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Reactions To Victory Over Reading

1. Ahead of kick-off I suggested that United give us a weekly surprise these days, whether it’s because of the chosen starting line-up, the formation, the tactics, or the events of the game. The surprise for yesterday was conceding three goals in the first half, as well as scoring four of our own. Seven goals in one half? Ridiculous. Last weekend the team at the bottom of the league scored at Old Trafford and now the team second from bottom is putting three past our defence? No bother, it’s not like we’ve got to play a team that scores a lot of goals next weekend… oh.

2. Ferguson explained the reason why Anders Lindegaard played in goal against West Ham was because he didn’t like rotating because it had an impact on consistency. It was an odd thing to say, given he has rotated the team virtually every single week, but insisted because Lindegaard hadn’t done anything wrong, he shouldn’t be booted out of the team. Hmm. Well, Anders made up for his lack of mistakes previously and we almost lost the game because of it. For the first goal he should have done better, even though Jonny Evans probably shoulders most of the blame for flying in low, instead of just standing his ground and blocking. For their second goal, we left their man totally unmarked, but with the ball only a few yards out, Lindegaard should have claimed. For the third goal, Lindegaard didn’t come for the ball, which lead to Evans heading out for a corner. Our young defender gave Anders a bollocking, before the corner came in, Evans was outjumped, after Lindegaard again didn’t come for it. He had a mare. Now it means we will probably see De Gea in goal for the derby next week, having not played for a month (unless he plays against Cluj). Smashing.

3. It was Rafael da Silva who was seemingly held largely accountable for the shambles in the first half and was hauled off after half an hour. He was marking the player who delivered the cross for their first goal and had made a couple of rash challenges, one of which he was booked for. Rafael looked like he was going to cry when he was sitting back on the bench. More than anything, his substitution had to be precautionary. We’re playing City next weekend and Rafael is someone we need to have in that game so we couldn’t afford to see him get a second yellow. It’s a shame for the  lad though and I imagine Fergie will work his magic on him this week.

4. Another player we needed next weekend is Anderson and he showed us why yet against on Saturday. It was another top performance which was more measurable than usual because of his goal. Michael Carrick picked out Ashley Young who played through a perfectly weighted ball to Ando. He struck it early at the near post. Ando, hitting the target? Brilliant. Of course, whilst not wanting to say I told you so, the fact he was then taken off with a hamstring injury was fairly predictable. This is the pattern of his United career so far. Plays really, picks up an injury, returns over weight. Let’s hope this injury isn’t a lengthy one.

5. After slating him for weeks, it’s only fair I give Ashley Young the praise he deserves. Aside from two shots that almost hit the corner flag, he definitely played his part in the victory. It was him that played in Anderson for the first goal, his blocked cross lead to the corner for the penalty, and it was his lovely one-two with Patrice Evra which lead to the cross for Rooney’s second goal. He’s still not hitting the heights you’d expect of a 27-year-old old who cost £16m when in the last year of his contract, but this was a definite improvement on performances before now. Along with Rooney, he didn’t perform his defensive duties well enough in the first half though, but this is more an issue of tactics than him personally. Without wingers, surely it should be obvious that Rooney and Young should help Evra and Rafael/Smalling cover the flanks. Reading killed us down in the wings in the first half and this is something we need to look at when not playing 442.

6. Ferguson said that once Rooney scored, the goals would start pouring in. Evans brought down Rooney’s corner with a lovely first touch, before he was clumsily bundled over. Rooney sent the keeper the wrong way and looked relieved, given his recent record with penalties. Less than quarter of an hour later, he scored again, thanks to Evra picking him out perfectly in the box. Rooney tends to do well against City and we’ll be looking to him to continue putting the goals away next weekend. He also got an assist to his name after flicking on Carrick’s pass in to the path of Van Persie.

7. Van Persie wasn’t really at the races again, although, on another day he would have had a hattrick to his name. As well as his cool finish for our fourth goal, he rifled the ball a good yard over the line, only for the linesman not to see it. He had the chance to put the game out of sight, after pinching the ball off goalie Federici. He snatched at the chance though, not even looking up, when in reality he had time to pull the ball back and roll it in with his right. However, with 10 goals and 4 assists in his 13 starts, he’s certainly looking like good value for money. The fans love him already, although he can certainly kick it up a notch if he scores against City next weekend, the club he turned down to play for us.

