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Reactions To Victory Over Norwich

1. Ahead of kick-off against Norwich there was the promise of extending our lead to 15 points clear at the top if we won. However, with Real Madrid to play on Tuesday, you had to wonder what sort of team Sir Alex Ferguson would go with. It was great to hear what an experienced side had been picked when the team news was announced. To put out such a strong side for Norwich at home proves just how much the manager wants the title this season. After losing to this lot away from home, Ferguson ensured we wouldn’t have a repeat of that, and 4-0 is exactly the kind of scoreline we should be managing against a team like Norwich.

2. Shinji Kagawa was likely included in the starting line-up as the manager intended not to play him against Real Madrid. Ryan Giggs, who was set the make his 1000th professional appearance, was rested instead. With a hattrick, something no other Asian player has achieved in the Premier League before, Kagawa is certainly sending a message to the manager about his inclusion on Tuesday. His first goal came at just the right time, in injury time of the first half, to give us a lead to build on in the second half. Valencia crossed the ball in with his left foot, Robin van Persie flicked it on, and Kagawa used his outstep to beat the keeper. The second goal was one of my favourite finishes of the season, with him so casually putting the ball in the back of the net, almost pushing it in with his foot. “The boy plays like an angel,” Kagawa’s former team mate, Nuri Sahin, has said of him. Sahin his obviously seen him score goals like that second one before! The third goal wasn’t too shabby either, with Kagawa dinking the ball over the keeper, completing his top quality hattrick. It wasn’t just his goal-scoring that should have us singing his praises, but his passing too. He completed 70/76 (only Carrick completed more) which is a 92% passing accuracy. In the final third, it was 31/37, again, with Carrick the only player with more, and he created three chances for his team mates to score. Surely he has to start against Real Madrid now, with Ryan Giggs replacing him in the second half to make that 1000th appearance?

3. Whilst Kagawa bagged a hattrick, it was Wayne Rooney who scored the best goal of the day, with a long range effort leaving the keeper with no chance. I’m struggling to think of the last time he scored a goal as good as that. All in all, Rooney had a mixed game. In the first half he was very poor, losing the ball time and again, failing to beat his man, and struggling to make the simplest of passes. By the end of the game his passing completion rate was just 79%. In the second half he upped his game. Carrick played forward a great ball, which Rooney controlled well and turned to set up Kagawa’s second goal. He also played in Kagawa for the third after Danny Welbeck brought the ball forward. There’s no doubting his work ethic. He is all over the pitch every game. But it just isn’t quite clicking for him at the moment. Still, if he can score a beauty and set up two other goals when he’s playing badly, we can look forward to what difference he can make when he’s playing well.

4. When you win 4-0 you can’t have too many complaints, but the most irritating thing of the day was the performance of Mark Bunn, the Norwich goalie. He was wasting time from the first moment he got the ball. In the first half, as Robin van Persie tried to get on the end of a lovely one-two with Rooney, Bunn stayed down for some time. It didn’t look as though there was much in it and most of the crowd weren’t prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. In the second half, he did exactly the same thing, and again, there appeared to be limited, if any, contact. Just two minutes of added time were allocated at the end of the first half, despite Bunn’s lengthy treatment, much to the frustration of the home fans. It turns out that two minutes was all we needed though, with Kagawa scoring 56 seconds in to injury time. It was satisfying all the same, given the time Bunn had wasted. It was only upon returning home that I was informed that this Bunn was at Blackburn the season before, and when they came to Old Trafford he was the most frustrating keeper I’ve ever come across. The fact the result went against us that day probably didn’t help our irritation any but his time wasting that day was unbelievable, and it was no surprise when the following week he was booked after just half an hour for time wasting against Newcastle! Complete joke.

