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Journalism & Media Studies student. Blog dedicated to Manchester United & Orlando Pirates.

Lukaku brace on debut.


The Premier League season officially began on Friday but Manchester United supporters the world over had to impatiently wait until late Sunday afternoon to watch the Red Devil’s first league outing, a home encounter against West Ham United.

There was a buzz at Old Trafford. New boy Victor Lindelof was left out of the matchday squad completely but fellow summer signings Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku were handed their first league starts in a United shirt.

It was an uncertain first ten minutes for both teams. United struggled to get a hold of possession but West Ham did nothing with what they had. The only chance in the first ten fell to the Hammers when Valencia let them in behind as he was protesting a free-kick decision. The next ten minutes was more of the same but United were starting to enjoy more of the ball and looked to be settling in nicely. United fans were on their feet as Mkhitaryan found Juan Mata who then found Lukaku but a cluster of West Ham bodies prevented him from getting a shot at goal.

On 26 minutes Paul Pogba produced a lovely dink for Juan Mata, the Spaniard tried to play in Lukaku instead of having a shot but West Ham again had a body near the goal line. United were clearly in the ascendancy and possession stats favoured Mourinho’s men. The moment United fans were hoping for came in the 33rd minutes, Nemanja Matic won the ball in midfield before Marcus Rashford picked it up and burst toward West Hams retreating defence. The youngster slipped the ball through to Romelu Lukaku and the new no. 9 made no mistake. 1 – 0 to United!

United were now clearly dominant. The Hammers attempt at playing football was futile, Arthur Masuaku was their best player, showcasing some good close control and dribbling but never a good final pass. West Ham did however let go of a good chance to equalize before half-time, Javier Hernandez led a slick passing move but the resulting shot was straight at David De Gea. United led at the halfway interval.
The second half was more of the same. Some early set-pieces for West Ham produced nothing and United once again had them on the backfoot when Pogba released Rashford on 49 minutes, Joe Hart was determined to keep the youngster out though. Two minutes later the youngster won a free-kick on the edge of the box. Henrikh Mkhitaryan delivered a typically beautiful ball into the box and Romelu Lukaku headed in to score his second of the game, he was dreaming of a debut hat-trick.

The Hammers best chance fell to Marko Arnautovic, the Austrian’s header had David De Gea scrambling but the crossbar helped the Spanish shot stopper keep his clean sheet. Slaven Bilic tried to inject some energy into the time, bringing on Rice and Sakho for Noble and Fernandes. United were now creating chance after chance. Lukaku and Rashford both had sights of goal. Mkhitaryan was next to try his luck but Joe Hart managed to save the shot after a tricky run by the Armenian. 

Rashford was proving to be a headache for Pablo Zabaleta, the youngsters footwark created some space before he sent a missile toward goal that hit the upright, Joe Hart was planted in his spot.

Marouane Fellaini came on for Juan Mata. West Ham enjoyed a little spell of possession but it just wasn’t happening for Bilic’s team, Masuaku crossed for Arnautovic but the frustrated summer signing blasted over De Gea’s posts. Anthony Martial came on for Rashford and immediately picked up where he left off, running at Zabaleta and playing the ball through to Lukaku who couldn’t white reach it. The Belgian looked offside.

On 87 minutes United produced another silky passage of play. Pogba found Mkhitaryan and the Armenian magician slipped it through to Martial who controlled the ball well and fired past Joe Hart. 3 – 0 to United. 

Lingard replaced Mkhitaryan in the 88th minute. The game was now a foregone conclusion but United were not done. Martial played Paul Pogba through and the midfielder curled the ball around the keeper from outside the box. A goal and an assist for Martial in his fight to claim a starting berth.
Overall it was a frustrating outing for West Ham United. The Red Devils were absolutely phenomenal, Nemanja Matic sat in the heart of midfield and dictated the show from the beginning. The Serbian was deservedly crowned Man of the Match. Up front Mourinho’s men were smooth and slick and could’ve had a few more goals. At the end it was a 4 – 0 triumph for the Red Devils and debut delight for Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku.

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D-Day for United.


​As May 24th approaches Manchester United fans the world over will be in a state of anxious excitement. The most important game of the season beckons and so does potential European glory. The stakes are very clear, win and we get to share a table with Europe’s big boys in next season’s Champions League. A loss however would change the entire mood around Old Trafford and the entire perception of United’s season.

