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Reaction to United’s draw with Chelsea

Match reactions1. Before the game I would have happily settled for a draw, given that Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are title favourites and United, with a brand new manager, have been predicted to finish 3rd at best by the press. But leaving the ground, I was disappointed we hadn’t nicked a goal, after being the better and more ambitious team for most of the game. That’s not to say United’s approach was gung-ho, but we started the game with three strikers, whilst Chelsea started with none. Whilst United replaced like for like, replacing our wide players with other wide players, Mourinho brought on Mikel for Schuurle and Azpilicueta for Hazard. Still, we lost this fixture last season and don’t have a great record against Chelsea, so a draw was a decent enough result.

2. The pre-match focus was all on Wayne Rooney, with Mourinho trying to put pressure on David Moyes to leave the striker out, having previously promised to put in another bid for the striker after the game. After receiving a positive reaction from the away fans at Swansea, you had to wonder whether the home fans would be so generous. If anything, he received an even better response at Old Trafford, which was puzzling. I’m not suggesting we should boo our own players, but that would have made more sense than chanting his name and singing his song. Even stranger was the reaction of Chelsea fans, who also chanted his name and cheered him. Rooney went on to be named Man of the Match, with the away support showing our striker far more love than they did their own, with Torres largely ignored. I’m always waiting for Torres to suddenly rediscover some of his top form against us, but yet again he was absolutely awful. The performances of both strikers give a clue as to why Rooney was so well received, with Chelsea desperate to have a forward as skilled as our striker and United fans keen to make sure we keep a quality player.

3. Antonio Valencia was much improved in the first half but lost his way a bit in the second. The crowd are far too quick to get on his back though and with him clearly desperate to replicate his 2011/2012 form, even going as far as returning to the #25 shirt, you’d like to think our fans could be more supportive of him. Let’s not forget that Valencia got rid of his agent a couple of years ago as testament to his loyalty to the club and his desire to stay. It was his replacement, Ashley Young, who delivered the best two crosses of the evening, with United inches away from getting on the end of his great deliveries. Obviously it’s too soon to start predicting he will look like a player who is good enough to play for United, but it was pleasing to see the improvement in him.

4. It would be fair to praise the defensive efforts of our back four but if truth is told, they didn’t have an awful lot to deal with. Chelsea posed very little threat on the attack. David de Gea had a couple of saves to make, but Oscar repeatedly directed his shots straight at the keeper.

5. Tom Cleverley had a good game in the centre of the park with him clearly keen to hold on to his starting place in light of rumours of Fellaini signing. He hasn’t progressed at the rate most fans would be hoping from him and he hardly set the world alight on Monday, but he did put in a good shift and is rewarding the faith Moyes has shown in him so far.

6. It wouldn’t be a proper Atkinson ruled game without a controversial decision going in Chelsea’s favour. In the second half, Lampard blocked the ball with his arm at head height, but the ref waved play on. He also failed to book Ashley Cole for a shameful dive in the penalty area. Same ol’ shit from Atkinson.

7. Danny Welbeck probably had the best couple of chances in the game but he fluffed them. After taking that chip so well against Swansea, it was disappointing to see the finishing we’d become familiar with last season making a return. Having lost his place up front to Rooney, he really could have done with getting a big goal to give Moyes something to think about when making his choice on who to start in attack at Anfield.

8. We collected just the one point from our games against Swansea and Chelsea last season, so it’s reassuring to pick up four points from the same fixtures this season. It’s also reassuring to see that our main rivals for the title don’t really look anything special. That may change if they land a top striker before the close of the transfer window and it’s still early days but this United team, particularly if they sign a player or two before Monday, might end up surprising a few people this season. Fingers crossed.

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. Sparkz says:

    In Samuel’s defence, he’s been backing Kagawa for a very long time, so I don’t think there’s an anti-Shinji agenda there.

