Ryan Giggs Leads United revival with 4-0 Debut Win over Norwich

Rooney Tom Jenkins

Wayne Rooney celebrates one of his two goals – Source: The Guardian

Manchester United 4-0 Norwich City
Saturday 26th April 2014

United lifted the doom and gloom around the club by giving interim manager Ryan Giggs a perfect start with a comprehensive beating of relegation threatened Norwich City at Old Trafford. A double from Wayne Rooney (the first from the spot just before the break, and the second just after) killed the game and another double from substitute Juan Mata (continuing his good recent form in front of goal) ensured the club legend got the victory which the Theatre Of Dreams demanded.

The new boss got a rapturous welcome from the fans who are used to seeing him out on the pitch as a player. They seemed to love seeing him in a suit and tie, as he took his seat in the famous raised dugout alongside fellow class of 92 graduates Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Phil Neville. United did not have everything their own way as a determined City side fighting for their lives worked hard to keep them out early on. However, once the deadlock was broken, it could have been five, six, seven, any number you want.

As he promised in his press conference on Friday, Giggs’ United played with far more pace, tempo, passion and – above all – width that actually mattered, not just get the ball wide and toss the ball in as United did early in the season under David Moyes, during a disappointing 2-2 home draw with basement team Fulham, where they set a Premier League record for crosses during a game. This was real width, used to stretch the opposition and get the full backs pushed on the overlap. The third and fourth goals coming from crosses from Phil Jones and Patrice Evra.

Danny Welbeck had United’s best effort before they took the lead. His powerful shot was well saved by Norwich keeper John Ruddy at his near post, after a cross from the left came all the way through to him. United eventually broke down the Canaries’ resistance in the 40th minute as Welbeck was dragged down by Steven Whittaker who – for some reason only known to referee Lee Probert – did not receive a straight red card for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity. He did not get a card of any description, amazing! Wayne Rooney dispatched the penalty with little fuss, sending Ruddy the wrong way with a confident side foot finish to open the flood gates.

Rooney extended the lead just after the break in the 48th minute with a beautiful curled effort, in off Ruddy’s far left hand post from twenty yards. He had been given the freedom of Old Trafford to cut across Norwich’s defence from the left hand side. Welbeck was denied again with Ruddy making a stunning save to keep out his powerful volley from the edge of the box, and then outgoing skipper Nemanja Vidic headed just over from a Rooney corner after a good flick on by the majestic Michael Carrick. Carrick did not give a ball away all evening.

Then it was time for sub Juan Mata to put the game well out of Norwich’s reach, as he tucked home very well from a wonderful Jones cross in the 62nd minute. United’s Domination was further enhanced as Mata nodded in an Antonio Valencia effort in the 72nd minute, after a good move lead to Evra standing up an excellent cross to the far post. United could have had several other goals. Rooney could easily have had a hat-trick as two curled efforts were well kept out by Ruddy. He also saw an audacious chip land on the roof of the net, inches away from a great goal.

Substitute Javier Hernandez missed a wonderful chance late on, when he found himself one-on-one with the Goalkeeper, but he dragged his shot wide, having been released by an excellently timed pass from Mata. Norwich had a few decent efforts from distance, a free-kick and a shot from long range were well saved by David De Gea, and another effort from well outside the area deflected onto the crossbar, but Norwich will be disappointed with their effort in a game which they needed to get something out of.

Norwich need points in their fight for survival but a crowd of 75,208 went home happy with smiles on their faces, just as Ryan Giggs had promised.

Man Of The Match: Michael Carrick gets it for me. It’s amazing what a change of manager and philosophy can do for a player who has looked lost all season. He returned to last season’s form in this game, the form that lead to him being nominated for PFA Player of the Year. He sat between Rio and Vidic all evening, and because more people were moving forward and making runs, with the fullbacks bombing on, he was left with space to conduct the game and hardly wasted a ball. The whole game revolved around him, and he set everything in motion.