8. Ahead of one of the biggest games of the season, we really didn’t need a nightmare defensive performance like that. Whilst it’s encouraging to see the resilience in the team in coming back from a goal behind, we’ve got to face the likes of Aguero, Tevez and Toure next week, who are considerably better than the likes of Le Fondre and Morrison. Each week, the players and manager keep talking about the need to stop falling behind early, but it still happens time and again. If anything, at least our performance will have highlighted how urgently we need to improve our defence, and you imagine they will be working like dogs on the training ground to improve on that. Again though, what this weekend shows, is that points are the most important thing. Six weeks ago we were four points behind Chelsea and now we’re ten points clear of them. We’re the team three points clear at the top so whilst a defeat would mean City went top on goal difference (again!), it’s not quite the disaster it would be if we were three points behind. Ferguson got his tactics dreadfully wrong at Eastlands last season. Hopefully he’s learnt from that and we can restore some pride around Manchester after the horrendous derby days last year!

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. Costas says:

    Hope I am wrong, but Fergie will probablybe tempted to play a tall right back at the Etihad. Remember how they scored their winner last April. In the form Rafa is in, it would be a shame for him to miss this game.

  2. Marq says:


    My guess. Welbeck in purely for his height against Kompany & Yaya for set pieces

  3. Blotto says:

    The defence is going through a steep learning curve and the gaps in the back and man marking is bloody awful, It seems that no one is imparting any wisdom to the younger players and the Coachs are seemingly not mentioning any problems to the senior players!
    It will be less of a problem once the Team get a fluid mid-field going to compliment the forwards,
    Although its annoying watching Utd play in a disjointed way it usually smoothes out after Xmas and that usually bodes well!

  4. The Devil says:

    Marq Imagine playing the reserve England midfield against City.That would be the worst midfield in Fergusons time at Utd.How many non internationals in your side with 6 England players picked[we know how poor England are].

  5. murt73 says:

    Was disapointed not to see Hernandez brought on at some stage against reading, he was our best sub who had a chance of scoring and also with the run of form he’s in totally deserved that call,( we certainly could have done with scoring another one)This must be very frustrating and a confidence drain. I guess the downside to having a big squad is that players need to be rotated which doesn’t help with consistency or familiarity.
    Just seen SAF has been saying Mourinhio is well capable of managing utd, Looks likely so..

  6. Costas says:

    Unfortunately guys, unless Valencia is fit, Marq’s suggestion is currently our best midfield option. Not sure how well Scholes, Giggs or Fletcher would fare in a combative game like this. Another scenario would be Jones playing in midfield (as the Norwich game seemed to suggest), but I am not sure about that option either.

  7. Costas says:

    I meant as the Reading games seemed to suggest.

  8. irishred says:

    Off topic, but I am so pleased that some oil baron never came into United to pump in petro dollars. Avram Grant back to Chelsea is the word around the campfire. What an absolute bream team. Grant and FSW. Grab your popcorn lads, take a seat and enjoy the show!!

  9. Jippers says:

    Good analysis Scott, I would agree with pretty much everything you have said there.

    Regarding Sunday’s game, am I the only one who thinks this could finally be the match where everything clicks into gear? I may be deluded but I genuinely think the players will be so determined after last year and there’s no way we can play as shit defensively as we did against Reading, surely? I acknowledge City are the favourites for sure, but I think we can do them! Come on United!

  10. FletchTHEMAN says:

    I am sure Rafael will play in the derby. He has been fantastic but has been way over played. Good that he got a brake. I think the substitution was because of the Yellow. He was having a bad game and no need to loose a lad of his class with a silly card and then he misses the derby. This was only precautionary.

    I think all you lads who have been slating Young can go for a smoke now. Your work is done. Stop talking about the 18M as well, it don’t mean crap. Stop talking about selling the likes of Ando which was going on even 3 weeks back. Look at Carrick. He gets rounded on regularly but is only our top defender and passer this season. The game would have never come back with out the 3 of em. Young, Ando and Carrick were all magnificent.

    Hope De Gea is back as I think he deserves a run of games. I’m sure his tooth has sorted itself by now.

    Gutter for Ando if he misses the derby.

    As for the defense, so glad Vidic is working his way back. Not slating anyone, but we need someone like Vidic who can calm the nerves.

    3 points? Done. City dropping points…. good as well.
    Bring on Cluj, then Cit€h. Was liking our chances, but Ando will be missed.

