From My Seat: Man United (H)

an get the ground looking great but yet can’t fix the escalators on the top balcony. Most people seemed happy enough with the result but a few moans about the style of play. I reckon we can play any style the manager wants so long as we show improvement and gain the confidence to play with a fluidity that will not only be better on the eye but more importantly bring more wins. In football confidence is a very big thing.

Ken Buckley 05/12/2016 19comments  |  Jump to last

A cold day was made warmer as we settled in the Room of Nonsense and rejoiced in watching our cousins go from heroes to zeros whilst baiting the few red-shirted ones present. We did discuss whether Big Ron should indeed introduce some of the U23 players or not.

The teams were beamed to hand-held electronic devices and the answer from Ron was “no”, although Holgate made the bench and had the company of Ross and Jags along with Lennon but not Cleverley whose promotion to a starting berth was not well received. Whether Ron is right about the non-introduction of some youngsters or not on the basis they are not yet ready I don’t know but he sees them every day and with none of the rich C.L. clubs from the four major leagues in Europe showing any interest in our youngsters then I reckon he is right.

Talking of Holgate, remember the first game of the season when he got on the wrong side of his man and the Spurs lad scored well an identical situation occurred today but this time he did it right and it was his diving header that saved a goal. Shows the lad is willing to learn, eh.

The walk up was a chilly one but the festivities on Goodison Road were as popular as ever with Goodison looking resplendent bathed in Blue light. Inside well in time for Z-Cars and then the minute’s silence for the victims of that terrible plane crash in Brazil which was observed wonderfully by all the fans in the ground.

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From the kick off it was clear one lesson had been driven home from recent games in that we started fast and looked up for it. It took the visitors a little while to get used to the Everton approach but as the game settled United came into it more and I wondered if the hundreds of millions they had spent in the summer on players would start to dominate and dictate. Well they did but not by that much and a great midfield battle for supremacy started to take place as the giant Pogba was taken on by the much lesser giant Gana. Both would have important parts to play in the whole 95 minutes. On the day I believe Gana won that battle.

As the half started to settle Barry let Ibrahimovic know reputations meant little to him and left him in a heap on the deck. He was booked but it fired others a little and Funes was next to let him know he was about with a strong but well-timed tackle, one of those that Jose says is a sending off for an opponent but a great tackle for a Manc.

Shortly after a Manc should have definitely been red carded when Rojo thundered into Gana with both feet off the ground studs up and in full view of the ref Mr Oliver who saw it as only a yellow-card offence. Do refs now make the laws up as they go along as and when they like? Luckily our man got up without the histrionics of most players and I wondered did that have any bearing on the refs action. IT SHOULDN’T HAVE.

United seemed now to be having the better of things with good, quick build-up through midfield but certainly not all their own way. Their travelling fans were in full voice but as we attacked more our fans got themselves heard, apart from a few groans when the long ball became a hoof to no one.

From one attack we gained a free kick which Mirallas took well and a scrambled clearance went to Cleverly on the edge but he made a hash of it by either mis- hitting it or just a poor hurried flash. Anyway still no shots on target for either side. Lukaku showed his strength to get past his man and make ground and feed Bolasie to run on goal with Mirallas free at the far post. Bolasie smashed the ball across goal and out the other side. If it was a shot it was woeful if it was a cross it was a disgrace.

United replied with a good break when Pogba fed Ibrahimovic in space and he effortlessly found Mkhitaryan on a run into the box when a superb sliding well timed tackle from Funes saved the day. With the half ticking down and the clock passed the 40 minute mark when I thought I noticed some confidence coming back into both our play and players and thought, if we can get in all square Ron can assure them if we play as we can a win could be on. I wish I didn’t think those things because the next thing I saw was United lob one forward. Looked like meat and drink for our defenders who were back until the sight of the giant yellow peril careering out of his goal looking like his brakes had gone and the ball at the feet of Ibrahimovic. He was 4 yards out of his area when Ibrahimovic lobbed him. Funes Mori, who was ready to tackle Ibrahimovic, looked shell shocked for a vital split second which prevented him getting back to maybe clear before the ball bounced up, hit underside of bar came down, hit the post and Funes hooked away. It may have fooled human eyes but goal-line technology rules and we are yet again going into half time 1-0 down.

