MANCHESTER UNITED 0-2 BURNLEY 22.1.2020

There are a lot of things to be annoyed about Manchester United in the last decade, and even though not being able to do the double over Burnley in six attempts is quite minor in the grand scheme of things, it’s still fucking annoying.

I’m beginning to see Will McKenzie’s point of view.

Ole is still at the wheel, but it’s a bumpy journey. United want to get 1st but need to take a detour to 4th. Chelsea keep slowing down to let them pull in, but they seem hesitant to put the speed on and go for it.

Chelsea’s latest fluff was a home draw against ten man Arsenal the night before, presenting United with an opportunity to reduce the gap on 4th place.

January had been mixed so far, and not an even balance.

The very first day of the month saw United become the first team to lose to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal.

Even though there was progress in the FA Cup via a replay against Wolves, there was a League Cup exit to Manchester City and defeat to Liverpool at Anfield. Sandwiched inbetween that was comprehensive 4-0 win over Norwich City.

I’ve travelled to midweek games in recent years as they’re easier to get to and cheaper in terms of hotel rooms, heading over Tuesday to Thursday. However, even midweek fixture lists are having games moved to Thursday night, I might not be able to do this if i’m going to be held to ransom by TV schedulers.

TV schedulers had their fun with this game, making it a 8.15pm kick-off. Yep, you read that right.

United started off well and their first chance came when Aaron Wan-Bissaka crossed for Anthony Martial, who sliced it with his left foot when he should have smashed it with his right foot.

Juan Mata was next to miss for United from a similar position when he also went with the wrong foot.

Wan-Bissaka was enjoying a lot of space down the right, and United weren’t slow in getting him on the ball at any opportunity they could.

United were given a reminder of why they had to take their chances when Chris Wood headed a free header wide from a few yards out. It was a major let-off for United.

Daniel James was next to be denied for United when his stretching header was saved by Nick Pope. It looked close on the TV, but it was a save that Pope should have been making.

Anthony Martial then had a big chance to give United the lead, but a heavy touch allowed a Burnley player to get in and make a tackle. All he had to do was take one touch to set himself up and then smash it into then net.

As the half neared it’s end, it was Burnley who took the lead when Chris Wood hooked home from close range after a long free-kick was flicked on. It was a poor goal to concede and against the run of play.

As United players gathered to restart the game, you could sense in the body language that United’s players didn’t believe they could get the two goals now required to win the game.

Even at this early stage, it was clear that this game was calling out for Mason Greenwood. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw that, and brought him on at half-time.

After a brief flurry at the start of the second-half from United, it was Burnley who got the next goal from a first time effort from Jay Rodriguez.

As with a lot of goals United have conceded in recent years, there were a lot of questions to be asked, even if it did look spectacular when you saw the TV footage.

First, it cam from a throw to United, two headers lost and Burnley were in on goal. Maguire beaten first to the ball when he should be winning it and De Gea being beaten too easily at his near post.

There was a late flurry of pressure from United, but it became clear that United were a team in need of inspiration, but a team without inspirers.

Most often an attack was ended by Nemanja Matic or Fred being unable to use their right foot. Both are good at what they do, but what they do isn’t what United need.

That late flurry brought about two incidents that were a match going first for me, VAR calls in the flesh.

One was for a possible red card for a Burnley player who had been booked, and a check to see if a United goal would stand. Neither decision went in United’s favour.

My own experience was that it was very quick, and it was clear what was happening as an announcement was made over the Tannoy, although the announcement sounded automated.

The previous two seasons, United had come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. In last season’s match, it was two late goals that secured the point. It was not to be, as Burnley secured a 2-0 win.

It was a result that left United 5th in the Premier League, allowing Chelsea to extend their gap in 4th, and allow Tottenham Hotspur to pull closer and failing to take advantages of defeats for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United.

It was a match which highlighted United’s deficiencies over the past seven years.

As soon as Burnley went 1-0 up, it was clear which way this match was going to go.

United’s players have a weak mentality and don’t know how to respond to adversity. When they fall behind, more often than not, they don’t know how to respond. Games against Watford, Arsenal, Bournemouth and West Ham are examples of that.

Even the League Cup game against Manchester City saw 0-1 escalated to 0-3 very quickly, which ultimately cost them, regaining their composure far to late, rendering the result at the City Of Manchester Stadium nothing more than heroic failure.

And when they do, such as games against Sheffield United and Aston Villa, they threw away the initiative immediately. They haven’t got the ability to close games out and always give teams a hope.

