Showing posts with label Partizan Belgrade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Partizan Belgrade. Show all posts

Solskjaer finally has alternatives to secure crucial away wins

The draw against Liverpool was perhaps the best performance of Manchester United so far but did little to lift them from the bottom half of the table in 14th position. Ole got his first away victory after beating PSG in early March that ends an unwanted record but the away victory is still elusive in the Premier League with Norwich the opponents this Sunday. MUFC with a thread bare squad haven't won the away game after their continental travels this season.

Ole understands he needs to win when specifically put on the spot by Geoeff Shreeves after that horrible defeat in the last game at Newcastle. Ole hasn't got the balance right with getting results and driving changes simultaneously which prompted many pundits to label him as 'out of his depth' at managing a giant football club like Manchester United. Norwich who upset the champions City relish the games against high profile teams.

Ole managed to win away at Partizan Belgrade by handing European debuts to James Garner, Brandon Williams and Harry Maguire who captained the side. He has David de Gea, Victor Lindelof and Fred rested for the challenge at Carrow Road, while Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic were sent to follow Paul Pogba for quick recovery in Dubai. Ole has finally settled on three at the back and abandoned 4-2-3-1 which he persisted with despite not having the personnel from the start of the season. Having sorted out the defense not by analysis but forced by bad results, how soon can Ole bring his highly understaffed midfield to control the game and create chances?

Ole has been blocking all questions about Pogba's return when asked by the press. Is it aimed at not exposing his team in advance to the opposition or has he genuinely lost the faith of the Frenchman after making him play through injury against Rochdale AFC from third tier of English football in the League Cup third round? Defeat at Newcastle brought the worst out of MUFC in terms of creativity and through ball from the midfield of Brazilian Fred and industrious Scott McTominay. Paul Pogba can change that especially if he plays at No 10 where Juan Mata failed miserably at St James' Park. The frantic display at Belgrade can be healed by the natural composure of Pobga's game, who would like to salvage his career prospects urgently.

Hope Angel Gomes and Tahit Chong get another chance to display their potential. Gomes has many disadvantages like Paul Scholes did in his initial days when Nicky Butt stroll a march on him in terms of progress from the academy i.e., better coverage of midfield due to greater height. Gomes did have a good far east pre-season tour. Gomes play ideal for No 10 role in absence of Pogba.

Another positive from the Partizan game was Ole's use of substitutes with a double change of Rashford and James around the 60th minute to try for the second goal. It's probably the first time Ole Gunnar Solskjaer been praised for game management since made permanent manager.  With Nemanja Matic injured amid speculation of negotiating his summer move from January is rife the alternatives to Scott McTominay is of urgent need to manage his game time to help him recover from back-to-back games at his young age. Axel Tuanzebe can be the option given the street smart nature of his play which makes him adaptable to multiple positions - a rare attribute so crucial to team sport. Rojo has regained his mojo which made him favourite with few fans with his fearless tackles and can partner Maguire and Lindelof freeing up Tuanzebe.

Not scoring from free-kicks in opportunistic positions has been a lacunae that has afflicted this team to score that all important 2nd goal. Nor Maguire and McTominay missing headers when left unmarked in recent games. This is surprising given how Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would line up at the near and far post to attack a corner especially in the Treble winning season. Nor have they retained Marouane Fellaini nor replaced the Belgian giant. Ashley Young has lost the zip on his crosses with age so has Juan Mata with free-kicks, retirement overdue to both whose best years are behind them yet give their best when called upon. Roberto Carlos at Real Madrid and David Beckham at MUFC ushered in the term 'dead ball specialist' that inspired Cristiano Ronaldo and MUFC can think of no one as automatic choice to take free-kick now let alone be specialist of any sort! Andreas Pereira has made a start and needs time which if team is not winning creates the added stress which can hamper the development.

Wait for the 2000th Premier League goal for MUFC might be over this weekend as Norwich do not sit back which will enable the Reds to run at them with James, Rashford and Martial increasing the chances of earning a penalty. MUFC look likely to score two goals which if the defense holds can finally get them the elusive away victory or emboldened Norwich with a prospect of a huge upset might turn the tables for not just MUFC but Ole's reign itself. Poised for a dramatic contest either way, while a score draw might seem more plausible.

PS: Meanwhile MUFC lose their prolific U18 striker Mipo Odubeko to West Ham academy.

Belgrade evokes the toughest of MUFC memories

We'll meet again,
Don't know where, don't know when,
But we know we'll meet again
some sunny day...

So Roger Byrne led his team mates to sing when the waiters brought sweat meats to end the meal at a banquet in Majestic Hotel, Belgrade. MUFC beat Red Star Belgrade 5-4 on aggregate in the 1958 European Cup quarter-finals and drew 3-3 in Belgrade on their last match on 5th February before heading for fateful refueling stop at Munich. That last match was played at the present Partizan stadium due to lack of floodlights at the old Avala which was rebuilt in 1963 into a new Red Star stadium later renamed in 2014 to honour club legend Rajko Mitic.

Cruelty of English Football Association was exposed when they snatched Sir Bobby Charlton for a friendly against Portugal while MUFC ravaged by Munich disaster played AC Milan in the semi-finals. Charlton was absent for the 2nd leg as he was picked by the FA to play Yugoslavia and in Belgrade! Sir Bobby Charlton was selected for 1958 World Cup with England having lost Roger Byrne, Tommy Taylor and Duncan Edwards at Munich, but was never played!! Pele was 3 years younger to Charlton at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden where he burst on the scene!!!

MUFC came up against Partizan Belgrade in the 1966 semi-finals of the European Cup and lost 1-2 on aggregate. Partizan showed tremendous resistance true to their name to hold on to their 2-0 win at home with 0-1 loss at Old Trafford. George Best had his delayed cartilage operation immediately after the match. Losing this opportunity to win the European Cup Sir Matt Busby called it "my lowest ebb since Munich." MUFC finished fourth that season and out of European competition hence concentrated solely on winning back the league in 1967 to be in Europe for one last attempt at scaling the European peak to avenge the loss of Babes at Munich, and yes they did it in 1968.

MUFC won their second European trophy the Cup Winners Cup in 1991 by beating Barcelona and faced Red Star Belgrade the winners of European Cup in the curtain raiser of the European campaign the Super Cup. This two legged tie was reduced to a single leg at Old Trafford due to civil war in Yugoslavia. Brian McClair scored the only goal in an MUFC win.

Serbian Nemanja Matic will miss this tie with an injury. He refused to wear Remembrance poppy for a Premier League match against AFC Bournemouth in 2018 as NATO had bombed his native village Vrelo in 1999.

Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe and Paul Pogba are the other main absentees. Tonight's Europa League tie away at Partizan is probably the toughest of the group. Victory today might clinch qualification with home games coming up next. Injury hit MUFC have taken academy players Ethan Laird, Brandon Williams, James Garner and goalie Matej Kovar. Jesse Lingard is back while David de Gea is being rested for the crucial fixture at Norwich.

Harry Maguire will make his European debut for MUFC after having missed the AZ Alkamaar game and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might again opt for three at the back with either of Lindelof, Rojo and Jones. Scott McTominay might have to put another shift in with Fred and Pereira after they out ran Liverpool midfield last Sunday due to thread bare squad. All eyes will be on James Garner who has been in great form for the reserves scoring five times from midfield and the amount of game time he gets based on the context of the match. Jesse Lingard will be able to provide much needed rest for Daniel James who can come on as a substitute if MUFC need to get cracking, while Mason Greenwood might cover for Marcus Rashford with Anthony Martial set to start.

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