Manchester United 07/08 Season In Review With Video Highlights

May 11, 2008

The buzz from my Boddington’s is building to a crescendo, whilst the sun shines brightly on a beautiful Pacific afternoon, and this translates into the best time to write up my full Manchester United Season In Review. Let me just crack open another one here.

I am adamant that if last year’s Manchester United would have remained unchanged, we would likely have finished 2nd or even 3rd. The real shining success from this season is a tough thing to pinpoint precisely, but I think Fergie’s astute signings are the main talking point of the season, despite the incredible emergence of Cristiano Ronaldo as a genuine contender for best player in the world. More on him later, but first, let me explain my hypothesis.

Our early 2000’s team blew pretty hard despite the presence of some bigger names and some success on and off the field. The Van Nistelrooy years stand out to me as an era of poor signings that, while they may have been skilled players, didn’t fit into the United system and the likes of Seba Veron, Kleberson, Djemba X 2, Diego Forlan and Liam Miller all proved to be floppish. While I’m not doubting the ability of some of them (namely Forlan and Veron, Miller is still shite though, Djemba has dropped off the face of the earth) these were the wrong types of signings.

The players that Fergie picked up this year all added a different element to the team, without detracting from our overall style of play. Each of the players are extremely dynamic and while regular readers will know my thoughts on Nani (who I think needs more composure to compete at the highest level) each of these four have played a key part in United’s campaign, thus far. While I’m on the topic of Nani, he did singlehandedly deliver three points early on in the season for us in the match against Middlesbrough. While his actions the other week against West Ham were not the type of football I like to see played at United, the lad obviously has the skills to pay the bills. He needs to spend more time soaking up advice from top pro’s like Giggs, Scholesy and Ronaldo in order to reach that level of maturity and composure necessary to compete in the big games. Look at what happened to Rooney this year, Nani needs a dose of that. But watch this video as testament to Nani’s gamebreaking ability.

Oliveira Anderson has provided something unique for United this year- an element of the unexpected. In retrospect, he was our mystery player this year- nobody knew much about him coming in. People had seen a bit of Nani and people more or less knew what to expect from him. Anderson was a different deal altogether. I expected the young Brazilian to come in and act like, as one of my readers predicted, “THE creative midfielder.” Anderson adapted quickly to the pace and hard-hitting nature of the EPL and he shined as a box-to-box midfielder with vision and guile. Like Tevez, he possesses a low center of gravity and this makes him hard to knock off the ball and also gives him the ability to creep up on opposing players and quickly snake the ball from him. He was much more defensive and mentally aware than any of us predicted at the start of the season. While he finished goalless, his contribution was telling in that other teams still haven’t quite figured out how to deal with Anderson. He will wear a United shirt for many many years.

Somebody’s put together a little Anderson tribute here. I think it’s fitting. Give it a look.

As a Canadian, seeing Owen Hargreaves take to the pitch in a United uniform always fills me with pride. Watching this good old boy from Calgary AB out there kicking ass in the name of Man United is one of the greatest pleasures I have. I admire the man’s commitment and professionalism and while he grew up playing for Bayern, he brings the grit and get’er-done mentality that Canadians bring to everything they do. He is our ambassador to England and the Premier League and I think he is an excellent example of the type of versatility Man U have lacked in previous seasons. He is Phil Neville times three. All the versatility and ability to slot in basically anywhere, but he brings free-kicks and hard, lazer-guided tackles to the fore whenever he steps over the white lines. Hargreaves delivered the points at Arsenal and while he was hampered by injury all year, Hargreaves stepped up when he was called upon. Something that can do every Canadian proud.

This will go down as one of the greatest United freekicks of all time. I was shitting myself when he scored this one. These three points made the difference and Hargreaves fucking delivers.

And now, we’ve got Tevez. What more can you ask for from a player? While he isn’t a 30 goal a season man in the vein of Torres, old Michael Owen or Ronaldo, him and Man United formed a symbiotic relationship this year. Manchester United has brought out the best in Carlos Tevez and Carlos Tevez has helped Manchester United get better. Everybody said that him and Rooney were too similar to succeed and that turned out to be one of the talking points of the season. Him and Rooney are similar, and contrary to predictions, it made them a better strike force. They can track each others runs expertly and both can drop deep, while both can play as out and out strikers. Tevez’s versatility is one of the things that allows Man United to play the free-flowing attacking game that we all know and love. He is short, stout, and has the heart of a lion. It’s an honor to watch this man go to work in the service of our team. He is on course to be a Man United legend and I have a feeling that he’s a favourite in the dressing room.

