Written by Amer Salman | 20 December 2011

The beauty is back. We're starting to play slick soccer and it's kicked the monkey off our team's shoulders. Although we haven't been losing games, the sloppy play had left many to believe that we were on a downward spiral...

No longer!

The 411
United travel to London to take on Fulham at Craven Cottage. It's another game where we have the chance to show the league that we're in business.

Enemy Form
Fulham sit 11th on the table and are your average mid table team. They've gone L-L-L-D-W in their last five and haven't really looked convincing. I caught some of their draw to Odense in the Europa League and they threw away a 2-0 lead to get knocked out of the competition. Low concentration levels = something to exploit.

Players to Look Out For
The danger man for Fulham will have to be Clint Dempsey. This midfield man floats around and often gets on the end of chances. We'll have to keep our eyes peeled for his runs and make sure that he's kept in check.

Collective praise has been heaped onto Michael Carrick after the QPR game. It's been a long time coming and yours truly is also firmly on this "praise Carrick" bandwagon. I think he'll lead the charge for us through the midfield again tomorrow and alongside my man crush Phil Jones, it could be another wonderful display of guile and finesse.

On the Home Front
We're still nursing a buttload of injuries, but it's good to know that Rafael is back in training and equally encouraging to see Berbatov and Chicharito on the bench against QPR.

TSR's Thoughts

  • Patrice Evra is off form
  • Cleverley should be back soon, how will this affect Carrick/Jones?
  • Will we see some Berbatov in action against Fulham? 
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Written by Amer Salman | 19 December 2011

The Oxford English Dictionary defines renaissance as a "revival or renewed interest in something". What we've seen from Michael Carrick is a revival in form that has arrived at a most opportune time for Manchester United.

When I think about Michael Carrick, the word classy comes to mind. In the past few seasons however, classy became sloppy and the 50 yard forward passes that we wanted to see from him became the 5 yard sideway grounders to the opposition. Michael Carrick became our biggest scapegoat and took flak left, right, and center. Recently however, after United tried several midfield combinations following the demise of the Cleverley/Anderson axis, Carrick began to play a more defensive game sitting deeper and winning balls before effectively distributing them to his teammates. In FIFA 12 terms, Michael Carrick went from being a playmaker to a tactician.

EA's FIFA series describes their playmakers as one with xceptional ability to distribute balls to his teammates. On the ground or through the air, he is the guy you want to play through to create chances." A tacticians on the other hand is "fantastic at reading the game defensively. He will excel at reading the trajectory of passes, and will react faster off the mark to intercept passes." It is clear to see that Carrick has become more of a tactician on the pitch and the boys at FIFA are just keeping it real.

His goal against QPR over the weekend was just a result of his augmented confidence. The notion that Michael Carrick doesn't have the ability to dribble and shoot is bull***. The problem is - as it is for most players - that form dictates whether or not one's ability can be appreciated. Michael Carrick is on form, and the red half of Manchester is thrilled that he is.

I'll leave you all with a quote from Ikmal last season, praising Carrick role in the team:

"In essence, he's the playmaker's supplier. Thus, the supplier's supplier: Michael Carrick is the farmer who produces the wheat that makes your sweet sweet Scholes-bread. Which is, to extend the metaphor, then added to by your Rooney-ham, Chicharito-mato and van-der-sauce to make your sublime Manchester United (football) club sandwich."

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Written by Ikmal Salim | 18 December 2011

Whoa. First post in a few months, and I'm glad this game was fated to herald my return to the blogosphere.

Where do I begin? Oh, that's right, with a goal. Valencia crosses it in about the first minute and Rooney gets contact on it – enough to send it into the back of the net. 1-0 in a flash and it was looking slick.

And then, some time in the second half, Carrick does a Giggs and picks the ball up in his own half, beats the entire QPR team (kinda) and smashes/scuffs it home. I laughed, but then realised how much that man deserves that goal. Brilliance.

Overall, I feel very encouraged by our performance today at Loftus Road. It wasn't frustrating as it has often been over the past few matches. The play was incredibly luscious; passes were crisp and sharp, plays were forceful and penetrating. In the first half alone, we had 5 clear cut chances which were either missed or saved on the line.

Michael Carrick. What a player, right? I remember waxing lyrical about his ability last season, referring to him as "the playmakers' playmaker... the farmer who provides the wheat for our sweet sweet Scholes bread." Sure the formula is different now, but he's been immense in the middle of the pitch for us. In light of our shortages in the midfield, we're probably lucky to have a player like Carrick seeing the kind of form he's seeing right now.

And also, Yonny Jevans. One thing we could take away from today's performance would be that he had 4 chances to score, and he scored 0 goals. According to my calculations, that's a 0% success rate. Although the other chances were maybe passable, his point-blank, over-the-bar header was quite Melbourne.

But take nothing away from the fact that he, along with Rio, Pat-Rice and Beast, kept a clean sheet against a spirited Rangers side. Somehow. I'll be honest, Evra got skinned so many times on the left by that white dude whose name I temporarily forget.

What now?
Well... over to you City. They play Arsenal later on, and need to get at least a point to go back above us. Anything less and they'll be staring at 2nd place going into Christmas. Where they belong.

