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Thursday, 3 May 2012

A few thoughts from the last week in Football (April 28-May 2)

Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United: Where else can I possibly start this week than with the Manchester Derby which has given Manchester City the edge in the title race with two games left to play.

It wasn't a classic match, but City were the deserving winners in the way the game developed and now know they will be the winners of the Premier League if they win their final two games.

Personally I think the whole destiny of the title will rest on the game at St James' Park this week when City travel to face Newcastle United- if they win there, I can't see them slipping up nor United winning their last two games 10-0 apiece...

Now, rant time: Why were there so many people criticising Sir Alex Ferguson's tactics after the game and claiming that was the reason United lost? I was surprised with the personnel he used, but not the general game plan of soaking up the City attacks and making it difficult for the home team to actually create anything.

Watch the first 45 minutes of that game and you can count on one hand the couple of real chances City created until they scored- to be honest, they didn't create a lot in the second half until United were forced forward and they may have added to their total through Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy as the game was winding down.

The idea of picking Chris Smalling was to aid with the size and it was one mistake that cost United the game with his marking of Vincent Kompany that led to the goal.

The second part of my rant is regarding the Glazer family's ownership of United and the lack of funds they have provided which has left United in their current guise- a central midfielder has been needed for a number of seasons now and it is telling that they have not purchased one since signing Anderson in 2007.

I know there are plenty out there that seem to like Michael Carrick, but he is one player that I believe is only at the club because they cannot afford to buy a direct replacement that they need in the central area of the pitch.

Why do I not rate Carrick as a player? The reason is I have never seen a centre midfielder (not a good one at any rate) that shrinks under pressure and is so quick to 'pass the buck' to another player when the going gets tough.

It is the easiest thing in the World to demand the ball when your team is winning by a couple of goals, but where does Carrick go when the team needs impetus? Too many times I have seen him disappear in games where United need to get the ball moving (watch the Everton game after it gets back to 4-4 as a prime example of this recently), and too many times he moves into positions where he doesn't demand the ball.

I saw Toni Kroos playing for Bayern Munich at Real Madrid in the second leg of their Semi Final and he was demanding the ball well into extra time- Kroos is a 22 year old and he has shown more bottle in that one game than Carrick has, well, EVER.

I also think Carrick's best seasons at United came when he could get away with his habit of quickly 'passing the buck'- that was when Cristiano Ronaldo was still at the club.

I believe my concerns could easily have been in Sir Alex's thoughts when he brought Paul Scholes back from retirement as he is another player that isn't 'fearful' of having the ball when the team really needs him to do something with it.

Other players that can thank the Glazer regime and do not deserve to be at the club are Ji-Sung Park, Anderson and Michael Owen, while I think the likes of Ryan Giggs and Scholes, while absolute legends, would surely not have such key roles if money was available to strengthen the squad.

Where do Sky get their commentators from?: Anyone else have the misfortune of listening to Niall Quinn on Monday night?

Now I know he is a former City player and Sky seem to be in love with the beanpole, but some of his biased commentary was going a little too far.

A couple of great suggestions from the twat- Aguero kicks the ball off for a goal kick, and Quinn suggests 'some refs would have given a corner'... Last time I checked, giving a corner was objective, not a subjective decision like a penalty.

There was an occasion that Joe Hart clearly tipped a ball out for a corner and made the point of laughing about it with the referee when he tried to claim he hadn't- Quinn needs a second replay of the incident and even then cannot just say, 'yes, it is a corner', arguing that is 'may have been touched out'.

I know not everyone liked Andy Gray, but the Sky coverage has really struggled to replace his clear enthusiasm for the game and so far the likes of 'monotone' Alan Smith and Quinn have failed to come close, while the new Scottish fella they have talks more nonsense (Modric scored from almost 50 yards out according to him yesterday) than anything else.

Newcastle's win over Chelsea good for Manchester United: The Champions League places look set to be going to Manchester United, Manchester City and then two of either Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United.

The last three teams are separated by just one point as we reach the final two games of the season, although the edge has to go to the two North London clubs who have the easier fixtures on paper.

Sir Alex Ferguson must have been very pleased to have seen Newcastle win at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night as any other result would likely have left the Magpies out of chances to get onto the top table of European football and they may just have put in a demoralised performance against Manchester City on Sunday.

Now this takes on a different feel as Newcastle have plenty to play for themselves and know that any kind of result will give them some chance of getting into the Champions League, although Tottenham's win at Bolton yesterday means they are likely going to need the three points from this one.

Whatever, that bodes well for United fans that they will get a real effort from the home side and may a reignition of their Premier League title chase.

Looks like Bolton Wanderers v QPR for the final relegation place: Results over the past week makes me believe that there is only one place in the relegation zone that needs to be sorted out and that is going to come down to these two teams as to who fills it.

Blackburn Rovers' timid defeat at White Hart Lane leaves them 3 points from safety, with a vastly inferior goal difference, and now with just 6 points left. They play Wigan Athletic on Monday night and it is conceivable that they are all but relegated by then with Bolton hosting West Brom and QPR hosting Stoke City.

I think Wigan need one more point to ensure they are OK, and with Wolves at home and Blackburn away on slate, I think they get it, which leaves Bolton and QPR.

Bolton definitely have the better fixtures on paper, but they will need to be a lot more solid defensively than they were against Tottenham- however with West Brom at home and Stoke away to play, Bolton will feel 4 points should be enough to see them through.

That is all because QPR have to go to Manchester City on the last day of the season and I don't have much hope for them there as City will need the win no matter what happens this weekend. Right now, I would rather be in Bolton's shoes, but they can't afford a loss to West Brom this weekend.

Congratulations to Reading and Southampton: As I said, I feel two sides are already pretty much relegated in the Premier League and their two replacements can enjoy a Summer off after a hard 46 game season in the Championship.

I have seen a fair bit of both of these sides and I think they will be a welcome addition to the top flight, both being former Premier League clubs anyway.

Both teams work hard and play some good football and I think both will feel they can compete in the Premier League.

The hard work will begin for Brian McDermott and Nigel Adkins now, so I hope they find time to enjoy the successful seasons they negotiated.


  1. davi thinks hes jamess bond4 May 2012 at 17:49

    what mr aulak fails to recognise is that Mr Carrick is a geordie and it is not the time to be pissing off any geordies

  2. gary neville nevilles daft comments ... http://bit.ly/guAf7E

  3. Any Newcastle fans I know have been promised a drink if they stop Citeh winning on Sunday... Except Michael Carrick