Unbeaten run ends with a whimper



Manchester United’s 29-match Premier League unbeaten run came to an abrupt end in the limpest fashion at Molineux, losing to Wolverhampton Wanderers with uncharacteristic timidity. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, one up within three minutes, conspired to lose against relegation bound Wolves as United once against suffered away from home. It is the pattern of a campaign.

Yet, there was a certain sense of inevitability about the loss, as United huffed with so little force during a laboured second half. After all, the warning signs have been flagged all season. Three victories away from Old Trafford had come with late and - frankly - unlikely goals.

Not so against Mick McCarthey’s battling Midlanders as United failed to take advantage of Arsenal’s draw with Newcastle earlier in the day. In truth, despite dominating possession in the second half, United looked unlikely scorers.

Ferguson’s men must now regroup ahead of the Manchester derby next weekend, safe in the knowledge that further defeat, this time against direct title rivals, could prove cataclysmic for the side’s ambitions this season.

“It was an opportunity,” Ferguson told MUTV, with uncanny honesty.

“I said before the game, I do think Wolves are in a false position. But we had a great start. We made a lot of chances, particularly in the first half.

“Then in the second we were not at the races. Their keeper did not have many saves to make. The pitch was not very good but we didn’t make anything.”

Perhaps Rio Ferdinand’s injury in the warm-up was a forebare of the game to come. The 32-year-old defender pulled out of the match at the last possible moment, with Chris Smalling unable to take part because he had not yet completed the warm-up himself. Ferdinand will miss the next fortnight with a calf injury.

“It was a blow,” said Ferguson, “because the experience Rio has got is always vital in games like that.”

Indeed, the insecure nature of United’s defence told inside 10 minutes when George Elokobi head home Matt Jarvis’ inventive short corner routine for Wolves’ equaliser. It was some sense of revenge for the Cameroonian who was completely flummoxed by Nani as the Portuguese scored, quite superbly, within three minutes of the start.

If the early United goal portended a fourth away Premier League victory of the season, it proved an entirely false dawn. And a hugely underwhelming one at that.

Yet, United could have added a second within minutes of taking the lead. Wayne Rooney shot straight at Wolves’s ‘keeper Wayne Hennessey after Dimitar Berbatov found the England striker in space, before the Bulgarian again found the opposition stopper after some brilliant footwork inside the box.

Instead, Elokobi headed home and handed the hosts the initiative.

Not that United failed to create chances. Nani went close with a free-kick on the half-hour before on-loan midfielder Jamie O’Hara and then Nenad Milijas both went close for the hosts in a game increasing affected by the driving wind.

But the Serbian was even more influential minutes later as Wolves scored what proved the winner on the stroke of half-time. Milijas’ free-kick was headed home by striker Kevin Doyle, although Elokobi was competing with his own teammate for the glory.

That – for United – was that with the second period offering little in the way of quality in the final third, despite the introduction of Paul Scholes at half-time and Javier Hernández with 25 minutes to go.

True, O’Hara should have seen red for a crude foul on Darren Fletcher that would normally have brought a second yellow card and Elokobi’s hand-ball could have brought United a second-half penalty. But to point fingers at the referee would do little more than paper over the gaping chasms in United’s performance.

Surely, Ferguson’s outfit cannot be as poor at Old Trafford next week, when City visit for the 158th Manchester derby.

“It is a terrific game to recover from,” admitted the Scot.

“It is a massive game for us and something to look forward to. Unfortunately, we have internationals in midweek. To my mind that is crazy but we have to get on with it.

“We have plenty of players who are not involved in international games and they will all play next week.”

Freshness may indeed play a part against City; quality will be even more important. United was desperately short of it at Molineux.

There is no little coincidence in United having lost at Wolves seven years ago when Ferguson’s side was top, and the Midlanders last.

Come May 2004, United lay third behind both Arsenal and Chelsea, while Wolves finished last. For both sides a similar outcome would represent nothing short of disaster from this point.

Match Facts
Wolves – 451 – Hennessey; Elokobi, Berra, Stearman, Zubar; Jarvis, Henry, Milijas (Ebanks-Blake 88), O’Hara (Foley 59) Hammill (Ward 64); Doyle.

United – 442 – Van der Sar; Rafael, Evans (Smalling 65), Vidic, Evra; Nani, Carrick (Scholes 46), Fletcher, Giggs; Berbatov (Hernandez 65), Rooney.