    Countdown to the MAN Derby! :twisted:

  11. FletchTHEMAN says:

    This is what happens when people are to quick to criticize. We get to watch our youngsters settling in some other team.

    Nice gif of a lad now tearing up the league in a blue shirt:

    via @Twisted_Blood
    Ladies and gentlemen, [MR] Darron Gibson:

  12. mahadev says:

    thought we played well in open play and yet again dismal at defending set pieces. anders and evans both equally culpable IMO. was shocked with rafael being subbed. i thought he deserved the chance to prove that he has matured and can last the 90 mins even if he gets booked early and wipe the memories of the CL SF against munich.

  13. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    In fairness Fletch a half decent game from Young the other day is they least you’d expect and won’t do much to change the minds of the vast majority who don’t think a) he has shown enough and b) seriously doubt that he has all that much to offer.
    He’ll have his good games but won’t be many and many won’t be good enough. That’s my opinion.

    We’re letting in an very worrying amoung of goals from crosses and corners even though we’re not short of height. We just not attacking the balls in agressively enough. Vidic will be a boost in that respect but one man won’t be able to do it all on his own. De Gea and Anders will have to start dominating the 6 yard box and Smalling, Jones and Evans are big strong lads and need to make their presence felt a bit more.

  14. Zak says:

    Man Uniteds record off late against Man city has been bad. They have been winning games consistently against us. It will be a tight game. 1-0 for Man united

  15. eddieTheRed says:

    I would throw caution to the wind for the game against City – when has caution gotten us anything other than disappointment? United is an instinctive attacking team and always looks better when our attacking instincts are unleashed.

  16. sayyidhashim says:


    Rafael Evans Vidic Evra

    Carrick Cleverley

    Valencia Rooney Young


  17. Costas says:


    That’s the same “shit” Darron Gibson we saw at United didn’t we?

  18. Hans says:

    We should not go and play for a draw, like we did last season. Had we played our natural attacking game, we would have had a better chance getting something out of the game. We hardly had a shot on goal, let alone on target.

    We should go and attack them, come what may.

    PS We will be doomed if Fergie decides to start Scholes and Giggs together!

  19. kanchelskis says:

    I’d be very, very surprised not to see the diamond against City. Unless they suddenly decide to start Sinclair, they’ll be playing without a great deal of width themselves (fullbacks aside) and last season they murdered us through the middle with Toure’s power and Silva’s guile. Sadly, this game is tailor-made for Anderson’s energy so it’s a real arse that he’s out.

    If Fergie’s going to pull a surprise next week, I think it’ll be persisting with Ando’s substitute replacement in central midfield:

    De Gea


    Cleverley (or Rooney)

    Rooney (or Hernandez/Welbeck)
    Van Persie

    Welbeck may just get the nod cos he’s a Manc and Fergie knows there’s an extra 10% for the derby from those lads. Hope that doesn’t earn Scholes a place though!

  20. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Costas….. The very same! Getting his game boots polished for City! :lol:

  21. Nesh says:

    Am so gutted for Ando…it cant be any worse for the lad really after all that effort to get in the team the whole season, then when he just managed he pulls a harm string common where are they footballing gods. The boy needs a break to enjoy his football.
    I hope sir alex doesnt make a mess of it and start smalling or Jones a head of Rafael. We need to go positively for the derby match.

  22. RusholmeToCalabria says:

    Hoping that Fergie uses Scholes and Hernandez as subs against city – Scholes is not starting material anymore, but he’s made a big impact this season when he’s come on in the second half

  23. Fibes says:

    Aye, would pick Fletch over Giggs or Scholes at the moment. Both would be a nice option to bring on to hold a 2-0 lead with 25 minutes to go.

    Has to be Van Persie up front, with Rooney + 2 others supporting and pushing their defensive midfielders back. Clev playing Ando’s role would be fine. Welbeck or Young – I think rotation of the forward players will be key to unlocking City’s back line. Valencia might make a better option from the bench this time.

    Carrick & Fletch holding the defensive positions gives us plenty of flexibility, composure and experience in those areas. Jones would be the wildcard I think – he does seem to make things happen in a central area, there’s no faulting his enthusiasm but I wonder if positionally this game has come around too soon for him.

