My observations from today’s game are as follows: 1. Hull City’s away support is the best we’ve had so far. 2. Dimitar Berbatov was worth every penny. 3. Why can’t we maintain dominance in two halves?
Anyone who has been to a United away or listens out on the telly knows how impressive our support is away from Old Trafford. Typically, the singing starts before the first whistle and ends when we leave half an hour after the final whistle. The chants range from the old favourites, the latest song from the pubs, songs for former players, chants about our rivals, and of course, songs bragging of our trophies.
Now, I am always amazed when away fans come to Old Trafford, the place I’d imagine they’d like to give it large, and are quiet. West Ham didn’t wake up until the second half on Wednesday, West Brom offered absolutely nothing, whilst Bolton, coming for a 3pm Saturday kick-off from down the road, didn’t even sell out their allocation!
Hull put on a good show today though. They have little to nothing in terms of original sounding songs, but they were in full voice for large periods of the match. Impressive.
My only grumble is about the large number of Hull fans sat in the United end for today’s game, giving it when they scored. Whilst the stewards removed some of them, there were loads of them still remaining. Those sitting in the corporate seats between the Stretford End and the North stand were particularly vocal, much to the dislike of our fans around them. The last thing you need when your team concedes a penalty, that will diminish at 4-1 lead to a 4-3 lead if scored, is a load of daft small-time goons going berserk in the section next to you. Sort it out!
I thought we were signing ourselves up for a ‘fox in the box’ type player when we got Berbatov. A player who was going to score us a lot of goals because he got himself in the right place at the right time.
As the original criticisms came out over Berbatov being lazy, I didn’t buy it. He hadn’t had much of a pre-season, he was fitting in to a new team, and Ferguson hadn’t sorted out the system. He still showed a touch of class though, and this has just improved with every game he’s played in.
Today, he was a cut above. It was his ball that set up Carrick’s goal, as well as flicking the ball through for Rooney to score, although it was ruled out for offside (I’ll have to see it again before I swear blind he was onside!!). He set up Ronaldo for a hattrick, but Ronnie puled it just wide. He also had a few chances of his own, although seems very happy to share the goals around. Wow, just wow.
Losing the second half
We were 3-1 up at half time but ended up winning 4-3. What the fuck is that about? We were cruising in the first half yet even though had a grip of the game in the second half, ended up conceding twice and only scoring once. That is not good enough. We can get away with it against the likes of Hull at home, but what about on our difficult away days? We can’t rely on scoring four goals to pick up three points!
Against West Ham we were 2-0 up at half time, yet failed to score another in the second half. Against Everton we were 1-0 up at half time, yet the game finished 1-1. Against West Brom, it was vice versa, with us failing to score in the first half before coming out in the second half for a blinding display, scoring four goals. Against Bolton it was the same, wasting our chances in the first half before scoring two in the second, one of which courtesy of a penalty that shouldn’t have been. Against Chelsea we were 1-0 up at half time, but conceded ten minutes from time to finish 1-1. Against Liverpool we tore them apart in the first few minutes, going a goal up early in to the match. Yet a goalkeeping mistake took it to 1-1 at half time, before conceding ten minutes from time again. Against Portsmouth we took the lead after half an hour, then nothing else. Against Newcastle we cancelled out their opening goal two minutes after they scored it, yet there was a remaining 65 minutes for us to win the game, but we didn’t.
If might alarm you to realise that of the ten games we’ve played this season, we’ve only won both halves on one occasion, against Blackburn, when we scored a goal in each half. That is not acceptable.
The football we’re playing at the moment, in terms of our passing and creativity at the front, is absolutely superb. But we’re not putting enough of these chances away.
Hull at home – 18 shots, 9 on target. West Ham at home – 16 shots, 9 on target. Everton away – 11 shots, 6 on target. West Brom at home – 16 shots, 9 on target. Blackburn away – 12 shots, 4 on target. Bolton at home – 23 shots, 13 on target. Chelsea away – 10 shots, 4 on target. Portsmouth away – 8 shots, 4 on target. Newcastle at home – 15 shots, 7 on target.
From 65 shots on target, we’ve scored 19 goals. From all the chances we create that are on target, we are scoring just 29% of them. If we compare that to Chelsea, they have played a game more, they’ve had 72 shots on target, and scored 28 goals. That means of all 39% of all shots they have on target they’re putting away. That’s why they’ve got a goal difference that doubles ours and why they’re sat top of the league, even if we do win our game in hand.