FA Carling Premiership
Manchester United 2 - 0 Leeds United
(Half-time: 0 - 0)
|« Southampton||Sunderland »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Mills, Harte (Hiden 75), Radebe, Woodgate, Duberry, Batty, Bowyer, Kewell (Bakke 83), Huckerbey, Bridges (Hopkin 19)||Haaland, Robinson|
|Manchester United||Bosnich (Van Der Gouw 21), Neville, Irwin, Berg, Stam, Beckham, Keane, Scholes (Butt 69), Cole, Yorke (Sheringham 81), Giggs||Curtis, Solskjaer|
|Manchester United||Yorke 76, 80|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Manchester United||Cole 9, Giggs 44|
|Leeds United||Manchester United|
|Attempts on goal||17||18|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||0||?|
|Matt G||Scum Report|
|The Guardian||United in cold comfort zone|
|The Observer||Yorke makes splash|
|The Electronic Telegraph||United look to Yorke|
|The Times||Keane lays ground for departure|
|The Sunday Times||Keane as mustard|
|The Independent on Sunday||Yorke ends the torment|
|The Independent||United rely on Yorke's goal hunger|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||Yorke shows United what they're missing|
|BBC||Yorke keeps his head|
|Soccernet||Manchester United 2 - 0 Leeds United|
|Carlingnet||Manchester United 2 - 0 Leeds United|
This years plan from Manchester police to avoid trouble was to have us arrive at TOWD by 10.30 having left East Anglia at the crack of dawn. So we got to spend over an hour trapped in the concourse under the away end, debating whether buying a burger would mean the Scum would be able to afford to keep Roy Keane.
Once the teams came out and we'd all observed how much Huckerby looked like Bowyer, it was encouraging to see DOL was going for it with 3 up-front. Despite Bridges getting injured in 1st minute for the 1st 20 minutes with Bowyer often joining the front 3 we had the Scum worried as they didn't know who to mark with all the movement upfront. Though we were largely restricted to shots from outside the area, Bowyer and Kewell were close, and Kewell shot when I'd have liked him to take the ball in closer. Even when Hoppy replaced Bridges we were still playing them at their own game, good movement with quick short-passing opening up space.
Despite an excellent 1st half our attacking approach had left space for them at time, Mills got caught forward allowing Giggs a clear chance that Duberry did well to block and Martyn was forced into a great save from Scholes as we got cut apart. However, largely we were on top in the 1st half, Batty and Bowyer getting through a shitload of work to break up their attacks and Kewell was inspired, attacking them down both wings and beating players for fun (Copyright Ron Atkinson). Beckham's V sign demonstrating how frustrated they were getting - prior to this hit had virtually no stick off the Leeds fans, so really he has only himself to blame for the vitriol he received later.
Second half they had much more of the ball, but the defence was largely comfortable with few real alarms, though Harte was struggling down the left. Then we had a good little spell halfway through the half, a volley from Kewell troubling the goalie before Stam went forward, Lucas intercepted and set Kewell free, he accelerated away from the defence and beat the keeper but hit the post. This was the turning point, shortly afterwards Hiden replaced Harte but dived in a bit with his first tackle letting Neville escape down the right and cross for Yorke to head in. Soon after Mills got caught pissing about in the corner and gave away a free-kick and then watched as the ball sailed over his head for Yorke to get the 2nd.
The last 15 minutes were played in a huge storm and we did make a couple of chances, Bowyer should really have scored after being put through by Kewell and Duberry got confused when put through and dithered to long and was tackled by the keeper.
As the game finished we were kept in for about 20 minutes, a few chants of "If you hate Leeds United have a Go" from our lot leading to some hormonal grunting as the respective meatheads gestured to each other from across a line of stewards. No hassle on the way out, the car park for away coaches now only being a couple hundred yards from our exit and even the Police could manage to secure that much. All was left was 2 hours on the M6 passing coaches full of gloating scum fans.
So we lost again, but we did show again we can compete with the Scum. The difference was probably in the strikers, Yorke scored twice and we missed chances, though if Bridges or Smith had been fit or if whatisname hadn't buggered off, maybe it would have been a different story.
Martyn 7 - One great save, no chance with the goals
Mills 8 - Looking a good buy, we look a better team now we can attack down both flanks
Harte 6 - Poor game especially in the 2nd half, as the team reach a higher level his lack of pace is being shown up.
Duberry 7.5 - Good strong defensive performance, though could still improve his passing.
Woodgate 8 - Composed performance - read the runs of Cole and Yorke well
Radebe 9 - As per usual a superb game, always seemed to know where the ball was going and stepping in to make the interception.
Bowyer 8 - All over the place, breaking attacks up and then getting forward.
Batty 9 - Great game, this is the sort of game we bought him for, kept at them all game and never let them settle a couple of times even beating men to set up attacks.
Hopkin 6 - Worked hard, neither good nor bad.
