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View from the Stands: Amazulu FC

Manchester United’s pre-season began in earnest with victory over Amazulu in Durban. In a game where the result was always meaningless, United handed debuts to nine players, eight of whom featured for the Reserves last season. Expectations of a disjointed game were put to rest from the start, as United dominated the play in the first half. Amazulu started the second half brightly, and went from strength to strength as United’s tiring players increasingly allowed the opposition more space and time on the ball.

Starting the game with three young debutants in the back four required Rio Ferdinand to regularly bark orders at the new recruits. Scott Wootton played well at centre-half, and grew in confidence as the match progressed. He is also comfortable bringing the ball out from the back, making a few accurate long passes. With Michael Carrick covering the right of midfield, backed by Frederic Veseli at right back, not much attacking headway from either team was made from that quarter. Veseli was replaced at the start of the second half by Marnick Vermijl. The left flank was defended by Robbie Brady, whose positional sense was often called to question. He started well, but was constantly drawn forward into the space that he usually occupies on the left wing. When he did stay back, he was too tight to Ferdinand, leaving space that wasn’t taken advantage of by the hesitant Amazulu players. He likely wished that Ashley Young was situated in front of him. Brady did improve that aspect as the game wore on, and took the corners well, but he was ready to be replaced on 58 minutes by Tyler Blackett, another debutant. Blackett’s early contribution was to concede a penalty, which was overturned by the offside flag. The young Mancunian played well going forward.

New boy Jesse Lingard played adventurously in a midfield three, although it could be argued that Dimitar Berbatov was actually an advanced midfielder. These two were our best performers on the night, and Anders Lindegaard also shone brightly on a fairly busy evening between the sticks. Jesse wanted the ball, and energetically made himself available for 70 minutes, until he was replaced by Davide Petrucci. Paul Scholes was disciplined in his approach to his central role in the midfield. He brought his usual quality, and often the opposition stood off him, no doubt realising he is always one step ahead. His early long ball through to Lingard late in the first half left only the keeper to beat, but the last defender pulled him down from behind, earning himself a very friendly yellow card. Berbatov’s struck the resultant free kick off the wall for a corner, and then volleyed Brady’s corner from the edge of the box drawing a fingertip save. The energy and attacking intentions of Lingard and Berbatov meant that Scholes was often not long included as United surged quickly through the middle. Carrick played well, but was restrained tactically due to the inexperience at the back.

Berbatov’s control and speed-of-thought left the crowd gasping, and he was integral to the midfield domination that United held throughout the first half. With Scholes behind him, and Lingard always available, the Bulgarian regularly turned possession into attack at the blink of an eye. His fellow forwards should have scored more from his intelligent passing. Javier Hernandez has some way to go before the season starts, and was the rustiest of the three. Federico Macheda played quite well, considering his disastrous loan spells and the sketchy form he has shown since his stunning debut three years ago. His goal in the 20th minute was well taken through the legs of the rapidly advancing keeper, after running onto Berbatov’s excellent through-ball. Whether or not he will shine in the Premiership this season remains to be seen, but his attitude and work-rate was good. Anderson replaced Macheda on 58 minutes, and took quite a while to find his feet. Not the best display considering his effervescent hour during training the night before. His touch deserted him, so it took him a while to settle in. He did improve in the latter stages, aided by the arrival of the fresh legs of Davide Petrucci and Ryan Tunnicliffe (for Scholes and Lingard) in the 70th minute. Petrucci hit the bar and Tunnicliffe put himself about effectively, both will be happy enough with their twenty minute debuts.

The loudest and longest applause was reserved for the arrival of Shinji Kagawa. The cheers started in the 80th minute, as it became apparent that he was warming up to replace a struggling Hernandez. He was ready to come on in the 82nd minute, but the ball would not go out for another 6 minutes (which included Petrucci’s strike against the bar), leaving him and the crowd a little frustrated. To everyone’s joy our newest recruit Shinji Kagawa finally made his debut on 89 minutes.

Man-of-the-Match was justly awarded to the tireless Dimitar Berbatov. Sir Alex recognised that the team tired in the second half. He was pleased with Scott Wootton, and believes that Jesse Lingard has a great future in store, after he puts on a few pounds. He was also very pleased to be able to give a Manchester United victory to Nelson Mandela on his 94th birthday.

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26 Comments

  1. CedarsDevil says:

    To StR

    Cheers for getting back to me mate, hopefully the whole thing can be cleared now

  2. cletus tanu says:

    man united is a club with great trophies ahead to come

  3. Jeslyn kennedy says:

    Thank GOD for the victory,thanks to bebartov, kagawa,chicharito,machada who scord the gaol

  4. MUFCJord says:

    Lingard was impressive last night. Petrucci’s 20 minute cameo also looked positive. Nice to see the young lads getting a chance.

  5. Sandeep1878 says:

    Cedars,

    hope so mate, chillax..

  6. xol says:

    Nice report afrimanutd. Only got down to Altrincham 3 or four times last season, need to get back in to the habit. Strange seeing them play so far away. They’ll be loving it and the fact that so many of them are being thrown in at the deep end at the same time, kind of gives them a confidence boost I think.

  7. KeanosMagicHat says:

    Thanks again, hopefully we’ll have someone available to report from Cape Town on Saturday.

  8. StatesideAussie says:

    I guess it’s hard to make judgments when the opposition is such crap. But from the sound of it, Berbatov looks like a decent midfield proposition!

  9. Emperor says:

    Did anyone notice Kagawa was just jogging on the pitch?

