Welcome to Sir Alex Ferguson and to all from Manchester United.
Obviously we were disappointed with the way things went for us in our last game here against Chelsea. We played well but in the end did not get what we deserved from the game.
With the way things went, it was similar to Liverpool last week. The turning point was their penalty and it’s very difficult to look at those decisions and not feel aggrieved. I scratch my head sometimes when I reflect on some of these situations and am beginning to feel that we might have to start looking at a video for help.
I was always reluctant to think along those lines a few years ago but now more and more, and particularly in the past five-six weeks, there have been so many crucial decisions taken that we need the support of the technology that is available.
It’s a hard job for referees and they need help.
People will say that we have not got the time to do this during a match but if you noted how long it took to get the penalty taken — nearly three or four minutes while everyone was ranting and raving and the referee had gone to the linesman — then it could have been done. Just a quick 30 seconds in an earpiece to the referee and it’s that simple.
But only on the big decisions. Like was the ball over the line? Was it a handball? A penalty? Massive decisions that are changing the course of games. And that’s what we have to look at to improve the game in the future.
In the end it was very frustrating. True we’re going to break the duck at some stage against Chelsea and we thought it was going to be that weekend but things went against us which was unfortunate. But what I did like was the way that we responded and at 1-1, without the penalty decision, I think that we would have gone on and won the game, I really do. So that was disappointing but there was a lot to take out of the performance.
Then we went to Sunderland and again, away from home, people have been telling me that we’ve looked better this year than we have in previous seasons. At Everton we looked like we would have won had it stayed 11 v 11 on the pitch and Sunderland was another terrific performance.
The down side up there was that we shouldn’t have had that last 15 minutes when we were hanging on to the game. We could and should have had it done and dusted by half-time and that’s the next thing that we’ve got to get right. We’ve got to be more clinical in our finishing. We had nine good chances and should have taken more than two. That’s something we’ve got to strive for.
The plus point again is that we are creating chances but you’re wasting your time if there’s not a goal at the end of that effort. As you go up the scale against the top teams you get less chances so you’ve got to take them when they come. If you get two or three opportunities your ratio of success has to be one or two. That’s where we’re not quite firing on all cylinders at the moment.
But at Sunderland there was a lot of resolve, a lot of excellent football in the first half, with good movement and it was a great three points for us. Then to Liverpool where we again played extremely well but, as with Chelsea, we’ve got nothing from two very good performances.
But there’s a lot of belief there now, a lot to look at and say ‘yes, we are improving, we are progressing.’ It’s very early days yet in re-establishing ourselves as a top six club but that in time is what we are aiming to do.
The support at Liverpool and Chelsea was magnificent, as it has been all season. I know that the supporters always make it a special atmosphere against Manchester United so I expect it to again be electrifying this afternoon — and we will respond to that. We’ve spoken about it in the dressing room and there’s no doubt that you are helping the players. If you can continue that right through the season then it can only be good for the team.
In fact the atmosphere against United here in the final game of last season made it feel like the start of a new era. There’s a good spirit around the camp, we know that we are playing decent football but what we must do is always realise that attractive football is one thing but it’s always got to be married up with success in the long term.
We can see that progression but there is a long way to go. There’s a lot of hard work to be done.
It’s a credit to all the players who have been playing in the last five games because we haven’t really had the depth in the squad to enable me to rest a few players or tactically change things because we’ve been down to what is a very minimised squad. And that is not really going to change over the next week or so. Maybe for
Tranmere it might be a little bit healthier with a couple coming back to bolster the squad. But we’ll have to be patient over the next couple of months as we wait for a return to full strength.
In closing, a big welcome to Dean Richards. He’ll need time like anyone else when they come to a new club but I’m sure Deano’s going to be a major asset to our defence and to our set plays because he does come up with goals. I worked with him at Southampton and I saw him
come on in leaps and bounds
over 15 months. If he can progress as well over the next 18 months then I’m sure that he can be pushing himself in and around the England squad.
It says a lot for the lad that’s he turned down a lot of money in his contract to come to the club and that shows massive commitment to be here. That’s refreshing in this day and age.