Mickey Blue Eyes...
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Mickey Blue Eyes


Wonderful Spring days are ideal for The Beautiful Game. At least it was mostly clear air on the coast; inland was a different matter. The day before the away game at Man United I was in a light plane flying along the coast line. Looking toward the centre of the country all you could see was polluted haze. Apparently dahn sarf our unloved capital was up to its neck in the muck, which comes as no surprise to anyone who has to visit the place on business. You get out as quickly as you can. I figured our next day visit to the unfortunate landlocked end of the M62 would be similar. I couldn't see our make-do-and-mend midfield making much of a fist of it against a title chasing team, valiant efforts or not. Even the colour and smell of blooms and grass couldn't dispel the notion that we were going to get caned by two or three goals. Christ, I thought, I could be sitting out on the balcony in free salt-air sunshine watching multi-coloured sails of the yacht club weaving all over the river to avoid coaster traffic. Instead, I'm driving into that sickly haze to fill my lungs with carbon monoxide and my head temporarily with a sound sports pasting. No wonder people outside the game think footy fans are crazy.

The last time I was at the Theatre of Dweebs we lost 2-1 to a penalty conceded by Steven Pienaar just as it looked as though we had earned a draw or a win. The days of Walter Smith's abject, surrendering teams in this fixture are long gone. With Everton under Moyesy, the Mancs know they're going to be in a fight. We may not be able to afford the kind of player they can, but by jaysus they have to sweat to get anything out of us even with half our team in the infirmary. And by and large that's how it panned out. Overall, I figured we did well in near-impossible circumstances. For a long time it looked as though we would get a deserved draw. Fleetingly you felt we might even pinch it. So it was a bit like my last visit there.

They had two clear chances and one half chance in the first half. One hit a body on the ground and Tim saved the other two brilliantly. We had the first shot of the game after ten minutes when Leon hit a tame one from the edge of the box left side. And though they had most of the territory and possession it was far from one sided, especially in midfield where I thought we might get overrun. But we weren't; their main threats came down the wings and mainly on our right where initially Seamus didn't double back as well as in previous games and often Tony was on his own dealing with two players. But Seamus tightened up and that threat gradually faded.

When we did get into their half it was the story of the season. You got on the edge of your seat waiting for a decisive pass that never came. Becks was completely snuffed by Rio I Went Shopping Guv Honest Ferdinand. This was largely because nobody played him the kind of ball that enables him to turn and run off the shoulder of the centre back. It's no good asking him to win the ball in the air or show the first touch of Louis Saha. He can't do either. And just to make sure he didn't, Ferdinand dropped him a few times to make a painful point.

I am delighted to say our midfield was mostly a good match for them. Leon, Jack, Seamus and (particularly) Phil Neville never stopped. If they had, we would have been swamped. Only Bily was fitful. Time has almost run out for him, a great pity for him and us - I fear he's going to be one of those players we get wistful about in the future, along the lines of, "If only........"  At half time he was subbed by Tim Cahill and Becks by Vic Anichebe. Later, Maggie came on for Seamus.

The difference between the two sides in this area was Wayne Rooney. Without him, they wouldn't have a strong midfield, depleted or not. Everything went through him and he never seemed to break into a sweat or anything more than a canter. He has become the great midfield player many of us thought he would even when he was a kid. He wasn't allowed to dominate this game, but gawd help the team that allows him to. He was a street ahead of the other United players and often got frustrated when they failed to make the runs he opened up for them. When they did, Jags and Buzz were superb in their timing of interceptions, some of which were almost an art form. We were on the back foot for most of this game but we never looked rocky and never panicked.

In the second half Vic made a difference and immediately won two headers to unnerve The Shopper, who now knew he had a match on his hands. Vic's physical strength gave him problems for the rest of the game. But not his pace, of which has none, and which is why he has become the new scapegoat for the idiots amongst our fans. Nevertheless, at one point he got clear of Ferdinand down our left, in the box and closing at a narrow angle. Ferdinand handled him and dropped him clear as you like. The referee funked it and waved play on, the kind of officiating cowardice almost routine at the Theatre of Dweebs. Maggie was clearly overawed by the occasion but he still managed to contribute more than Bily. At this stage we were holding our own admirably.

Twenty minutes from the end the tempo stepped up, as it was bound to. The Brand got a series of corners and Tim made a magnificent save from a point blank header. Then the storm seemed to ease a little and we began to hope we might get a point out of it. Alas. An attack at mid right was broken up, but as Buzz went to make a clearance he slipped - this happened to a few players during the game, possible excess water on the pitch - and gave the ball away. It got transferred right to an unmarked player, Buzz raced back with him, as he had to, but crucially left us without tall cover in the middle. It got crossed to the far post and headed in with seven minutes left. So near yet so far.

