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Questions must be asked of Fergie

3022 Views 74 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  eoininho
Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United

Just for once, the questions need to be asked of Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson rather than his Chelsea counterpart Avram Grant.

On a day when the Premier League title race could have been put to bed once and for all, the most respected coach in the history of the English game committed the sort of error that would lead to calls for a lesser man to be sacked. Make no mistake, the finger of blame for this potentially devastating defeat should be pointed at United's legendary manager.

There was a collective gasp around the Stamford Bridge press room when the team sheets were digested, with the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Paul Scholes a surprise on a day when so much was at stake.
Ferguson gave a hint that he was preparing for a defeat in his pre-match television interview by suggesting his side's superior goal difference could make all the difference in the final analysis, but the sparkling team who have long been tipped to win this league presented their chief rivals with an open goal before a ball had been kicked.

United would hardly relish the idea of heading to a crumbling pitch at Wigan in two weeks time needing a win to claim their tenth Premier League title, but the selection he made for this game gave Chelsea all the encouragement they needed to defy the doubters and reclaim the Premier League crown wrestled from their grasp last May.

With Chelsea fastest out of the blocks, the nervous nature of United's defending early on suggested the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were a little wary of the task they had been saddled with by their manager and when they latter of that duo was stretchered off with concussion after he clashed with Didier Drogba after just 13 minutes, their self-inflicted troubles merely multiplied.

As Chelsea poured forward, the home side were sensing blood and the opener so nearly arrived when Cole crashed a shot against the crossbar with Edwin van der Sar well beaten.

The goal they threatened for so long finally arrived as Drogba floated a cross into the path of Michael Ballack and his header was guided past Van der Sar with all too much ease. The agitation on the United bench in front of us in the press box was all too evident as they fell behind, while Avram Grant and his Chelsea staff were celebrating as if they had won the league itself.

The quality of the United starting eleven was the major talking point as the growing number of journalists who indulge in a couple of large glasses of red wine mid-way through their working day gathered for a summit and even without some of their star names, the questions had to be asked of the players Fergie had sent into battle for this mammoth match.

Michael Carrick, Anderson, Darren Fletcher and Nani are all paid big money by United to play in games of this stature, yet their first half display was not that of players who belonged at this level, so it needed some of the famed Ferguson's hairdryer treatment to raise his troops for the second half.

Whatever he said in the dressing room adjacent to the wine swilling hacks, it seemed to work as United emerged for the second half with renewed energy and once Wayne Rooney equalised after Ricardo Carvalho's howling error with 57 minutes on the clock, it seemed as if Ferguson was going to get away with his team selection.

Then the title race was blown wide open again as the ineffective Michael Carrick handled in the box five minutes from time and Ballack kept a cool head to blast home the goal that leaves United with no more wiggle room.

'There is no way I could have played the same eleven that started at Barcelona on Wednesday night,' argued a defensive United boss. 'The travel takes something out of you and we have to keep one eye on the return game this coming Tuesday. It's not too far away don't forget. I have spoken all year about the quality of the squad I have here and they had to respond when we needed them.

'A penalty decision has cost us in the end, but our goal difference has always been a massive plus for us. We came here with a team good enough to get a proper result, but we move on now.'

The celebrations around Stamford Bridge suggested the Chelsea fans believe a title party will be on the agenda when the final day of this Premier League season is over, but Avram Grant is always a good man to dose the flames of joy and he did just that with his latest dour press conference.

'We did what we needed to do,' said Grant, again displaying all the personality of a stale jelly bean. 'We won the game against Manchester United and it puts them under pressure. I'm very proud with what we are doing this season. We have now won big games against Arsenal and United, which shows great character. We also showed we can play good football despite what everyone says.

'I have to believe United will crack, or else there is no point in being in this game. It will not be easy for them to win the two games they have left when all the pressure is on their shoulders.'

It's a good job that Avram Grant's team have shown a brighter side than their depressing manager in the last few weeks, yet the Israeli bore could just end up as a Premier League title winner after this momentous victory.

Could it be that Alex Ferguson is contemplating finishing what looked set to be great season without a trophy by the end of next weekend? Should such a shocking scenario become reality, United's celebrated boss will only have himself to blame.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Michael Ballack
Goals are all that matter in games of this magnitude and Ballack was so cool with the two chances that came his way. His late penalty was a touch of class.