United’s Premier League campaign has fizzled out into anti-climactic mediocrity. It’s hard to believe that the Red Devils have lost the same amount of games as champions Chelsea, it’s been a season of ‘what if’ as far as the league is concerned and ultimately United’s long string of draws has further extended the club’s season long love affair with sixth place.
It’s been a dramatic road to Stockholm for Mourinho’s men. It didn’t start well when the side stumbled in Rotterdam in a narrow defeat to Feyenoord, United soon got back to winning ways though. The rest of the group stage saw United  secure wins over Feyenoord and Fenerbahce at Old Trafford as well a Henrikh Mkhitaryan inspired double over Zorya. Another loss in Turkey meant United would finish the group in second place.
The round of 32 was a much simpler affair. St. Ettiene were dispatched by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick at Old Trafford, the Swede had made a habit of scoring important goals and put United in a comfortable position heading into the return leg. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been United’s best player in Europe this season and his solitary first half strike in France was enough to see United cruise into the last 16 without having conceded a goal to the French outfit.

The round of sixteen saw Mourinho’s men travel to Russia to meet FC Rostov. Mkhitaryan struck once again in the first leg but a late equalizer meant the only advantage United held halfway through the tie was an away goal. The second leg performance was uncertain and a single Juan Mata goal meant that United went into the quarter finals with a 2 – 1 aggregate win.

United’s performances on the European stage had become more shaky and unconvincing. Belgian side Anderlecht provided tough competition in the two-legged quarter final. Another Henrikh Mkhitaryan goal was cancelled out by a late equalizer in Belgium. United were nervous in the second leg and the game went into extra-time, it seemed penalties were due until Marcus Rashford stepped up in Zlatan’s absence with a late winner.

Another 2 – 1 aggregate win for United and Celta Vigo awaited in the semi’s. A brilliant Marcus Rashford free-kick  proved to be the difference in the Vigo. Celta put in a brave performance at Old Trafford and United had to scramble for a draw and another narrow win over the two legs.

Now in little over 24 hours United will face Ajax in a game of crucial importance. The task is complicated, United will have to find a way to deal the mercurial Ajax frontline without Eric Bailly- arguably their best defender. One thing is for sure though, the fate of the season rests upon the final. Win and it’s been a terrific season. Lose ?

Bucs Top 8 Dreams.

​The 2016/17 PSL season has been a nightmare for Orlando Pirates’ supporters. The Soweto giants have been languishing in the bottom half of the table for what seems an eternity but as always in football; a lot can change in a little time.
The Nedbank Cup has provided a needed distraction for the Sea Robbers, two wins in that competition have helped ease new coach Kjell Jonevret’s transition into South African football and no doubt helped lift some of the pressure on his team. Pirates’ league fortunes however were not so quick to turn around. The Buccaneers had been on a winless run that spanned twelve league games and up until a couple weeks ago seemed destined to be involved in a scrappy relegation battle.
But it is their recent 2-0 triumph over Maritzburg United that has changed the conversation surrounding Pirates; talk has switched from potential relegation dogfights to genuine Top 8 hopes.

The season has been turbulent to say the least but a Top 8 finish could salvage some pride for the Soweto outfit. Only goal difference is keeping Pirates in the bottom half of the table but the Bucs have a game in hand over 8th placed Maritzburg United. Now add to that a potential run in the Nedbank Cup and the situation suddenly seems less grim.

This ‘relative’ success will heavily depend on the form of midfield duo Mpho Makola and Oupa Manyisa. Makola has been a shining light all season providing glimmers of light in a dark period for the team. Manyisa has been on a long road to recovery but finally seems to be finding his old self in recent games. Both Manyisa and Makola are not renowned for their defensive prowess and that’s where Abbubaker Mobara’s tenacity and tough tackling will play an important role.

Yes, a team of the stature of Orlando Pirates should not even be flirting with the bottom half of the league. Fans expect a league title challenge every single season.
But here we have lemons and there’s only one thing to do with lemons.
At the end of it all this might be catalogued as a season to forget, tough times for the Happy People but at this moment the dark clouds seem to be lifting.

United Fail To Capitalize, Again.


