Manchester Utd 2 Ipswich Town 0
Ah well. Can’t have everything. Having taken grateful receipt of three Old
Trafford season tickets, we found ourselves in the directly-opposite corner
to the Town support, right at the top of the tallest stand in Britain. To
say the players were tiny was an understatement. But to say the Town support
was superb was equally an understatement. Take it from those of us seated
two million miles away lads, it was fantastic.
The thing about United is that they have plenty of people who want to make a
noise, it’s just those few thousand are dotted uniformly around the stadium
and it’s almost impossible to get things going. A co-ordinated chant from
the opposition supporters will silence anything United fans come up with
almost immediately. It’s hilarious.
So, having been in amongst the United fans, what did they think of us?
Firstly, they seemed quite impressed by the support, for 80 minutes at
least, until the Tractor Army decided to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. At
which point the previously slumbering accountants’ clerks around me (and
everywhere else in the ground) suddenly turned into hate-filled animals. It
seemed to have the same effect on them as if the opposition support at
Portman Road all simultaneously whipped off their jackets to reveal “Delia”
As for the performance, the regulars around me reckoned the first half was
the best 45 minutes they’ve seen from United this season. No kidding. For
those of us who think we were let off lightly by a 2-0 scoreline at half
time, that’s some compensation. So I don’t think we have anything to be
ashamed of. I do think we could have done better: when confronted with the
unusual sight of Ryan Giggs being played straight down the middle, we needed
an out-an-out tackler on him (not Venus) or a speedier defender at least
(er, not Venus again). It shouldn’t have taken GB 45 minutes to adjust to
their surprise tactics.
I can’t give ratings on the individual performances, we were genuinely too
far away to get anything other than a general feel for things, but I guess
they’d have been mainly fives, sixes and sevens. Richard pulled off a couple
of good stops and was hung out to dry for both the goals. The main comment
to make was the way we only had a single tactic all afternoon – pass it
across the pitch to get it out wide – and how limited that was in comparison
with United’s pass and run game, which was awesome in the first half. The
problem with what we were doing was that we just didn’t have the width on:
Fab and Crofty seldom got forward, and the guys in front of them, Jamie and
Jermaininho, later just Jamie, were way too occupied. Only Marcus ever made
any space wide. If the ref had let the game carry on forever, we’d probably
eventually have scored about March-time. Oh for just one run at them through
The other thing to say – as it hasn’t been pointed out on the list yet – is
that Fab was about 30 seconds away from being the first red card of the
season when he was sensibly substituted. Having already picked up a yellow,
the ref had let two more poor tackles pass and indicated firmly to Fab, in
front of the bench, that his time and chances were up. He’s really got to
work on this part of his game.
But hey, who cares, we had a great day out anyway. Happy Christmas to
everyone on the list, and if anyone at the club reads all this stuff, thanks
for everything this year. It’s been magic.