Ryan Giggs is rolling back the years. He is going to be 36 in November. But like Benjamin Button, he seems like he is only getting younger. You would think we someone as good him, he can’t be 35, approaching 36. Coming on as a substitute with the score at 0-0 against Stoke, his impact was priceless. He created both of the goals in the 2-0 victory, following up the three he set up against City.
And this is what United needed. Pundits and commentators alike did not believe that the wingers that Sir Alex Ferguson had at his helm were not good enough. That included Giggs. In the Manchester derby he ran Micah Richards ragged. That was what Ronaldo done week in, week out. 11 years his senior, Giggs can make the same impact. If not better.
He still has his pace. He still has the hunger. He wants to win the Premier League again. He had a chance to score his 100th goal and join an elite list of players who have done so. That elite list boast some of it’s greats, such as Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer and even Michael Owen. But Giggs is truly the greatest of them all.
His achievements, his truly remarkable performances with the red shirt, the records set and broken, and his ability to inspire many. With Cristiano Ronaldo gone, is the gap left as big as we’d first thought. Nope, it’s very small. Already, he is a contender for player of the month. And maybe a contender for a successive player of the year award. It is too early to say, though.
“For most of his career Ryan has been looked upon as an attacking player whose great strength was to get the opposition on the back foot – that’s what he has been doing for 15 years,” Sir Alex Ferguson said after the 2-0 win against Stoke.
People are calling for a knighting. Well, we’re not too sure about that, but Sir Ryan Giggs sounds perfect. It almost fits. We’ll let the Queen do her job and decide, while we do our job. Watching Ryan Giggs roll back the years and hopefully inspire United to big things this year.
It was the two experienced heads that inspired victory at the Brittania Stadium. At a combined age of 69, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs both played their part.
From the off, Scholes was the driving force. Ryan Giggs came on a substitute and created both goals as Manchester United beat Stoke 2-0. It was always going to be a tough game, but the victory was convincing.
The hunger is still there to win another title. Four in a row it would be. And the fact that Chelsea were beaten 3-1 by Wigan will help. Paul Scholes, this season, has looked far better than he did last year.
And the mercurial Ryan Giggs’ made a huge impact when he was brought on in the 55th minute, and set up Dimitar Berbatov seven minutes later in which was a typical Manchester United move. Picking up a good pass from Darren Fletcher, he slipped in Berbatov who tapped home. He then swung a superb cross which fell into the path of John O’Shea, who headed past Thomas Sorensen. For O’Shea it was a great way to mark his 350th appearance.
Giggs came on for Nani, who didn’t impress to many people with his performance. Passes were poor from the Portuguese international and his positioning was awful. He did, however, combine with Rooney after the second half but Rooney’s bicycle kick at the end of a move ended up over the bar.
In the first half, the visitors where enjoying the possession, but it was frustrating that many chances were not created, or not taken advantage of. Valencia’s chance was an example. After catching Ryan Shawcross, a former United player, in possession, Valencia was in on goal but he shot wide. That really should have been scored. But after the two goals, United grew more and more comfortable.
Stoke raised alarm bells when Liam Lawrence threatened with a cross but there was no Stoke players at the end of the cross. They did not manage to get a chance as good as that, for the whole of the game. But Stoke did defend well, and Tony Pulis’ side must hold their heads up high, as the team has potential to do big things this year. They are taking the step into the right direction, and will be striving for a top ten finish this season.
And at the end of the day, a very good three points. Well earned, and the victory know means that Manchester United go top on goal difference. On Sunday, we have a piece on Ryan Giggs, so don’t miss that. Meanwhile, Man Utd will have a trip to Barnsley for the fourth round of the Carling Cup.
United were rather fortunate to take all three points in the corresponding fixture last season. The Potters had a fantastic record at home, that they look like carrying through to this season, and it took a last minute goal from Carlos Tevez to ensure United emerged victorious that day. I’m expecting another hard fought encounter if I’m being honest, Stoke always battle hard and they won’t make things easy for Rooney and co.
Both Stoke and United played in the Carling Cup during the week night but Sir Alex rested some of his star players his counterpart at Stoke City, Tony Pulis, chose to field a strong starting eleven. In all honesty I doubt this will make a huge amount of difference to Stoke and both teams should be ready for this one. The Potters were desperately unlucky to concede in the last minute in their 1-1 draw with Bolton last weekend and have been in good form since the season kicked off.
United have no new injuries to worry about with just long-term absentees Edwin Van der Sar, Owen Hargreaves, Obertan and Rafael ruled out. Stoke are similarly blessed with a lack of injuries and will be missing just Amdy Faye and Mamady Sidibe, who have both hardly featured this season.