H/T 0-1

The half time chat was of a bit of a better start than we had been having and most agreed the manager has a fair way to go to get us properly firing. January shouldn’t be seen as the saviour to all our ills as January is never that productive for most teams. I reckon he needs to know his squad and how to get the best from their individual abilities and weld them into a team until we can get in players to improve on what he is able to build with the present squad. It might take more time than we think.

Second half and before you know it we have a flash point as a United cross is met by Coleman who turns and beats Ibrahimovic who chases him and floors him and lands on top of him. From my seat the Swede kicks Coleman slyly as he pretends he is trying to get up. It looked deliberate to me but the ref was close and gave nothing. I thought that’s two he has bottled in their favour perhaps he will have a conscience and give us a pen. Spooky or what?

The game ebbed and flowed with Gana superb in the middle of the park; in fact the best I have seen him play this season. Then I had that dreadful thought of what happens when he is away in January at the ANC. Still that’s a problem for the manager; we will see how he copes. Could James McCarthy get fully fit and do the business? Just a thought.

No shots on target as the half went on until Lukaku got on the ball and played a one-two-three with Mirallas who cut in and hit a blockbuster which unfortunately hit the keeper’s arm and deflected over the bar. “IF ONLY,” we all thought as the ball went for a corner. Still, I suppose it’s good to have a good keeper who is also lucky.

United had a good spell with the highlight being an attack from us that had Cleverley on the edge of their box but he dawdled and the ball was taken from him and the clearance found Ibrahimovic midway who sent a good pass to the fast running Pogba. He fed Mkhitaryan whose shot was blocked by Coleman but he won it back with some tenacity and played it across the box to Carrick who slipped in Herrera. He thumped one against the bar and the rebound out was picked up by Mirallas who quickly made ground and played in Bolasie on the right but once again his cross was woeful and just drifted out.

Mirallas was quickly involved again when he ran with the ball and fed a peach of a pass to Gana who hit a swerve ball that had the keeper scrambling. Around the hour mark Big Ron decided on plan B and made three subs in quick succession. First it was Cleverley and Deulofeu came on looking determined to make his mark and he was soon going at pace and twisting and turning his man but, as ever, it is that end product that is missing.

We then welcomed Holgate for Coleman who was decidedly the worse for the Ibrahimovic mauling and one minute later Bolasie limped off in favour of Valencia. This was an interesting one in trying to work out what position he was supposed to take up but whatever it was it suited Lukaku who seemed to come more committed and sharp on the introduction of the loanee. I thought I hope Barry doesn’t get a second yellow now.

Mirallas was having one of his best games of the season so far and was a pest to the United rearguard. He picked up the ball midfield and sprayed a superb 39-yard pass out to the unmarked Deulofeu who, seeing his route to goal blocked, played it back to Holgate who put in a cracking cross that saw Valencia rise highest and head the ball down toward goal but, alas, it was straight to the keeper.

The clock was ticking down, the crowd were doing their best to roar the lads on and they had a chance to turn up the volume when Barry, who had been solid throughout and could be seen to be playing a captain’s part with his gestures and with that clock ticking, was trying to help fashion a joined up approach to getting someone free in their box. Some fans were leaving now even though we were probably having our best sustained spell of the game. Jose sent on Fellaini who was booed by some and clapped by others. “Give us an o.g. laa!” I shouted.

Barry took up the ball in midfield, saw Baines go past him up the left wing and our captain played the ball with just the right pace for Baines to control and look up. Finding his route for a cross or a run blocked, he turned and played it back to the get-out man Barry. He took one pace, looked up and slid a peach into the box for our standout man Gana to turn with a free run on goal. (Who says our holding midfielders don’t get forward?) A player who used to come to our rescue in years gone by did so again today when Fellaini barged him over in the box. The Ref had a quick think and pointed to the spot.

No doubt penalty taking had been discussed in team meetings as Mirallas picked up the ball and threw it to Baines and the rest stepped back. Goodison went silent as the United players tried all the off-putting tactics they knew but Bainsey stood and waited as calm as playing his guitar. Eventually the ref got order and blew his whistle. Baines ran up, De Gea guessed correctly and dived to his right but the Baines spot kick was spot on and the corner of the net bulged. That sound of wet ball hitting sisal mesh was heard a millisecond before Goodison erupted. Just think, quite a few fans missed that.