Attendance – 28,811
Man of the Match – Fletcher

Possession: Wolves 51% – 49% United
Attempts: 6 – 14
On Target: 2 – 4
Corners: 4 – 6
Fouls: 6 – 11

Share Button

Comments

  1. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    good

    now explain fletcher being our man of the match

  2. Couldn’t think of anybody else. He was dreadfull, others were worse. It’s United MotM – not including opposition.

  3. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    hence ‘our’

  4. Zabberdast says:

    To be fair, Fletcher played reasonably well, some great long passing out to Nani on the right in particular. No-one else seemed to have any fight in them…

  5. Our main problem – and many of you may think I’m crazy for saying this – is Nani. For every goal he scores, he infuriatingly misses at least 2-3 good opportunities to PASS the ball to Bebatov and Rooney in each game – which would result in more goals to finish off opponents. Nani talks too much off the pitch and is a selfish, self-centred player. It’s all about him and his glory as far as he’s concerned – not about Manchester United. Ronaldo was similar but the difference was that he could single handedly demolish teams.

    The way we’re playing, I fear the likes Tevez and Liverpool (wouldnt the both just love it?) will ruin our bid for no. 19. Also, I have a sneaking suspicion (I’ve said this to my friends all season) that it’s Arsenal’s year – just so Wenger/Whinger can finally say that his boys have come of age.

    United lacks a creative midfielder to open up defences and we need to find world class replacements for Carrick + Evans.

  6. herbie simms says:

    The reason why SAF did not buy a creative world class midfielder because he feels there is nothing wrong with the midfield players he has now. Do you read his comments after matches and how he praises his team? For some reason, he feels the midfield is great! I don’t know what he is smoking but whatever it is , he better give me some.
    He keeps saying he does not need to buy players. He goes on to to say that the reason he will be buying players this summer is ONLY because there are players that are retiring from the game. Liverpool,Man City, Chelsea, Aston Villa and others all bought players in January because their managers recognised the weaknesses in their teams and they set out to fix the problems by bringing in new players. Liverpool now are just outside of the top 4. The new players are settling in and the team is winning. I don’t think SAF has any money to buy world class players but instead will buy cheap untried youngsters for replacements. Its sad, really sad. Iam sure that Arsenal will beat Wolves on Saturday at least 5-0 but United vs Man. City, I would not bet on a United victory. A draw seems more realistic.

    • mongoletsi says:

      I don’t disagree Herbie. But I do feel SAF is right when he says there’s no value in the market. Look at Bent and Carroll. Who was available at a realistic price? It’s a tough one.

      Charlie Adam to us come June for £10m, right? I can’t be the only one thinking this is already a done deal?

  7. fergie pls get us a world class midfielder to replace carrick and throw evans away.

  8. Watching Evans defend anything at the minute makes me sad. He, for whatever reason, seems to have forgotten that defensive positioning is hugely important and he needs to fucking sort himself out ASAP.

    Gibson. I don’t need to say anything whatsoever.

    Hope Tony V is ready to come back and really show his stuff virtually immediately. We need him

  9. Personally I find Fergie’s talk about “no value in the market” to be, shall we say, very convenient at a time when many United fans question Gill’s insistence that the Glazers are not in fact draining the club dry.

    Fergie reminds me of some old bugger complaining about how cars today are more expensive than they were when he last bought one circa 1998, and how there’s a housing bubble that will burst any day now, mark my words. And so he drives a 13 year old car that’s not fuel efficient and is about to pack up, and lives in a crappy old house that is barely holding its value, while the “noisy neighbours” have just bought a nice new house in a growing suburb that will appreciate in value over the next decade.

    As a fellow United supporter was saying to me earlier today, if Fergie retires having failed to secure the 19th league title and without any more Champions League winners medals, when he’s on his death bed does anyone really think he’s going to take comfort from the fact that he saved his masters in Florida a few quid to help them pay off their debts? I doubt it, personally.

  10. Rio is injured and out for 2 weeks

    So there’s a chance Evans might be let near the squad for the City game

  11. We are nowhere near as good as Barca, that’s bloody obvious, & would struggle against Real -both have much better midfielders. But surely the bloody magician can learn a trick from them. Both teams play the same team & the same system week in week out & their players look the opposite of jaded. OK forget about the scouser & the bulgarian, we’re stuck with them, at least for this season. Nani might be infuriating at times but he is quality & does score goals, so we have 11- yes 11- midfielders competing for three positions, only two if Antonio returns fit & well. Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson, Scholes, Giggs, Park, the realistic choices, then G*b*n, God forbid, Hargreaves, you can’t be serious, Bebe, what a bad joke, Owen, do I really mean that? & Obertan & he might really give us a pleasant surprise & play JOS. Some would argue you can add the scouser to that list. If he the nouce he could even play wide left like Villa, having more space, & still score goals, but he doesn’t. It’s bloody elementary really. SAF has to decide which are the best three -in his opinion- & PLAY THEM. He has become too bloody clever by half thinking, I will keep the fans & opposition on the hop by never picking the same team & has confused everybody, players, fans & especially himself. I know this will not happen but he should also decide which of that lot have not/will not make the grade & get rid. He has been fooled since Robson, Keane & Eric were great footballers & could make decisions on the field. None of that lot can. All of them need to be told exactly what they need to do. Please come back Brian Clough.

