Red Rants Archives for January 2013

United’s defence looks to the future

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Four months into their first season without Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm for 26 years, Manchester United's rollercoaster shows no sign of stopping, with Boxing Day's result against Hull confirming that David Moyes' men seem to have rediscovered the good old habit of snatching results from the jaws of defeat.

United look to finish 2013 on a high

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There is, the saying goes, no rest for the wicked. There definitely isn't any rest for Manchester United nor for their traveling supporters who, having spent Boxing Day in the British City of Culture that will be Hull, for those of you who missed out on that nugget of brilliance will now embark on another long slog to Norwich.

United dark horse for the title

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Wayne Rooney believes Manchester United could be the dark horse in the race to the Premier League title this season and the United striker insisted that yesterday's 3-2 comeback win at Hull has put United well and truly in the mix for the title, even though they're still eight points adrift of Arsenal.

A Hull of a comeback

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Amid the festive mood that has embraced us all in recent days, it would have been easy to forget that, even at Christmas, United simply don't do things the easy way.

And why would they? After two days spent eating and drinking, they probably thought we ought to experience some less enjoyable feelings but, in the end, they took a long hard look at themselves and delivered a belated present.

Valencia inspired by new number

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The number seven shirt has an extremely unique aura at Old Trafford, considering the number of United greats of yesteryear who donned it over the last half a century a list in which, by the way, Michael Owen does not feature but Antonio Valencia admitted he's relieved to have abandoned the iconic shirt after just 12 months.

United midfielder faces lengthy spell on the sidelines

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Not that anybody will feel his absence too much, but Marouane Fellaini is set to spend the next two months on the sidelines after United have announced that the Belgian midfielder underwent surgery on the wrist that has troubled him for weeks.

United's deadline day signing has so far failed to impress in his first season at Old Trafford, playing in only eight Premier League games for United, only four of which were starts.

Moyes hails United’s new leader

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David Moyes has praised Wayne Rooney's influence on his team this season, describing the United striker as a newfound leader, who's now one of the leading voices in United's dressing room.

Rooney's form has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in form since last summer, when the 28-year-old was on the verge of leaving the club, but Moyes' decision to keep the former Everton striker even at a time when many fans would have been happy to see the back of him has been vindicated with Rooney displaying the sort of performances that he was used to deliver until 18 months ago.

Hull vs Manchester United: Can the Reds move closer to the top four?

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The frantic festive season fixture list sees Manchester United travel to take on Hull at the KC Stadium on Boxing Day in search of another three points.

After beating West Ham 3-1 in their last outing, David Moyes' men will be looking to string together a run of victories over the next couple of weeks to close the gap between them and the Premier League summit.

United left-back heading for the exit door

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In news that will surprise exactly nobody, Alexander Buttner is edging closer to leaving Manchester United, perhaps even in the January transfer window, if reports are to be believed.

Buttner, whose tattoos are inversely proportional to his ability to defend and sense of positioning, has endured a torrid time at Old Trafford since arriving in the summer of 2012 and immediately entering the top five of Fergie's most surprising signings.

Welbeck bursts West Ham’s bubbles

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Getting excited about beating West Ham at Old Trafford might be a damning verdict of how far the mighty have fallen this season but, on the other hand, the current campaign isn't one for people who like to cherry-pick moments worth celebrating, therefore we should all sit back and enjoy today's positives before getting on with the Christmas shopping.

All United want for Christmas is three points

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Having negotiated the elements against Stoke on Wednesday night, United turn their attention to the Premier League which, this weekend, sees the arrival of Sam Allardyce's West Ham United at Old Trafford and of another set of fans whose hatred for United overcomes even that normally destined for their local rivals.

No home comfort for United?

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Patrice Evra has said United must overcome the fear factor that they've developed when playing on their own turf this season, which has been seized upon by other clubs with United having already lost three games at home in the first four months of the season.

The Reds welcome West Ham United tomorrow, having lost consecutive home games in the league against Everton and Newcastle, failing to score in both games.

Have we become a cup team?

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Another cup win. This time under bizarre conditions. Nobody fancies a cup quarter-final at the Britannia on a windy Wednesday night. Glad we got through it, all the more in convincing fashion. The score ended 0-2 to United with Darren Fletcher coming off the bench again much to the delight of the away fans who were raucous throughout.

