Manchester United Monthly
The first month of Manchester United’s 2012-2013 season has come to a dramatic finish, which can almost be entirely summed up with just the letters – R.V.P.! Certainly the biggest news of the month was on August 16th when the Red Devils completed the signing of Arsenal skipper and current EPL goal-scoring champion, Robin Van Persie.
Four days later Manchester United were all over the newsstands again as they opened their season on August 4th at Everton, losing the match 1-0. However, as most of Europe and beyond attacked the Devils for their poor performance, one must consider that Everton are far from pushovers. It was never supposed to be an easy assignment going into Goodison Park where Everton finished 7th last year in EPL standings, accumulating a 10W 3D 6L record at home. What’s more, they may just look to improve and crack the top six this season. LastWordOnSports columnist, Frank Giuliano (Serie A, Champions League), even turned a nice profit in Las Vegas after making a wager in favour of Everton.
Added to the difficult task ahead of them, the Red Devils were in agony on defense missing Ferdinand, Evans, Jones, and Smalling, all to injuries. Due to the unhealthy roster Ferguson put CM Michael Carrick back to CB, which he is clearly uncomfortable playing (it was like searching for Waldo at times watching him on the pitch) along with having Vidic playing in his first premier match in a decade (okay, not even a year, but still, he was not in game shape).
And consider that it was opening day, where in most leagues an upset is bound to happen, as it did in both Spain and Italy.
Most fans with football sense would recognize that a poor performance given these circumstances is no reason to panic.
Match Day two was mostly about Wayne Rooney. Not because of his performance, but because he failed to even crack the line up! Boss Sir Alex wanted Van Persie to have his debut at Old Trafford vs Fulham and felt playmaker Kagawa would be the best candidate to play behind him. Again going into this match the Devils were still hurting in their back line and it showed just three minutes in with the Cottagers up a goal. At that point fans were already screaming for Rooney to come save us. But much to Ferguson’s delight, the stars aligned and it was RVP that equalised and then Kagawa that took the lead 2-1 by halftime. Rafael put the Devils up 3-1 but another massive slip up in the backfield occurred as goalkeeper David De Gea mis-cued a punching clearance, which caught Vidic off guard and while falling to the ground, putting the ball in his own goal. Fulham had life again, down 3-2. They never got their equalizer, but the big news was Wayne Rooney coming on the pitch late in the match and sustaining a large gash on his leg during an accidental collision with Hugo Rodallega of Fulham that has the United striker sidelined for a month or longer.
Match day 3 was the RVP show, as Van Persie scored the game tying goal in the 87th and 5 minutes later he claimed his first hat trick as a Devil scoring the match winner in the 92nd minute to lift United to a 2-3 win in Southampton. During the match Van Persie was also awarded a penalty shot as he was tackled from behind in the box, which he missed by attempting a chip shot that failed badly.
The fact that United only scraped by Southampton is somewhat worrying, and though we’re only three games in, there is some cause for concern, particularly in keeping the ball out their own net. The ailing defence again slipped up, literally and figuratively, and Ferguson is going to have to come up with something. Changing goalkeepers didn’t seem to solve anything, so expect Sir Al to go back to De Gea. Going into the match the Devils knew Southampton’s only attack is to constantly cross the ball into the goal crease hoping for a header, yet knowing this they still conceded two goals off that very same play. On one occasion, defender Patrice Evra fell down untouched leaving the goal wide open. After the Match it was so bad that captain and defender Nemanja Vidic critisized himself and defensive partners. Even Arsenal called offering some advice on how to defend a set-piece (kidding, of course, but at least they have three clean sheets).
Vidic was quoted as saying, “We’ve been told before the game what Southampton’s strengths are, what their game is and what they’re trying to achieve. In the end, they did it so it’s disappointing” as well as ” There has been a lack of concentration but you have to say we’ve had a lot of turbulence in defence with so many changes and people going in and out.”
Lastly, the Champions league Draw. For the 2nd consecutive year Manchester U have an easy draw, but we all remember how early they were packing their bags last time ’round! This year they have drawn Romanian champions CFR Cluj who should not pose a threat in any way, Galatasaray who have history in the competition, are not very strong, but do know how to succeed. And rounding out the group is Braga, another Portuguese team. United has struggled with Portuguese teams in the past and have been criticized for taking them too lightly in recent years. One can only hope Sir Alex has learned his lesson from last year’s failure and put the Devils through to the round of 16 as a top-seed, which is highly possible!
My thoughts are mostly obvious; RVP is amazing, and the defence is atrocious! United are very lucky the international break has come, and they should begin praying for recovery. If United can get healthy quickly and find a way to connect Rooney with RVP I feel they can be champions this year as they wont have too much trouble scoring goals. Keeping them out is a different animal altogether. Don’t worry about the Everton loss too much because the league is pretty stacked this year and I think there will be a lot of draws and upsets along the way for every team. Look for this year’s champion to finish with 80-83 points. There are definitely three teams that can take the crown this year, with a couple of others that can threaten.
See you back at the end of September and we’ll reconvene and discuss what’s going on at Old Trafford over a pint. First one’s on me.