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Hull Away Fans, Berbatov and Losing The Second Half

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?

Away fans

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!

Dimitar Berbatov

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.

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. Mila says:

    Gotta tell you, I was one of the United fans who didn’t want to welcome Berbatov at our club. And I am Bulgarian :)
    I tought he won’t fit, or find his game or that he is too expensive or other unkind things about him.

    Glad he proved me wrong though. 5 goals so far and some of his touches and flicks are just brilliant, like the one today when he turned the defender or the one agains West Brom.
    Worth every penny!

    Scott, great blog you’ve got here, keep up the good work.

  2. Mila says:

    Oh, and the dippers lost at White Hart Line!!!

  3. Anant says:

    is berbatov the best ‘creative midfielder’ in the world or what ? him and rooney seem to have exchanged roles .
    also , the big 4 dont seem to gel…we need balance and only 3 of them can play at any given time .
    on another note , how brilliant was carrick today ! showed us just how much we missed him with his brilliant passing , not to mention the totally unexpected goal

  4. glory_911 says:

    I’m glad Berba starting to show his value… If United make Tevez a deal then, we’ll have 3 strikers worth 30 million each. But no matter how great the striker, a team need to be well organized in every position and I don’t see it in our team right now.When Ronny get the 4th goal, I think the 2nd half would be a turning point. I’m hoping United can scored 5 or 6 (because we rarely do) but instead it’s Hull get another 2. I don’t really know what’s the problem but Fergie please do something…


    personally while berbas scoring record may rival out and out strikers i think the reason we wanted him above hunterla, santa cruz and a few others is because we need someone whos smart enough to play a pass like a playmaker but also a player that doesnt freeze up in the box.

    as for losing the second half i think most of this is down to the loss of carrick and OH both players have shown that they can control a game and keep our tempo up, take today when we had carrick and anderson in the middle and we looked balanced and were in control. however, carrick went off giggs came on and in my eyes we lost a bit of the game there – it was only until oshea came on that we started to look better.

  6. Anant says:

    good news…apart from van persie being suspended , walcott is injured for next week , with adebayor and sagna being major doubts . hopefully we’ll get a chance to terrorise ”calamity silvestre”

  7. Alex says:

    It was a good game today and although I was disappointed by the result I was not surprised. We showed some good fighting spirit to bring it back to 4-3.

    I was disappointed by the atmosphere in the ground though. I guess if you’re playing Man City, Liverpool or whoever then the atmosphere might be better but even at 4-1 there was hardly a peep from the home support.

    As for the away supporters mixed in with everyone else, well that is happening at the KC too and we get calls in to our local football phone in from people telling us that we have to get used to it… if we have to live with it then I’m afraid you will too.

    See you for the last game of the season in May!

  8. Red-Manc says:

    I thought the atmosphere was decent from us United fans at some points in the game but I would like it to be ALOT louder at it usually is against the ‘big teams’ but hull for the moment anyway are definatly one of the big teams and the match was class, twists and turns so i dont understand how some fans couldnt be on the edge of their seats singing, but i was abit disapointed when i saw some of the hull fans in our section being pulled out because we were enjoying abit of banter with them ;)

    Overall very pleased that we scored 4 goals but conceeding 3 at home isnt good enough but at the end of the day a win is a win and im just glad to get 3 points from hull which arsenal failed to do ;)

  9. JIM says:



  10. dela says:

    Berba is worth every penny. Like Rooney, though, I’d like him to be a tad more selfish at times. Today, for example, there was a shot waiting to be taken, when he chose to pass it instead to Ronaldo who slotted it wide.

    The team is still coming together. Be it Ronaldo, Berba, Rooney, Tevez or Carrick, you can’t help but feel that their best is yet to come. And that will be some day!

  11. Gary says:

    Just got back from the game, and the smile on my face is even wider after listening to Spurs beat them scouse cunts on the way home! What a fantastic game, thats what I call value for money! I stayed behind at the end like most United fans to clap both teams off the pitch, Hull City were fantastic today, their a credit to the premiership.