  12. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    “Our main problem – and many of you may think I’m crazy for saying this – is Nani. For every goal he scores, he infuriatingly misses at least 2-3 good opportunities to PASS the ball to Bebatov and Rooney in each game – which would result in more goals to finish off opponents. Nani talks too much off the pitch and is a selfish, self-centred player. It’s all about him and his glory as far as he’s concerned – not about Manchester United. Ronaldo was similar but the difference was that he could single handedly demolish teams.”

    Alf agrees with this… but I wouldn’t say it’s our MAIN problem… just an infuriating one.

  13. I think everyone is beginning to find United out.

    The lack of quality in midfield means that you simply need to pack it out and then hound it out.

    Fletcher, Carrick, Gibson and Anderson are somewhat prone to giving the ball away under severe and sustained pressure. That makes life extremely simple for the opposition.

    Further to that, playing with only one proper winger – Nani – reduces the width we have to stretch games. Having an aggressive 4 – 4 – 2, with fullbacks racing on and Nani / AV in the line up, suddenly the opposition can’t afford to pack the middle and need to double up down the flanks. That leaves the centre exposed, allowing the likes of Carrick to work the ball through the middle, out to the sides, or simply retain possession and recycle it.

    This is the start of a slump.

  14. I don’t know, I find it hard to criticise Nani when he’s scored so many goals and had so many assists so far this season, he’s certainly been our most potent attacking and creative player. Perhaps he’s reverting to selfish play and poor decision making recently because he sees everybody else playing like shite around him, and is doing it in a desperate effort to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.

    I know I wish the likes of Carrick would show as much hunger for the ball and glory.

    Honestly though, I don’t understand why we are so shite away this season. Can it really be all that different from playing at home?

  15. bman said:
    I don’t know, I find it hard to criticise Nani when he’s scored so many goals and had so many assists so far this season, he’s certainly been our most potent attacking and creative player. Perhaps he’s reverting to selfish play and poor decision making recently because he sees everybody else playing like shite around him, and is doing it in a desperate effort to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.

    I know I wish the likes of Carrick would show as much hunger for the ball and glory.

    Honestly though, I don’t understand why we are so shite away this season. Can it really be all that different from playing at home?

    =======================================================================================

    A lot of it comes down to players trusting each other. There is obviously some uncertainty in the team on who can handle it and who does’nt really want it. That was blatantly obvious against Wolves when Berbatov was subbed. Rooney ordered to drop deeper to yet again accomodate a seriously lightweight midfield, left us with Hernandez stranded up there on his todd……..”game over”. Giggs and Scholes not being able to look to Berba to hold it up top meant they had to keep hold of the ball longer, which is fatal in the prem, your just not going to get that luxury particularly away from home. Nani’s piss poor crossing and selfishness in front of goal at crucial times clearly is infuriating his team mates. And all this boils down to the fact that our midfield is woefully short of bite and positivity. Fungus is for ever fucking about with formations and tactics to paper over the cracks he has refused to fill there. Unitil Carrick, Fletcher and Anderson are replaced with quality, we will continue to look a bag ‘o’ nerves away from home. Berbs going off was a massive, massive mistake.

  16. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    apparently our back four and midfield pair are set up twenty yards deeper away from home, meaaning there’s a fuckoff big gap between the back six and front four makingit easy for the oppo to keep picking up loose balls and charging at us, not helped by the fact our midfielders are completely unable to protect the defence so the oppo are basically getting a free reign to run from midfield at our defence,

    we play higher up at home, less gaps for the oppo to destroy us with,

    that plus teams still cack themselves at ot

  17. Aye, we can defend higher up at home because the opposition are less inclined to attack balls over the top, into space etc. while they are shitting patties

    And a higher line makes us more compact and means we can turn over the ball easier

    Away from home is a completely different story, though

  18. Are we really playing worse than last year?
    Performance wise…
    VDS – same as last year
    Rafael – improved
    Rio – same fitness and form
    Vidic – even better
    Evra – was slightly worse, but more or less the same.
    Nani – massive improvement
    Giggs/Park – same
    Fletcher – gone down
    Carrick – same
    Rooney – playing for City
    Berbatov – Massive improvement.
    We’re missing Valencia, but we have Hernandez who’s really clicked this season. Most of his goals have been match winners no? And Smalling has been a plus. This is perhaps our top gear, but some of us do not want to see Manchester United in top gear, do we? It’s Rooney FC who’s not and we’re playing ‘badly’.

