worst of the critisism. 

"Probably it was a good thing David couldn't speak English at the start," said Evans.
"It seemed like he was coming into training and nothing was affecting him. He was just getting on with his game.
"But it was because he couldn't read or understand what was going on around him. Overall, that was probably better.

How important is passing?

Over the past few years Barcelona - in club football - and Spain - internationally -  have demonstrated the value of good passing. With Xavi and Iniesta in the centre of the park, both sides have swept all before them in the global game with their brand of 'tiki taka' football.
But how important is passing? Critics of the short passing style cite the slowness of the build up and the lack of excitement that can result from this apparently directionless approach. Indeed Spain won the world cup after a series of bland 1-0 victories and many Barcelona games are one sided with their opponents rarely getting a touch of the ball; making for a poor contest. For some, it is mere self indulgence, like the guitar player on a twenty minute solo, forgetting about the song. 'Tiki taka' can seem like a style of play that places more emphasis on 'aesthetics' rather than 'effectiveness'. On the other hand, purists would dismiss such critisism as 'uncultured' and point to Barca's wonderful attacking play, not to mention their goal scoring record.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rubbish second half

United V Ajax 1-2 (FT).

The less said the better

Mixed first half

United V Ajax (HT) 1-0; Chicharito.
A bright start for the reds, Berbatov sending a lovely ball forward to Chicharito who turned the defender and then gave the keeper 'the eyes', sending him to ground before finishing into the bottom corner.
Ajax showed little threat but drew level through a deflected shot.
Overall, United have been sloppy in the final third. Ashley Young and Nani need to up it in the second half, although Young does look better down the right than he does on the left tonight.
HT 1-1 (3-1 agg)

United V Ajax: Team Selection

United: De Gea, Rafael, Jones, Smalling, Fabio, Nani, Cleverly, Park, Young, Chicharito, Berabatov.

Subs; Amos, Evra, Evans, Carrick, Giggs, Scholes, Welbeck

England Reds: 6 United players called up to squad

 Tom Cleverly, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young have all been called up to the England squad to face Holland. Ex-red Frazier Campbell has also been called up.

Will Valencia be missed?

He's been one of the best performers for United over the past two months so how will his absence affect the team? The return of Nani should soften the blow of losing Antonia Valencia - out for a month with a hamstring problem - but how do the two wingers compare?

U-N-I-T-E-D, United are the team for me

Click the headline to hear the famous chant.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yaya Toure and Michael Carrick out in front.

With United's midfield severely affected by injuries this season the responsibility for keeping the reds in the title race has fallen to Michael Carrick. And he has not disappointed; producing some of the best form of his United career just when we needed him most as this table shows.

Games = Premier League games where the player started and completed at least 50 mins. 
Does not include the two games which Michael Carrick played as a centre back. 
Only players from the current top three Premier League teams - Man City, Man Utd and Spurs - were analysed. 

Rooney out

Wayne Rooney will miss the game against Ajax with a throat infection

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is Jonny Evans becoming a class act?

Although he can still seem fragile and error prone at times, Jonny Evans has undoubtedly moved on considerably from his nightmarish campaign of 2010/11. His stupid sending off in the Derby aside, Evans has matured nicely this term and, in the absence of Vidic, has settled impressively into his task along side Rio Ferdinand.
Indeed in recent weeks Evans has delivered some eye-catchingly stylish performances as we will analyse with the aid of the tables below.

Monday, February 20, 2012

We're Man United, we've won it five times!!!!!

From the 2006/07 season to 2010/11 Manchester United have been the most consistent club in Europe; surpassing even Barcelona in the standards they have maintained. But as we know, United have won just one European cup in that time while Barca have won two.
While a European League is perhaps a long way off, it is tempting to wonder how the reds would have fared if Europe's premier competition was run purely as a league rather than a hybrid league and knock out cup contest.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Former reds still playing: the best fantasy XI

A slightly pointless exercise in many ways but a debate in the pub with a Spurs fan got me thinking about a fantasy football team made up of ex-reds who are still playing. In recent seasons Spurs have faced more of their own ex-players than any other team, according to the bloke in the pub, and he was able to name a handy XI which included the likes of Crouch, Carrick, Berbatov and Danny Murphy.
But what of United?

Friday, February 17, 2012

The best midfield in England; it's just like Barcelona's

Man City have Yaya Toure, Nigel De Jong and David Silva. Chelsea have Raul Merieles, Lampard and Essien. At Spurs it is Luca Modric, Scott Parker and Rafael Van Der Vaart. Beyond the top four, Arsenal prospect Jack Wilshere and Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard are probably the best. But who exactly has the best midfield England?
Manchester United of course.    

Benitez and Dalglish Both Victims of Anfield 'Victim Culture'

'I want to talk about facts' Rafa Benitez raged before the assembled media one Friday afternoon in January 2009. The former Liverpool manger, who's team were on top of the league at the time was taking a routine press conference when he reached into his pocket for a piece of paper and proceeded to launch an extraordinary tirade against Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson; famously dubbed 'Rafa's rant'.