5. Grant Holt didn’t do anything to endear himself to the Old Trafford crowd either, as he chugged about the pitch, cutting the figure of an oversized and overweight budgie, fouling and shirt-pulling whenever presented with the opportunity. In the second half he put both his hands on Evra’s shoulder to push him down as he rose to head the ball back across the box. Russell Martin was presented with a sitter but somehow managed to clear the bar from a couple of yards out, not that it would have counted, after the linesman flagged Grant’s foul. The striker went tearing after the referee, the quickest he moved all day, as if it made any difference. De Gea took the resulting freekick, instead of the goalkick we would have had if the ref hadn’t seen the foul, and that was that.

6. De Gea had nothing to do all game, with the exception of a misplaced place which he had to collect in the first half. However, his best moment of the game was when he saved us from a corner following a dodgy back pass. The agility and ball control to keep it in was fantastic. In the eight games since conceding three against Newcastle we’ve had five clean sheets and conceded just three goals. De Gea is coming in to his own, Nemanja Vidic is making a great difference in the air, Jonny Evans is going from strength to strength and Rio Ferdinand is enjoying great form. It certainly gives the manager a headache over who to pick on Tuesday in between Rafael and Evra.

7. Carrick bossed the game, which is something I seem to be repeating every week now, with him playing great balls forward and controlling the centre of the pitch. Norwich offered very little, so it was an easy game for him, but impressive enough all the same. The players left the pitch to “it’s Carrick, you know, hard to believe it’s not Scholes” being sung on repeat from the Stretford End. Whilst there are plenty of differences between the two, and in truth, Carrick is nowhere near as good as Scholes was at his peak, it’s likely that Carrick is just embarrassed as Scholes would be of all the attention. He thoroughly deserves it though.

8. Another game crossed off and another three points in the bag. We’ve got just ten games left to play now and the pressure is back on City to get a win at Villa Park on Monday. All the neutrals are already saying it’s United’s title and we would be too if not for last season. City have to win every single game and you imagine that if they drop any points over the next few weeks, even in a draw, that it will all be over. It’s a strange feeling at this time of the season when we’re in this position. We should be lapping it up, revelling in our league position and dominance in games, but instead, I’m just wishing for it all to be over. What for? When it’s over, we only have to start it all over again, and won’t have the promise of being 15 points clear. So as much as I can, I’m trying to enjoy this period, but still silently celebrating every passing weekend that we keep the gap in tact. Roll on Real Madrid!

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. denton davey says:

    AlphaRS @ 21:54: “what do you think about these Ronaldo rumours coming back to United?”

    First off, I’d completely discount anything SAF said for public consumption – remember how he fed the media disinformation in the year preceding CR7′s transfer to TheVirus ? It’s not Fergy’s job to do the media a favour – or to be anything but economical with the truth.

    Second, for a unique asset like Cristiano Ronaldo, the price will be high and the price might also be painful in terms of player swaps but you don’t get something for nothing when playing in the real world of high stakes’ finance.

    Third, goals win games BUT, just as importantly, stopping goals also wins games so (referrring back to the previous point) swapping away DDG would be a high cost but a huge make-weight in any deal.

    Fourth, and finally, take a look at this article:

    What does it imply ? UTD have the key financial muscles to prise the prize away from Spain, with its new, huge taxes !

  2. Doghouse says:

    The best thing about the Kagawa second goal is the total confusion of the goalie. He has no idea where the ball is going, or has gone, and then it’s in the net. Funniest goalkeeping reaction of the season, beating previous contender. Joe Hart rotating slow as Rooney’s shot trickles into the corner against City.

  3. NBI Red Onion says:

    Ronnie does not want come back to OT, he just thinks its unfair that RM make more money out of him than they pay him, he is also playing us off them to show fans and other he is loved elsewhere. He has already said he won’t ask for a transfer and will see his contract out. He has over 2 years on his contract. Arsenal sold RVP in his final year to us for £24 mn – why would RM sell now on a player they make money on, they have recouped his purchase price and made profit on him. His family is well settled in Madrid. I am not saying he does not have great affection for United, but did he really truly love the Club like other players we moved on, such as Ruud and Becks, I doubt it. RM is his dream team, its not all that glittered but I doubt he would leave.