Also weak in mentality in terms of going away from home to bottom half teams. It’s their biggest game of the season and you have to be up for the fight before you can play football.

Don’t tell me United still aren’t a big deal. If Solskjaer gets sacked, the papers will clear at least ten pages to cover it.

They also seem unfit and don’t seem capable of playing two games a week. You could see the result against Bournemouth coming a mile off after a run of away games. You could see the result against Arsenal coming, after a busy run of games over Christmas.

Even this match, United’s seventh in January, looked like it was one game too far.

If you want to challenge for trophies, especially this side of Christmas, you had better get used to Saturday-Wednesday.

It wasn’t just this game that United bemoaned missed opportunities. It’s missed opportunities in general.

2016, missed opportunity to finish in the Top 4, shamefully allowing themselves to be intimidated by a West Ham side who had just lost 4-1 to Swansea.

2017, another missed opportunity to finish in the Top 4. It didn’t matter in terms of European qualification as United won the UEFA Cup. However, they could easily have finished 4th (dropped points to Everton, Swansea, West Brom and Southampton from April onwards) and killed Liverpool’s momentum. Typical of United in recent years, they didn’t know what they wanted to do. They could have finished 4th and won the UEFA Cup.

2019, 4th place was there but they threw it away.

Every summer has seen an opportunity to push forward missed by United.

2014, to prove the Moyes era was a blip.

2015, back in the European Cup, now to get back to winning titles.

2016, a lot of big clubs in a state of flux at the shock of Leicester winning the Premier League.

2017, three trophies in two years. Now to push for the big prizes.

2018, highest Leaguue position in five years. Now for the title.

2019, self explanatory.

The whole mentality of the club needs. From the day Sir Alex Ferguson retired, United have allowed themselves to be gaslighted. It should have been a case of business as usual. It started when David Moyes began complaining about a difficult run of opening games. He should have been saying it was a great opportunity to get points on the board and let rivals try to catch us.

The attitude of “Oh well, we had a good twenty years” needs to stop. Let’s have another good twenty years.

United beat every team in the League in 2017-2018 and allowed people to tell them they’re shite.

United beat PSG and Juventus away, and allowed people to tell them they’re shite.

It’s amazing what a bit of positivity can do. Liverpool scraped 4th, stuck a slogan on the side of a bus, and now everybody is afraid of them. The biggest grift job in history.

You’d think people would be careful about believing what they see on the side of a bus after the Summer of 2016.

The attitude of patting themselves on the back for pushing Liverpool and Manchester City all the way isn’t good enough and has to stop. Winning is all that matters.

No amount of Chicken Noodle sponsors will change that. If the decline continues, the Chicken Noodle sponsors will disappear. Chicken Noodle sponsors shouldn’t be dictating change. Results on the pitch should.

It’s true that United have missed key players through injury this season.

That should not be an excuse. That is why you have a squad.

Roy Keane missed most of 1997-1998 and United lost the title by a point. Nemanja Vidic missed half of 2011-2012 and United missed the title on goal difference.

Players get injured, you get on with it.

One of the few highlights of this season has been the emergence of young talent such as Brandon Williams, Mason Greenwood and Scott McTominay.

McTominay is a proper nasty wee shite. The day he gets his first red card, he’ll have a reputation. We should savour these days.

United have finally got themselves into gear, sort of, this Transfer Window, but why has it taken until the last week? They had three months to prepare themselves.

In is Bruno Fernandes, the greatest player ever or an overrated fraud, if you’re one of the millions of Twitter users who watch Portugese Football on Freesports.

Odion Ighalo is a stopgap, but United should have already had the squad in place to cope with Marcus Rashford getting injured, instead of dipping into the loan market.

Next for me in football trips, I might be going to the West Ham game in May.

I’ll definitely be staying in Bray for the Euro 2020 Last 16 game in Dublin in late June. There are League Of Ireland games on the Monday night so i’ll take in one of them.

There was a revised League Of Ireland First Division fixture list, but there’s no home game for Bray that night.

I’m still looking to go away over the July holidays. Tallinn is a hope but looking unlikely. I might go to Waterford that weekend. Waterford are at home on the Friday, but there’ll be other stuff i’ll be doing as well.

I’ve got a random urge to do a Newcastle/York double header towards the end of the year. Not for football, but for exploring somewhere I haven’t been to for a while. Oh course, as soon as I even consider visiting York, they get an outbreak of Coronavirus.