Elements can’t stop United

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Manchester United are unquestionably better than Lionel Messi and they proved it last night.

For years, the Argentine's sheer brilliance has been somewhat slightly overshadowed by fans questioning whether he'd have what it takes to do it on a wet night in Stoke, and while that question remains unanswered, United proved that they can indeed negotiate the Britannia Stadium on a cold, windy night in the Potteries.

Fletcher at his finest

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Manchester United's reassuring 3-0 demolition of Aston Villa last weekend was notable for more than just the club's long overdue return to form. It was a game which also marked the return of fan favourite Darren Fletcher, who finally made his long-awaited comeback after 12 months out with a bowel condition.

A bitter man and the best fans in the world between United and a semifinal spot

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A trip to Stoke on a, presumably, cold Wednesday night in December is nobody's idea of glamour, but tonight's Capital One Cup quarterfinal at the Britannia could prove to be a lot more important than it would have in seasons gone by, where the League Cup was the least important competition of the season.

United midfielder almost quit

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Having come back to play first team football, Darren Fletcher has revealed the full extent of his illness, which was so serious that it prevented him from even playing football with his kids or leaving the house.

Fletcher has been plagued by a chronic bowel illness for over two years now and hadn't played for United since Boxing Day last year, when his latest comeback came to an abrupt end as the condition returned to afflict the 29-year-old midfielder.

“Moyes is the right man,” says United starlet

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Adnan Januzaj has backed David Moyes to be successful at Manchester United and has insisted that the United manager must be given time to succeed, despite a stuttering start to the season, that has seen the Reds losing five of their opening 16 games, as David Moyes' men currently sit eight on the table, 10 points adrift of league leaders Arsenal.

New name emerges in defensive shake-up

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Having been hampered by an alrarmingly poor midfield this season and having monitored a left-back for over six months now, Manchester United, if reports are to be believed, are set to splash about £15m on a centre-back, as David Moyes looks to replace the ageing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

The United manager was at the Vicente Calderon in Madrid on Wednesday, where he watched Atletico Madrid vs Porto.

Cleverley admits being “average”

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In news that will surprise nobody, but in what still is a remarkable hones admission for a modern footballer, Tom Cleverley has admitted his performances this season have been extremely "average" this campaign and that the criticism he's received this season has been justified so far.

The 24-year-old has struggled to impose himself in United's midfield and one has to wonder whether Cleverley would be playing at all, had United the luxury to count on a number of quality options, rather than only on the mercurial Michael Carrick, the dynamism of Phil Jones and the occasional brilliance of 40-year-old Ryan Giggs.

Will United be heroes or Villans this weekend?

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Last season, fixtures against Aston Villa provided plenty of memorable moments for Manchester United. In November, trailing 2-0 at Villa Park after a dreadful first 50 minutes, United produced a typical Fergiesque comeback, with Javier Hernandez scoring two and forcing an own goal, as the Reds emerged with a 3-2 victory.

Fergie’s most famous feuds

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It's all kicking off between Roy Keane and Sir Alex Ferguson currently, and not for the first time. Out of context, it's tempting to blame their recent spat on Keane's inherently hostile nature, but to reach such a conclusion is to overlook one of our former boss' key characteristics: he too sure likes a good fall out.

New Welbz’s a great option for Moyes

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Considering the circumstances that have surrounded United's first half of the season, it'd be a tad premature and probably downright foolish to read too much into yesterday's performance for, good as the 3-0 win at Villa was, we've already been inundated with false dawns and moments when "United turned the corner" this season.

United handed good draw

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Manchester United will face Olympiacos in the round of 16 of the Champions League, after David Moyes' men were drawn against the Greek champions in today's draw in Nyon.

Having won their group, United had put themselves into a relatively safe position as they could not be drawn against the likes of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid or Barcelona and they'll go into the round of 16 fancying their chances to reach the quarter finals for the first time since the 2010-11 season.

Young’s old habits not worth an apology

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Ashley Young has admitted that he's well aware of having matured a reputation for diving but, while he understands the criticism, he has no intention to apologise for the controversial incidents that have seen him thrust under the spotlight this season.