  4. NBI Red Onion says:

    @ FletchTheMan – Shinji is two footed not one footed.

  5. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    I know I usually complain about wingers like Ashley Young and Valencia not taking on their defender more often but if there ever was a game that I wanted them both to play a significant part in, it is definitely against Madrid. Those two wingers do their defensive duties better than almost any wingers in the league. They ensure Evra and Rafael have maximum protection.

    I also know that Nani will be involved one way or the other. My hope is that Nani will track back and defend with his life on every play because going forward is not where his problem lies. It is tracking back and doing the little things that Nani still has faults.

  6. NBI Red Onion says:

    @ Goat – really like your SAF Giggs deflection analysis, stability, loyalty, dignity, two CL trophies in his career, all the things they don’t have. If SAF wins the mind games the battle is done.

    As for people noting this RM game is all consuming, I haven’t been able to get a ticket on Tue to make the match, and ofcourse it coincides with 2 other events I would really love to attend with the rest of the week free, but I am now in love with this game it is on my mind somewhere all day.

    The thing is we know the team they will play, the players that can hurt us and the formations they may play. It is a team that pretty much picks itself – Ronnie, Higuan, Ozil, Alonzo, Khediera, Di Maria, Ramos, Varane…the only question is Pepe and if he plays in MF.

    We are far less predictable as SAF has so many player and formation options, there is no clear starting XI for the first time in a long time – only De Gea, Carrick, RVP and Evra. The rest, he has options galore, so it will be harder for RM to know what they will face than for us.

  7. NBI Red Onion says:

    Ronnie: “It would be a beautiful sensation. If I score against them, it would be spectacular.
    “I can’t say how I’d celebrate — it would be something spontaneous — but I’d love to be in that situation.”
    Ronaldo is looking to dump his old pals out of the Champions League — but he expects a warm reception from United’s supporters.He added: “I’m sure they will receive me well. After the years I spent there and the friendships I have, I’m sure it’s one of the places where they’ll applaud me most. It was a beautiful time.”

  8. Red In Taipei says:

    All we needed was Shinji Kagawa!

  9. Vidic says:

    One of the funniest comments I have ever seen made by a Chelsea fan:
    Man U fans are the most deluded in history. The
    funny thing is you think you are a big club.
    laughable. If you travel around Europe and discuss
    football with the locals, Man Utd arn’t even in the top
    5 biggest teams in Europe which is true. I mean
    which player have you bought in the last 20 years
    that was world-class at the time you bought him?
    When is the last time you beat a Spanish team?
    When did you play well in the knockout stage of the
    UCL? The truth is that Chelsea now are the biggest
    team in England we have won the most over the last
    decade AND we are European champions. To rub salt
    in the wound we are going to knock you out of the FA
    Cup! (not trying to offend anyone just keeping it real,
    or Real so that you don’t get shocked on Tuesday
    night). Regards
    - JTerry , Chelski, United Kingdom,
    03/3/2013 22:31. Hahahaha WTF stupid rent boy !!!!!

  10. NBI Red Onion says:

    RM fans racially abused Dani Alves and Maureen screened son of a whore at him twice when he tackled Ronnie – class.

  11. domunited says:

    ^^^ “that was world class when you bought them” … that sums up the mentality of both clubs. Thank you for clarifying that JTerry – we make champions, we don’t buy them.

  12. In David We Trust says:

    denton davey – Nothing surprises me with footie, for a ronaldo transfer to come off, obvious we would have to trim the squad for it to be possible. PPL say we may is well buy bale, I think there is better luck prizing ronaldo from Madrid, than getting Bale with that stubborn SOB of a chairman at spurs, and after the way we have blitzed the competition with RVP signing, no way will spurs sell to united now. I do feel other priorities are needed at the club, like another defender and a CM, but sometimes if a player can be signed like ronaldo, you make an acception. 2011/12 season was a big wake up call for the boss to never stand still, always press ahead, make those big impact signings, and I wont be surprised if united did very well resign ronaldo

  13. NBI Red Onion says:

    I think the game against RM will massively turn on who scores first.