    Personally, I think for the moment we would be best off using Kagawa how City use Silva. Start out wide, with licence to drift. We do that a bit when welbeck plays wide left but IMO Kagawa is a better option for that.

    The only issue would be that he isn’t defensively solid, but if he’s producing the goods at the right end of the pitch then I don’t think we should worry. Attacking players should be judged primarily on their attacking contributions.

  2. slim says:

    Finally, reactions thread. But going off topic for a second. i do hope we let kagawa go back to Dortmund. We won’t use him because King Rooney will throw a hissy fit if he’s dropped or asked to lay on the left or heaven forbid in the midfield. Even when it was clear we needed a bit more craft in behind the striker on Monday, we persisted with roo, playing over hit pass after under hit pass.
    I remember we had a 3 on 3 situation like the Swansea game where rvp got his second, except this time it was rooney in the middle with the ball, rvp made space for himself and we were in – well he was. Roo decided to shoot and it was as tame as you could get. Just one of the many instances where a more intelligent ACM would have passed the ball . Wasn’t as if he was passing to an out of form striker.
    RVP had better chance of scoring but MR Roo wanted the headlines. Knit picking am i? Probably. But Shiji is much better as the player behind the striker than Rooney is. Fact is RVP is keeping Rooney out but MR Moyes has to keep the golden boy happy. I predicted this would happen and here we are. Maybe its too early, time will tell but i’m getting that dread feeling. We may end up losing Shinji just the way we lost Berbatov.


    so i guess its one rule for rooney and another rule for others yeah? If shinji wants to to go he can go. but not wayne rooney right?



  4. bayoRed says:

    Manchester United and other top teams have quality squads. Dortmund fans can sing out of their arses for all we care, but they don’t pick our team. Neither does Stretford, Palace fans or anyone else but Moyes. Except if you are Lionel Messi, Ronaldo or Van Persie anyone joining a team as big as United needs to work hard and if they are good enough their chance WILL come and it has to be grabbed coz there is quality everywhere. Hope Shinji is strong headed enough to ignore the distraction from Klopp & co. If they want him they just need to make a bid or shut up bout our player, after all the window is open.

  5. Andromeda says:

    I agree with Samuel, despite being a great fan of Shinji’s I certainly believe that he must prove himself better than last season so that he can get the proper recognition.but to me it’s still premature to say any precocious statement about him whether he wants to leave or not, nothing clear very much, it’s just Dortmund making propaganda and the ABU loves this kinda anti united stories so in my personal opinion it’s unwise to say anything on the Japanese behalf, the boy has hardly spoke to the media about the story, all I am saying is that, people were worried about the state of Rooney and his desire to leave for Chelsea, perhaps I was one of those fans but at the end it turns out that the story has been pumped up by the press and lying pundits.let us not make the same mistake twice and support Kagawa to find his usual form, he is a very talented guy and am sure his time will come when he will be ready.cheers to everyone.

  6. slim says:

    And yet we bleat on here day after day for creative midfielders. Like thats gonna ever happen. Nowt to do with whether we can afford it but because we simply won’t evlove to using these type of players.
    Part of that evloving process- as far as i see it and going by what we have (no fantasy transfers) is getting Roo to use his skill set in the middle of the park and do what Scholes did for us , freeing u space, playing and experience time for the likes of Kagawa and Adnan. All these guys need is playing time to get used to team and for the team to get used to them.

  7. Gerriered says:

    @Sparkz “I think for the moment we would be best off using Kagawa how City use Silva. Start out wide, with licence to drift. We do that a bit when welbeck plays wide left but IMO Kagawa is a better option for that.”
    I wish it were that easy but looka at city’s other midfielders, be it Barry, Yaya, Fernando or Garcia they all conribute defensively and even Milner when he plays so the right balance has to be struck. I would not recommend anything that would further burden Carrick and Clev because that will affect overall team performance. Remember also that some people here will moan about Kagawa being played out of position and we all saw in the press both him and Klopp complain bitterly about that, i dont know if it was true anyway. He better start running his socks of otherwise I see another Berba scenario and he can ask Nani how Valencia and Young surpassed him whereas he is obviously better skilled.

