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Man United 2-1 Man City: Things To Ponder

Photo by jontintinjordan

Wayne Rooney did score a remarkable goal on Saturday, that overhead kick which in his own words, “usually goes over the bar”. It made the score 2-1 and there were no more goals in this local derby. The win by Man United confirms them as most likely to win the English Premier League this season. But Wayne Rooney as ‘man of the match’ for this once-in-a-career kind-of-goal was unfair on others.

The way that Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling, the two Man United centre-halves, stifled danger in the box was vitally important to the result. For once Carlos Tevez did not look likely to score. The goal Man City scored was a fluke. But Rooney is an expensive star and there seems to be an irresistible force willing his confidence and therefore his goals to reappear. Where does this force come from? The media’s pressure to hype and to please us with heroes? The 75,000 spectators at Old Trafford and the world-wide fan base of Man United? His wages?

Some questions to ponder:

  • Why are the players allowed to break the rules at kick-off? Starting the match, Rooney tapped the ball forward to Nani who was standing in the opponent’s half. I know everybody does it, and it is probably neater to get things going like this. but it is against the rules. At the moment of kick-off the players should be in their own half of the field.
  • Gareth Barry (Man City) and Nani (Man U) wrestle their way to the goal-line simultaneously trying to preserve a likely goal-kick/force a corner. The referee or anyone else cannot pick out one of the pair as the instigator of the pushing and shoving. In any case awarding a free kick would delay the progress of the match.

There is another nonsense… taking the ball to the corner of the pitch and trying to hold possession there to play out time. Both of these recurring moments of boredom are ugly and unworthy of a game which can supply dazzling moments like Rooney’s goal. If the players cannot find an answer then there may have to be a rule implicitly insisting on playing, not delaying. A free-kick to the attacking team – the team in whose half the play is not taking place – might be necessary. It would be taken from the site of the delaying, of course. Avoiding this ‘punishment’ might smarten up the play. What does anyone else think?

  • In Saturday’s match, Edin Dzeko of Man City connected with a cross from Shaun Wright-Phillips about 10 yards out from the middle of the goal in a melee of players. The ‘shot’ hit Silva on the back and went off in a completely different direction to enter the goal. Silva was credited with scoring. Not his fault, but the goal should have been credited to ‘Stan’. We need a new name on the scoresheets of football games, and this name can feature for any team at all. The name is Happenstance. You can call him ‘Stan’ for short.

Visit Vernon’s blog at

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  1. Vernon Hall

    February 16, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Berbatov liked the piece. He said that forever running into the corners got his kit dirty.

  2. Jon

    February 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Vernon, are you really Sepp Blatter in disguise?

  3. Vernon Hall

    February 15, 2011 at 7:33 am

    In the piece at the head of this section I was trying to show that in all matches there are periods of play that could be improved or even removed. In particular, taking the ball towards the corner flag, and pushing and shoving to save or earn a corner. In a high profile match as in all matches these episodes happen. The match chosen had already been reported on everywhere, as I recall the Gaffer pointed out, and so I used it to illustrate these points of recurring poor quality.

    There is a remedy for other unsatisfactory periods of play such as time-wasting at free-kicks, goal kicks, and throw-ins in the time added on, although it does not seem to compensate fully.

    Huge resources in training, finance, television, etc go into each 90 minutes. So every minute is particularly important for maximum return and for the enjoyment by players and spectators. But in fact EPL games now provide such great entertainment that maybe improvement can only be found in the less considered moments.

    • Roger

      February 15, 2011 at 7:54 am

      Delaying the restart of a match is a yellow card, which does carry some weight.

      If you were to chose something that could be changed, I would have liked you to focus on the mayhem in the area during corners. Truly, that has gone too far, and too much is allowed during the taking of corners. Defenders and attackers are doing too much clutching and grabbing, but I think becasue each side is about equal in the fouling department, the powers have decided that it evens itself out.

      But, again, there is nothing wrong with defending and shielding the ball legally. In fact, because the match is more like 12 rounds of boxing, by the end of it, your defnders are spent, your attackers have given their all, and you just want to crawl out with the points. So, taking it to the corner flag and not giving up the ball is perfect strategy. Playing 10 behind the ball is perfect strategy, and parking the bus is perfect strategy. It’s not your fault the opponent can’t muscle you off the ball.

      Pick something else to harp on. It certainly isn’t what you picked. If my team is winning in the 90th minute, I want my forward taking the ball to the flag, and let’s see if you can get it back up the field.

    • Dave C

      February 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

      Sorry, but the defence of the article is as nonsensical as the article itself.

      in all matches there are periods of play that could be improved or even removed.
      This is what highlight shows are for. Don’t watch a whole live game and then complain that not every moment is goal-mouth action. Sometimes people play it in the corner, sometimes defenders kick the ball out for a throw-in, sometimes people pass back to the goalie, sometimes wingers cut back and pass back to their full back. Just because they’re not directly going for goal all the time doesn’t mean any part of the game can be “removed”. If you don’t want to watch this stuff, watch the highlight reel.