He has a habit of scoring important goals. Case in point:

Now that I’ve addressed my four reasons why we won the title, let’s get to the season’s other main talking point- THE EMERGENCE OF CRISTIANO RONALDO AS THE BEST FOOTBALLER IN THE WORLD. I will argue it with anybody. Nobody plays the game like this guy and what he accomplished this season helped him break the bank, win the the title and shock the world. Over 40 goals from a right-winger is absolutely unprecedented in English football and I will also defend my theory that Ronaldo is blurring the lines between midfielder and striker. He alternates a Jeckyll and Hyde-style double-bill as a winger and old-fashioned center forward, scoring goals for fun and making opponents trip all over themselves. Always labeled as a one-trick pony thirty seconds away from a shampoo commercial, Ronaldo grabbed the team by the scruff of the neck and delivered the goods. This guy is the one who will sell “soccer” to America, not David Beckham. People in North America want to see goals and they want to see exciting stuff. Ronaldo plays football from another planet and the Glazier’s know that he is their best chance at selling the game to the North American audience once and for all. That is why this guy is going nowhere.

Here’s a few highlights from this season to whet your whistle. I’ll have a full bio and review on him coming up in a few days.

The other main point worth mentioning is our defense. The central partnership of Rio and Vidic has been absolutely unparalleled in recent memory and the two will be operating in tandem for almost a decade, they’re flanked by Wes Brown, who finally emerged as the top player we all knew he was (particularly in the second leg against Barca), and Patrice Evra- a more complete version of Roberto Carlos. These guys and Van Der Sar are the unsung heroes of the season. Like they always say- offense wins games, defense wins championships.

And that’s exactly what our boys did today. Ryan Giggs scoring to put the icing on the cake as he matched the all-time appearance record for the team is a story that you just can’t make up. I think you can’t forget how important it was that Chelsea slipped up against Bolton when it mattered most. That gives us the big mo’ going into the Champions League Final.

Drink up United fans- it’s been a long season and we’ve delivered the goods.

Bring on Moscow.

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Video Highlights: Manchester United Secure the 07/08 English Premier League Title!

May 11, 2008

Well, it’s done and dusted. I hereby declare this the greatest season in the history of the English Premier League. And appropriately enough, United have come out on top. Excuse me for a second here….

FOR BEST RESULTS, START THE FIRST VIDEO AND THEN FIRE UP THE SECOND.

EVERYONE AROUND THE WORLD- COME ON!
*shaky dance*

I really can’t express my pleasure at knowing Chelsea couldn’t finish the job at Bolton. How many times have the chavs allowed last second goals to demote wins to draws? I would say at least five times this season and that, my friends, is why Ronaldo & Co. hoisted the trophy and wore ridiculous chapeau’s.

I’m gonna be back later on to write up a full season in review and then in the build up to the Champions League Final I’m going to be putting together some lengthy run downs on individual players.

We did it. We are the best. Not on goal difference, but points.

Moscow. Looms. Large.

And if the vids go down, check out 1000 goals.com.


Video Highlights: Manchester United Thrash West Ham 4-1 And Take a Giant Step Closer to the EPL Title

May 3, 2008

After getting up at about 4:45 in the morning, hungover as shit, I managed to watch one of United’s most complete performances of the season. The game was never really in any serious question after Ronaldo pulled off that sickening run to open the scoring. Which sickening run you ask? This sickening run.

If the videos go down, click here and you can watch them all at 1000 Goals.com

The next goal was really more Hargreaves doing, but Ronaldo was right place- right time and managed to stay onside the entire time. Credit to him. His 40th goal of the season. Incredible. What is it? If he scores like 5 goals against Wigan he becomes Man U’s all-time leading scorer in one season? Something like that anyway, I don’t know the specifics, all I do know is that only Brian Law and Ruud Van Nistelrooy have scored more goals than Ronaldo in a season and he’s a winger ferchrissakes.

Then we come to Tevez’ screamer. Absolutely wicked. This guy is probably the best person you could ask for to lead your line in tight games at the end of the season. Tevez may not score 50 a year, but the 15-20 that will score will be made up of some of the season’s most important goals. Check this-

Then we’ve got Michael Carrick’s effort. A true Michael Carrick goal if I’ve ever seen one. He’s been a really give-and-take player this year, putting in a handful of inspiring performances, but most of the time you forget he’s even out there. Face it, the goal was lucky and didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Celebrations were limited as Carrick was scoring against his boyhood team.