The United winger came under intense scrutiny earlier this season as he was booked for diving against Crystal Palace, before subsequently winning an extremely soft penalty asKagisho Dikgacoi, while another of Young's theatrical tumbles earned United an extremely dubious penalty kick away at Real Sociedad.

The mixed fortunes of United’s samba hopefuls

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In the wake of Friday's World Cup draw, Brazil finds itself well and truly at the centre of the footballing consciousness once again. This is true for Manchester United fans more than most, with the club currently heavily linked with current Brazilian Footballer of the Year Everton Ribeiro, an exciting midfield talent currently playing for Cruzeiro.

Moyes unleashes the hairdryer

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David Moyes has admitted he had to unleash the hairdryer on his players at half-time yesterday, after United produced a shambolic first 45 minutes at home against Shakthar Donetsk and looked in serious danger of slipping up at home against the Ukrainian outfit.

After two consecutive defeats at home, United simply could not afford another mistake and Moyes had harsh words for his players at halftime, which obviously had the desired effect, as United delivered a much improved performance in the second half and secured a crucial 1-0 win thanks to Phil Jones' goal.

European relief for United

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It wasn't pretty, in fact it was absolutely horrendous at times, but at a time when entertaining football remains at a premium at Old Trafford, United got the job done, which is more than it could have been said of them in recent weeks.

In this season of false dawns, a meagre 1-0 win at home against Shakthar Donetsk can't and won't change the state of the squad at David Moyes' disposal, but at least the Reds have given themselves a good chance to progress in the Champions League, by finishing top of their group, thus, in theory at least, avoiding a potentially tricky draw for the round of 16.

Sacking Moyes a costly financial own goal

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"The past is yours, but the future is mine," sang Ian Brown in the Stone Roses' "She Bangs the Drums".

Six months after another Mancunian icon saw the most successful manager in its history depart, the past remains very much Sir Alex Ferguson's, while David Moyes' present is far from the fasts the club had become accustomed to under his predecessor and the future remains an unknown, arguably menacing, entity.

United hoping to clinch top spot

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In recent seasons, United have turned to the Premier League for solace after experiencing disappointment in Europe. This season, however, things have taken the opposite course as United have secured qualification to the round of 16 with a game to spare and a draw against Shakthar Donetsk tomorrow will secure top spot in Group A.

“Blame me,” says Moyes

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David Moyes has taken the blame for Saturday's 1-0 defeat against Newcastle, which has seen United plummet 13 points off the top, as the Reds have now lost as many games in three months as they did in the whole of last season and now failed to score in consecutive league games at home.

A 12-game unbeaten run had seemingly steadied the Reds' ship, but consecutive 2-2 draws away at Cardiff and Spurs have now been followed by successive defeats at home, with United looking bereft of confidence and devoid of any momentum and inspiration as the lack of quality that had threatened to cripple this squad for years is finally being laid bare for all to see.

Out of toon United lose again

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In many ways, this was Wednesday night all over again. There was the dire performance, the inept passing and the lack of tempo, there was the illusory promising spell at one stage in the second half and the woodwork was rattled, as it had been midweek.

There was, to make things even more similar, an extremely well taken goal by a team that had not won at Old Trafford in decades two as far as Everton were concerned, four in Newcastle's case albeit aided by a shambolic piece of defending and, most worryingly of it all, the complete and utter recognition that, having fallen behind, United were never going to come back into the game.

Who’s the “wee club” now, United?

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Never have the words "must win games" and "need to bounce back" been used so often when talking about Manchester United. Not in the last two decades anyway, for during the Sir Alex Ferguson era, setbacks were nothing if not a platform to propel United towards more success and trophies.

This season, unfortunately, lows have been more common than highs and, after a positive run which saw the Reds going 12 games unbeaten, United were outplayed and beaten at home by Everton on Wednesday night, the Toffees' first win at Old Trafford in 20 years.

Are you taking the Mickey, Phelan?

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After a lifetime in football, Mike Phelan may well have spent more time in the spotlight in the last few weeks than at any other stage of his career.

Phelan has been without work since David Moyes decided not to retain his services after taking over at Old Trafford this summer, yet the name of the former United Assistant Manager has been at the forefront of fan discussion after Phelan claimed he had controlled the United team in all but name during Sir Alex Ferguson's last five years in charge.