The season 2016/17 continues to be strange for United fans the world over. We have the manager we’ve been crying out for, the team plays beautiful football but results continue to astound us.
The Red Devils have been languishing in 6th place for months now and for some reason, whether by God’s will or whatever, cannot seem to climb up the table.

When Saturday came and Bournemouth were set to visit Old Trafford, United fan’s were buzzing on social media. For weeks Mourinho’s men had been putting in good perfomances and this seemed like the game when United wouls kick on and get the goals that recent performances have warranted. Eddie Howes’ men however had diffefent plans, what followed was a frustrating outing for the players and supporters alike, at the end of the day United only managed to retain a single point from a game that was in their hands from the beginning.
A triple substitution by Mourinho could not help the Red Devils.

Once again United were presented with a chance to leapfrog our Merseyside rivals and once again we failed to do so. Thus continues the love affair between Manchester United and 6th place.

The worry for United fans is our home form. The performances are there, it was evident on Saturday with the amount of chances that were created by the team. The problem lies in the finishing and the team’s reliance on players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera.
This season United have dropped points against teams that many expected to be blitzed and overwhelmed by the team’s attacking potential.

The question beckons, potential is one thing but why can’t United seem to convert in front of goal?

Is Top 4 Enough For United?

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“We want to win everything!” The Special One proclaimed when he took over the reigns at Old Trafford, Jose had arrived bring along the world-class talents of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. A brilliant beginning to season seemed to all but cement United as genuine title contenders, Bournemouth fell away, Southampton and then Hull.
Mourinho’s men struggled againsts Guardiola’s City but by the time United had put Leicester City to the sword with a thrilling 4 -1 win, the Reds seemed to be a major fixture at the summit of the Premier League.

And then came October and the beginning of a strange period for Red half of Manchester. United couldn’t buy  a league win, Europa League was no problem, EFL Cup was no problem but United just could not win a premier league game.
This was made even more frustrating by the fact that United were playing some eye-catching attacking football, the team was getting more cohesive and a midfield trio of Herrera-Carrick-Pogba was the bedrock of these good performances but still a win was elusive. Opposition goalkeepers were coming to Old Trafford and turning into Peter Schmeichel, remember Lee Grant and Tom Heaton? Add to that the fact that United weren’t finishing the chances they created and you can understand why it was a quite weird time for the Red Army; the belief in the manager and the team was there, the performances were there but the goals were absent.

But with the Swedish goaltank Ibrahimovic and the creative talents of players like Pogba, Mata, Mkhitaryan and Herrera (a future United captain, surely) the goals soon came. A 1 – 0 win against Spurs on December 11 began a winning streak that has stretched into the new year, some might bemoan the lack of challenging opposition in this time but you can only play what’s in front of you and besides, no premier league game is easy.

We’re halfway through the season now and United are on a phenomenal run, today’s F.A Cup triumph over Reading moves Mourinho’s men to eight wins in a row in all competitons.
However, United are sixth in the league and we cannot deny the talents and good form of the teams above us. Turn a couple of those earlier draws into wins and United would be in much more appealing position but time is weird that way – you just can’t go back.

A sense of optimisim has creeped back into Old Trafford and confidence is high amongst supporters and the squad. No doubt Jose Mourinho has restored the fans’ faith in Uniteds style of play. The football is slick, exciting, smooth and most importantly it is attacking football!
The questions persists though: would a top four finish be enough for United? Consider our style of play recently and the fact that we are still challenging in three other competitions and then add that this is Mourinho’s first season at the helm.
What do you think? Would qualifying for the Champions League be enough to take into next season? Or perhaps if a cup was won to supplement that top four finish?

Cheers.

Captain Amazing.

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Wayne Rooney has equalled Sir Bobby Charlton’s cub record of 249 goals. The skipper is now United’s joint all time leading goalscorer.
Legend!

Up & Running.

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Greetings football fans, firstly let me start by acknowledging that the best time to start a blog dedicated to football is probably at the beginning of the season; and in that regard I apologize for being lazy. Being a lifelong Manchester United fan (I’m only 22 so maybe my life hasn’t been that long) I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to my first and greatest love: The Red Devils.

This is not solely a United blog though, there will be posts on the team I support locally, Orlando Pirates F.C. and the South African Premier Soccer League.

Thank you for even reading the title of this post, I realize you probably have much more important matters to attend to. Hopefully this is the start of a long, fruitful journey.

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