31st edition - End of season Jun 3, 2009 16:38:46 GMT
Post by Scott on Jun 3, 2009 16:38:46 GMT
So, another season over and done with. It's hard to believe we've been going so long, with the forum starting back in 2006. We were apparently in our decline then, having finished 2nd and only winning the League Cup. It's pretty incredible to see how our fortunes have changed since then! I'd like to think RoM are United's good luck charm...
Of course we're all disappointed about Rome but we do have to stay level-headed. If someone had offered us this kindof season back in 2006 we would have bit their hand off, so let's not get too greedy! The real highlight of this season was always going to be bigger than the European Cup final, because we had the opportunity to win 18 titles. To do that ranks as one of the clubs greatest ever achievements and we're all lucky we got to be alive to witness it! God knows there are plenty of reds in Heaven celebrating a day many thought might never come. To think we only had 7 titles in 1992 is incredible!
Onwards and upwards. This team of ours are bloody brilliant and here's hoping that in a year from now I'm sitting here talking about our 19th title!
Now, let's get on with it. Firstly, a big thank you to all the RoM contributors this season. We're lucky on this forum to have so many articulate and passionate reds! We will run RoM quarterly next season, with editions coming out in September - December - March - May. If you are interested in becoming a contributor, then just drop me a PM. For those of you already in this category, send me a PM to confirm you wish to continue. Then I can get a rota started ASAP. If you're interested in writing something other than match and player of the month, feel free to send me any ideas, for example, write-ups on films/music/games.
Now, on with the VoM.
Player of the Month
Written by StrefordEnder
When coming to my decision on Player of the month, I had to take alot of things, into consideration, as we had a lot of very important games in May, I had to decide who, in my opinion had contributed the most.
And I could only think of one player.....
He gets my vote as the un-sung player of the season, let alone the month. Fletcher typifies the word 'big game player'. We all know what happened at the emerites, so I wont dwell on that too much, but I thought, before the sending off, and in the home game, and the 2nd leg before the red, he was the best player on the park. I never thought I would hear myself saying, or even suggesting such a thing, when you consider the pitch was housing players like Ronaldo, Rooney, Fabregas, etc.
Its not just the Arsenal games that stick in my mind, against City, he was everywhere, had the real Derby spirit inside him, first to every ball.
The energy & enthusiasm that he shows are just what we need and he has the energy that I dont think has been replaced since a certain Mr Keane left.
Against Hull, he showed excellent maturity to still give 120% when there was nothing on the game really, and guide the youngsters around him through, even though in truth he is still a youngster himself.
We definitely missed Fletch in Rome, I dont think Xavi & Iniesta would have looked so comfortable, and had so much time on the ball, had our flying Scotsman been biting at their heels the entire game. Wow, never thought I would be saying we missed Darren Fletcher in a European cup final.
I have previously not been a Fletcher fan, however in the last 2 seasons I think he has been one of our best & most consistent performers.
So Fletcher gets my vote for May's player of the month, and also my vote for un-sung player of the season.
Match of the Month
Written by Soapy
Oh dear. Writing match of the month for May was always going to be a double edged sword. The best-case scenario would leave me with a plethora of choice, and the worst would leave me needing to brush up on my creative writing skills.
On 5th May, everything seemed so rosy. We were carrying a slender, one goal advantage into the second leg of our semi final against Arsenal, and despite the boasts of a far harder contest emerging from the home team’s dressing room, I never seriously doubted that we would stumble at this stage.
The game began brightly, and pressure from United eventually led to an error from the previously solid Gibbs. His slip let in Park, and despite barely being able to control his balance he managed to slam the ball in, and see us take an early lead. If Park scoring the opening goal came as something of a surprise, then there was an air of inevitability about our second. Ronnie’s long range free kick left Almunia looking like an idiot, although in truth the movement and increasing speed of the ball made it an elusive target. We were now two up in the space of ten minutes, and Arsenal’s mountain became impossibly huge.
This was United at their sparkling best. The football was a joy to watch, at least on our part, if not the despondent Arsenal fans, who, lets not forget, were waiting for the promised humiliation to unfold. Arsene Wengers’ face was a picture.
By now, United had entered the comfort zone. Anxiety had morphed into confidence, and Arsenal’s impossible task of scoring four goals to win had allowed the players to express themselves on he pitch. As is usual in these situation though, impetus was lost slightly, and though we never looked like conceding that many goals, neither did we look like we would be able to make the score line look as emphatic as the play was demanding. Arsenal were allowed into the game a little more, and their possession and attacking mentality meant that a breakaway goal became our likeliest source of further goals.
United are renowned for their speed in the counter attack but even by their own lofty standards, the third goal, when it came, was right from the top drawer. Arsenal’s attack broke down and the ball was fed to Park, he in turn fed the ball wide to Rooney who drove a low cross across the box into the path of the waiting Ronaldo, who duly obliged the move with a powerful finish to grab his second of the match. All of this was accomplished in the space of a few devastating seconds of football.
By now, United fans were mentally preparing themselves for the final. The match was over as a contest and the season was panning out exactly as we had hoped. Preparations for the final could now begin in earnest.
If I had to highlight one player who’d impressed me the most during this years Champions League campaign I would choose Darren Fletcher. So long the butt of both opposition, and United fans jokes, he has turned himself into the perfect defensive midfielder in Europe. He never gives the opposition a minutes peace, and his passing ability has always, I feel, been grossly ignored. He had missed out on the previous years final, and could rightly feel elated that he was going to taste that experience for the first time this year.
Unfortunately for Fletch, his integrity as a player became his undoing in the later stages of this match. Cesc Fabregas had managed to find himself one on one with the keeper in a crowded penalty area, and scoring would have been a certainty. Fletch had different ideas though. It was one of those rare occasions when you would have forgiven any player for just allowing the goal to be scored. The score line would have made no difference to Arsenal’s chances. Fletch though, made the challenge for the ball. With the benefit of replay’s it proved to be an inch perfect tackle. The referee did not have the benefit of replays though, and could only see the collapsing frame of Fabregas. As he pointed to the spot, I was pissed off that we allowed them the chance to ruin the clean sheet. It was only when that flash of red seemingly filled the screen that I’d even considered a dismissal.
I don’t know exactly what went through Fletch’s mind when confronted with that card but obviously anger wasn’t present. He simply sighed, looked disappointed, and began the long walk from the pitch. His reaction should serve as a template for any player who feels they have been hard done by. Emotions running high are one thing but some of the reactions recently have been outrageous.
There have been countless discussions in the aftermath, as to whether it deserved a red or not. There have been markedly fewer discussions about the impact this would have on our team for the final. It is my view, and I realise this is just my view, that this decision paved the way for the limp display in Rome. Such has been Fletch’s impact in our European games that missing him for the final was a catastrophe. Our midfield had no General, no one to win the ball, and subsequently no possession in midfield with which to feed our attack. There were obviously a heap of things wrong in Rome but I still feel this was the biggest single loss to our game.
The semi final subsequently felt like a let down after that though. The final whistle came, the players celebrated making the final, and the fans began their plans for the trip to Rome. I just remember being deflated. All the superb football we had played to get to this point was spoilt by a single moment in the match. Perhaps I’m overstating it, over reacting to what was after all, nothing compared to losing Keane and Scholes for the 99 final but I can’t help but think, especially in the aftermath of Wednesday night, that watching Fletch dejectedly trudge of the pitch that night a the Emirates, that he was carrying our hopes of a European double on his shoulders.