  19. Dozer you have answered your own question. How many goals has Rooney scored this season compared with last; what has his contribution been like compared with last? Last year he was world class; this often not worth his place in the side. I am a massive fan of Valencia, he could make a big differnce still. I think unless we get him back soon -fit again- we are sunk. I also think your “Fletcher -gone down” is bloody crucial.

  20. herbie simms says:

    There must be a way to get rid of the Glazers. I hope they are long gone before the start of the next season.

    • I hated the way Qatar bought the right to host the World Cup, but if the Qataris would buy out the Glazers and inject half a billion pounds into the club to allow Fergie to buy a new midfield plus a decent centre-half to stand in for Rio when his back is playing up, I would welcome them with open arms!

      Gill professes to be a fan of the club as well as its chief executive – if he really cared about the club, he would tell the Glazers the reality of the situation…their inflated valuation of the club (allegedly well north of 1.5bn pounds if media reports of a failed bid by Qatar are to be believed) is based on the notion that the club can continue to succeed despite the lack of investment in new players. Presumably the Glazers believe that Fergie, his scouts and his coaching staff between them can continue to identify cheap young talent and develop them into top class players who will end up in the first team, or alternatively into decent players who like Phil Bardsley, Kieran Richardson etc can be sold to smaller sides for a couple of million quid, still representing a good return on the time and money invested in them. Well, someone needs to ask Gill if he thinks that the golden generation of Scholes, Giggs, Becks and the Nevilles will be repeated in his lifetime – I doubt even he believes that.

      Gill needs to tell the Glazers the truth – that if they don’t invest in the club, it will decline and fan interest outside of the UK will decline as the club fails to win silverware. Gill and the Glazers value revenues from foreign markets like the Far East, but the Asian fans are fickle – you can bet that there were a hell of a lot more Liverpool fans in places like HK and Singapore 25 years ago, when they were actually winning things, than there are now. United probably has more fans than any other side, English or otherwise, in Asia right now, but that’s because of the years of success and attractive football. If the future is Darron Gibson and Gabriel Obertan, then in 5 years time the Glazers would be lucky to get a billion quid, let alone 1.5 or 2. But the fat Floridians don’t know jack about football – they don’t even know how to run their NFL franchise, let alone United – so their valuation and future revenue projections HAVE to be based on the crap they are being fed by Gill, and to a lesser extent Fergie who would likely have nothing to say about the finances but who would presumably be telling both Gill and the Glazers that the youth development system at United is working fine such that they don’t need to bring in expensive but proven talent.

      Gill isn’t just cheating the fans – he’s actually cheating his won employers.

  21. Ed said:
    Couldn’t think of anybody else. He was dreadfull, others were worse. It’s United MotM – not including opposition.

    We’re Doomed, Doomed I say

  22. herbie simms says:

    David Gill is very soft and Iam very irrated by his comments. He needs to go also. No, I don’t think Carroll and Bent are worth all that money but the managers of those clubs realised they needed to strengten their teams in positions were they are weak and I respect them for that. But SAF has had a midfield problem for quite sometime now and he refused to solve that problem. He does not have to spend 35 million on quality midfielders.
    Tottenham spent 7 million for Van de Vaart and he is having a terrific season. Our strikers are not getting the service so therein lies the problem. I read a comment from Gill were was is saying SAF has about 100 million to buy players. I believe this is a lot of B.S. Thats the Glazers money. But in spite of the way the team is playing, I still feel United will win the premier division and SAF will retire on a high. Could be the reason why he is not buying players at this time because money will be needed for a new manager coming in to buy the players of his choice.

  23. Seeing Gibson’s goal last night you can see why Fergie has taken a punt with him. Might be better as an impact sub though.

  24. odbpowell says:

    One defeat and all this vitriolic abuse and the same old moaning about not spending any money?

    Jeez.

  25. herbie simms says:

    Its not a lot of moaning, just the facts in reference to the midfield situation. Its a serious matter that should have been fixed a longtime ago. 15 million out of the 100 million SAF claims he has on hand to spend could have solved this problem during the January transfer window.
    Case closed.

Speak Your Mind

*