Villarreal taunt United in the opening clash
By Andrew Cuff
Thursday 18 Sep 2008 19:57:00
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A energetic performance in the first half by United in the opening game against Villarreal. The defending champions started with a team missing Scholes. You can read how the first half went here.

After starting the second half on an even par without a single ball being put in the back of the net. The second half was make or break for both teams. The second half started were the first half finished with United dominating the ball but struggling to slot the ball away. Ferguson brought on Ronaldo and Anderson just after the 60th minute replacing Park and Hargreaves respectively. Ronaldo who came into this game unsure about the fans and players response to his pre-season antics, with him wanting to move to Spain to play for Real Madrid. Ronaldo was greeted by a round of applause by every United fan in the stand as he made his first appearance of the season. It is safe to say he was not at his peak though we all know that he has been out after surgery and is lacking real game time. I feel that we will be seeing a more dominant game from Ronaldo against the Blues. Giggs replaced Tevez in the 80th minute in a final effort to seal the winner with a fresh pair of legs.

Unfortunately the game ended in a goalless draw, with Evans coming closest to scoring after Ronaldo set up a cross which rebounded of the Villarreal post. It was undoubtedly unlucky that the referee never gave either of the penalties after Park being badly tackled in the box twice; though looking forward all the teams in the United group drew without a single goal being scored meaning that for the next match against Celtic the group are on a level playing field with a point a piece. Definitely United have missed out on some vital point and add to the growing tally of lost points. Winning only 1 game in this season, drawing with Newcastle, losing to Liverpool and Zenit St Petersburg; they needed penalties to beat Portsmouth but gained their only 3 points this season against Portsmouth.

Villarreal had one real chance though once again the post saved Van der Sar from conceding a goal. Though the appearance of Ronaldo and Anderson gave United dominance once again in the match with Ronaldo almost making a instant impact with a long shot that hit the cross bar.

Manchester United 0 - 0 Villarreal (Full-time)

"My information is that Hackett told Halsey to rescind the red card and he would not do it," said Ferguson. "If it had been a Manchester United player Hackett would never have done this for us." (Quoted from the BBC). In such a situation were a report of bias is made the FA has to investigate and the next step is likely to be a letter to Sir Alex Ferguson allowing the United manager to explain his comments. In the short term it means that now John Terry is able to play against the Blues important match against United.

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Chelsea looms in the distance and United need a victory to regain some pride; the longer the season draws on without a superb victory the harder a recovery will be. Ronaldo proving he is fit and back in action, I expect we will see him starting alongside Scholes. Vidic banned after getting a red against Liverpool means that Evans is likely to play alongside Ferdinand at the back after showing exemplary maturity against Villarreal. Carrick out after injury means that it is likely we will see either Anderson and Hargreaves playing alongside Scholes one of them providing a 60th minute substitute. Park and Nani proved how well they can play up the wings and I expect we will see one of them up he opposite side to Ronaldo and switching around through the game. Up front I foresee Ferguson sticking with Rooney and playing Berbatov alongside; for the simple reason that Rooney seems to score or assist when Ronaldo is playing, the odds stacked greatly in his favour and Berbatov now providing United with a solid striker who can get on the end of the ball and score I see Ferguson using him alongside Rooney.

Evra has been a bit doubtful this week after missing a training session on Monday after struggling with his health; he is expected to play and if last night’s performance is anything to go by, he is fit enough to tackle the Blues right wing and help United in their quest to regain top position on the table.

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Looking at current table standings, I was surprised to notice Hull in 5th place, a team often overlooked and even though it is fairly early in the season they are higher than Manchester City and have been playing some good football. With bigger teams to come they are likely to drop though I expect them to be challenging Middlesbrough this season and not battling relegation like preseason figures suggested. A team on the move and a team to keep your eye on.


Ferguson is currently under investigation by the FA after comments he apparently made after the FA overturned John Terry’s red card. Firstly looking at the incident for the FA to overturn a referee’s decision they need to be able to prove that the foul did not warrant even a yellow card and was in fact not a foul. The incident in question clearly saw John Terry’s leg interfering with the player’s running path and his arm getting the way too; the fact that player did go down rather easily is nothing new to the world of football. Ferguson’s comment was that if it was one of his players in an incident like that the FA would not have been as lenient and is reported as saying

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