Wherever I go for my next football trip, hopefully the action on the field (I actually enjoyed my visit to Manchester otherwise) on the field is a lot better.

Photo Album

Manchester United v Burnley 2019

2019 IN PICTURES – JANUARY

2019 began for me with a trip to the seaside on the very first day of the year, to Clandeboye Park to see Linfield take on Ards as they aimed for three points in the title race.

Eleven days later, was my first trip of the year to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Warrenpoint Town.

That was then followed a week later by a trip to Seaview to see Linfield beat Crusaders.

A month that was mostly spent watching football saw me return to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Glentoran in a televised game.

The next day, I headed to Manchester. Guess what? It was for a football match, as Manchester United took on Burnley.

While I was there, I got photos of Street Art in Manchester and Salford Quays, while I also snuck in a day trip to Sheffield, where I got more Street Art photos.

While I was in Manchester, it snowed, so I got some photos of that, including snow outside Old Trafford.

Ards v Linfield

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Burnley

Manchester United v Burnley Photo Album

Manchester Snow

Manchester Snow Photo Album

Sheffield Street Art

Sheffield Street Art Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : JANUARY

Fifteen hours into 2019, and it was a short trip to the Seaside to see Linfield beat Ards.

More wins came in the month, with Warrenpoint Town, Crusaders and Glentoran all taken care of.

The month ended with a trip to Old Trafford. Unfortunately, the one United match I went to didn’t result in a win, but a draw against Burnley, though I did manage to get some photos of Old Trafford in the snow the next morning.

Ards v Linfield

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Manchester United v Burnley

Manchester United v Burnley Photo Album

MANCHESTER UNITED 2-2 BURNLEY 29.1.2019

It had been two months since my last visit to Old Trafford and, at first glance, it didn’t appear like much had changed. There’s still a grey haired chap in the home dugout, but he looks a lot different these days.

Of course, it’s all about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red And White Army these days, with eight wins out of eight going into this game. With each win, I was starting to worry that the first match I go to under his reign would be the first United don’t win, making me feel like a scud.

His reign began with a game against Cardiff City, and will end against the same opposition in May, unless United reach the European Cup Final or the FA Cup Final.

I’m planning on going to that game against Cardiff meaning that this could be the first of two United games i’ll see with Solskjaer as Manager, or the first of many. We shall see.

This wouldn’t be my first time seeing Burnley in the flesh, having seen them play Linfield in a friendly in the Summer of 1997, which I think Burnley won 2-1, with Fast Show legend Chris Waddle being their manager.

Back then, Burnley were over two decades outside of the top flight and barring one season in 1994-1995, were bouncing around the Third and Fourth Tiers for the previous decade.

There are those not much younger than me who only know Burnley as a team of the Top Two divisions of English football having been planted there since winning promotion to what is now The Championship in 2000.

They are currently battling to avoid relegation and secure four seasons of top flight football, to avoid the same fate that fell Ipswich Town in 2002 when they were relegated a year after reaching the UEFA Cup.

Nine successive wins wasn’t the only piece of history United were looking for, they were looking to do the double over Burnley in the Premier League at the fifth attempt. Having finally won a League match at Turf Moor in 2017, the first of three successive wins there, that has been negated by Burnley coming away with a draw in their previous two matches at Old Trafford.

There was a hailstorm in the opening minute at Old Trafford, a few minutes later Marcus Rashford looked certain to put United 1-0 up when he was played through but he toepoked wide when a side foot finish would have put the ball in the back of the net.

It might have been because they were attacking where their fans were based, but Burnley felt confident when they went forward, though all they threw at Untied was a flurry of corners and a shot from Chris Wood.

United had pressure on Burnley’s defence, with a shot from Luke Shaw looping over and a shot from Juan Mata going just wide.

0-0 at half-time but no need to panic, United just needed to step it up.

They certainly did need to step it up when Burnley took the lead on 51 minutes when Ashley Barnes put Burnley 1-0 up after United lost possession in their own defensive third, the first time that United had fallen behind under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The response was to bring Jesse Lingard on from the bench.

Marcus Rashford had a long range shot saved by Tom Heaton saved by Tom Heaton. Every time a cross came into the box, it was always a Burnley head getting in the way, and it always seemed to be a Burnley foot getting to the second ball.

Heaton then made a one hand save to deny Romelu Lukaku from close range. And when United had a shot wide for a goal kick, Heaton would take Elliott Morris amount of time with the goal kick. Spoiler alert – It bit them in the arse later in the game.