We were quickly back for the kick off as the players sensed a win. We had two minutes of good pressing then United had their two minutes then the final minute was played out with both teams ready to take a point. Final whistle and a bit of me see that result as good as a win in terms of the game giving some much needed confidence that we all hope can be carried forward.

MotM: Gana

Coming out of the ground the Old Lady looked even more impressive now that it was properly dark. Mind you, they can get the ground looking great but yet can’t fix the escalators on the top balcony. Most people seemed happy enough with the result but a few moans about the style of play. I reckon we can play any style the manager wants so long as we show improvement and gain the confidence to play with a fluidity that will not only be better on the eye but more importantly bring more wins. In football confidence is a very big thing.

I heard Jose give his press commitment and he said ‘We are a far, far, better team than Everton’. People watching on tele or reading it in papers can believe that but I had a look at a couple of things. Today we were equal one goal and one point each. We now have one win in 9 games; Man U have one win in 8 games. They are one point better off than us. We are 8th in the league. They are 6th. Man U a far, far, better team than us? Makes you think eh?

Here’s hoping for a confident display and three points at Watford. We will need to work hard so let’s hope we are indeed starting to show signs of better things to come.


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Reader Comments (19)

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Gaute Lie
1 Posted 05/12/2016 at 19:05:14
Deserved one point. But the penalty looked cheap.
Mark Murphy
2 Posted 05/12/2016 at 19:59:30
"39-yard pass"??
That was 40 yards or I'm a Dutchman, Ken!

Thanks for your report as ever, Ken. I'd love to meet you one of these days before and after in the rRoom of Nonsense (the Wilmslow??)

Dave Williams
3 Posted 05/12/2016 at 20:01:13
The enalty was cheap but they should have been down to nine men by that time so it evened out.

I disagree with you Ken about the young players – often the best will only show when given a chance –good players will respond to a good crowd not to a couple of hundred at an under 23s game.

What on earth was the point of playing Tom Cleverely yesterday? He tries but will never ever be a first team player. Play Davies before he gets fed up.
Otherwise your usual excellent report but mention Valencia – I thought he looked useful!

Danny Broderick
4 Posted 05/12/2016 at 20:11:22
I liked Fellaini when he was at Everton but I definitely prefer him since he went to Man Utd!
Ian Jones
5 Posted 05/12/2016 at 20:29:24
I thought the penalty was right as I think Fellaini also touched Gana's foot as Gana was going past. Admittedly more of an awkward challenge but we will take what we can get!
Phil Walling
6 Posted 05/12/2016 at 20:51:04
I'm getting the distinct impression that those who went to the game rather than merely commented from the armchair were far more happy with the display.

Certainly, Ken's report is more positive than most I have read – including that of the Ed – and whilst I'm not overly impressed by Koeman and his version of hoof-ball, it is early days, after all.

Mike Gaynes
7 Posted 05/12/2016 at 20:59:42
Ken, loved the guitar comment. Your column is the tastiest post-game treat of the week, always.

I'd love to know how you compile these detailed observations in mid-action. Are you dictating into a voice recorder, or are you the world's fastest note-taker?

Peter Laing
8 Posted 05/12/2016 at 21:07:29
The Room of Nonsense has got to be the Barlow Arms (Dark House) but Ken will never confirm – such is the mystique!!
Peter Mills
9 Posted 05/12/2016 at 21:22:22
Thanks Ken.

Personally, I thought the Ibrahimovic kick to Seamus's head was accidental, although he has been around the block so many times he may have perfected that dark art. I was much closer to the Rojo incident, and thought he was merely late – I was concentrating watching Gueye approaching what looked like a 48/52 tackle, and completely missed the two-footed lunge coming from his left. It was a cowardly assault.

Being at the match can mean you miss things that are very clear on the telly. At the same time, it does provide a better feel for the tone of things, and as Phil (#6) has reflected, I think most people leaving the ground felt the point was hard earned. And deserved!

Ian Hollingworth
10 Posted 05/12/2016 at 21:55:20
At the game, you get carried away with the atmosphere and when your team raises its game with the excitement, it's easy to not reflect on the overall game.

Truth is Man Utd aren't that great either but they do have better quality players than us. We have many problems and one of them should have been addressed in the summer and that is the goalkeeper position.