  10. Pav1878 says:

    What does everyone make of fergies supposed claims that he will get rvp? Doesn’t sound like how he usually operates to me

  11. Cyril Sneer says:

    AfriManUtd – Thank you for this great article. I wasn’t able to watch the game last night and this was the perfect way to catch up on the action. It’s nice to hear things are going well for the team and I hope Berba puts in enough great performances to force Fergie to change his mind.

    Well done!

  12. slim says:

    StatesideAussie

    Nah, he was just the perfect No.10
    We see Wayne struggling with this role, this guy can do it in his sleep. I reckon thats why SAF went ahead and got kagawa

  13. StatesideAussie says:

    Slim … yeah, I am gonna miss the Berb. I’ll miss him if he leaves, of course. But I’ll miss him if he stays too, assuming he gets no more playing time than last season.

  14. MUFCJord says:

    I don’t want RvP. It’d stunt Danny Welbeck’s growth as we’d probably have to drop him for the majority of games.

    I can’t see it being true anyway. I can see RvP going to Juve.

  15. kk says:

    Nice write up. It was well written and thorough and very descriptive.
    I dont want RVP too, he just had one injury free season. So I am still not convinced with his fitness. If he comes he will be our lead striker and we need a very fit chap for that.

  16. Harish says:

    Great Read. Didn’t see the game but heard lingard was star youth performer. Good thing to hear .

  17. goatinaunitedshirt says:

    MUFCJord
    I bet this is just Sir Alex pissing about with the press to show Wellbeck that life goes on with or without him. I hope we dont go after RvP as I think hes garbage. Sure he scores goals at times but he blows hot and cold. At times seems completely disinterested and doesnt ever seem to link up well with other strikers. Name one second striker to RvP in his so far reasonably long career where you look back and say that was a good partnership. He is also pretty poor when defending from set pieces when strikers are supposed to get back and use their headering ability to cover defenders entering the box. Hes also another one of these fag strikers who refuses to be in the penalty area when a cross comes in but instead wants to either cross them in or stand on the outside of the area. Well I suppose we with Youngs in swingers would get to see Rooney, Van Persie, Scholes, Valencia all on the edge of the box ready to Gerrard one into row Z. What we need is a van Nistelrooy, a proper striker. A man who gets in the thick of things and is a bloody nuisance not one of these dont want to rip hair out of my bald patch by headering the ball (oh and did I mention – the balls hard) strikers.
    2omillion for RvP what a joke. I wouldnt pay 10.

  18. Pav1878 says:

    Goatinaunitedshirt:

    I totally and utterly disagree. To say rvp is garbage is laughable. The guy leads the line brilliantly, much better than Rooney in my opinion. He has better technique than every striker we have, bar maybe berba.

    He is a fantastic player, and if you can’t see that then you know nothing about football.

    Granted he may not be exactly what we need right now (every man and his dog know we need a dynamic midfielder), but I for one won’t complain if we get a world class player like Robin!

  19. Pav1878 says:

    Goatinaunitedshirt:

    I totally and utterly disagree. To say rvp is garbage is laughable. The guy leads the line brilliantly, much better than Rooney in my opinion. He has better technique than every striker we have, bar maybe berba.

    He is a fantastic player, and if you can’t see that then you know nothing about football.

    Granted he may not be exactly what we need right now (every man and his dog know we need a dynamic midfielder), but I for one won’t complain if we get a world class player like Robin!

  20. goatinaunitedshirt says:

    Pav1878
    So good you said it twice, lol.
    I agree there are great parts to his game but there are also some deep flaws to his game as well. Maybe garbage was too harsh and Ill retract that. You dont get to score some crackers and be leading or next leading striker in the Premier League if your garbage, that much is true. I wouldnt however be overly enthralled about us signing him. I certainly dont see him as an upgrade on Berbatov IN RELATION to what we already have. I think his style and possitioning is too close to Rooney, and yes I will agree hes a far better passer of the ball than Rooney, and I feel he wont complement anyone here rather be much of the same.
    I cant see where RvP would fit in either. We would be getting rid of Berbatov who is 4th on the pecking order and arguably replacing him with someone who would be second. The losers in this would be Wellbeck and Chico. I just dont get the idea UNLESS we are disposing of Rooney. And seeing as his name and image is emblazened over every bit of Manchester United merchandise I cant see us getting rid of the prodical son for fear of returns at the megastore. Now that would be a headache for the Glazers.

  21. keano99 says:

    We are not signing van persie he’s 29 would cost over 20 mil and the same wages as rooney he’s injury prone (last season was the first he managed to stay injury free) and wenger would rather cut he’s own cock off than sell to us! its paper talk how many coppies do the mirror sell when u have united linked to a big player? anyway we need a central midfielder and a left back I think everybody sees that execpt the manager and it doesn’t look like were gona get them but we just have to trust him he’s forgot more about football than we’ll ever know, maybe he sees something in the young midfielders that we don’t.

  22. Sandeep1878 says:

    Ryan Tunnicliffe :
    “Woke up smiling after my debut for united , up there with the happiest days of my life! Hopefully more games to come! Off to the safari now! “

  23. LoneStarRed says:

    I agree, Berba was MOTM.

  24. Fred says:

    Great attitude! That’s what I like to hear. Compare that to the kind of tweets you used to get from Ravel Morrison: “deez utd awardz r fukin shit.. teks da pis . wanna go howm”

  25. HecouldbeaCantona says:

    Great to see Berbatov as advanced mid fielder, always thought he has that in him. If so, he would get more playtime than being a 4th striker and therefore he would stay for a couple more seasons?

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