Thanks for reading,


Are you jealous of David Beckham?

david-beckham-last-game-psg-championDavid Beckham playing for PSG – Source: http://www.scaryfootball.com

Just a short one today, as I’m writing on my lunch break. The things I do to ensure a post a day. I thought I’d take around 500 words to have a look at David Beckham and the rampant envy he seems to cause among most football fans, especially male ones.

I’d like to start off by saying that I don’t think Beckham gets anywhere near enough credit as a player for his ability. Former England international Chris Waddle recent stated that: “You can go down a list of players from the Premier League or the 70s or 80s, whatever you want to do. I’ll be honest, Beckham probably wouldn’t be in the first 1,000.” This bears a striking resemblance to the comments made by Bret Hart about Triple H recently. I know it made me laugh, and I’m sure it made a lot of other logical fans laugh too.

But quite a lot of people actually seem to agree with this summary, which is bewildering. The comments of Waddle and of Hart both scream of jealousy and envy. There are many reasons for someone to be jealous of Beckham. He has more money than any other player, or than most people period. He has all the fame, and all of the success. Most of all, he is extremely popular with the females of the species. I bet that has a lot to do with it.

Just because the guy wants to take an interest in fashion, attend glitzy film openings or model in his boxers, doesn’t make him an average player. It does make him a bit of a cock, but not an average player. Lets look at the facts. He is the most capped outfield player in England history. He is the only English player to win domestic titles in four different countries (England, Spain, France and the United States) as well as a host of other trophies and individual awards. He played a vital role in the Manchester United side which dominated the Premier League in the 1990s and went on to win the Champions League. He would probably still be there now if Fergie knew how to swallow his pride.

His famous moments like the goal from the half way line over Neil Sullivan, and the expert free kick against Greece in the dying seconds will go down in history and be remembered forever. His contributions on the pitch won’t be tarnished by the envy of others. But it’s his off the pitch work which seems to alienate him to most ‘normal blokes’ which is astounding as most of it is very positive. He is big in charity work, helps to push football across the world and his dedication to the London Olympic project was commendable.

He isn’t the best player of all time, but he would easily make the top 100 Premier League players of all time, let alone 1,000. He’d probably be towards the top of that list. The ones who disagree with that are usually those overcome with jealousy. That’s my thoughts on it anyway.

Balotelli: Goodbye To A Legend

It’s time for us City fans (yes I am one, and yes I was one ten years before we won our first trophy in recent memory) to say goodbye to a true club legend in Mario Balotelli. The biggest story of the transfer window has to be his switch back to Italy in a big money move to¬†AC Milan, the side he supposedly supported as a boy. This has obviously led to widespread discussion. There are so many sides to this story, much like the many strange tales that make up the journey ‘Super Mario’ has taken since arriving in Manchester in 2010.

One argument is whether this news should be taken as a good thing or a bad thing for Manchester City and City fans. I can completely understand why this is up for discussion. There are many negatives to his character and his game. He has been accused of being lazy, only producing in patches and of believing his own hype too much. These traits coupled with his naturally eccentric personality, which often causes clashes with opponents and even team-mates makes him somewhat of a volatile element to have in your dressing room.

I for one look past the flaws and the imperfections and see the good in Mario. I’m not a wild optimist by any stretch of the imagination. This blog itself can back that up. Nonetheless, Mario can stun you with flashes of brilliant skill and natural ability, and if you look close enough it is clear to see the potential for astounding improvement ahead. His off the pitch antics are often criticised heavily, but many people forget that we are talking about a man who isn’t even my age. He has plenty of time to mature as a player, and as a person. Maybe this transfer can be the beginning of that process.

To get back to my original musing: Good or bad thing? From my position firmly on the fence, I’d say a bit of both. I won’t miss the negative publicity for the club, the sometimes less than inspired performances and the occasional anger problems. I will however (like many football fans I’m sure) miss the character, and perhaps in the future regret losing his talents, should he flourish into one of the best players in the world. Our game is going to miss a colourful personality, and it could very well end up missing out on one of the best talents in the world. We will have to wait and see.