This brings us to the unfortunate scenes from Nani. I really think this guy is out of his depth at the moment and I am now 100% certain that he lacks the composure needed to succeed at the highest level. Some people (commentators included) thought he played well against Barca. I didn’t. I thought he screwed up pretty much every move he became involved in and you can tell that he wants to do it all himself. This is a guy who grew up training alongside Ronaldo and he has to sit and watch all of the press and attention Cristiano is getting and I think it makes Nani want to be the front page player even more. I’m not saying the guy isn’t talented, I’m saying he lacks composure. He can’t finish and when he pulls stunts like he did today, he doesn’t realize how embarrassing it is to the team. I think that the Euro this summer will mature him and he’ll come back next season a better player.

After having watched both Anderson and Nani all season, I have to say that Nani is probably the better offensive player, but Anderson is much more complete. His battling presence is always helpful and I haven’t seen him have too many bad games. Anyways, bring on Wigan next weekend. I will be supporting Newcastle whole-heartedly on Monday.

We’re THIS close, guys.


Owen brace seals the deal as England beat Russia 3-0! Video highlights and full match reaction

September 12, 2007

ALL THE GOALS ARE RIGHT HERE! 

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to post but the past few weeks are over and done with, so let’s get back on with the football.

In the past six days, England have single-handedly saved their qualification for Euro 2008. Things were looking especially bleak leading into the Israel game and we should all be giving Steve Mclaren credit where credit is due- his gambles worked and effectively saved his job. I think England have now learned the benefit of using players who are in-form, not just the best 10 players from the big four plus Paul Robinson.

Think about it- the three key players (aside from the abso-fucking-lutely talismanic Steven Gerrard)  were Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and Gareth Barry. Those three play for Newcastle, Wigan and Aston Villa for christ’s sake yet we still spanked the Russians. Owen’s second goal was world class.
These past two games could have seriously damaged Frank Lampard’s guaranteed place in the side and as well they should have. Many of us have long suspected that Gerrard and Lampard effectively cancel each other out, and the injection of Gareth Barry into a more central “playmakers” role suited him perfectly. And to be honest, I’m not the biggest Frank Lampard fan, but I actually like the concept of keeping him on the bench for a while, possibly bringing him on as an impact substitute if things aren’t going our way in the last 30 minutes or so. Personally, the idea of Gerrard-Barry and Lampard-Hargreaves sounds like two great midfield partnerships.

John Terry likes to yell a lot, but I’ve never been a fan of captain’s leading from the back. I think Gerrard should have been given the England captaincy.

Micah Richards and Shawn Wright-Phillips are going to provide space and penetration down the right flank for the next 3 World Cups, at least. With these two, we have something that we never had with England coming down the flanks- genuine width. Richards is so good at unsettling defenders with his well-timed runs and overlaps that I think he has been extremely key to our victories in the past two games. Additionally, he is a bit of an unknown quantity on the international scene (one of the benefits of being a City player) and it was obvious over the past two games that both teams did not know what to expect from Richards. They both payed the price.

We now top our group and lead on goal difference. Steady lads. True British grit will see us scrape into another International tournament. Let’s just hope that Steve Mclaren has learned that form doesn’t lie.

All the goal highlights are available right here! It’s good to be back guys.

PS: Rooney trained with the Manchester United side today and could be on the bench against the Toffees this weekend.


English Premier League Matchday 1 Commentary

August 11, 2007

What a great opening day. Honestly, while my beloved Man United are still yet to play (twenty hours away and counting) I was really encouraged by today’s results, not necessarily today’s performances, but the results have been very impressive. I only managed to catch the West Ham- City match live, but I followed the other ones as they happened and I’ll be including some video highlights as they become available.

Manchester City- West Ham
Anybody who’s read this site for longer than six seconds will know that I’m definitely not going to be the first person in the room to big-up Man City, but I’ve always been a firm believer in credit where credit is due. This is a completely different Manchester City team that I have seen in well… ever. Not many of the names were particularly recognizable and knowing that Svenski signed them all by looking at DVD’s makes it all the more impressive. Ironic really, considering that Sven’s men (god that rolls right off your tongue) were reliant on goalscorers coming off the bench. This was pretty much my (and everybody’s) biggest gripe about Mr. Eriksson, that he couldn’t make effective substitutions that would effectively change a game. Well, this time, Sven did it and he did it in style. This Man City team looks like a good Premier League side that doesn’t even closely resemble the confused shit-show of the Stuart Pearce era.