Kewell 9 - MoM, a constant threat, to do well this year we really need him to stay fit. He's getting stronger too often winning wrestling matches with Stam, but his pace frightens even the best defences. If he could finish he could be the complete player.
Huckerby 7 - Better without the ball - his movement caused them problems but when he gets the ball he seems better running straight at them. Seemed to get confused when he had time to think about what to do.
The continuing uncertainty about their captain Roy Keane's future at Old Trafford does not appear likely to drive Manchester United wildly off course. Far from heading for the nearest reef, United are showing early signs of switching to automatic pilot.
Saturday's victory for patience, persistence and opportunism over David O'Leary's ever-improving young Leeds United side was followed by the announce ment that Keane will wait until his present contract runs out at the end of the season before deciding if he wants to move and where.
On the evidence of the previous two hours the knowledge that Keane will be around for the time being will surely relax Sir Alex Ferguson and his players as they prepare for three months of Champions League football, not to mention the European Super Cup in Monaco and World Club Cup in Tokyo with Fifa's folly, the world club championship in Brazil, to follow.
© Guardian Media Group plc
Roy Keane is staying until the end of the season at least, and all other signs from Old Trafford indicate business as usual for Manchester United.
Leeds were the dominant side for much of this game, and might have left with a point or more had not Harry Kewell squandered a glorious opportunity by striking a post when the game was scoreless in the second half. Yet by the end there was no need for David O'Leary to emphasise there is still a gap between his young guns and Old Trafford's hardened hitmen.
That didn't stop O'Leary saying it, of course; the Leeds manager's underselling of his own strengths has become as familiar a post-match ritual as Sir Alex Ferguson's belligerent glare.
© Guardian Media Group plc
"ROY KEANE is not irreplaceable. Nobody is. Everybody felt Best, Law and Charlton were irreplaceable, everybody felt Eric Cantona was irreplaceable. It would be a sad day if Roy left Manchester United, but life goes on. Great players have left before and the club has always gone on, it rebuilds."
These were the words of Martin Edwards, the Manchester United chairman, as he stood in the directors' box at Old Trafford on Saturday after releasing the news that Keane was neither definitely staying nor definitely leaving, just yet.
In black and white, Edwards' words look more dismissive than they sounded. This was not an "up yours Roy, we don't need you" message; it was an assessment of football reality. If Keane does leave there is always Edgar Davids, or Clarence Seedorf, or Juan Veron, or some unknown Lithuanian.
Nicky Butt might even fulfil his potential. Keane would be a loss and would be difficult to replace but, for all his undoubted qualities, Manchester United are not a one-man team.
This was partially proven in the European Cup final when Manchester United won without Keane, even though his ability to win the ball and distribute it accurately was clearly missed. It was proved again on Saturday when they won despite Keane producing a distracted performance which enabled Leeds to seize the midfield.
Keane's mind was clearly on the contract situation - he did produce one or two cameo flourishes, notably a tackle on Danny Mills, but was otherwise overshadowed by David Batty. His most notable impact was on the terraces, where the home supporters' first chant of "Keano" was greeted with the away fans chorusing: "One greedy bastard". The Red Army replied with: "Where's your Jimmy gone?" in a reference to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's departure from Elland Road, but were ultimately trumped by the Leeds choir's rendition of "Keano for Juve".
Juventus, along with Internazionale, remain Keane's most likely suitors should he decide to leave. Yet though his situation mirrors that of Steve McManaman's at Liverpool last season, it is not as certain that he will go.
Unlike McManaman, he has a young family and no long-held desire to play abroad. He is interested in the challenge - he has told United it is that, rather than money, which is the nub of his indecision - but not obsessed by it.
Should he leave at the end of the season United would lose about pounds 10m (his probable worth as a 28-year-old with one year on his contract). But they could gain that through the success which Keane could help bring them this year - in competitions at home, on the Continent, and from Japan to Brazil. The club thus seems sanguine about the situation, with Alex Ferguson relatively pleased.
However, one does wonder how the constant speculation - for this will not, despite Keane and the club's hopes, be the end of the matter - will affect both parties. There is bound to be contact with interested parties before the season's end, for both Keane and United will want the issue settled by June.
In one respect Keane is playing a dangerous game. Should he suffer a serious injury this season he could end it unemployed and unemployable. Injury is the spectre for every professional footballer, particularly one who plays like the Irishman. As Edwards said with brutal realism: "Under normal circumstances we may have begun negotiations earlier but Roy had done his cruciate ligament. We had to wait and see whether he would recover from that. Some players don't recover from injuries and he may have broken down again last season."
Once Keane had proved his fitness United approached him and his advisor, Michael Kennedy, but the pair wanted to wait until the season was over, which is why the issue has dragged on. Now everyone waits - although one imagines Kennedy has ensured Keane's personal injury insurance is paid up.
