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Can We Have a Happy Christmas With Kuszczak?

United deserved every one of their three points today, despite enduring a nervy final ten minutes to the match. Everton started the game well and gave us a fight in the first half, but in the second half, United were dominant in every area of the field, with the blues hanging on for their dear lives. Unfortunately for their travelling fans, who came with the ever popular “Die die, Rooney Rooney, die” and “Manchester is full of shit” chants, Pienaar was on the field, and didn’t know what to do when Giggs burst in to the box. So Ronaldo, for the fifth time this season, scored two goals, and the three points were ours.

Everton were the in form team before their trip to Old Trafford, going unbeaten for thirteen matches. Phil Neville lead out his new team proudly, but knowing all too well that United would have too much quality for Everton. Despite suffering the injuries of Van der Sar, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes, all of whom are first eleven players, we looked pretty solid. I was confident of a win from the moment of kick off.

However, unlike previous occasions on the park, Danny Simpson struggled with the pressure of today, and looked out of his depth. The only reassurance is Gary Neville looked out of his depth once upon a time, and has proven to be one of our most reliable defenders of all time. Simpson’s confidence will grow, and with it hopefully, his ability. He was at fault for the first goal, unable to handle Pienaar by himself, leading Wes Brown to leave his man in the box, only for the cross to get in and Tim Cahill to out jump Evra. Gutted.

The most striking error(s) of the game don’t go to Simpson though, it is goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak who takes that award. He can’t kick a ball for shit. I’m not too sure how any player becomes a professional without being able to accurately, or even semi-accurately, boot a ball up a field. How a goalkeeper is incapable of doing this puzzles me all the more. A goalkeeper needs two skills. He needs to be able to save and he needs to be able kick. Kuszczack seemed incapable of clearing the ball and keeping it on the field. Simple passes were played back to him, often without him being under any pressure, but time and again the ball ended up in the stands. I hope MOTD2 counts up the amount of times he did this!

Now, whilst usually pretty competent between the sticks, with his mistake against Sporting Lisbon aside, he really struggled today. He has come along way since his debut (who can forget the penalty he gave away against Arsenal minutes into his first game for United? And who can forget he actually managed to save Gilberto’s (miskicked) attempt??), but I think United fans are naturally over-sensitive when it comes to goalkeepers. Following the shambles we’ve faced since Schmeichel left, from Taibi to Carroll, Bosnich to Barthez, we are nervous about who Ferguson trusts with the gloves. With his last two matches showing Kuszczack as anything but rock solid, the fear returns.

I remember distinctly being at Old Trafford a couple of seasons ago when United played Newcastle. It was the match when Rooney scored that goal. Tim Howard was in goal that day and I remember sickening fear everytime Newcastle got in to our half of the field. Newcastle were shockingly bad that day, but thanks to shoddy goalkeeping, we went in 1-0 down at half time. This game was a few weeks after our 1-0 defeat to Milan, when Howard, who had been drafted in to replace Carroll for a fuck up in the home leg, fucked up to provide defeat in the away leg. This day against Newcastle, Howard had already shown himself incompetent on a couple of occasions before the goal came with less than half an hour played. The American keeper booted the ball out straight to Ambrose who then left Howard to pick the ball out of his net. Thankfully, Rooney scored probably the most amazing goal I’ve ever seen live and Wes Brown scored a late winner, but the whole team suffered because of the lack of confidence in the keeper.

With away trips to Sunderland and West Ham, I was hoping we’d see Van der Sar return to the first team over the festive period. However, Ferguson revealed post match that this wouldn’t be happening. “We hope Rio and Owen will be ready for Wednesday, but Edwin is out for the next two or three games with a groin injury,” he said.

The return of Rio Ferdinand should add substantial weight to our defence, but is picking up full points over our next two games too much to ask for with Kuszczack in goal?

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Eddie says:

    I thought PIG was fucked up today!!! Really, the worst player on the field. I am afraid that he will fuck up again vs Keano, West ham or even Birmingham. But I think if we use Rio and Vida in defense, we can win all our games until VDS is back.
    BTW….Wasnt Ronnie absolutely fantastic today!!

  2. craig mc says:

    I think Thomas will do okay for us. I am not sure about West Ham though, because they haven’t done too bad against us. Surely it is up to the defense to protect the rookie goalkeeper. United away from home find it difficult sometimes to keep the ball, and they are hopeless at SLOWING the game down, which will be vital at Sunderland and West Ham, who will come at us flying like bats out of hell. If they had slown the game down when they were ahead at Arsenal, like they did fairly well against L’Pool, we would have won that match. So the defense needs to protect the keeper. By the way, VDS handling at L’Pool was abysmal, he almost cocked up. Hands up those of you who really think Rio is injured, and not being disciplined by Fergie??????????.

  3. Tom F says:

    haha Craig.. you are as bad as Paddy Crerand when he calls Patrice Evra PATRICK.. calling Tomasz THOMAS :O)

    Anyway.. I personally think we’ve just played our toughest game of this Christmas’ fixtures. Sunderland will want to have a go, especially as Roy Keane will be determined to prove a point and get one over on us. In reality though they do not attack the goal that well and haven’t set the world alight in terms of goals, with our defensive recorded we should be ok there.

    West Ham, the only team other than Arsenal to beat us twice last year will be unpredictable as ever yet as it’s a Cup Final for them playing United, they’ll dig in.. Let’s hope Tevez can give them something back.

    Birmingham is 3 points in the bag.

    So, I believe how we cope will be down to our defence. Look at Edwin Van Der Sar against Liverpool and you’ll see a great example of a bad day at work.. one of the most experienced keepers around still makes rash decisions and can be guilty of mistakes. TK has been fairly reliable when coming in for VDS and should cause too much concern!

    I’m just hoping Ben Foster can comebak from his injury and continue improving the way he was when he was playing, great prospect!!

    Oh and Everton will hopefully hold Arsenal to at least a draw at home!!

  4. Tom F says:

    Didn’t even read Craig mcs comment in full but just realised I’ve said the exact same.. bloody cheat!

  5. Rohan says:

    kuzzy had a rusty day at the office..hes been reliable whenever he was called to take charge between the sticks,,,and its clear as day tat foster isnt manutd material jst buzz off from kuzzy who is light years ahead of from or previous goalkeepers aka carrol howard etc…and as to the worst player today? againts the toffees was oshea..screwed p the game with poor passing and repeatedly losing poccession,….he was very poor today

  6. OMelhorDoMundo says:

    Kuszczak has excellent reflexes so I wouldn’t worry about him letting goals in. But when he couldn’t t clear the damn ball today, it was infuriating!
    Anyway, Sir Alex has strongly hinted that Foster will challenge (i.e. succeed) van der Sar just like Anderson (not Carrick) needs to score goals because that’s something Scholes has always done.
    Foster is the future but Kuszczak is a very capable goalie as well. With Ferdinand back, I’m betting on three clean sheets

  7. sker says:

    O’Shea was poor passing forward but he got stuck in there physical, which was what we needed there against Pienaar and Cahill. I thought it was brilliant he came on for the 2nd half straight after the HT break.

    If Boro’s defensive abilities with a whats-his-name keeper can keep TheArse at bay, I don’t see why we cannot TK safe from the likes of our holiday opponents.

    Anyways, looking forward to a full 9-points haul of goodies this Christmas and surely we can be top for the New Year.


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