The key men for United will be their forwards. Even though Stoke are the home side you have to expect United to be the team pressing and Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen, should he make an appearance, will probably get a few chances each, at least. Rooney has been in fine scoring form and hopefully that will continue on Saturday, Berbatov could do with a goal to boost his confidence as much as anything else and the game against Stoke could be a good opportunity for him to find his shooting boots again. Owen has scored one, that winner against City – beauty, and set one up in his last two appearances and if he can continue to deliver the goods like that I’m sure Sir Alex will show him some more action.
I certainly wouldn’t go betting on Manchester United to lose this one but Stoke do have players who can cause problems. Rory Delap’s long throws are often talked about but in reality this is not where the majority of Stoke’s goals come from, as some have suggested, though they are a danger. They are a very good team from set-pieces and Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand will have to stay alert to deal with the high balls into the box. The Potters also have a couple of flair players like Ricardo Fuller and Tuncay Sanli, a recent acquisition from Middlesbrough, while Liam Lawrence is capable of shooting from range. On paper United are of course the superior side but we all know that in football that doesn’t always matter.
Stoke surprised everyone last season when they upset the upset the Premier League relegation betting odds and avoided the drop. This time though the other clubs, including United, know what to expect and will have figured out a better way to deal with their very physical and direct style of play. It should be a very hard fought game, if not the most attractive match you’ve ever seen, with a highly-charged atmosphere. It won’t be easy but I expect United to take all three points. After the win against City last weekend I’m expecting United to go into this one full of confidence and take all three points away from the Britannia Stadium back to Old Trafford.
It’s always a good sign seeing a young English striker score a goal like that. A piece of magic was needed as the game looked as if it could go into extra time as Wolves had fought hard throughout the game.
Danny Welbeck has huge potential. Terrific one-two, terrific finish. It was obvious that Man Utd were going to field a weaker side from the Carling Cup and didn’t play too badly however there is room for improvement with some of these fringe players.
And another negative on the night was the fact that Fabio da Silva picked up a red card. He deserved to be sent off, and he’ll have to learn from it. This would have been a perfect game for the Brazilian full back to illustrate his talent, and to show that he can carry the same form he showed last year with the reserve side.
Wolves had put United under pressure for the whole of the game, former red devil David Jones among the chances and was denied by Tomasz Kuszczak, who made plenty of other saves. It would be good if Sir Alex decides to give him the Stoke game, as the Polish ‘keeper surely deserves a chance to prove himself as Ben Foster still looks a concern between the posts.
Gary Neville had a funny old game. Some good moments, some bad moments. His movement was encouraging and applied pressure to the opposition but some of his touches were awful, but did provide some laughs for the United faithful. Michael Owen, after his heroics on Sunday, also showed good movement but when a chance came in he shot tamely, and to be honest he should have scored.
Darron Gibson played positively and without doubt impressed the manager. It will be difficult for the Republic of Ireland international to play too many games but when it comes to playing Carilng Cup and the FA Cup he would have to grab the chance with two hands.
Overall, it was a decent performance. Just decent. On the 66th minute, Welbeck smashed home the winner after collecting a pass from Michael Owen, but despite having a few chances, the Wolves response did not bring about a goal.
Selection wise, it was the team that you’d probably expect in this competition. Premier League opposition were never going to be easy, but if Sir Alex does decide to play a similar team, let’s hope they play a bit better than they done today, and he better not forget Danny Welbeck, because the boy has talent.
This was a thrilling Manchester derby. You could not fault either team’s hunger. The game started and ended in a similar manner. It was madness. Seven goals suggests that the defending wasn’t good, and that was the case as errors had twice cost United their lead.
It was supersub Michael Owen who saved the day. It was typical Owen. In the 95th minute, he was in so much space it was unbelievable considering the scoreline and the minutes on the clock. You can never doubt Owen’s positioning nor can you doubt his finish. A trademark strike after the striker collected Ryan Giggs’ pass and which won the game. A vital goal that could go a long way to United’s title bid.
From the first minute, the game was open. With two minutes on the clock, some sloppy defending from the away side awarded United a goal. Patrice Evra found Wayne Rooney in the box, and after a few touches of the ball, shot low past Given.
Carlos Tevez’s inclusion in the starting line up came as a surprise, but the treatment he got from the fans was not, but his performance today was the kind of one which had helped him gain the love that he once had from the Manchester United fans. You could not doubt energy and work rate and did put Ben Foster in trouble after the goalkeeper hesitated but thankfully nothing materialised from his interception.
But a few minutes later, a repeat of that hesitancy from Foster, which we have seen on a number of occasions, and this time he was punished. Tevez intercepted him and found Gareth Barry to strike the equaliser. Rio Ferdinand, you may argue, could have dealt with Tevez if he had tried to tackle him but Foster was to blame for the goal. Great talent, but his decision making is poor.