    “Attacking players should be judged primarily on their attacking contributions.”
    Isuppose you will be slagging Vida or Rio or Evra for scoring too, reminding them that they will be judged by their defensive contribution alas! Its footbal and its a team game, the more you can offer the better imo.

  8. 0161-Jon says:

    is it me or did Young look a lot bigger than he did last season? Looks taller and heavier. Much stronger. Hopefully we will see the much needed improvement from him too…

  9. bayoRed says:

    Whenever the United line up comes up, there will always be unfounded & untrue stories of unhappy players, unsettled players, players regretting their moves, transfer requesting players, loan deserving players and progress stifled (young prospects) players so lets just live with it, at the end of the day Moyes can only field 11 out of a squad of 25

  10. wayne says:

    The season is 2 games old how some are drawing the conclusion that Moyes doesn’t want Kagawa is beyond me.As someone else pointed out it’s a tough start to the season and with all the pressure Moyes is under i can see why he’s starting cautiously and with players who have a bigger work rate than some.Beat Palace at home take 4pts from City and the Dippers i’d consider it a great start to what could’ve have been a minefield.I disagree with those who think Zaha should’ve already started maybe against Palace but not away to the Dippers.Funny thing is the same people calling for more flair would be the same people having a go at the defense if all of a sudden Utd started conceding.At the moment Utd are looking compact and hard to beat and that’s what’s needed over these first tough games

  11. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Slim – if rooney wants to leave, he will but in the terms of manchester unted. Rooney cannot be sold to a direct rival and quality replacements must be bought and added to from the youth team. United’s dominance has to be protected and if the club has to run down his two year career to scupper chelsea or anyone then so be it as during that time players will have stepped up to fill the inevitable gap.

    No rule for anyone and I haven’t said I wanted kagawa to leave but if he does want to then united have loads of players to fill his gap. I do want him to succeed, i’ve supported him and believe that he could step up this season after his previous bedding in period. At manchester united however, talent isn’t quite enough, character and mentality also plays a part, this is the part of shinji’s personality that will be tested and I hope he will bounce up strongly. I do feel he should be given more chances, certainly more than legendary giggsy and he will get his chances, moyes does rate him but it’s a squad and ultimately, players will have to co-operate for the good of the team, easier said than done of course. Kagawa knows that he’s reached the highest level, competition is rife, he could be in and out of the team but to be a main-stay, he will have to a regular match winner and in-turn, build up authority that the best players had to earn.

    Kagawa does not have to play as a number 10, as sparkz put it, he could play like a mata or silva, seemingly stationed on the left but permitted to drift in and combine. I think the defensive side is a tactical thing and can be learnt but his quality is undoubted. I’m just baffled as to why drama is being made out of this, dortmund fans are still annoyed about gotze and are looking for the bright-lights again, klopp’s attachment is strange, seems to have a microscope on kagawa and even attempted to get him. Kagawa has only spent one season in the PL, he needs to ignore the germans and fully focus on united, he will step up if he pushes more, looking for the easy way out back to dortmund won’t please his japanese fans, he could be a bigger star than ji sung park if he got on with it and embrace the competition.

  12. Sparkz says:

    @Gerriered – agree we will need to strike a good balance, yes. I don’t think Kagawa would be out of position though. I didn’t suggest playing him on the left..I said from the left. He can drift about everywhere, get into central positions. People forget he often plays that role for Japan and also for dortmund before Goetze got injured in the second half of 2011/12.

    As for the Rio, Evra and Vidic analogy – if they were scoring goals but leaking the goals in at the other end – then absolutely I’d criticise them. Their primary role is to defend, that’s the main criteria to judge them on. Rafael until 18 months ago was great going forward but poor defensively, and that made him a weakness, because he wasn’t doing his main job.

