Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Is Chicharito the new Solskjaer?

Photo
-

Former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said recently it was his dream to take over as manager at Old Trafford one day and if he fulfills it in the foreseeable future, the 39-year old Norwegian could coach a lethal finisher that is almost a carbon copy of himself from his playing days.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez made an immediate impact after joining United in the summer of 2010, helping the club to their 19th league title with more than just a few vital goals.

On Saturday he produced a devastating performance which inspired yet another impressive United comeback this season, scoring a brace and engineering a third after coming off the bench at halftime in their 3-2 win at Aston Villa.

The 24-year old Mexican still has some way to go before he can stand shoulder to shoulder with United’s ultimate super-substitute Solskjaer, who bagged 126 goals in 366 appearances for the club from 1996—2007, none more important than the stoppage time winner in a memorable 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final.

Has Alex Ferguson lost his edge?

Photo
- Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said in the run-up to his team’s 1-0 defeat by Manchester City that playing for a draw in the derby with so much at stake would be inviting trouble and he did exactly that with a cagey and defensive 4-5-1 formation lacking any sort of guile, creativity and bite.

If it was a last-gasp attempt by the wily and trophy-laden 70-year old Scot to outfox his Italian counterpart Roberto Mancini, it backfired spectacularly as United were second best throughout the contest and were lucky not to have lost by a bigger margin.

Still refusing to accept that his team are in the driving seat to win the title after overhauling an eight-point deficit to go top on goal difference with two games left, Mancini appears to have unnerved Ferguson with his pre-game rhetoric just as he emphatically won their tactical battle on the pitch.

City v United is fitting climax to Premier League title race

Photo
-

Three weeks ago it seemed the Manchester derby would be little more than a dead rubber after City’s 1-0 defeat at Arsenal left champions United eight points clear at the top, in a commanding position to clinch their 20th league title and their fifth in the last six seasons.

But a rollercoaster Premier League title race produced yet another twist after United’s 1-0 loss at lowly Wigan, followed by a rip-roaring 4-4 home draw with Everton in which they threw away a two-goal lead late in the game, let City back into the title race after they had squandered a seven-point lead over United with their own dip in form.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

United get rude awakening

The plain sailing Manchester United would have expected in the group stage of their Champions League campaign has turned into a rough ride after Tuesday’s 3-3 home draw with Swiss side Basel, who were unlucky not to have come away from Old Trafford with the three points.

Two draws in their last two games, away to Stoke City in the Premier League and the late escape against Basel, will have rooted out any complacency that might have crept into Alex Ferguson’s men after their flying start to the season which included an 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Will United fans forgive and forget?

SOCCER-ENGLAND/Football fans are very forgiving types – if my football club were a person I’d have stopped speaking to it a long time ago.

Pretend for a minute you are Manchester United and Wayne Rooney is your best mate. He swears undying loyalty to you – it’s a friendship that will last forever. Then suddenly he tells you you’re basically not good enough for him and that you should get lost.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Breaking news: Rooney to stay at Manchester United

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Well, what an extraordinary twist this is: Wayne Rooney has agreed a new five-year deal with Manchester United and is staying at Old Trafford after all. Here's the club statement:

Wayne Rooney has agreed a new 5 year contract to stay at Manchester United until at least June 2015.

The agreement follows intensive discussions between the Club and the player’s representatives and means that by the end of his contract Wayne will have been a Manchester United player for 11 years.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Rooney’s place on United periphery needs urgent resolution

SOCCER-ENGLAND/In eight months Wayne Rooney has plummeted from "the best player in the world" to a substitute against West Bromwich Albion and his current position on the Old Trafford periphery will need to be sorted out very soon.

Manchester United's fans -- and their American owners -- do not expect the England striker to be warming the bench, particularly when the player says he is fit, even if manager Alex Ferguson says otherwise.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Set your watches for Rooney Recovery Time

SOCCER-ENGLAND/ROONEYAnyone tempted to suggest Wayne Rooney's minor groin injury might give him a nice rest before the World Cup would be wise to fire up their copy of the Mathematica GraphMonkey iPad app* and first try to factor in one of the great immeasurables of English football -- Rooney Recovery Time.

Rooney Recovery Time is comparable in its unfathomability only to Scotty's estimates of how long it would take to get warp engines back on line as the Enterprise  hurtled towards a collapsing Lime Dyson sphere*.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Is Ferguson being generous saying it’s a two horse race?

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has dismissed Chelsea's Premier League title hopes, but given his side's run of form he is perhaps being generous to Liverpool by saying they still have a chance.

"The title race now is going to be between ourselves and Liverpool," Ferguson wrote in the programme for the 3-0 home win over Fulham that sent the champions five points clear of Liverpool and 10 ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea.

  •