Top of the table!
Like literally! And we've got Fulham in mid-week, so we could be there or thereabouts come Christmas day.

Merry Christmas, Rooney.
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Written by Amer Salman | 17 December 2011

The 411
With our crappy run seemingly coming to a close, it'll be interesting to see how we play against QPR. Right now, Manchester United are halfway on the momentum scale, at the midpoint of the see-saw if you will. This game against QPR is the kicker, do we shoot up, or come crashing down on the proverbial teeter-toter.

Enemy Form
QPR are lying 15th in the league. They are L-W-L-D-L in their last five and aren't looking too hot even with firebrand Joey Barton in the team. They've also taken a blow with the news that Kieron Dyer is out for the rest of the season. Easy pickings? Let's hope so.

Players to Look Out For
Heidar Helgusson is their leading scorer with 6 goals and so we'll need to watch out for any poaching type movements he may try in our box. Despite our normally strong defensive play, we've been allowing some weak goals and now that Vidic is gone, we'll really need to shore it up.

For us, Michael Carrick has really uped the ante recently, and I'm looking for him to continue this form of his. The defensive side of his game is going to come into play a lot here as well with the loss of Vidic. Also, big game for his replacement tonight. Whether it be Jones, Smalling, or Jevans, they'll have massive shoes to fill.

On the Home Front
Plenty to be optimistic about, but just as much to worry about. With injuries continuing to pile up, we're now without Vidic, Chicharito, Fletcher, Anderson, Owen, Cleverley, Rafael and Fábio. Notice that three center midfielders are down to injury. But we've been playing well recently, so one can hope that the rest of the squad pulls it together.

TSR's Thoughts

  • I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the lineup:
  • De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Jevans, Evra, Nani, Jones, Carrick, Young, Rooney, Berbatov
  • Hail to the Jones.
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Written by Amer Salman | 07 December 2011

I'm an optimistic kind of person. When it comes to Manchester United, I'm usually quite forgiving to our players, our performances, and the things that go on behind the scenes. I don't jump on the anti-Carrick and anti-Berbatov bandwagons and I only just recently started criticizing Jonny Evans. But the loss against Basel caused something to snap in me. There should be no more time wasted on forgiving United on their recent failures. Their play has been sloppy and their concentration low. This has not been Manchester United football and the statistics reflect that. After an amazing start, we're now out of two competitions and letting City of all teams run away with the league.

Worse still, the injury list has grown with the addition of Vidic. Now we're without Fabael, Cleverley, Chicharito, Anderson, Berbatov, and Owen. The pain is getting worse for us and there's not much we can do about that. I'm not here to offer any suggestions, but perhaps just vent and hope that Sir Alex reads this blog and realize that there's one angry fan out there. I'm sure I'm not alone. 

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Written by Amer Salman | 01 November 2011

The show goes on. It always does, and after my mini-depression after the 6-1 loss, I think it's time to get back on the horse. The play against Everton was good, at least in the first hour. Now we head back into Europe. 

The 411
We beat these guys 2-0 at their Romanian home last time. Here's to another win to add to our Champions League hail and general momentum. We're currently second in the group with 5 points, two behind leaders Benfica.

Just for the record, I'm throwing all form out the window for this. A clean slate is what we need. Although we beat Everton, it wasn't anything like our play from earlier this season. Let's make it happen tonight.

On the Home Front
Cleverley is sitting this one out. More precaution than enforced spell on the sidelines. Joining him on the road to recovery will be Smalling and Gibson with Giggs and Young most likely to be missing as well. Other than that, our colossus is suspended for this game after the red card he got last game.

TSR's Thoughts

  1. Lindegaard will get his now customary Champions League start. I can't remember the last time we had a tandem goalie system working. But I'm liking it.
  2. Jonny Evans is playing like he there is a tomorrow. Transfer list?
  3. Danny Welbeck is soaring above all expectations. As is Tom Cleverley. A bright future beckons. 
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Written by Amer Salman | 25 October 2011

Quick reminder that we have an FA Cup game against Aldershot in a few hours.

Still devastated after the weekend.

Not in mood to write anything.


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Written by Ikmal Salim | 23 October 2011

Now, I'm not the type of person to blow things out of proportion, but last night's defeat is the battering we needed to wake us up from our stupor.

Fans will, no doubt, quickly jump up and say "Listen, it's just one game. The season consists of 37 more of those"; yet, the impact of one game will never be as scrutinised as it will be this time.

6-1 is a scoreline which, when United's score is the smaller of the two, forces an inquest, a reassessment of what it means to play for Manchester United. Yet, I'm going to argue that last night's performance against City wasn't atypical of our performances of late.

6-1, nevertheless, is an incredibly generous scoreline, given we had a man sent off at the start of the second half and, of the 6 goals conceded, 5 of them came after Jonny Evans' red card.

6-1 is the kind of scoreline you'd expect a serious reaction to. Had it been 2-1, it would have been exhilarating, yet devastating – the element of "being in the game" or "being able to have gotten something out of it" would play too much on the minds of our players and us, the supporters.

