Last night United secured what turned out to be a relatively straightforward passage into the next round of the Carling Cup.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few eye-catching incidents on the night. Here are 5 which will have surprised and intrigued many a fan.
1. Centre back partnership of Fryers and Carrick, then Berbatov
The starting line up saw a highly unusual partnership at centre back with Sir Alex deciding to pair Carrick, as we know a central midfielder although has played in defence before, with 19 year old Ezekiel Fryers, a left back by trade. And yet somehow, it worked. Many questions would have been raised if Leeds had provided a sterner challenge to the two on the night but credit to them both, Carrick held the line well and Fryers looked assured throughout. Ben Amos was left most of the night with not a lot to do but enjoy the occasion and the clean sheet that came with it. Zeki, as he is affectionately known, was particularly impressive. A cup tie at Elland Road is a daunting first team debut for anyone but he remained calm and composed. If his inexperience ever saw him dragged out of place positionally, his speed was more than enough to nullify any threats.
In contrast to his style of play, the last 10 minutes saw everyones’ favourite Bulgarian slip comfortably into the the back four alongside Carrick. According to Man of the Match Owen’s interview after the game and Rio’s tweets, Berbatov quite fancies himself as a centre back on the training ground. Less running around for him I’d imagine.
2. Valencia’s quality at right back
Valencia is another player who has recently had to get used to playing out of position in order to get game time in a squad that’s proving to be very competitive this season. Once again just as he needed to be against Chelsea on Sunday, Valencia was solid at right back. No nonsense defending, the strength to shrug off any attackers and the intensity to win the ball everytime means that he’s become quite adept at slotting in at fullback when need be. And that’s without considering the attacking prowess he also offers when he makes his trademark runs to the opponent’s byline. This meant the game finished with Fabio and Valencia at fullbacks, with Carrick and Berbatov the centre backs. Possibly the most attacking back four United have ever seen in their history. Then again, attack is the best form of defence.
3. Giggs, at 37, is a machine
This of course, should come as no surprise to many of us. And yet, whenever I see Giggs on the pitch in the famous Red, he still manages to amaze me. How he is doing this, at 37 years old, in central midfield, baffles me every time. The man is a consummate athlete and professional. Much can be said about his off the field indiscretions that have risen earlier this year, but when he plays for United, he still shines brighter than most of the stars on the pitch. 45 minutes was all that was needed for Giggs to effectively dismiss Leeds on the night. His work was done by half time and Fergie could afford to let him put his feet up on the bench for the second half. Saving him no doubt for another glorious performance to come against Stoke at the weekend or Basel next week.
4. The Istanbul chants from United fans
A sour note on the night was the chants from the United fans during the game. Although our fans were in full voice and supported our boys superbly, there is no excuse for some of the very distasteful songs which were sung yesterday evening about the two Leeds fans who lost their lives in Istanbul in April 2000. Leeds are no saints either, they have a history of singing about the Munich air disaster and last night was no different. Any chants about Heysel, Hillsborough, Istanbul or Munich should never be tolerated, particularly by fans who have lost some of their own through such tragic circumstances. Immediate fines and bans need to be imposed on supporters who encourage such behaviour.
5. Although not a first-teamer at United, Owen is good enough for England
Last night Owen reminded us what we already knew about him. He’s a goal scorer. And he’s ready to strike at any time when needed. Owen knows his role within the United squad and credit to Sir Alex, he handles him perfectly. How many other players are ready and willing to do what’s best for the team and sit out many games only to be called upon when needed to give 100% for the cause. It’s no wonder Owen was on the substitute bench in the Champions League Final earlier this year instead of Berbatov. Owen will continue to work hard in training and during games when his team needs him. As a substitute for England, he can provide that cutting edge which can be oh so precious in the last 20 minutes when your team needs that little bit of class and experience up front to grab a goal. Does that not sound appealing to you Mr. Capello?
The usual garbage expected from this site, especially in the standard Berbatov bash. In fact the Bulgarian showed during the match what a quality individual he is both as a player and as a person. All through the game he constantly set up his team mates with some nice passing and the kind of unselfish play that he never gets given credit for, and was responsible for the first goal Owen scored via a beautifully timed pass. When the chips were down in defence during the last phase of the game, thanks to all the substitutions already having been made, Berbatov raised his hand up and put in a fine effort at centre back, putting in a couple of goal line stops to keep Leeds out of the game. If Rooney pulled off a similar display defensively this author and others would be wetting themselves with excitement describing his energy, field coverage, and team-orientated play. Berbatov does it and all the author can do is make derisory comments about how the situation presented an opportunity for the Bulgarian to take it easy. That’s why football aficionados treat this site as a joke.
Well considering we have different writers with different opinions on Berbatov I would be right in saying you sir are talking nonsense!
