Posted by Stretford End Tunnel Rules OK Again! on March 05, 2003 at 13:56:18:
In Reply to: Re: Apology posted by RM on March 04, 2003 at 20:53:30:
Mr. Mannion, you are gentleman and a scholar.
Without wanting to bore the arse of non-football officiendos, United were turned over by Liverpool on Sunday. Since writing Roy Keane has offered a blanket apology on behalf of the squad to all United fans. It is accepted but cannot hide the truth of what is happening to the team.
There are only three teams in the Premiership that can consistently defend a lead, United (who have the best defensive record in the division), Liverpool and Arsenal. Against the rest if United go one down, more often than not we will still score.
Sunday was a prime example. The first goal, especially against a team like Liverpool is crucial.
If United had scored first then without a doubt we would have won. If United had scored first against Arsenal in the FA Cup (as we did in the League match) we would have won. I have absolutely no doubts about this whatsoever. As it happened, in these two important games they scored first and we could not get an equaliser before they scored again.
It was probably apt that Roy Keane should apologise because, by his own high standards he was the major reason why we did not respond effectively to going one nil down on Sunday. Most United fans may think that it is heresy to criticize RK but the facts are becoming more and more difficult to avoid.
Since his injury and the problems over the summer he is no longer the player he was and the effect is beginning to show in the teams performances.
RK has been crucial to the success of United over the past decade. Whilst Eric was the catalyst in bringing the youngsters through and providing the spark to change games, the presence of RK was vital to giving Eric and the rest the platform on which they could perform their headline grabbing skills.
On Sunday, as in most games this season, he has not been able to perform to the high levels of past years. The ability to break up the opposition's attacks is still there but he cannot get forward with the same power to support our attacks. As a result United, and Veron especially are exposed in midfield and our system is now easily read by most Premiership clubs. Most of them still do not have the players to stop us from playing but the top clubs can, and regretfully when it matters most do.
Roy is neighbour of mine and someone I have met and talked to in the local park where he takes his kids. He is a wonderful person with a wicked sense of humour and no airs or graces. Recently the son of a very good friend of mine died of cancer. 'Sid'was a big United fan and RK spent the whole afternoon on the day he died at his bedside talking football. There were no press or cameras there to film it, no publicity was sought or gained. Just a genuine bloke spending time with a very sick genuine fan.
I get no pleasure from marking the end of such a great career but even RK's own comments lately about life after playing suggest he his also thinking that time is not on his side. Maybe Fergie has to find him a different role in the team - something needs to be done to allow Nicky Butt to take over the role of 'Enforcer'.
We will still be a major force in Europe because our system of playing is now geared almost exclusively to that arena. The Champions League is our best hope for success this season and I have seen nothing in Europe to change my opinion that we are one of the favourites. In the Premiership we will struggle to hold onto second place. The worst scenario is that Aresenal make the Champions League Final with us and turn the game fromn a typical European game to a Premiership one. If that happens it will be 'First Goal Wins'
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