Twenty Fifth Edition - So it begins...again Sept 30, 2008 19:51:02 GMT
Post by Scott on Sept 30, 2008 19:51:02 GMT
This time last year I wrote the introduction to the first edition of the paper for the season as Champions of England. Now I get to do it knowing we’ve added Champions of Europe to that title, as the chants we’ve been singing on a weekly basis confirm. I’m sure I’m not alone in watching that penalty shootout more often than I should, just to make sure that it really happened. I suppose just like you never tire of seeing Solskjaer get his toe on to the ball to poke it in Bayern Munich’s net, the same applies to John Terry’s miss and Van der Sar’s save against Anelka. Magic.
The start to this season has been slow like last year, and whilst the press are trying to get people excited about our dropped points, it doesn’t take much to work out our situation. We’ve played two of our toughest three matches already this season, whilst both Chelsea and Liverpool have both only played us on their home turf, and Arsenal are yet to play another top 4 side. As the weeks go by, the table will even out again, our players start to click. The prospect of Dimitar Berbatov is frightening and without trying to get ahead of myself, I can only see United clinging on to the title again this season.
In the past couple of months, new designs have been added to the shop.
There’s is also a 20% discount on all long sleeve products until October 5th, seeing some shirts sold for as little as £10. Click here to find out more info.
Don’t for the “Sing a Song for the Unsung” competition, with a hoodie up for grabs for the winner. Click here for more info.
The blog has enjoyed a good couple of months, attracting more fans than ever before to our pages, so do feel free to go and check that out from time to time.
Our Season Five of Xpert XI is about to start and there are still some teams available. It really is a good laugh and I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried it before to give it a go. Click here for more info!
Now let us begin:
Member of the Month
United4lyf is this month’s winner, following thoughtful posts on a range of topics. This award comes almost on her anniversary of signing up at the forum too! Congrats.
Match of the Month
This month’s write up is by Stewart1971, written immediately after his chosen match.
Manchester United 0 – 0 Villarreal
I was going to start this report by saying how it'd been a difficult few days to be a Manchester United supporter. How a dreadful performance against the Scousers had been compounded by the injury to Michael Carrick. How the hero of Moscow, VDS had started the season playing like a drain. Then I thought of Moscow. Then I remembered that this was only the 3rd time in the club's history that we opened a European Cup campaign as reigning Champions. European Champions. Without killing anyone. It's important to remember this (being champions as opposed to zero deaths, although the absence of murder is not to be scoffed at). This is a bloody difficult trophy to win especially if you are trying to win your domestic league at the same time. Gone are the days of wining 5 in a row like Madrid did in the 50's. Gone are the days of beating Zurich in the semis and Monchengladbach in the final as Liverpool did in 1977. Think of all the great United players that never got a winner's medal, even in recent times. Robson, Bruce, Pallister, Cantona. Brilliant players from around Europe like Nedved, Henry and Buffon never won this competition. They got close but never got their hands on that wonderful, ridiculously large trophy. So I'm going to cherish what this team achieved in May. I'm going to fucking bask in it. Worrying about our start to the season in the league can wait. Tonight is about Fergie and all he's achieved with this club. Tonight is about the start of a quest for the chance to be called reigning European Champions a 4th time. To move us alongside Ajax and Munich. To banish any mention of Bob Paisley and 3 cups once and for all. If last year was about celebrating the Busby Babes and everything they stood for, then this year it has to be for Fergie.
Most of the pre-match team news surrounded Ronaldo and Berbatov. As it was we had to settle for Ronnie making his return on the bench while Berbatov failed to shake off the knock he picked up at Anfield. Jonny Evans started at centre half presumably as a run out for the game at Chelsea. Owen Hargreaves came in at midfield alongside Darren Fletcher. Gary Neville joined a select band of players that had made 100 appearances in the Champions league. Villarreal had Nihat and Rossi missing through injury, with their excellent holding player Senna surprisingly left on the bench. Nonetheless it was a strong solid selection sent out by a side that had continued to defy expectations in Spain season after season.
United started with Park on the right and Nani on the left and soon enough both players were occupying Villarreal's full backs, with Nani looking very dangerous. After 2 minutes Hargreaves set the tone by clattering Pires, who despite his age and Arsenal connections still remains a good player. Fletcher also started strongly in the centre of midfield and there was certainly more bite in the middle of the park than at Anfield.