Effort was better but quality was not much better... Does anyone think a top competing club will want to buy Lukaku?

John Raftery
11 Posted 05/12/2016 at 22:02:53
With Bolasie injured, Gana off to Africa next month and Barry only four yellow cards from a two-match suspension, by this time next month, the squad could be looking thin to anorexic. That is when Koeman's hand may be forced in terms of fielding one of two of the Under-23s.

Most of the fans leaving the ground yesterday were happy with the last half-hour and the result. There was virtual unanimity that Gana was Man of the Match with Mirallas a close contender. As you suggest Ken, the game at Watford will tell us if the team is now on the right track.

Peter Mills
12 Posted 05/12/2016 at 22:18:05
Ian (#10), that's a profound first paragraph, on which theses could be delivered. We get carried away with the atmosphere we create, the atmosphere that drives on the team to greater efforts, or is it the greater efforts of the team that generate the atmosphere?

It's something that has always fascinated me. I don't know the answer, but I recognise that there have been times when the sheer force of support has driven the team to supreme efforts.

Equally, negativity from the crowd can suck confidence from the players. Goodison is generally not at one with the team at present; the manager could do more to generate goodwill between the two parties.

Ajay Gopal
13 Posted 06/12/2016 at 08:35:22
Thanks, Ken. Brilliant report as usual. I thought that our players were up for this encounter – you can see that they are low on confidence, but fortunately they were playing another team in the same boat as ourselves (but perhaps under more pressure, given the money spent on them).

Bad luck to Bolasie for his bad injury – he was trying hard but things were not happening for him. Mirallas and Deulofeu seem to have come back to life. Cleverley got a lot of stick for a few bad moments, but I do think that he effectively kept Mikthtaryan and Valencia quiet on the right side. He teamed up well with Baines – a run of games may do him good.

With Bolasie out for a few months and Holgate performing well, Koeman may be tempted to try out the Holgate-Coleman combination on the right side. Or a back 3 and wing-backs of Coleman/Baines. Gana, Barry/Cleverley, Mirallas/Deulofeu/Barkley, Valencia and Lukaku making up the remaining 5 slots.

Paul Kelly
14 Posted 06/12/2016 at 09:10:12
Nice report again Ken, just watched the 4-4 at their place, the passing and movement (last goal especially) seemed light years ahead of what we're witnessing now.

Peter @ 8, The Dark House, memories, Sunday night with my 'adopted' family from Ruskin Street, Frankie Jones of Our Kid used to sing in there, if memory serves me correct, that's what I was told anyway. Anyone can confirm that so I know I'm not going mad? Memory ain't what it used to be...

Paul Tran
15 Posted 06/12/2016 at 21:31:49
It was a cheap penalty, but that's what happens when you bring on a clumsy lump to 'protect' your lead. Osman's comments on Fellaini were very funny and telling.

As one of my Man Utd mates says, can't pass, can't dribble, gives loads of free kicks away, can be a nuisance in the other team's box, can be a liability in his own, gets the odd headed goal. A snip at £27m (3 years ago).

Bob Parrington
16 Posted 07/12/2016 at 00:45:26
Thanks Ken. Contrary to some other views, I agree it was a 'nailed-on' penalty and well deserved.

With Bolasie out for a while and the improved cameo from Enner Valencia, in which he showed excellent pace and a determination too, perhaps this will prove to be a smart loan. Hopefully!!

Andy McNabb
17 Posted 07/12/2016 at 11:23:34
Don't want to wish the lad any harm but I wonder if the Bolasie injury may be a blessing regarding the team?

Love to be proved wrong but I am still bemused at paying £28 million for such an inconsistent player.

Jim Wilson
18 Posted 07/12/2016 at 11:51:31
Fellaini showing why he was shite as a defensive midfielder saving the day. Lukaku awful again, Mirallas doing very little as usual, Deulofeu threatening but never delivering. Local media bigging up our performance as usual.

Barkley out the team while Lukaku gets away with murder. Our manager is showing nothing.

Our motto should be 'same old same'. Very frustrating.

Terry Underwood
19 Posted 08/12/2016 at 16:21:42
Pity about the Bolasie injury, hope the lad can overcome it. A good chance for somebody else to step up. We should all know by now that a Man Utd Player needs to shoot someone in order to be sent off.

Also, I fuckin hate Jose Moanio, twat.

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