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Monday, June 26, 2006

Spurs Blunted

Reserve Champions 'Final'

Spurs blunted

From what we had heard the Tottenham Hotspur side were pretty good. They had won the Southern League by a street. This is a League which includes teams from the two greatest Clubs in the world - er... Arsenal and Chelsea. But then I suppose the Chelsea view is that the Russian will buy whatever they want and thus the Reserves matter not a jot. That said their Reserve team must contain loads of internationals. Perhaps they can't be arsed to try in the 'nothing' matches. Isn't that a disgrace.

It turned out, by the way, that Tottenham Hotspur were not as good as our young boys.

The powers-that-be had decided that we could only sit in the North stand rather than where we always sit - when they allow the Reserves on to the Old Trafford pitch that is. Perhaps they wanted to perpetuate the Old-Trafford-is-full-every-match bollocks. It was no coincidence (was it?) that we were forced to sit where we would be in camera shot most of the time. The crowd was still disappointingly small for a game of such (to us, the Sad Red Bastards, at least) importance. I've watched the Reserves for as long as I can remember and we used to get good crowds years ago and yet these days the average is no more than 300 for the normal match at Hyde. What makes me chuckle is that we get to see most of the 'stars' (of the
future) years before they become 'famous'. But the realist in me understands that going to Hyde on a wet, cold and thoroughly miserable day in November or February is not on for the majority of 'supporters'. Plainly a large number of Manchester United supporters cannot get to Reserve matches but, contrary to the Blue bollocks, we still have a large fan-base in, or around, Manchester. Perhaps I might 'encourage' you to come along next season. You never know you might actually enjoy yourself.

The Sad Red Bastards are a group of old(ish) people who follow the Reserve and Academy teams purely because they like seeing good, honest football, where the standard is high and the (old fashioned) values are maintained. It is not the win-at-ALL-costs football that we now see in the Premiership. The players are honest and decent and are, without exception, real triers. It is football as we used to know it. It is what we, the SRB, want. It is something that the American Bastard and the Brothers Grim would NEVER understand as long as they have holes in their arses. It IS something I'm sure you want too. Give it a try.

We had an almost immediate attack when Lee went forward and could have had a shot but tricked to pick a pass and it was intercepted. After five minutes Ole won the ball well on halfway and immediately fed Gibson. He played a wonderful ball over the top but the goalie just beat Campbell to it. After eight minutes Lee made the most magnificent run, beating about thirty-two men, going into the box before playing a great square ball across the goal but nobody had gone with him and the ball ran harmlessly away. On ten minutes Fletcher and Campbell combined well to send Campbell into the box, inside-right, but his shot was deflected away for a corner. Then Campbell was unlucky again when Herman, right wing, put over a great cross which Campbell just couldn't reach.

On eleven minutes Lee and Rose combined well on the left then fed into Gibson. He was on the edge of the box and could have shot but didn't. Instead he laid it out to Rose but his subsequent cross was scrambled away. On seventeen Herman, wide on the right, put in a good looping cross which Campbell met with a fantastic leap above the goalie, but the ball went just over the bar. Three minutes later Herman, in centre midfield, played an excellent through ball for Ole to run on to. Ole tried to pick out Campbell but the ball was blocked out for a corner. The corner was knocked out to Ole and he held it up long enough for our lads to re-shape. He passed top Gibson, who fed Herman and his shot was well saved.

On twenty-three we opened the scoring. Herman put over a good corner which was headed out to Gibson just outside the area. He blasted a shot into the crowded box and it was diverted by Pique into the net. How much the lad knew about the flick I do not know, but that did not matter - we were in front and deservedly so. Five minutes later Lee and Gibson combined well on the left to feed the ball into Fletcher in the box. He laid back to Ole who controlled brilliantly and unleashed an absolutely unstoppable screamer with his left foot. He had about a 'ball-square' area to hit it into and he managed it with ease. The goalie, who thought he everything covered, looked absolutely astonished and stood for what seemed ages just shaking his head before he retrieved the ball from the back of the net. It was a goal of sheer artistry and mastery from the genius that is Ole Gunner Solskjaer.

We had been far superior in the first half. They had seemed a bit scared to be honest; perhaps overawed by Old Trafford and the relatively large crowd. Whatever the reason we were well worthy of a two goal lead - at the very least. I couldn't remember them having one attack of any note.

Rossi was a half-time substitute for Ole and he was involved almost straight away when he combined with Campbell, allowing the latter to get into the box and fire off a splendid shot which was kicked off the line with the goalie beaten. On twenty-two Herman hit the ball of the night when he played a quite wonderful ball from the right into the box for Rossi. The little man controlled well and turned his man with the ease we are coming to expect from him. But then rather than blasting it into the net he decided he wanted to beat every bugger in the half and the chance was lost. The wee lad was involved again a few moments later when he picked up halfway and hit the most delightful of chips over the defence for Campbell to run on to. The goalie, anticipating very well, just beat him to the ball on the edge of the box.

On twenty-four Fletcher was replaced by Richard Jones. On twenty-six Herman and Gibson combined well on the right allowing Gibson to run free and cross well to the far post but Campbell, once again showing his intelligence in
the run, was just unable to reach it. With the match coming to an end Rossi did well in the centre of midfield before playing the ball out to Herman, wide. He cleverly spotted that Campbell was offside so used his run to go to the edge of the box before hitting a shot which was well saved.

The final whistle and the 'Treble'. Tottenham Hotspur had played slightly better in the second half; played with a bit of passion. But we had still been the better side. Our defence had coped with all they could throw at us, whilst we had controlled midfield and always threatened on the break with Campbell's pace. All in all a splendid, controlled performance.

The Premier League had to build a platform and set up all the pyrotechnics before Herman could be given the trophy. The SRB's were slightly concerned that drinking time was being lost. But as the trophy was presented (well trophies in fact) and the fireworks lit up the now darkening sky it was all well worth it. These boys deserved that sort of 'show' - they have had a wonderful season. They have given us tons of enjoyment. Rene Meulensteen has done a very good job since taking over from Ricky Sbragia. We will never forget the influence of Ricky, a good man and a splendid coach. Rene has inherited a great set of lads and the future looks rosy, rosy indeed.

After the match we, the Sad Red Bastards, retired to the Bishop's to discuss the season now at an end. Everybody agreed it had been another great season of good attacking football, intelligent midfield play and resolute defence. We talked about all the players we had seen for the Reserves, or at least those we could remember!

Our Player of the Year was Giuseppe Rossi. He has had a quite magnificent season, scoring great and important goals and working both the line and midfield well. He is now ready for the next stage.

Our Young Player of the Year is Fraizer Campbell. It is hard to imagine that this kid was an Academy player just a short period ago. He has developed so well. He has incredible pace, good control, great vision and can score goals with either foot and head.

We all made mention of Kieran Lee as a close second to Campbell. He has also made the step up and looks the business.

Our Reserve Team of the Year (4-4-2) is:

1. Luke Steele

2. Kieran Lee
3. Phil Bardsley
4. John Evans
5. Gerard Pique

6. Lee Martin
7. Darren Gibson
8. Danny Rose
9. Herman

10. Giuseppe Rossi
11. Fraizer Campbell

Subs: Tommy Lee, Danny Simpson, Sean Evans, Sylvan Blake, Jamie Mullen

by Old Fart


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