United after familiar target

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With less than four weeks to go before the January transfer window opens and with United's midfield seemingly on its deathbed after the injury that has sidelined Michael Carrick even though, it has to be said, it did not enjoy particularly good health before that it seems only sensible for David Moyes to look at strengthening his squad next month.

Moyes to offload duo

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If last night's shambolic defeat against Everton taught us anything is that the current squad, quite plainly, isn't good enough to compete at Premier League level, now that Sir Alex Ferguson's aura can no longer be expected to paper over the cracks.

David Moyes needs to strengthen his squad, he needed to do so in the summer and failed miserably, and will need to address his team's deficiencies when the transfer window open next month if he's to ensure that United can clinch a spot in a European competition ahead of next season which, at present, looks far from being a formality.

Moyes’ past delivers a horrible present

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Drawing conclusions and delivering verdicts with December only four days old can be an extremely short-sighted, impulsive and irrational exercise but bar a minor miracle United surrendered their chances to retain their Premier League title tonight.

Even more worryingly, considering the way things have disconsolately panned out so far this season, it could be a long, long time, before we get the chance to challenge for the title again, for, quite plainly, United are simply not good enough.

Moyes’ past could haunt United

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Never has a Manchester United vs Everton match carried the significance it will have on Wednesday night the 1985 and 1995 FA Cup finals being notable exceptions asDavid Moyes goes into his first meeting against his former club withUnited unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions, but nine points adrift of league leaders Arsenal.

Moyes ready for fans’ abuse

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David Moyes has admitted he's preparing himself to receive a far from cordial reception from the Everton fans travelling to Old Trafford tonight, as the Scotsman faces his former club for the first time since leaving for Old Trafford in the summer.

Having spent 11 years at Goodison Park, Moyes developed Everton into a top-eight side but never managed to win a trophy and knows he could be targeted by the Everton supporters tonight.

“Time for Cleverley to kick on,” says Scholes

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Paul Scholes has claimed that it's time Tom Cleverley "kicked on" his Manchester United career, given the 24-year-old has so far "done okay" since returning to Old Trafford after loan spells at Wigan and Watford.

Scholesy's statement echoes the thought of the large majority of Reds, who have grown frustrated at Cleverley's inability to control game and failure to build on the promising signs he had shown when first arriving on the scene a couple of years ago, after graduating from the youth ranks.

Time for a radical change at United?

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If there's been one lesson to be learnt so far this season, is that the options at David Moyes' disposal resemble a blanket that it's never quite long enough, thus always leaving some vital parts of United not properly covered.

Wednesday's superb performance against Leverkusen highlighted how big a difference Shinj Kagawa can make when deployed in his favoured number 10 role but, given the injuries that sidelined Robin Van Persie and Michael Carrick, the formation Moyes adopted in Germany was borne out of necessity rather than conviction.

United in no rush over Rooney’s contract

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David Moyes has admitted United are not planning to open contract talks with Wayne Rooney in the immediate future, as the club seem happy to let the striker enter the final year of his contract which is a risky strategy at best and, at worst, the footballing equivalent of committing suicide.

After a turbulent summer during which Rooney seemed close to leave Old Trafford, before United turned down two offers from Chelsea, the 28-year-old has performed in inspired fashion for the Reds, returning to the form he last enjoyed three seasons ago when he almost single-handedly carried United to the title.

Consistency evades Reds, but Rooney is two good

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Consistency, these days, is at a premium as far as United are concerned.

Having produced a horrendous display at Cardiff and a superb performance at Leverkusen, United stopped halfway between the two today, delighting and infuriating in equal measure.

Twice trailing to a Tottenham side with worries of their own Spurs, so far at least, prove that spending £100m in the transfer window doesn't necessarily guarantee the expected step forward United twice bounced back thanks to this summer's number one enemy Wayne Rooney, that is but failed to snatch all the three points.

Moyes: “No plans to rest Wayne”

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Wayne Rooney produced another match winning performance in the 0-5 hammering at BayArena setting up 4 of 5 goals scored by Manchester United. Without a doubt, he's been the standout performer this season so far with 8 goals and 15 assists in 17 games. That tells you he's directly/indirectly involved in 23 of Manchester United's goals this season so far.