    Berbatov was fantastic today, but the stand out man was Michael Carrick. Carrick bossed the middle of the park, and for someone whos lacking in first team football recently he was sharp, his passing was crisp, he only gave it away one one occasion I counted, and he started most our moves today. Good to have Michael Carrick back in the side!

  12. Eujen says:

    yeh gotta agree with the hull support, it was so vocal on the television even from Australia. pretty much heard the boos clearly when ronaldo had his first touch of the ball. speaking of ronaldo, i was really impressed with him out there, his attitude looks to have changed. He was really enjoying himself and being part of the team in the match and there were even points where he bailed us out in the defence, like when he pulled off that desperately needed clearance and one where he ran back into our box to intercept a through ball. our defence is really getting hot and cold, ferdinand covered vidic so much.

    its excellent that michael carrick is finally back, finally now his united detractors can finally see his worth to us. anderson had an okay game, he’s trying too hard to score.

    sigh, from the looks of it, it doesnt look like the big can play together, when tevez came on it looked kind of unbalanced. we had rooney playing out on the right, and thats where hull broke for two of their goals. for all four to be on the field we really need owen hargreaves and michael carrick to be the holding midfielders just because they can scour the whole park and clean up and send the ball right back to the attack.

  13. steamdigit says:

    my two cents worth about the game with hull: whilst i unertand saf is trying out the combinations, i think we underestimated hull last night, and did not pay them enough respect. our boys were a bit casual and i am sure phil brown picked up on it in the second half. the flicks, the back heels and no-look passes were great to see, but overdone at times. more importantly, fergie was trying hard to force the situation by putting on more attacking players. we lost our shape after that, and that was how hull made a fight of it! look i dont mind that we need to take time to find out where tevez fits in, and how we need to balance the shape of our team with all our strikers, but organization cannever replace talent! it is a team game, and there is a system to it. i think o-shea should have been brough on earlier to still win th 2nd balls, like we did in the first half with carrick and anderson. we could see the defence a little shake by the physical presence of hull’s big boys – and i do mean big – they were strong, tough and fought for every ball – it made rio and vida so uncomfortable it was plain to see!
    anyhow, im glad we still won and the dippers lost! but when i see the chelsea game, they were ruthless and efficient.
    still think tevez trying too hard, and the team still needs a lot of time to sort things out – especially the midfield responsibilities.
    on a positive note, it is great to know that we have loads, and loads of options! it gives great comfort to know that any team we put out will be entertaining to watch with great football. the passing and interplay wsa really sublime wasn’t it? :)
    thanx for listening!

  14. alexclusive says:

    I would have to say the man of the match was Anderson. His passing was amazing and was always driving manutd forward.Most of the gilt edged chances came from anderson vision and through balls.I also thought Berbatov was fantastic, his lazy touches,skill and passing wow.His flick over boateng then ball to rooney and the outside boot ball to ronaldo.

  15. rick says:

    I knew Berba would prove to be a top class signing. It was only a matter of time till he clicked. Alan Hansen will be eating his words now. What has Robbie Keane done? 2 goals and hardly any assists. Kuyt is playing out of his skin.

  16. ManU says:

    Sir Alex you cant afford to make wrong choice again and again.The first mistakes came from Vidic but he managed to level by scoring one but the
    most stupid mistakes made by the manager was having Gary N who
    are old and lack of pace and ideas.Ferdinand is the rightfull captain and
    should continue from now on.Giggs and Scholes can only play as subsitutes
    but not Gary N and John Oshea. Gary should retire totally and Oshea must be ship out at all cost this January2009.
    Two of the goals cincided was the fault of Gary who was nowhere to be found.Either he is slow to come back to defence and guilty of ball watching
    all the time. He was give the opportunity to score but fumble like an old clown.Anderson has to come back to cover Gary defence role and of course Ferdinand made the penalty mistakes because Gary was never there to defence.By the way Ferdinand played very well whenever he was given the captaincy without that slow old Gary N. John Oshea is another worst player
    and shouldnt be included in the team at all.He has the height but NO skills
    and no pace to defence and counter attack and guilty of ball watching also.


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