      If you’re talking about actual time wasting (such as taking forever to line up a goal kick, or drying your hands on a towel for a minute before each throw-in), then fair enough. But playing down the clock in the corner is another matter entirely.

      recurring poor quality
      Keeping the ball in the corner is not “poor quality” play – it’s just a legitimate tactic that you don’t like. Misplaced passes and clumsy first touches are poor quality, not playing smart.

      Seriously, I think things should be done to counter the genuine time-wasting mentioned above – personally I would like to see the game clock stopped each time the ball went out of play. But to complain about running down the clock by maintaining posession on the field is like complaining about a boxer winning rounds with his jab instead of going for a knockout.

      • Red20

        February 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm

        Personally I’m in favor of surrounding the field with bumpers like a 9 yr old’s birthday party at a bowling alley. That way we could get rid of all those pesky balls going out of bounds.

        • Dave C

          February 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm

          I say that we should construct a field in such a way that it slopes downwards from the sidelines to form a deep valley running from one goal to the other. That way, it would be harder to hog the ball in the corner of the field, because it would naturally roll down to the area in front of the goal.

  4. Ollie

    February 14, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I love this site usually but this article is complete nonsense and a waste of time.

    It started off looking like you were going to talk about Rooney getting MOTM ahead of more worthy Smalling and Vidic then regressed into this boring whinge session on inconsequential things that slightly annoy people.

    You’ve wasted a lot of peoples time with this rubbish.


  5. Nick

    February 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Terrible article, one of the worst I’ve seenin awhile

  6. Red20

    February 14, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I just started watching the Chelsea/Fulham game and before the first kick off, both Chelsea forwards clearly had feet over the line.

    Needless to say, I turned the tv right off. I won’t watch this lawless nonsense.

    • Troy

      February 14, 2011 at 3:33 pm

      simply brilliant

    • Dave C

      February 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm

      Ha, like it.

  7. Chris Bagley

    February 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    “why is that kid on the escalator again”, “and why is this article still on the website”

    take it down, i just talked to Johnny Glenn in London even he doesnt like it

    • The Gaffer

      February 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm

      Who’s Johnny Glenn??

      The Gaffer

      • Jon

        February 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm

        you dont ask “Who is Johnny Glenn?”

        you ask what is a Johnny Glenn, a JG is not a man, its a myth

    • Aaron

      February 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      “I hope his pants get caught and a bloodbath ensues!”

  8. Tony

    February 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I had the exact same thoughts as most of the others when reading this, pointless and rather uneducated (in a soccer way).

    BTW: I can’t abide the podcast (sorry, but try listening to Chappers Podcast or The Game or Football Ramble for the right way to do a podcast) so to point us there for detailed analysis of the game is very disappointing.

    • The Gaffer

      February 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      Tony, different strokes for different folks. I used to like The Game podcast but it’s not as strong as it used to be. The Chappers Podcast is painful to listen to, for me. Football Ramble is good but for me it’s too many laughs and not enough content. Personally I think Richard, Kartik and Laurence find a right balance.

      The Gaffer

      • Tony

        February 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm

        But the difference is that you’re wrong LOL 🙂

  9. King Eric

    February 14, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    just wasted a minute of my life that i’ll never get back reading this garbage. pointless article referring to meaningless parts of the game that had no impact in the end result. of course rooney will be given man of the match after scoring a game winner like that – it happens maybe once a decade if we’re lucky. regarding the kick-off, just plain pointless – it’s a few steps, who cares? the ref won’t want to piss players off from the get-go for being so anal over something like that which makes no difference whatsoever in the match. plus it makes him look like a fool if he does call for a re-start – simply annoying. this isn’t U-9’s here where they’re trying to teach little rules. as far as taking the ball to the corner to waste time goes, have you ever played in your life? it’s part of the game and the ball is in play. it’s called defend better and get the ball back. if someone is skilled/strong enough to hold a ball long enough to run out time while fending off three defenders, then kudos to him.

    you’re probably the same type who gets angry for tiger woods spitting on the green. it’s people like you who make remarks like these that makes it so annoying to go out to a public place to watch football matches here in the states – having to listen to garbage for 90 mins. on top of alexi lalas who already does that enough for us, thanks.

  10. Dave C

    February 14, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Yeah bit of an odd article.
    1. Re: standing in the wrong half of the field at kick-off.
    I’ve never really noticed this – I thought they generally had one foot on the half-way line? Either way, the referee is allowed to use some discretion on this – it hardly has an impact on the game in anyway.