    City have nowhere near the aerial depth of Reading, so no reason to put Smalling in at right back – although he did do well when he came on, he doesn’t offer anything like the forward threat of wee Rafael – the way to keep City’s full backs in check will be to push them back with the threat of our own, otherwise the likes of Clev/Welbeck/Rooney/whoever in the attacking roles will have to constantly offer support to our full backs, and we’ll be too deep to do anything, even on the counter.

    DDG in net has to be a must. Judging by Lindegaard’s performance on Saturday I think DDG is even looking better with crossed balls into the box now. His shot stopping is impeccable, and I think we’ll need it.

  24. denton davey says:

    Kanchelskis @ 13:13: “If Fergie’s going to pull a surprise next week, I think it’ll be persisting with Ando’s substitute replacement in central midfield”

    I agree with your hunch that MrJones might get a start in order to provide muscle/speed to the midfield.

    Your opening comment about City’s preference for playing-through-the middle is also spot-on.

    One other thing – the team that starts the match will not be the one that ends it. The M/C derby looks like it’s a match that’s is going to feature some interesting substitutions if it is drawn @ 70 minutes.

  25. M41 says:

    I was there on Saturday and kept my eye on Ashley Young. He needs to improve big time. Yes he did play a part in a couple of our goals but he rarely beats his man and when he does his delivery is shit.

    I really hope Valencia is fit again for next week.

  26. denton davey says:

    Fibes @ 13:39: “Clev playing Ando’s role would be fine. Welbeck or Young – I think rotation of the forward players will be key to unlocking City’s back line.”

    If AV7 is fit then he’ll start; otherwise, DannyTheLad offers much more than AY, especially in terms of defensive assistance.

  27. denton davey says:

    Darron Gibsoninho

  28. Nesh says:

    Jones in the middle of the pack with Carrcik and Clevs would be a great with Jone’s Energy flair from Clevs and Experince from carrick should be able to counter the Barry,yaya Nasri axis pretty well

  29. WeAreUnited says:

    “Robin van Gora says:

    I hope fergie doesnt bench rafael aganst city. That is a maych made for him. He doesnt fear anyone and thats why i would play him. Smalling has a few jitters agnst big teams. I remember rafa marking ronaldinho, bale, ribbery, nasri to name a few. He is absolutely brilliant in such big gaames. I hope fegrie doesnt opt for height coz nasri is short, aguero, tevez and those are more likely to start than balofuckelli or dzeko”

    YEah, I also hope this too, cause if he does bench him, then he will be making a biiiig mistake. And the lads confidence will be gone.

  30. WeAreUnited says:

    BTW guys,

    the best thing about the game agaist Shitty is, that this time, we have Robin Van Persie on the team-sheet.

    When was the last time, we had an extra player like him who can do something when Rooney doesn’t produce.


  31. WeAreUnited says:

    And let’s hope sir.Alex doesn’t play SCholesy from the start.

    Orr the dynamic duo together like against Barcelona 2 times. Carrick and Giggs.

    For me Carrick is a must starter but not with Giggsy. Scholes or Giggsy can come later on when we lead 2-0 and secure the game.

  32. Costas says:


    When you take into account the last 14 months, I’d say Gibson was the most impressive past or present United midfielder to line up against City. :lol:

  33. dannysoya LOVES USAIN BOLT says:

    Seriously what is this news of us signing Lewandowski? Don’t get me wrong he’s on oe f the best out there but there is ABSOLUTELY NO NEED for him. Please let it not be true. We too top heavy FFS. Can use that money and get players we BADLY NEED. We have Roo, Robin and Hernandez. Three of the most lethal in world football. And then we have Welbeck who we are trying to bring up. Why on earth would we try and get lewandowski? I call BS on this story.

  34. Adamcy says:

    It was great that we got the three points but our defence needs to get their acts together if we have any chance of getting 3 points at shitty, Flecthcer was below par, Evra was all over the place but aside from those everybody gave his all, Young really surprised me with his performance as i have been slating him off and i hope Ando will be fit cuz we need him in d next game.

  35. King Eric says:

    Carrick was superb again on Saturday. I am fucking sick of cunts saying he only passes sideways. Does he fuck. Picks the perfect pass every time on the half turn with left or right foot,. He is miles better when Scholes doesnt start. As for City I am not TOO concerned about the defending. We tend to turn up for the BIG games and are fully focused most of the time.