    Whoever scores first has a huge advantage as the other side then has to attack and that opens up space for counter attack and a 2-0 lead. I would believe that SAF is making sure the team do not concede first, play cautious score on the break and then exploit the space.

  14. denton davey says:

    InDavidWeTrust @ 02:00: “Nothing surprises me with footie”

    Didn’t Sherlock Holmes say something like “consider all alternatives and only exclude those that are impossible – not those that are improbable” ?

    So, yeah, re-signing CR7 would be “improbable” but not “impossible”. A lot depends on how the stars align and “only God knows”.

  15. lordrt says:

    We’ll need RvP to be in full form for the coming games, he was disappointing against norwich, and not only himself, but the others also were not really up for it until the 1st goal, passes were going wayward and no real threat posed early on. real madrid will come on with the spirit which saw them defeat barcelona twice last week, and will exploit any mistake or weak links in the Utd squad

  16. bRed says:

    The problem for Kagawa is that SAF isn’t willing to give him a consistent run in the center. When he’s given a central role, he can do some real damage.

    I thought Valencia was great, and am surprised there was no mention of him. His directness and confidence to run at the defence is back. Valencia in full flow will give Real some big problems for sure.

    So many players to choose from in midfield now, I hope we get it right on Tues.

  17. Red4ever says:

    AT 17:59
    Goat Peticoat

    Right bang on mate sir alex likes to shift the attention from other things ,,like in the swansea game he made a comment about that guy wiilliams could have killed RVP to make people shift their attention from our performance,,

    And the second thing will be giggs playing his 1000 th game will get the croud going and a joyous atmoshpere at OT making the players feel relaxed ,,

    And I dont worry about madrid bcoz I really think we can score more goals than them if the time comes to do so ,,so only thing fergie will do is put a positive team up for the game thats all folks GGMU !!!!!

  18. King Eric says:

    Vidic – That HAS to be a wind up!! Fucking rentboy scum.

  19. Craig says:

    @denton davey

    I never comment on this website, although its the best blog out there. I thought I would make an exception to let you know how cringe worthy and embarrassing your posts are. Thewayneboy thelegend kagawabunga and so on… I’m guessing you’ve never been to old Trafford and just a warning if you do, you would get laughed out of the Stretford end if you spoke like that…

  20. DreadedRed says:

    denton davey – Seeing as Craig has brought up the topic of your player nicknames, I’ll add my tuppence. I find that they ruin your otherwise intelligent posts, and render them almost unreadable. Probably doesn’t affect anyone else like that, so maybe I’m the oddball! I get distracted from your point by having to repeatedly re-look at the proper nouns to work out who you’re on about. I’m not moaning, merely giving feedback. Can’t please everybody, and there’s plenty readers who seem to like the nicknames. I often skip the second half of your interesting posts, finding them too much hard work to understand. I’m sure you don’t need me to read your posts, but I’d like to.

    Craig – comment more often mate! Will you be in the Stretford end tonight?

  21. Craig says:

    I’m a Stretford ender but unfortunately I’m in Sydney at the moment! I’ll be up at 6:45am to watch it though without a shadow of a doubt! That’s if I can even sleep at all! Strangely very confident… I think 2-0 with “TheRoonsterTM” getting a couple! Hopefully we can keep “CrissyRonnie7″ quiet! Are you going? Wish I was at the Bishops Blaize right now warming up the vocals!

  22. DreadedRed says:

    “TheRoonsterTM” – Ha ha ha ha ! He’ll be cock-’o-the-hoop, and we’ll be crowing loudly!

    I’m in deepest, darkest Africa mate! I will also be watching it on telly. I’m going to be nervous throughout, even if we’re two up with a few minutes to play. An early goal from United would help, but we need the buffer of a second goal, as our single away goal is not that hard to top.

    Tonight is what it’s all about as a United supporter. Big games against top opposition, for the chance to compete for the shiniest silverware around. Come on United!


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