But still we weren't done for and there was enough of a threat for The Brand Consumers to be whistling frantically for the whistle as the clock ticked down. All round it was a creditable display that showed just how much we have improved under David Moyes. In this match I was glad to see him out at the dotted line in his track suit. He's one of those characters who just doesn't look well in a dress suit. At this stage of your career stick with the tracky, David, and leave the formal wear to the older men. They are apprehensive when they face you now, and they know it. So do all the sensible fans.



More great stuff Micky. You can always tell when you've done a good job because it flushes the nut jobs out :-)
Paul, Warrington, 8:55 PM 27/04/2011
Another London dig. Another load of righteous gash.
Charlie, London, 2:43 PM 27/04/2011
yawn yawn yawn yawn blah blah ramble ramble waffly waffly
feelin bluesy, liverpool, 12:27 PM 27/04/2011
The more digs at London the better. I fuckin hate that place.
Scouser, Kirkdale, 5:37 PM 26/04/2011
Another dig at London again from MBE. Not necessary or relevant. C+
Kenny, Wigan, 2:56 PM 26/04/2011
I love it when these pompous arse holes come on trying to tell MBE what to say and how to say it just because they disagree with him. I don't always agree with what he says but I always enjoy what he writes because it's well put. I'm glad he stuck up for Victor, there's too many nob eds having a go at him and blaming him for everything thats gone wrong this season. Further more MBE is dead right about ale house idiots, you hear them before and after every match shooting their mouths off even though they know nothing about football and have never played it. Keep it up MBE, the more the better. I always look forward to your articles!!!
Smegger, Nogsy, 1:41 PM 26/04/2011
Fully agree with Big H. This was a very good report - very accurate, insightful and all the better without the usual waffle and repetitive lines about ale house idiots etc etc. You are a very good writer when you don't descend into your usual patronising dross. Whilst there are of course idiots among football supporters, I think you'd be surprised at the level of intelligence, insight and class of a lot of readers here. Unfortunately, I stopped reading your reports long ago - due to the fact that 80% of them each week seemed to be made up of the same phrases, sentences and indulgent waffle. However, I am glad that I read the above and will now look forward to the next one. Thank you for writing MBE.
Brighton Blue, Brighton, 12:25 PM 26/04/2011
Anyone who was there to see the game away at Sitteh earlier in the season will know that Vic has a very good game in him. He chased every lost cause with unerring desire in that one, albeit with a little too much exuberance in the two challenges that led to his red card.
Ian P, Chorlton, Manchester, 10:55 AM 26/04/2011
Decent attempt at a match report. Neo - Luddism and Xenophobia kept in check for the most part. Dont understand the implied railing against progress whilst tugging your forelock in the direction of Everton's cozy and amateur management. Compare where we were in 1986 when Fergie took over to where Utd. were. Young Mister Moyes again showed his loyalty to the 'peoples club' by spurning the chance to show the 'yankees' that he is a serious future option. Then again, so did Rodwell. God bless you Mister Kenwright Sir!
Eddie, Oxford, 10:55 AM 26/04/2011
Accurate report, and your right Evertonians do like a good scapegoat, but I think in this case Victor deserves it. No pace, and for a man of his stature has very little strength, was pushed off the ball far to many times by smaller men like Evra. No pace, not strong, poor first touch and not a goalscorer. How is he playing up front for us? Becks had a bad game but at least he scores goals
Danny P, West Derby, 10:15 AM 26/04/2011
Good overall report MBE, and without the usual mind-numbing waffle..I do however have one gripe.. People - or idiots as you politely call them - dont berate big VIc merely for his lack of pace, they do so because he just isnt good enough to play for our club and should be sold asap..Sure he played slightly better than Becks and BIlly when he came on against Manure, but really any of the subs would have..
Big H, Birkenhead, 5:40 PM 25/04/2011
You forgot to mention Beckford was practicing his new role as the invisible man. Buzz always has a mistake in him. Bily is a big girls blouse who can't be bothered. Hibbert let the attackers run at him into the box all game. Vic is about as much use as chocolate tea pot. Osman was clueless. The tactics stunk again. Lesser teams have gone to Old Trafford and played 442 and caused many problems for utd. They don't like being attacked. who says the capital is unloved as you put it? Stop trying to put your political agendas onto football issues. You're becoming very tedious. At least today you left your big boots dictionary out of the article.
Liam, Aintree, 3:57 PM 25/04/2011
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