    Berba didn’t lose his place because others “worked harder”, that’s a bit of a myth. He lost his place coz the likes of Hernandez and Welbeck gave us more in an attacking sense (which is how you judge forwards). They contributed to more dynamic play, performed better in the big games, and in the case of Hernandez -scored more consistently.

    People forget that RVP is as languid and casual at defending as Berba was. But he doesn’t lose his place because he’s so important going forward, with both his goals and link up play. Likewise Ronaldo wasn’t defensively sound, but he made up for it going forward.

    Agree on Nani though, he’s better going forward than the other wingers but seems to have been a victim of Fergie’s desire of having grafters on the wing in the last couple of years.

  13. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Media talking about united missing out on Ozil. I know the transfer dealings by the club has seen more tyre sponsors than players but I don’t think there was ever any interest in Ozil. Januzaj is one similar player but he doesn’t get wrecked after 70mins, has character in abundance and has been schooked the united way. Adnan has bags of quality and I honestly don’t want to see any attacking playmakers bought, the likes of januzaj along with many will fill that gap.

  14. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Nani was looking sharp in pre-season and I think when he returns from injury, he’ll get his chances. We can have as much grafters but never under-estimate the importance of match winners. Nani needs to get fit and he’ll fight for a starting role.

  15. wayne says:

    yeah Berba was leading scorer and if i remember had just banged in 5 goals against Wigan when he was dropped,didn’t he also get golden boot even after sitting out a 3rd of the season.Don’r care if some didn’t like Berba just don’t write bollocks.Berba carried the line through Rooneygate and without him Utd wouldn’t have won 19.Sir Alex’s insistence to play Danny and Hernandez over Berba the season later when nether were playing well probably cost Utd the title because every time Berba got a chance to play he delivered and in the end Utd lost on goal difference.

  16. Sparkz says:

    I never said he didn’t play a crucial role in #19 but I’m not gonna overlook facts either.

    Berba scored his hat-trick against Liverpool in September and then didn’t score for another 2-3 months. Coincidentally that was the same period when Rooney was sent to America. Maybe the extra spotlight/pressure that was on him without Rooney was too difficult, I dunno. What I do know is that when he was on that goal drought, he wasn’t carrying our attack – Hernandez and Nani were.

    It was only when Rooney came back in December that Berba banged in 5 goals against Blackburn. But he didn’t lose his place in the side until FEBRUARY. He may have been benched for the odd game before but that’s rotation. He lost his place in February because Rooney and Hernandez struck up a really good partnership in the FA Cup win against Arsenal. 3 days later Fergie played them together again vs Marseille second leg, and they worked really well together again. From then until the end of the season, they became first choice partnership

  17. Gerriered says:

    @ Sparkz well spoken, the thing is this playing from the left and drifting is ok but will he rememmber to drift back out and track the run of the fullback esp if it is a Dani Alves quick and likes making forward runs? i agree that the word here is dynamism.
    @wayne I loved Berba from the first moment I saw him at Bayer and i wished that he someday plays for us, which he did thankfully but we all know that as good as he was, it didnt turn out how we expected andd let us not blame SAF, remember he was preferred over Tevez before losing out to Chicha so it was fair.
    we all cannot be the manager so let him do his job and let us all support those he put out there.

  18. Sparkz says:

    Yeah possibly when you’re up against a Dani Alves we’ll need to play differently. that’s tactics though, you adapt your team for certain games. Don’t do a Wenger and just play the same way no matter who you play.

    Generally speaking though, I think a drifting Kagawa would work for us.