West Ham do not look solid going forward. Bobby Zamora played like a Special Olympics player and seemed to dismantle many of West Ham’s promising moves. Dean Ashton was handed a gilt-edged chance to even the score with that volley in the latter part of the second half. Those are the type of chances you need to finish in order to win Premier League Matches. Freddie Ljungberg was also awful.

A year ago, Manchester City against West Ham would have sounded absolutely dour. But this game was much better than I expected and I think Manchester City have a really exciting squad to look forward to all year. This could really benefit them, because they are an unknown quantity. Almost like when a promoted side comes up full of players that many managers know nothing about. Nobody knew what to expect from Sven’s men, and I was completely impressed. We will not roll over them in the derby (but I’m hoping we beat the shit out of them).

Sunderland vs Spurs
Roy Keane could not have asked for a better result and I could ditto Niall Quinn on that one as well.  From what I could tell it seemed like a relatively quiet contest until Chopra fired the Black Cats ahead in the 93rd minute with literally the last touch of the match. Incredible. This is the win that Wigan deserved two years ago against Chelsea. It would be one thing to say that a promoted side that pushed a solid Premier League team all the way and emerged with a draw were “punching above their weight.” But that type of thing isn’t what wins you your Premier League status back at the end of the season, punching above your weight only takes you so far and to really make your mark you need to win matches and that’s exactly what Keane’s boys did.

Spurs should be worried. Dropping points against promoted sides is not acceptable for a team that is trying to pip Arsenal for fourth. With Liverpool winning today, Spurs will be hoping that either Arsenal, Chelsea or Man U slip up tomorrow, if they don’t- Spurs have already dropped three points you know they expected to pick up. Berbatov was rendered ineffective and the attacking prowess of Aaron Lennon seemed to be sorely missed. Spurs must win next week or a general malaise could set in and see them finish mid-table- which would be an absolute disaster.

Derby against Pompey

The Rams have been widely tipped to go down and they can draw an incredible amount of positives from this match. While they didn’t win, this was not their match to win- it was Portsmouth’s to lose. If you ask me, Derby showed that they will pose a lot more problems than some sides would have thought. The #1 reason why promoted teams get relegated is because they can’t score goals and seeing Derby knock two against a solid Premier League defense will be very reassuring to Rams fans. Andy Todd must be in dreamland, because he is a Championship-level player, but has managed to make a big splash today. Good on him.

Portsmouth need David James, Linvoy Primus and Sol Campbell to rescue this season for them. They will need better performances from these three if they are going to qualify for Europe.

Liverpool against Villa
Stephen Gerrard was up to his usual tricks as he rescued Liverpool from a disappointing draw. Torres was a handful up front, but did not contribute the expected goal on his debut. He looked good linking up with Kuyt and I am interested to see how he plays off of Crouch. Villa were unfortunate to concede the own goal and Liverpool will need to rely less on their inspirational talisman if they are going to push Man U and Chelsea all the way.

Villa show definite signs that their manager did not make the right purchases in the off-season. They will need bigger performances if they are going to fulfill their expectations of a better-than-mid-table finish.

Middlesbrough vs Blackburn
Southgate has got to be kicking himself as his boys blew a comfortable half-time lead against Mark Hughes team and their typically thuggish (albeit effective) tactics. Benni McCarthy being stretchered off is going to be a big problem for Rovers, but they got the three points on the day and I guess that’s what matters. I didn’t see any of this match so I don’t really have too much to say. That and I’m starting to feel the malt liquor I’ve been drinking while I’m writing this. God, it’s 1:30 here…

Everton versus Wigan
A huge performance from Arteta and a late Victor Anichebe goal saw Wigan drop the points (as expected) against Everton- a solid and competitive Premier league outfit. It will be reassuring to see goals come from somewhere other than Andy Johnson while Wigan have not done themselves many favors and remain a good bet for the drop.

Newcastle against Bolton
Big Sam smoked little Sam as the Magpies came out flying. 3-1 was the final score after two clinical strikes from Obafemi Martins and a tight goal from Charles N’Zogbia. This is exactly how Newcastle need to play every game if Sam Allardyce’s charges are going to elevate Newcastle away from being an upper-mid table side.

A typical goal from Anelka was not enough against this Newcastle side and while Bolton shouldn’t be in any relegation danger, you wonder whether the inability to beat a side like Newcastle means that things could be tougher than originally thought for Sammy Lee.

Either way, it was an epic way to start the season and I’ll be posting videos as soon as they hit youtube.