6-1 leaves no hiding place for those who should have delivered more of a performance.

6-1 leaves no room for regretting over a missed chance.

6-1 means the Champions of England have a reason to chase that long ball, to win that 50/50, to get up when you've been brutally beaten down.

The script has been written for United's season to reignite.

The catalyst for our revival surely has to come with the humiliation that accompanies the rout handed out by City. Many clearly dedicated fans have pointed to previous heavy defeats at the hands of title contenders or plain old good teams, with the usual result of us winning the league. The challenge this season is to make it a reality.

And, as our favourite pundit-in-disguise likes to point out, of the top 7 teams in the Premier League at this point in time, we've played:

  • Tottenham Hotspur, 3-0
  • Arsenal, 8-2
  • Chelsea, 3-1
  • Liverpool, 1-1
  • Manchester City, 1-6
We've yet to play Newcastle, and we can't play ourselves. In contrast, City has played:

  • Tottenham Hotspur, 5-1
  • Manchester United, 6-1.
It's almost as if there's a reason why City have been able to remain unbeaten – they haven't played everyone who will give them a run for their money. Whereas, we basically have. And of the 15 available, we've taken 10. Not too shabby when City could still easily end up with just 6.

Attention now turns to setting the record straight. And Manchester United does best when we've got a point to prove. Now let's do our job and get behind them, shall we?

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Written by Amer Salman | 21 October 2011

We are their pride.

The 411
It's that time of the year again, and here we are - The Manchester Derby at Old Trafford. I hate City. More than any other team in the world. Maybe it's because I didn't grow up during Liverpool's domestic dominance. Maybe it's because I never saw Arsenal or Chelsea as a real threat to us in more recent times. Maybe it's because they never earned their strength and instead bought it. Maybe it's because they think they're better than United despite having nowhere near the same level of history, tradition, and honor as United do. WE are their pride, not City.

Enemy Form
United and City are the two red hot teams in the league. City are two points ahead of us having drawn one less game and won all the rest. With our statistics almost neck and neck, the battle at Old Trafford is shaping up to be a real dogfight between these two teams. 

Players to Look out For
Plenty of threats from the blue half of Manchester. With David Silva providing a spark to their team which has not been seen before, it'll be imperative that United stop him from pulling the strings. Combine that creativity with the attacking prowess of Sergio Agüero, and you have a very potent attacking force. They are also quite solid defensively with big guys like Vincent Kompany and Nigel de Jong looking to halt our play at every opportunity.

That's not to say that United isn't well equipped to handle the match. With Vidic back and Ferdinand declared fit, our colossal defence will provide a tough test for City's attackers. And with Rooney, Nani, Young, and Chicharito in the team, you can be sure that there will be plenty of opportunities for shots on goal.

On the Home Front
United are still without Cleverley, Gibson, and Rafael as they make their way back from injury. In other news, the trash talking has already begun between the two sets of players as Nigel de Jong and Nani have both made it clear that their respective teams are out to win. Strangely, Balotelli has said that he wants to make peace with Rio. Not quite sure what he means to achieve here, but respect levels for him aren't rising anytime soon. And while Mancini hasn't said much to the media yet, Fergie has gone out and praised his counterpart for his handling of the Tevez situation. 

TSR's Thoughts

  • It'll be a tight game, but nothing a goal won't change
  • Expect some crunching tackles
  • I don't even know what to say, just so giddy with excitement

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Written by Amer Salman | 18 October 2011

The Goals
Not much to say about both our goals. They were both Wayne Rooney penalties which were converted with a strong strike to the goalie's left hand side. Both calls were fair, and the goals were not against the run of play. Textbook stuff.

The Reaction
Unfortunately, the scoreline doesn't reflect the match itself. The first half was largely frustrating. We couldn't get the ball anywhere near the opposition goalie beause of Galati's park the bus strategy. In fact, within the first 20 minutes or so, the closest thing we came to a shot was Anderson's soft and wayward effort which came after a bad clearance. In the words of Aragorn, "The way is shut, it is made by those who are dead, and the dead keep it."

The second half began a bit brighter for us and some adventurous play leads to a handball by a Galati defender in the box. Penalty and goal to us. Unfortunately, the momentum that seemed to stem from the goal was killed off by a red card for Vidic. It was a 50-50 challenge with the ball at hip height and Vidic's lunge earned him a red card. It was heavily debated by the ESPN commentators and continues on the internet. Either way, Sir Alex has gone out and said that there is no point in appealing the decision. So be it. We've got Jones, Rio, Smalling, and Jevans. Another foul by Galati in the box led to another penalty late on that consolidated our victory.  

Despite the win, I was disappointed by how United played. It looked like we were unable to break down the Galati defence with Rooney, Nani, Valencia, and Chicharito in the side. Making matters worse was the ease with which Galati's attack sliced through our lines. While we plugged away, probing and prodding for a decent chance to shoot, Galati found it easy to pass their way to Smalling and Vida and twice in the first half they managed to pull a shot from distance. Nevertheless, the defence rallied and covered well after the loss of Vida to the red card. 

Still, two points in the bag, and our European conquest is finally on the horse. City this weekend. Glory. 

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