The first real chance of the game came from a set piece, which fell to Rio via a Hargreaves corner. He seemed surprised by the chance, as it should have been the keepers. Not long afterwards Park was denied a clear penalty as he was fouled just inside the area. The Ref looked to his linesman who signaled, "no foul" to the wide consternation of the Old Trafford crowd. This feeling was exacerbated when Park was fouled again in the box minutes later with the same outcome. Park was also involved in a good United move which culminated in the Korean's shot being deflected just wide. The last significant action of the first half came with a good shot from Tevez from outside the box which drew an equally fine save from the Villarreal keeper.
So at half time United had every reason to feel the happier of the two sides as they had most of the play. It was certainly a marked improvement from the showing against Liverpool. Villarreal for their part looked a very neat team, perfectly comfortable playing a patient, short passing game. Their target man, Franco looked a class act and his performance meant that neither of their two absent strikers was missed.
The 2nd half began but it became obvious that Villarreal were going to come out and attack United a bit more. Their bright start was almost rewarded with a goal when a fine move ended with Franco hitting the post. This seemed to sting United into action as the European Champions dominated the rest of the match. Anderson soon replaced Hargreaves and Ronaldo came on for Park, the latter greeted by an enormous cheer. The Portuguese winger was immediately involved and his directness and strong running threatened to take the game from Villarreal. He set up Rooney with an excellent pass, but Rooney's ball square to Tevez was a little behind the Argentine and this allowed the defender to clear off the line after the keeper had been beaten. Ronaldo himself should then have opened the scoring with a header that would have been a carbon copy of his goal against Chelsea in the Moscow final. On this occasion the ball flashed wide. The final clear cut chance of the evening fell to Jonny Evans who hit the post after a venomous cross from Ronaldo spat up on him a little.
So United's defence of their title began in a slightly disappointing fashion. Things haven't really clicked yet. Passes are a little bit behind players at times. Things are a bit forced. A couple of decisions and key moments seem to be going against us (Park's penalty tonight being a prime example) This will all come with time, and there were some real bright points to take from the game. Jonny Evans at Centre Half was a real plus. He's going to be a class defender for years to come. Owen Hargreaves certainly helped tighten things up and this will hopefully be the start of a long run of games for the Anglo-Germanic Canadian. He will be increasingly important to United this season so it was good to see him get an hour of action. VDS seemed to have left Anfield behind him.
And Ronaldo? What do you think? He makes this look easy. Thank god he's back.
Player of the Month
This month’s write up is written by Kokka.
In the first United Champions league game of the season as European Champions, United showed they still have lots of work to do on a fitness matter, our fitness condition at the moment is poor but even with this lack of sharpness, we still have a few players who have been able to come out and show they got good qualities and they still have lots to give to this club.
Ji-Sun-Park joined United from PSV three years ago and always gave you the impression he’s the kind of player who is always try to hide himself in the shadow, the one you don’t really “see shine” like you do with Ronnie.
He’s the kind of player, maybe a team player, that you can always rely on.
Park returned to the game only last year after been sidelined because of injury for about a year, he returned when the season was already started with United on course for another possible Treble (which ended with an amazing double, RESPECT!!)Still, even though he needed the due time to back in shape properly he’s been able to show what kind of player he really is.
We have all seen what he can do when he’s on the pitch and in the Champions League match against Villarreal was the best on the pitch for us, always trying to find space and create chances. He was quick and did a good job also on the midfield when he was needed.
He’s fast, full of skills and it’s not easy to mark him because he’s pretty small and can run away from his opponents pretty easily than another player.
I’m in love with all the effort this player put in every game he play for us, sometimes he may give you the impression is not giving so much or he’s not focused enough on the game, but he does always play with his heart and can be pretty much disturbing for his opponents.
He can accelerate on the wings and also move straight into the midfield and create chances for the strikers to score goals at any minute of the game and also scoring goals himself.
At the moment, along with Tevez, he is the player with more sharpness and I truly believe if he keeps playing like that would be hard for the manager leave him out of the game.
"It has been a hard time for me [with injuries], I have to show my abilities so I don't suffer that experience again. This was a chance to do that and I need to take them because I still believe I have a big future at Manchester United."
I think so far we’ve only seen half of the things he really can do and I’m looking forward to see more and more. The goal against Chelsea could just be the beginning for him.
I know maybe some of you would had given the POTM to Tevez , and I can understand why because I was also unsure who should I should pick, but at the end I chose Park and hope you all like the choice
Photoshop Challenge 2
Congratulations to Pooja, who won with 73% of the vote. Thanks also to Gapi for his entertaining entry. The third challenge picture will be revealed soon and I hope as many people as possible get involved.
I hope you enjoyed the twenty fifth edition of The Paper. Any comments about it please leave in the comments thread on this board