I the editor happen to be a big fan of his and feel he isn’t getting a fair shake of the dice so to make a blanket judgement that we at TBW don’t like him makes you seem more of an ass than your post did!
Football aficionados treat this site as a joke?
I doubt any REAL football aficionados have made comment on this. This is a fan site with a bit of something for everyone so if these so called aficionados don’t like it, what can I do?
I think Timbo and John Tring are the same person. The Timbo alias takes any opportunity to trash Rooney and play violin for Berba; and the John Tring alias to make Evans and our midfield as being inferior to those in the Blue Square Premier.
Get your willy out Berba’s bottom Timbo. Would love to see Owen back in the england set up.
I agree totally with that assesment of the Berb fella !
Please dont be offering Micky to the England set up . We pay his wages ,I dont want him warming their bench .
Leeds fan calling. Got to say it was great to see Man U back at Elland Road last night. Agree about Giggs. Fantastic player. Hope to see you again when the mighty whites are back in the top flight.
Leeds Fan here again… erm based on last night’s performance it’s going to be some time before Leeds play you lot in the Prem again. Fair play, we got STUFFED last night by a team that was better in every department. Only Adam Clayton came away with a decent performance in a white shirt. Please can we have Michael Owen and Macheda on loan. Also, Berb would probably do a better job at CB then anyone on Leeds’ books at the moment. Giggs is immense. Think it’s fair to say that some Leeds fans are absolute idiots. I get annoyed when Leeds fans consider the Man U game a big rivalry. It’s not and hasn’t been for years. Leeds need to get into the Prem start winning things and then we may claim the right to call it a rivalry. As it stands, it was just a top class teams’ second team outclassing an average championship side’s best team. All the best chaps…
No way are you 2 Leeds fans,embarrassing and cringeworthy. These lot hate you more than I do.
yeh, and Leedslad – you’re the man and the type of short-sighted Leeds fans that considers a Man U game to be the pinnacle of our season. I don’t care whether Man U like me. In fact, I don’t care about the silly little b*tchin between the clubs. I care about Leeds, and getting Leeds back to the Prem. Not revisiting old rivalries that were simply based on Leeds’ fans being jealous of Man U’s success. I’ve no time for that. If you could actually realise that the rivalry means nothing to Man U fans it may change your opinion. think of it like this, Huddersfield Towm hate Leeds. Leeds are not bothered about Huddersfield because, historically, we’ve just been a better team. It works the same for Man U fans. Yes, they get agitated by idiot Leeds Fans silly chants, and I can bank on you, Leedslad, been one of those Leeds fans, but Man U fans are more bothered about hating Liverpool and Man City then Leeds. It’s a fact and I sure the fans on here would agree. I’ve time for Leeds’ success (which is clealy limited) and I’ve time for insane ramblings on this strange website. To be honest, the average Leeds fan (and again Leedlad this is you) are so unintelligent and devolved it makes me embarrassed to be associated with the club I love. MOT
“If Rooney pulled off a similar display defensively this author and others would be wetting themselves with excitement…”
@timbo: if you didnt know it, rooney does his defensive duties all the time, while berb does it once in a while! Think before you spew out anymore dumb statements.
“To be honest, the average Leeds fan (and again Leedlad this is you) are so unintelligent and devolved it makes me embarrassed to be associated with the club I love.”
Sweeping statement, dripping with some sort of superiority complex & incredible arrogance. You sound a lot like an arm chair viewer, though admittedly this is an assumption. Often I find those who don’t have a clue, are the ones running off at the mouth.
thewhite – Dripping nothing but honesty and truth. In response to your own generalised nonsense: season ticket holder, watched first game in 1987 season against Watford. We lost. Followed Leeds ever since. I won’t join you in making unfounded statements about your own Leeds United pledge. We are one of the least popular clubs in the Country, probably Europe. Now I am not bothered by this, supporting a team is not popularity contest, otherwise I’d have picked Man U like the rest of the them. I just get bored of Leeds Fans over-picking this “rivalry” with Man U. It’s a joke. I remember being at ER in the mid 90’s when the Leeds-v-Man U home game was always our highlight of the season; we were losing 0-1 and the Man U fans piped up with “1-0 in your Cup final” it resonated with me. They were right it was our cup final and it certainly wasn’t theirs.
Did you notice the Istambul banner your fellow fans unveiled? Classless club with classless fans.
Leeds fan here.
It seems to me none of the posters here are the idiots who did the repugnant chanting (both sides) and generally everyone agrees they are a stain on our respective clubs. So, instead of debating “who started it” or “who was the worst” it might be better to discuss how we stop it from happening again.
Incidentally, I wish sports fans (and media “professionals”) would educate themselves a little better about the real war of the roses. Those who think the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire fought each other should’ve paid more attention at school.
Websites worth visiting……