WHERE'S ROMAN? Speculation was rife in the press room that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has fallen out of love with his Stamford Bridge play thing and his absence from this massive clash did little to dose those rumours.

INSIDER OPINION: The Premier League need to look at their fixture list and ensure a high profile game like this is not scheduled for the week of a major Champions League game. Not only does the schedule affect the quality of their league, it also harms the hopes of English teams in Europe.

HANDBAG BOYS: Didier Drogba and Michael Essien played out something of a pathetic squabble and they argued over who would take a second half free-kick. Drogba often strikes you as the kind of guy you need to suck up to in a bid to avoid him throwing a tantrum.

FOOD WATCH: Another early kick-off demanded the full English breakfast and Chelsea delivered in style to a packed press room.

VERDICT: If momentum counts for anything in this title race, then Chelsea are on course for the most improbable of triumphs. United dare not do anything but beat West Ham and Wigan in their final two games.


I agree with this article from was Fergie's choice of team which lost us the game and maybe will lose us the title...tactics was correct, choice of players - WRONG! :mad:
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6 minutes less in the chelsea match, we wont have so many threads in the forum right now.
think before u blame the manager, he trusted his squad to perform against chelsea and i believe the team he sent out for the cheslea match has the ability to get the result we wanted. they just did not perform well enough.
although fergie has enjoyed so much success with united, he has never been convincing in europe. i seriously hope that he can put that record right tomorrow. the club needs more european trophies, fergie himself needs more european trophies, we fans are desperately for more, as ever. fergie can answer his critics once and for all with a huge victory against barca.

D-day at OT tomorrow....
desmondo said:
Yes , hindsight is a wonderful thing and in hindsight after beating Barca I can see more what Fergie was trying to achieve. I still think the win over 2 legs could have been much more convincing. A real United performance would have maybe conceded a goal but would have found many more cracks in that barca defence and fragile confidence.
Anyway , you are right that none of us are top coaches and I for one thought he was wrong to sell beckham and van nistelrooy , but he got those right. You make a good point about those who , the moment we lose, just call for fergie's head because we have to get away from this fickle results based thinking.

I did think we would squeeze past Barca but I also now hope that we don't sit back against Chelsea and show them the same amount of space because if we do they will beat us. Unlike Barca they have a cutting edge.

One point I would like to make is that labelling us lot as negative moaners is basically inaccurate. I feel as if I am far more positive about United than some of the rest of you. It's precisely because I do believe that we are much more effective and a better team when we try and intimidate the opposition with our play rather than sit back on the counter. I see many of those who attack us for "moaning" as the negative ones in reality because they seem happy with negative tactics. It also not about "pretty" play either . If I thought that United had a better chance of beating Chelsea by playing ugly , negative and defensive then I would say go for it and win on penalties lads! But I don't. We are just not as good at doing that ( even though sometimes we do a damn good impression of Sven's England) as we are at attacking.

I see myself and versa and others as the positive ones because we believe an attacking United high tempo has a better chance than a negative one - because nobody does it as well as we do. We must play to our strengths and not betray the basic philosophies that have made United (and Fergie's dynasty) what they are.

So I'm officially turning the tables on all you negative thinkers who are not positive and don't really believe that United are good enough to win things on their own terms , in there own way. We are the positive ones really because we believe in effective , direct attacking , pressure on the ball football. That's why we get so twitchy seeing United defend deep and jog around like netball players admiring another team's football whilst trying to make last ditch precise tackles in our own box for most of a game.

This approach is often seen as "tactical" and "defensive" but to me it is just asking to get hit by a sucker punch. Let me ask you this. When did you feel the most nervous that Barca might score? Was it when we pressed them into mistakes and started winning the ball off them and forming some of our own attacks or was it when we allowed messi to dribble at us on the edge of our own box? I know when it was that my finger nails took a pounding!!!! One thing you don't have to be a coach to know is this- it's very difficult for the other team to score when you are having a shot at their goal.

So stop and think before you label us as negative and tactically naive because that's exactly how I feel about you ostriches.

(BTW- I'm only having a bit of fun - let's celebrate the win for now!!! I don't care if he's wrong or right - he pulled it off anyway!! Bring on the Chelski )
well well said.
We can attack, why sit back?
We can win, why choose not to lose?
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