The uncertainty surrounding Keane offered Saturday's visitors hope, and Leeds began adventurously with a three-man forward line and a desire to use it. They created five opportunities in the opening 20 minutes but were then forced to re-shape when Michael Bridges limped off. While this further strengthened their midfield it reduced their potency, as Harry Kewell had to take up a more advanced position. The match became one of good football but few chances.
The best in the first half fell to Manchester United, a 31st-minute treble chance in which Nigel Martyn saved brilliantly from Paul Scholes, Ian Harte blocked David Beckham's follow-up, and Denis Irwin finally blazed over.
The Old Trafford side gradually asserted themselves in the second period but should have gone behind after 66 minutes when Kewell, released by Lucas Radebe's pass, hit the post.
Ten minutes later Beckham and Phil Neville combined on the right and Yorke got ahead of Michael Duberry to neatly head the latter's cross inside the far post. Three minutes on, with Leeds visibly deflated, Yorke beat Martin Hiden to Beckham's free-kick and the game was won: Yorke 2, Yorkshire pride 0.
It was the Tobagan's fifth goal in four games this season, a statistic which underlines his development as a goal-poacher - especially as Radebe, Duberry and Jonathon Woodgate had previously kept he and Andy Cole quiet with misleading ease.
So Leeds left Old Trafford having won admirers but no points. Martyn, Radebe and Batty provide a solid spine while the quick, young forwards will trouble most teams. However, the finishing was poor; only Bridges has scored for them this season and the need to replace Hasselbaink is obvious. Since they also lack height in attack the speculation over Tore Andre Flo and Teddy Sheringham is understandable, even though neither completely fits David O'Leary's preference for young, English players. But then, as United are finding with Keane, football management is full of compromises.
© The Independent
HAVING reeled under the impact of the viper-like qualities of a £12million striker in the formidable Dwight Yorke, Leeds United must be hoping that their own big-money target becomes available sooner rather than later.
It was a general consensus of opinion that the giant cheque paid by Alex Ferguson to Aston Villa for Yorke's services was way over the top, yet time after time the smiling assassin has made the transaction look like small change.
This was one such occasion. For three-quarters of a highly-entertaining encounter Leeds matched Manchester United every step of the way and, at times, were shading matters.
Then Yorke demonstrated twice within the space of four minutes just how highly-prized is the small, exclusive circle of grade one hitmen in the game.
Seizing on lapses in concentration, he powered home Neville's cross from the right with a stunning header in the 76th minute and then repeated the act when Beckham whipped in a free kick from the left.
They were mortal blows to a Leeds side which held winning ambitions for much of the game.
Harry Kewell, who afterwards drew glowing praise from Ferguson and his own manager David O'Leary, had a stormer and should have nosed Leeds ahead six minutes before Yorke struck.
A beautifully judged through ball from Radebe put him one on one with Van der Gouw but, from six yards out, his studied right foot shot low to the keeper's left cannoned off the post.
Just as he had done against Derby in a similar situation on the opening day, Kewell failed to capitalise on the kind of golden opportunity which rarely surfaces at this level and Leeds were made to pay a high price.
It was tough on a side who, through wonderful inspiration from David Batty, perhaps deserved better. But the odds were stacking against Leeds as early as the 18th minute when Michael Bridges, the hat-trick hero at Southampton three days previously, limped out of the action with a twisted ankle.
So O'Leary's ambitious 3-4-3 assault plans were in tatters almost before they had been laid and reorganisation was necessary.
"I thought we would get it on and see what we are made of," O'Leary explained. "No matter that Old Trafford was the venue. A certain breed of player is comfortable in any company and we have a lot of their ilk at Leeds."
One incident this spectacle could have done without concerned Beckham who does himself no favours. Having fouled Radebe on the touchline the Leeds captain made a point of a handshake, but when he turned his back to place the ball for the free kick Beckham made a gesture which incensed the travelling supporters.
It was, after all, right under their noses and if anything was guaranteed to poison the bad blood which has existed between these two camps for so long then this obscenity was it.
Lee Bowyer went close with a couple of long-range efforts but Darren Huckerby, last week's £4million buy from Coventry, had a quiet debut. O'Leary has already made it plain that Huckerby will have to be moulded into Leeds' ways, but his hare-like pace will surely be a major asset.
Said O'Leary: "They were poor goals to concede from our perspective but, other than that, I was delighted with our performance. When Bridges came off I didn't have the luxury of Alan Smith on the bench otherwise I could have made a straight swap."
"He is still suffering with his ankle injury. My strikers have suddenly gone soft on me!"
On the subject of spending levels within the game O'Leary joked: "I think that Martin Edwards should concentrate on the stadium expansion work going on at Old Trafford. He should tell his manager that there are no funds available for transfers for the next three years at least. That would suit everybody very nicely."
Ferguson was full of praise for Leeds, saying: "They have a lot of heart and a lot of ambition. Their manager has done exceptionally well. He has adopted an attacking policy and that is to be applauded and admired."
Said Radebe: "We are all very disappointed, but we can put this behind us and pick up points from our next few games."
© Yorkshire Evening Post