During this run of games, particularly against the so-called lesser clubs such as Swindon, Oldham and Wimbledon, the reality of being a Manchester United player sank in. For most clubs the United game was the big game of the season. However badly things were going, victory over Manchester United was an end in itself. Grounds that would normally be three-quaters full, if that, were packed for the United game. The home team's fans were geed up, the players responded, raising their game far above the norm. The old cliche about this being their Cup final was true in these circumstances......
....There was no danger of me being complacent as it would help me become a better player. But the extra effort made by players from clubs like Norwich, Swindon, Crystal Palace, Oldham, Wimbledon usually led to trouble. Confronted by tackles that were high, late and sometimes crazy, our only option was to meet fire with fire. Eric, Incey, Mark Hughes and myself led the resistance.....
....For what bugged us was that these guys were out to make a name for themselves by sorting us out. Why the fuck didn't they put the effort in every week, then maybe they wouldn't be playing for fucking Norwich or Swindon. So there was no rolling over when faced with this stuff. Meet aggression with aggression, then ability would make the difference at the end of the day.
Roy Keane - Keane The Autobiography 2002
This comes a bit late if you were expecting me to write something about the defeat at some lowly punk club in the League Cup last week. Still, I chose to wait till after the game at the weekend to prove my point.
Everybody seemed more intent of picking out everything that was going wrong with Manyoo on that night, and how our squad isn't exactly the size of Chelsea's. When we lost that night, the evil British press seemed excited to point out that 10 of the starting 11 were full internationals, and that we lost to a bunch of lower division nobodies. For the record, our starting 11 read Kuszczak, Brown, Heinze, O'Shea, Silvestre, Fletcher, Richardson, Jones (the only uncapped player), Ronaldo, Rooney, Smith.
Why were idiots so keen to point out that 10 of them are fully capped players? Out of the lot, only Heinze, Ronaldo and Rooney would breeze into any other Premiership easily. Silvestre, Fletcher and Smith are useful when they are on form, but the rest of them are jokes. Who cares if Kieran Richardson has a few England caps and is called a full-international? Akmal Rizal is also a fucking full-international. Would he be useful?
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Manyoo has a small squad and we are dependant on a few key players. Yes, Chelsea has a big squad. But if Drogba was the get injured now, who would replace him (give yourself a slap in the face if you even contemplated on saying Shevchenko)? Who would replace John Terry? And for the last two seasons, who could have possibly replaced Frank Lampard? You need luck with injuries sometimes. Manyoo had relatively NO injury problems in their treble year. The Invincibles never had any injury crisis either.
But by far the best thing about being a Manyoo fan is the awesome football going on at the moment. Arsenal have been playing good passing football, but they had problems scoring - so I imagine it must be frustrating like hell. Chelsea have the ability to play beautiful football at times, but other times are robotic. Shall I even mention Liverpool?
At Blackburn, before the game started I was thinking that we were screwed. It was pouring like crazy - the pitch was slippery and the wind was almost a gale. Yet by some magic, they managed to play poetic one-touch football. In terms of total football, all our wingers are comfortable on either wing. Rooney can play up front, in the hole and on the wing. Giggs and Ronaldo can swap around when they feel like it, or they could support Saha as lone striker. Even Scholes and Carrick have been taking turns going forward and sitting back.
The problem is - besides Rooney, nobody is going to kick the opponent silly. Roy Keane was right in what he said up there. When playing nobodies, you need to play rough. Chelsea and Arsenal have had close scares with lower league teams in previous seasons. It is no different. What is apparent is the fact that Manyoo seems to suffer a lot against the lower league teams. The 3rd round of the League Cup was a problem as was the FA Cup a couple of seasons ago.
Still, we are playing superb footie. Let me enjoy it while it lasts.
And of course, as long as Liverpool and their fans keep up their delusions of grandeur, I think I shall enjoy myself.