  19. wayne says:

    Sparkz you’ve never liked Berba,that’s not true he was benched right after the Blackburn game,yeah in the end Hernandez played well that season and Rooney found his form but Berba wasn’t dropped because other’s offered more he was sacrificed because of Rooney.Then the following year both Danny and Hernandez went through spells were nether played well and shouldn’t have started in front of Berba.
    To say Danny and Hernandez offered more in the attacking sense than Berba is complete and utter rubbish,like him or not when Berba was at the club he was a superior player to both Hernandez and Danny,Berba was a world class striker and should have played many more games than he did for Utd simple as that

  20. wayne says:

    Gerriered to say Berba was dropped because Danny and Hernandez offered better attacking options is simply unture.Rooney had just signed the big contract and Sir Alex wanted him back in the side,let’s not forget up to last season Rooney was untouchable no matter what kind of form he was in.Then the following season when Danny and Hernandez went through periods of poor form and still Berba was on the bench will forever be a mystery to me and imo the reason Utd lost the title on goal difference.Berba was a far superior player to Danny and Hernandez and should have played more

  21. Sparkz says:

    I never dismissed Berba’s talents – he was the most gifted of our forwards – but it’s about more than just ability. Otherwise Veron would have been a success?

    He was far superior to Hernandez and Welbeck, I agree…..but who did the TEAM play better with. Who suited our style better? That’s what I meant when I said they offered more. Only a fool would deny that we were far more dynamic and slick when Hernandez and Danny played instead of Berba. Maybe that was partly down to Fergie too, maybe he should have picked a style of play more suited to Berba, dunno.

    Yeah he was benched after the 5 goals but next game he was back. No big deal (Kagawa scored a hat trick last season and got benched too!). As mentioned, Berba didn’t lose his place until Feb

    People love to make out that he was sacrificed for Rooney….but when he was banging in the goals, who was his partner? That’s right – Wayne Rooney. Berba lost his place to Chicharito, nothing to do with Rooney. As I said…Chicharito was nowhere near as talented as Berba BUT he suited us a lot better, and performed better in the big games. Also, can’t overlook Berba’s goal drought from September- December.

    I had nothing against Berba, I judge on what I see on the pitch. Not once have I derided his ability, I always praised his ability and his contribution to #19….but I also criticised him for not turning up in big games. You can make me out to be some anti Berba but I simply call it as I see it.

  22. mav says:

    Slim 1329

    u explained it better than I can. Rooney provides more defensive stability but I cant see how rooney in this role is better than kags. Either u play wayne as a striker or get that midfield shield so kags could do his thing.

  23. Sparkz says:

    Btw – just something I’ve been mulling over. Rooney and Kagawa are obviously our main candidates for Number 10 (also Adnan). But what do you guys think of Danny playing there?

    I always saw him as a 9 but last season he really impressed when playing behind RVP. Also the games vs Wigan and Swansea this season.

    Defensively offers more than the others….his short passing and link up play is better than Rooney and as good as Kagawa. And his ability to run with the ball is better than the pair. The guy can pick the ball up on halfway and before you know it he’s beaten men and carried us forward 30 yards.

    Think of the games vs Liverpool and Madrid last season. Big games he is a great option for the 10 role

  24. denton davey says:

    slim @ 13:29: “Shiji is much better as the player behind the striker than Rooney is. Fact is RVP is keeping Rooney out but MR Moyes has to keep the golden boy happy. I predicted this would happen and here we are”

    One more match to play before the transfer window closes – and the visit to AnFailed is considered to be UTD’s biggest rivalry/grudge-match. As well, TheWayneBoy is a BlueScouser so he’d just love to shove a couple down the RedScouser’s throats.

    Beyond the game itself, I’d imagine that there’s a lot (A LOT) of discussion going on behind the scenes (and what odds that SAF is getting calls/visits from Moyes ?).

    I’ve always thought – and often written – that the resolution to the dilemma you’ve highlighted is for TheWayneBoy to take over TheScholesRole and also use MrJones as the “replacement” for DarrenFletcherinho. Neither guy wants to play in midfield BUT, like I’ve written before, there’s no “i” in team. The additional benefit of making that personnel decision would be that it would well-and-truly put the new manager’s stamp on this team.