    2. The thing about Barry/Nani shepherding the ball out of play…I’m not even sure what point you’re trying to make. You’re allowed to shield the ball, as long as you’re within playing distance of it. If Nani commits a foul whilst trying to prevent Barry from shielding it out for a goal-kick, the referee could give a free-kick, but probably would rather just use his common sense and play the advantage (i.e. giving a goal kick instead) if possible.

    The thing about teams “wasting time” in the corner is just ridiculous. You can keep posession of the ball anywhere you want. Whether that be in the corner, or passing between your back four and the goalie or whatever, it’s your perogative. Trying to penalize it is like saying we should penalize Spain for passing too much.

    Also, you’re proposed solution to this “problem” doesn’t really make sense. A free-kick to the “attacking” team (“the team in whose half the play is not taking place”) would only exarcerbate the situation. So if Man Utd are winning, and running down the clock in the corner of Man City’s half, you would give a free kick to Man Utd??

  11. Roger Domal

    February 14, 2011 at 9:40 am

    In order….

    1. Kickoff positioning. at the u14 level maybe, but anywhere else it’s trifling. Get the game moving.

    2. The goal kick/corner….totally legal. Nothing wrong with it. Sheparding it out for a GK is the way to play it as a central defender, and giving it your all is the way to play it by Barry.

    3. Your kidding about taking it to the corner flag, right? What part of the field would you like to be not part of the field? And how about City doing something in the other 88 minutes so that United wouldn’t be taking it to the flag?

    And the other posters are right. Take the post down. It’s embarrassing.


    • The Gaffer

      February 14, 2011 at 9:50 am

      Roger, sorry, but just because you don’t agree with the points is not a reason for me to take it down. It may not be the best post written about the Manchester derby.

      The Gaffer

      • roger domal

        February 14, 2011 at 10:50 am


        It’s not that I don’t agree with your points, I think the argument is juvenile. Arguing about blocking off an attacker to enable a goal kick? Arguing about positioning on a kickoff? Taking the ball to the corner flag at the end of a match is not time wasting. It is legal and above board. time wasting is taking 45 seconds to set up a goal kick or walking slwoly to the ball to throw it in. The real problem is the opponent not doing enough in the other 89 minutes to prevent the time wasting tactics.

        Also, if it is your lead article after the Derby, it really should be about the game.

        • King Eric

          February 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm

          +1, his name vernon says it all.

      • King Eric

        February 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm

        with all due respect, that’s a huge understatement gaffer. after such a compelling match and a moment of brilliance, who chooses these kinds of miniscule points to discuss of all things? pure rubbish. if it were otherwise there wouldn’t be so many people like myself taking the time to point it out over and over again. i understand you wanting to support and not discourage, but there comes a point…

        • The Gaffer

          February 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm

          I’m not saying the article is a work of art, but I don’t think it’s as bad as some people say. Richard, Kartik and Laurence covered the Manchester derby in detail on the podcast, so there’s not much more that we can say in article format at this time.

          The Gaffer

          • King Eric

            February 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm

            exactly, not much else to say so pointless to post it haha. just delete for the sake of this site’s credibility, which is normally very good. we’re trying to do you a favor here 🙂

  12. Aaron

    February 14, 2011 at 9:26 am

    I don’t typically post comments about the quality of an article but this is simply the worst article I’ve ever read on EPL Talk. The questions are neither compelling nor interesting. If humor was intended it truly is not coming through. What’s the point?

    • The Gaffer

      February 14, 2011 at 9:35 am

      Aaron, I disagree. The writer Vernon had some interesting points to share regarding the match. It was not intended to be the end-all be-all review of the match.

      The Gaffer

  13. Jon

    February 14, 2011 at 8:47 am

    just delete this article, perhaps the worst Ive ever seen posted. you risk visitors not returning if such amateurish views are presented on this website. People come here because they think and expect they will get educated views on the game.. This is a Sunday league post at best.

    • The Gaffer

      February 14, 2011 at 8:59 am

      Jon, why?

      The Gaffer

      • Jon

        February 14, 2011 at 5:02 pm

        because it worthy of a sending off.

        Red card for the author, and yellow card for you for descent.

      • Ollie

        February 14, 2011 at 6:43 pm

        Because it’s a complete and utter embarrassment to this website.

        It’s content is weak and uninteresting, it’s written in the style fitting a 13 year old and to be honest, the heading and picture are completely misleading.

  14. Earl Reed

    February 14, 2011 at 8:26 am

    What? You expect Man Utd not to take the ball to the corner to waste time?

    I mean, if SAF and Sam Allardyce swapped places, you’d barely know the difference.

    The difference being, SAF has been allowed to spend all the money in the past he’s pissing and moaning about Manchester City, Liverpool, and Tottenham spending. Give Sam Allardyce Nani, Rooney, and the rest, and he’d have a Sir in front of his name too. Stodgy football.

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