Manchester United: The week gone by (9-16 March)
The legendary midfielder who appeared in over 350 matches over a period of 13 years for United was diagnosed with a tumor on his neck earlier this month. However the news became public only when Bryan Robson’s oncologist revealed that the tumor has cancerous growth but is curable.
A product of the West Brom Academy, Robson played for the West Brom senior team before joining United. At United, Robson enjoyed tremendous success, both at club and international level. Nicknamed “Captain Marvel” during his playing days, Robson helped the England national team to qualify for the 1986 World Cup.
2. Sir Alex receives touchline ban:
Continuing with the tradition, the FA took another dubious decision when they handed a 5 match touchline ban (w.e.f. 22 March, 2011) along with a £30,000 fine to the gaffer for his comments on referee Martin Atkinson after United’s 2-1 defeat at the Stamford Bridge. The FA declared on its website: “At an Independent Regulatory Commission today (Wednesday), Sir Alex Ferguson was handed a touchline suspension for three matches and fined a total of £30,000. Furthermore the Commission invoked a two match suspended touchline ban, relating to a previous charge of Improper Conduct in relation to media comments made in October 2009.”
In the post match interview, Sir Alex had openly criticized the referee and showed his discontent at a flurry of wrong decisions given by the referee.
“You want a fair referee – or a strong referee, anyway – and we didn’t get that. When I saw who the referee was I did fear it. I feared the worst.”
3. Chicharito is the man:
After scoring a not-so-important goal against Liverpool in the premier league, the Mexican returned to score a brace against Marseille in the Champions League fixture. His brace was enough to see United through to the last 8 of the European competition.
A Wes Brown own goal at the tail-end of the match led to some of the fans biting their nails but some tight defending in the dying minutes prevented Marseille from equalizing.
4. 10 million facebook fans:
United are certainly the most followed club in the world. And Facebook just proved it. In less than a year, United’s fan page overtook FC Barcelona‘s fan page to become the most followed football club on Facebook with over 500,000 new fans joining in every month.
The unbelievable rise of Chicharito at United has led to Dimitar Berbatov slipping down the pecking order. The boss was quick to realize this and in an interview, he highlighted the importance of having a player of Berba’s stature in the squad. “Dimitar is capable of scoring all the time and he’s got that ability. He’s done very well for us this season and hopefully that will continue.”
The reserves had a tricky away fixture at Blackpool on Wednesday, 9th March. Blackpool fielded a strong side including the likes of first team players Charlie Adam and Luke Varney. Luke Varney opened the scoring for the home side in the 34th minute. However Blackpool’s joy was short lived as Chris Basham diverted Norwood’s free kick into his own goal few minutes before half time. However, on a day when Blackpool were indeed the better of the two sides, they regained their lead through Sergei Kornilenko in the 72nd minute. Bebe had the best chance of the match in the dying minutes but his shot was deflected onto the top of the crossbar. The Reserves next face Sunderland later tonight.
7. We won’t let them Scousers win anything this season, not even the FA Youth Cup:
After kicking out the Liverpool first team from the FA Cup earlier this season, it was the turn of the youth team to emulate something similar.
And this must have been the message from Paul McGuinness as his U-18 side came from 2-0 down to snatch the match from Liverpool’s clutches in an intriguing second half. A brace from Adam Morgan had put Liverpool 2-0 up by the 53rd minute of the match when United’s youth turned things around. Stephen Sama fouled Tunnicliffe inside the penalty area and was shown a straight red in the 59th minute. Paul Pogba stepped up to take the spot kick and duly converted. But the referee disallowed the goal and book Pogba for stopping mid way in his stride before kicking the ball. This was Pogba’s second bookable offence and thus he had to go off the pitch. Cole retook the penalty and he too converted it successfully. Then came a period when Ravel Morrison was at his personal best. The midfielder scored twice in the remaining period and kissed the badge in front of the Kop to bring cheers on the faces of United fans. The referee produced two red cards in the injury time, one for each player of both the sides and the game ended with the hosts crashing out of the FA Youth Cup. United will face Chelsea in the next round of the Cup.
8. Reds Speak:
A section devoted to the highlights from the interviews that took place over the week:
“Chicharito has got great movement and thankfully he’s a great finisher so that obviously helps the team.” –Rooney (after Marseille match)
“My relationship with Sir Alex has no problems whatsoever. Unless I’m ever not wanted, then I’ll be staying here, that’s for sure. I’ll be here until I’m in my 30s. I admit I made a mistake – like I’ve said a lot of times – by saying I wanted to leave. But I’ve committed my future to United. I’m happy, my family are happy, so there is no reason for me to move elsewhere.” - Rooney (on rumors that his relationship with the manager has deteriorated)
“He (Carragher) came to apologise after the game but I was not happy. It is the second time he injured me. Before he put me out of the game for two months. He always tackles like that.” – Nani (after making an unexpected early return against Marseille)
“I’m very lucky to be here, and happy to have played so much for the biggest team in the world. My first season has gone better than I could have hoped for. I was expecting to be on the bench and playing for the Reserves more, to introduce me to football in this country, so I’m delighted to have played so many games. Now I want more.” – Chicharito (on his United career so far)
“It [creating a twitter account] was mainly to show people the real me. A lot of people perceive me in a certain way and a lot of that’s down to how the media have chosen to portray me. I’m a different person these days. I’m much more mature. Definitely. Some people think being a footballer is all about beautiful cars, big holidays and private jets. I swear some people think I get a jet to go down to the shop to buy a pint of milk!” – Rio Ferdinand (on how twitter has changed his image)
“I really feel like I’ve progressed and it’s been great that the manager has faith in me to go out and do a job for the team. United are a real family club. There’s a great togetherness in the dressing room despite the fact there are so many different cultures. The spirit between everyone is fantastic and it makes it a lot easier for any new player to settle in.” – Chris Smalling (on his United career so far)
“It is disappointing. Football is the only industry where you can’t tell the truth.” – Sir Alex (on his 5 match ban)
9. Injury Update:
United are suffering in defense with most of the first team defenders out with injuries at a crucial time of the season. Antonio Valencia’s and Nani’s timely return has boosted the midfield while Michael Owen is fit again.
Andres Lindegaard: The only buy of the winter transfer window, the Danish goalkeeper is set to undergo a knee surgery that will keep him on the sidelines for up to 5 weeks.
Nemanja Vidic: Suffered a knock against Arsenal in the FA Cup quarterfinal and had to sit out in the Marseille game. Likely to sit out of the premier league fixture against Bolton this weekend but expected to return against West Ham the next week.
John O’Shea: Out for 5 weeks after tweaking his hamstring against Marseille. Had to be replaced in the 37th minute of the match against Marseille.
Rafael da Silva: Came on for O’Shea against Marseille but had to be stretchered off the pitch in the 70th minute after pulling his hamstring. Out for 2-3 weeks.
Rio Ferdinand: It’s been long since we saw Rio on the pitch and the manager has only added to the fans’ miseries by saying that “”We may be lucky to get him back for part of this season.”
Darren Fletcher: Still suffering from a virus. Expected to be on the bench against Bolton.
Anderson, Ji Sung Park: The duo are close to returning for United and while Anderson is expected to be out for another week, Park might make his much awaited comeback against Bolton.
The two Owen (s): Hargo and Michael trained all week long and are looking fit enough to fill in as and when required.