    Making those two changes has the knock-on benefit of creating playing-time for more skilled attackers, too. IF TheWayneBoy is kept as #10 then what does that mean for not just KagawaBunga but also DannyTheLad, Chicharito, AdnanJ. and even Nani – all these guys are more skilful and trickier than TheWayneBoy. All of them are also younger and the lot of them probably only take home not much more than what Rooney trousers each and every week !

  25. denton davey says:

    Methinks it’s about time for UTD to put in a cheeky, low-ball bid for BOTH Juan Mata AND SideShowBob. Give the fuckers a taste of their own medicine.

    The key part of CSKALondon’s dealings is not the signing of Willian but, rather, Samuel Eto’o. Eto’o used to be a fantastic striker but he’s languished for two years @ Anzi which raises some real red flags – has he lost his edge ? has he become too comfortable ? will he mesh with the zillion-odd midfielders that are under contract for TheRentBoyz ? Is this going to be ShevchenkoRedux ?

  26. The One says:

    @wane @14:00, exactly my thoughts as well!!

  27. The One says:

    @wayne @14:00, exactly my thoughts as well!!

    Apologies for above type!

  28. The One says:

    Crap, my typing’s sucks!!

  29. The One says:

    @denton davey @12:05, Cheers!!

  30. reddevil61 says:

    zaha twitted he’s board is there anything to do in Manchester , along them lines m8

  31. orez says:

    I am so fed up hearing about support Valencia crap. he is a great guy, but he is shit winger. He wasn’t good on first half, he is very one dimensional and has no inititive. Any decent left back will keep him at bay. He did a good job defensivly, but his crossing is pathetic and that’s just not acceptable. I am very dispaointed in him and I just have no idea for how long can this team carry such limited player.

    P.S. Where are our fucking signings?

  32. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Sparkz – Spot on regarding berba. I don’t see any anti-berba, you simply stated he is a gifted player but perhaps didn’t fit into the style united employed which Is more rapid counter attacking football. Berba did fall short in the big games and champions league but all in all, a good career at united that yielded trophies. Berba’s outstanding talent meant he could have done more and I’m sure the player will evaluate his time at the club and feel he could have. I don’t know if it’s expectation or price-tag but he didn’t embrace united more but he still had a successful career at united. It’s all about balancing it, nothing against berbatov.

  33. Toms says:

    Scott, much too positive. We looked impotent the whole match. Our wingers did nothing. We needed a Nani or Kagawa. This review was orders too generous.

  34. Kings says:

    My best mate said to me he would have been happy with a draw before kick off. I told him absolutely not against that shower of shit. Jose it appears though was happy to settle for a draw, judging by his ‘parking the bus’ tactics. The same three words he used when Spurs went to Stamford Bridge in the 2004/05 season. Hypocritical cunt.

  35. wayne says:

    Yeah like you should say anything about Berba he was one you went after all the time

  36. redninja says:

    Easy it’s just two games played plenty to come!

  37. Wee Toms Ligaments says:

    It was always going to be a tough nut to crack. Rooney did not pass when he should have and Welbeck did not finish when he should have.

    Chelseas was limited to two good efforts and thankfully Oscar chose to shoot directly at De Gea.

    No title is won in August and United are still undefeated.

  38. King Eric says:

    With Samuel sick of the Kagawa sob stories. He’s a great little player and will get his games. End of. To say he’s a better number ten than Rooney is laughable.

    bRed. No surprise mate Carrick using his left peg. He’s both footed.

  39. King Eric says:

    wayne. Spot on at 14.00.

    0161 Jon. No I also noticed Young looked much bigger.

  40. Hans says:

    Man of the match or not, Rooney’s selfishness cost United this match!

  41. Kenneth says:

    Instead of playing welbeck as winger, it would b better to play Yound
    and Valencia. I believe they will offer more when on the pith together.
    RVP n Rooney will get good wing passes. Fellaini n Carrick wld mk a good combi.
    As 4 the defence my only worry is if Jones will stay in this form all throug.
    I hope he doez.


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