Manchester United 1-1 Birmingham City: Champions Fail To Capitalize On Arsenal Draw


A week after Manchester United’s shock FA Cup exit, Sir Alex Ferguson fielded a side with immense respect for Birmingham City’s Alex McCleish at St. Andrews. A match that was 1 of only 2 to survive the inclement weather on Saturday saw a 4-5-1 with Wayne Rooney in a lone striker role supported by Ji-sung Park and Antonio Valencia on the wings. Ferguson’s five man midfield attempted to dominate the flow of play and supply Rooney up front. With the fantastic form Birmingham City has been on as of late, McCleish’s squad seem to pick themselves. Cameron Jerome and Christian Benitez led a subdued attack for Birmingham City.

Joe Hart was again superb in goal for the Blues, he denied Rooney the break through after 24 minutes when Rooney latched on to a Valencia cross, the two Englishmen found themselves mano-a-mano with Hart winning out.

It took some time for the match to get going as both sides attempted to dominate the play in midfield with only Manchester United creating the odd chance on goal. Birmingham City defended well but showed little in attack in the first half. McCleish’s game plan was obvious: keep it tight and close in the first half, counter when applicable. It worked.

The breakthrough came against the run of play when Cameron Jerome tapped in from a few yards out. Manchester United were unable to clear a corner from James McFadden and when the ball ping-ponged off Johnny Evans, Jerome took his chance. The Blues had their lead albeit, based on the balance of play, undeserved. There wasn’t enough up front for United in the first half to create viable and consistent chances. Ferguson would have to partner someone up front to support Rooney in the second half if the champions were to win. With Dimitar Berbatov not even on the bench, Michael Owen or Ryan Giggs would be the obvious choice.

United’s defense looked shaky in the opening moments of the second half, the champions would have conceded a second had it not been for a fine save from Tomasz Kuszczak who was superb in goal all day for United. Birmingham City looked happy to sit back on their one goal lead and keep the play compact and organized.

In a moment of controversy, United drew level when Birmingham City defender Scott Dann bundled the ball into his own goal. After replays, it looks like Rooney was in an offside position but to no matter. Because a Manchester United player didn’t touch the ball, the goal stood. Referee Mark Clattenburg discussed with his linesman and got the call correct.

After Ji-sung Park made way for Ryan Giggs, the sparky Christian Benitez challenged Kuszczak in goal only to be denied by another fine save from the Polish keeper. Birmingham City were looking increasingly dangerous on the counter. The match looked set for a winner in the last 15 minutes, only question is, from who?

Paul Scholes came close with a trademark blast before making way for United debutant Mame Biram Diouf, who United have high hopes for. Soon after, Darren Fletcher who had yet again been solid for United saw his second yellow, a cheap leg out on goal scorer Jerome, and United were down to 10 men. In all honesty, Birmingham City were the side most likely to claim a winner, they fought hard and created chances while United’s attack continued to not impress. After 6 minutes of added time, Birmingham remained undefeated in 12 Premier League games, while United claimed their first away draw of the season.

Manchester United will lament not being able to take advantage of Arsenal’s draw earlier in the day and if Chelsea win their next match, they’ll have the chance to go 4 points clear of the current champions. Overall it was a hard fought game and deserved to finish equal.

13 thoughts on “Manchester United 1-1 Birmingham City: Champions Fail To Capitalize On Arsenal Draw”

  1. Two points dropped for Utd or ARSEnal? Rather they were lucky to EARN one point – they didn’t look any bit like winners. The best joke is MANC team cant even fit a specific 31m striker on the bench – yes, we’re talking about BERBAFLOP! I’m loving every minute of MANC’s demise, especially that mercenary BERBAFLOP’s inability to even make MANC’s team.

  2. A very frustrating performance by Birmingham. Both Jerome and Benitez has plenty of chances for that perfect pass or for that shot into the corner of the net, but other than Jerome’s goal, they came agonizingly close to winning this game.

    The Gaffer

  3. When will people FINALLY respect Birmingham?

    If anything they have been terribly unlucky this season, losing a late draw at Spurs on a freak giveaway by Carr, being cheated out of two additional points at Anfield on N’Gog’s dive, being denied victory vs Chelsea when Benetiz’s legit goal was called offsides, and a missed PK against Man City that could have given the Blues all three points.

    1. “When will people FINALLY respect Birmingham?”

      Hey, I’ve got Hart, Johnson & Benitez on my fantasy team. Now that’s respect! :-)

    2. They are hard to watch Kartik but the results are coming – i still think someone could go out and spank them at some point but over all they defend doggedly and then tend to get that bit of luck. Chelsea, Liverpool and perhaps United all should have beat them in the 3 games I saw but Birmingham hung in there and created the odd chance – they do tend to take a lot of their chances (today aside).
      I wouldnt necessarily want to pay to see Brum every week as they play so defensively – be interesting to see if they spend on anyone who can make them more offensive.

  4. birmingham the midlands version of wimbledon most teams are a reflection of
    their managers .mcleishis a rough tough scotsman who does not take any
    messing about from anyone

  5. Fletcher is a scumbag – runs around the pitch the whole time slapping and hacking at players, mouths off to the referee and then makes a big scene about why he gets carded/sent off.

    1. If referees did their job then perhaps they would earn Fletcher’s respect. Remember 04/09 Champions League semi-final (wrongly red-carded against Arseanal), 11/09 PL against Chelsea (wrongly conceded a free kick leading to defeat), and 12/09 CL group stage against CSKA Moskow (wrongly booked for diving when he was clearly fouled in the box).
      Respect? My behind!

      1. Oh come on… every team at one point or another has a bad call go against them.. Ferguson sure as heck ain’t the only one.

        1. True, but one player being wronged so frequently (often with disastrous results) in such a short period of time is quite unusual.
          I cannot think of anyone else with this kind of bad luck, can you?

  6. Man utd has missed out yet another opportunity to overcome chelsea and top the table.
    Rooney played well, tough luck guys better luck next game

  7. I think the good news is with Diouf Manchester United have a replacement up front for injured strikers now.

    Rooney doesn’t play well up front alone he needs somebody to be partnered with and Berbatov has a nagging injury keeping him out of games. Ryan Giggs is played sparingly and Macheda has few games at his disposal at that level while Owen is not played very often so putting him into a big match for 90 minutes might be a bit much.

    1. Granted he didn’t get much time to show anything, we still have Macheda and Welbeck (should Fergie decide to play him in his rightful position), or perhaps even Owen as replacement strikers. None of the aforementioned three get anything bordering on consistent playing time (and one of them is always played out of position) to even assess their impact on the team.

      I was happy to see Diouf get a run out given that I’d heard so much about him and really didn’t know what to expect (didn’t expect too much to be honest) but in a game where we’re already playing like shit and trying to get the go-ahead goal, why not put in one of Macheda or Owen. Macheda hasn’t started a single Prem match this season if I remember correctly. Diouf couldn’t have, and clearly hasn’t, been coming along *that* nicely in practice to get in the game in front of Macheda and Owen. I’ll say that he didn’t show us shit in his limited play time and someone will say that he didn’t get a fair run-out. Unfortunately we won’t get the chance to see what else he can do for at least another couple months as he surely won’t be featuring in anymore games if Fergie’s record of playing a youngster once and then not even putting him on the bench for 10 straight games holds up.

      Oh, and for the guys up top Berbatov needs surgery so maybe that’s why he wasn’t on the bench today.

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