Far more often, the home side lost the ball for the rest of the first half. But they responded well, Darren Fletcher restored the lead after heading home a Giggs’ cross. City did not take long for their responce, Craig Bellamy fired a shot from 25 yards out which Foster was faultless. United brought Antonio Valencia on, and it gave them an extra dimension as the pressure was heaped on the visitors.
And again, Fletcher was the man in the right place, and again headed in another cross from Giggs. This had been a good game for Giggs, who did create 3 goals, as he rolled back the years with the ball at his feet. Dribbling at defenders, crossing and picking players out, this was Giggs at his best.
With 90 minutes played, nothing stupid was required. Not hesitating, no second thoughts, just keep the ball. But the ever so reliable Ferdinand made a schoolboy error. Trying to lift the ball, when a simple pass back would have been far more sensible, Martin Petrov took the ball and found Craig Bellamy who made a run into the box and squeezed the ball past Foster and looked to have sealed a draw.
Four minutes were added, but as 95 minutes had passed, City boss Mark Hughes angrily wandered why the game had not yet finished. A free kick was sent in, which hit the wall, into the path of Giggs, who again was the provider and Owen finished expertly. While Hughes was furious, Ferguson danced down the touchline. Another three points for the Red Devils, and deservedly so.
Man Utd Foster 4, O’Shea 6, Ferdinand 4, Vidic 6, Evra 7, Park 6 (Valencia 7), Anderson 7 (Carrick 6), Fletcher 8, Giggs 9*, Berbatov 6 (Owen 7), Rooney 7. Subs not used: Kuszczak, Neville, Nani, Evans.
Man City Given 6, Richards 7, Lescott 5, Toure 6, Bridge 6, Wright-Phillips 6, Barry 7, De Jong 5 (Petrov 6), Ireland 7, Bellamy 8, Tevez 8. Subs not used: Taylor, Zabaleta, Garrido, Weiss, Ball, Sylvinho.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Manchester City|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|8||Shots on Target||4|
|10||Shots off Target||4|
Derby day in Manchester is always a special occasion but this year the stakes are higher than they have been in many years. For over a decade now United’s dominance of the Premier League has cast a shadow over City. The stakes have risen somewhat now Manchester’s other team have squillions to spend and have enjoyed a terrific start to the season. The fans at Eastlands have genuine belief they are on the cusp of greatness and for the first time will feel they can be a genuine threat to United in terms of challenging for honours and not just derby bragging rights.
A major blow for the visitors is the not entirely unexpected loss of striker Emmanuel Adebayor. The Togo international has been handed a three game ban for stamping on Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie last weekend so City will be without the man who has scored four goals in four games. Despite the fact that City acquired plenty of centre-forwards in the summer they are in the midst of an attacking crisis. Robinho, Benjani and of course Adebayor are all definite absentees.
Boss Mark Hughes’ problems don’t end there though, former United man Carlos Tevez and Roque Santa Cruz are also majors doubts for the fixture while midfield star Stephen Ireland is also unlikely to take part. The visitors problems up front are reflected in the bookmakers verdict on the outcome, the odds on heavy favourites with the Premier League betting odds are Manchester United but derbies can always go either way.
United themselves have no new injury worries and Sir Alex Ferguson has the benefit of an almost fully fit squad to chose from. Edwin Van der Sar, Owen Hargreaves and Obertan are all ruled out while Rafael may feature, though that is very unlikely. United’s midweek win over Besiktas should not have tired the players out too much and the squad is big enough to cope with European ties so I doubt fatigue will factor for United after their Champions League exploits.
City will certainly consider this their biggest test to date and will travel the short distance to Old Trafford full of confidence following their 4-2 victory over Arsenal last week. For me the scoreline in that tie flattered City somewhat and Arsenal controlled large periods of the game without finding the net. I’m sure most of the manutd24 readers out there will agree with me that we are yet to see United at their best this season but, like all real champions, they have picked up the points even when they’re not playing particularly well.
United’s key man on the day could well be Wayne Rooney. The England international has already bagged five goals this season and fingers crossed this could be the year when he manages to score on a consistent basis. Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit the pressure was really on Wayne to stand up to the plate and fill Ronaldo’s boots and so far he is doing an excellent job. Veteran midfielders Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have also started the season very well and both may play some part at the weekend, even if it is a cameo from the bench. The pair should never be underestimated and I expect United to rely on their experience and intelligence through the course of the season, this could be a pivotal factor on Sunday.
Manchester derby day is always a special day on the football league calendar but this one should be the most highly charged in some time. For the first time in a long time both sets of fans have high expectations for the season ahead and that should add to an already intense atmosphere between the two sets of supporters. With City’s attacking problems you would expect United to be the stronger of the two sides and even though I think they’ll win I wouldn’t bet on it being easy for them.