  36. King Eric says:

    The Devil – “Reserve England midfield” Yeah because the often picked Barry and the fucking finished Stevie Me are much better than Carrick. Just because Woy doesnt pick them for Ingerlund doesnt mean they are shit. Milner plays for Ingerlund!

  37. King Eric says:

    kanchelskis – Thats pretty much the side I would go for pal, with Rooney definitely starting. Although would like to see Rooney, RVP and Hernandez starting. Go for the jugular.

  38. berbatunday says:

    I dont agree with points 2 and 3 (who cares, lol)

    I do no think Linde could have done anything for their first goal, their second and third goals came from corners delivered just outside a crowded 6 yard box, he is not likely to get there even if he tried, his best bet stay in goal and make reaction saves but RVP was blocking him for their second. For the third , Evans didn’t need to head the ball (but safety first). He attempted to come for their corner in the second half, but ended dropping the ball and a foul was not given.

    As for Rafael, I think the major point that needed emphasis is that he was replaced by Smalling to increase our heights at set-pieces, fergie probably didn’t do his homework with Reading’s style (not that I knew they were this good at setpieces before the game. Rafael shouldn’t have sulked but he was sure disappointed and why was a coat thrown at him?

  39. montanared says:

    de Gea

    rafa, rio, vidic, evra

    carrick, fletch

    AV7, rooney, welbz

    van persie

    I could see Fergie playing something like this if Vidic and Valencia are fit, might be wishful thinking since fergie will probably play scholes, which I know worries some on here but wouldn’t be the end of the world. As much as I love chico, he is just better off the bench, and we should take advantage of that. Our old CD pairing would be a great psychological boost and would be worth the risk. Packing the middle and playing defensively at the off might be wise but that front four provides speed on the counter , energy and defensive responsibility. Never know whats gonna happen these days though, I think we all fear just about the same thing this weekend

    scholes starts- I can handle

    Giggs starts- worried

    scholes and giggs start – Wild Turkey 101 at 7:30 am

    My prediction; tight start, but end to end after the first goal goes in, 2-3 UNITED!!!

  40. MartyRed says:

    Its been a weird season so far, not that im complaining because were top but weve gone to anfield and the bridge already and won which normally doesnt happen. Losing at home to spurs normally doesnt happen either. So who knows what the fuck will happen on sunday, if we turn up like we did at newcastle then city are in for a tough day at the office, no question about that. I think chunks has to start in midfield along side carrick and roo dropping back a bit and leaving rvp up there on his own. We really need our medical staff to work there asses off to get tonyv over his hip injury for the trip to wastelands.

    U N I……..

  41. King Eric says:

    MartyRed – Ha. “Chunks”. Yeah that comes from Cleverley not being able to pronounce the word Trunks as a kid!!

  42. MartyRed says:

    @king Eric

    Thanks man, thats deadly. I so didnt no that. I assumed he was a chunky little fucker as a kid or something.

  43. LoneStarRed says:

    Neither Scholes nor Giggs should be anywhere near the pitch before the 85th minute against City. It may sound crazy but we need a counter for Toure’s physicality and I nominate Phil Jones to mark him.

  44. Daniel88 says:

    Gary Neville just delivered ANOTHER masterclass on Sky Sports concern our goalkeeper problems.
    He nailed our goalkeeper not dominating his six yard box.

    ———— De Gea
    Rafael Evans Ferdinand Evra
    ————- Fletcher
    ——- Cleverley Carrick
    Valencia ————- Rooney
    ———— van Persie

    vs Citeh.

  45. Zemmamma777 says:

    I somewhat understand the whole “keeping Lindegaard and De Gea on their toes” explanation of the rotation, but I’m afraid that it’s been nothing but detrimental to the team! The defense are never sure who they’ll be playing in front of, and are never sure who the back four will be! And just when one keeper gets a run of games and a somewhat steady defense is becoming accustomed to that keeper, the other keeper is suddenly swapped out. Our title charge last year really revved up when DDG was our consistent number one (albeit due to an injury to Lindegaard) keeper and a relatively steady defensive line. There used to be a time (not too long ago!) where you could accurately predict 8 or 9 of the starting 11, with room for Fergie’s genius tactics, but now, there’s maybe 5 players you can likely guarantee as starters. I admire SAF endlessly and his genius is unrivaled, but the tinkering needs to stop, and he needs to get an assistant with fresh tactics and has the balls to question some of Fergie’s less brilliant decisions.


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