Old Trafford was soon stunned as a cross came in and Chris Wood headed home from close range to make it 2-0. With ten minutes to go, and the way the game had gone, it looked like there was no way back for United.

It looked like they were going to get an opportunity to get back into the game with a penalty, as it looked like it had been awarded, but it was a free-kick on the edge of the box, which came to nothing.

On 87 minutes, United did get a penalty for a foul on Jesse Lingard, which Paul Pogba made no mistake to make it 2-1. It was suddenly game on.

With five minutes of injury time to be added on, there was still more than enough time for United to equalise, or possibly even go on and win it.

The pressure continued from United, but Tom Heaton continued to deny them, saving a shot from Paul Pogba, before a goal line save in injury time from Alexis Sanchez looked to have won the game for Burnley, only for the ball to fall for Victor Lindelof to score his first goal for United to make it 2-2.

And still there was time to win the game.

The pressure continued but Burnley were able to hold on for a point. Not an ideal result for United, but it’s better than a defeat.

Even though Arsenal won to go two points ahead of them, Chelsea lost to Bournemouth the following night, meaning that even though United dropped two points, they actually finished the Matchweek a point closer to 4th.

It’s great to have the United of old back. The worst thing that has happened over the last five years is that we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that others are better than us. There’s a serious danger that Liverpool will win the League teams are scared of them. Shamefully, United were one of those teams in December.

Onwards and upwards. Hopefully, by the time i’m next at Old Trafford on the last day of the season, a Top 4 finish will be secured and we’ll have two cup finals to look forward to.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : NORTHERN IRELAND FOOTBALL – SPRING 2007

Dean Shiels is the cover star of Northern Ireland Football, as he has made a comeback after having an eye removed in early 2006.

In news, Mark Clyde of Wolves and Northern Ireland has had to announce his retirement at the age of 24 due to a succession of injuries.

At Burnley, Michael Duff and Kyle Lafferty have signed new deals that will keep them at the club until 2010.

Dean Shiels gets a full page interview, having made a comeback for both club and country, looking forward to a Scottish League Cup Final for Hibs against Kilmarnock.

Alan Shearer was recently in Belfast to present awards to Glenn Ferguson, Peter Thompson and Darren Kelly on behalf of Umbro.

Darren Murphy spills the beans on his Ballymena United team-mates, revealing that Mark Picking has the worst taste in music.

David Jeffrey gets a two page profile as he celebrates ten years as manager of Linfield.

The 2007 edition of the Setanta Cup has just kicked off, and a full page feature looks at the success of the competition so far.

Grant McCann gets profiled, as he hopes to get game time in Northern Ireland’s upcoming European Championship Qualifiers against Leichtenstein and Sweden.

The recent friendly against Wales, a 0-0 draw at Windsor Park, gets a full page picture special.

Meanwhile, the Irish Cup has announced a new sponsor, JJB Sports.

Northern Ireland’s Women are also in European Qualifying action, kicking off with an away game against England in May 2007.

Cliftonville get a double page profile, having just won the County Antrim Shield.

Across Belfast, there is a feature of Peter Thompson, Michael Gault and Paul McAreavey, who are settling into life as full-time professionals based in the Irish League, as they adjust to no longer having to combine playing with a full-time job.

McAreavey was selected for an Irish League Select XI who defeated the English Conference 3-1 at Mourneview Park.

Colin Murray and Neil Lennon were recently in Belfast to present the Football For All Awards.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 15.9.1979

The 1970s are almost over, but the focus is already on the first international tournament of the 1980s, Euro 80 in Italy, as Kevin Keegan, in action for England against Denmark, is the cover star of Shoot, ahead of the return qualifier between the two at Wembley.

England manager Ron Greenwood vows his side will attack Denmark, complimenting the Danes as England’s main rivals for qualification (only the group winners went to Italy), a point echoed by Northern Ireland manager Danny Blanchflower, whose side were also in the group.

Trevor Brooking was also wary of Denmark, stating that “Denmark’s breaks and power shooting a worry”

Newly appointed Denmark manager Sepp Piontek is interviewed for the game, stating that Denmark are aiming to use these qualifiers to boost their ranking for the 1982 World Cup Qualifiers, stating that Kevin Keegan was “World Class”, that he had a lot of knowledge of the England team, especially the two West Germany based players, Kevin Keegan and David Watson.

England won the match 1-0 and qualified for Euro 1980, going out in the group stage, while Denmark finished bottom of their qualifying group.

Denmark would have their revenge four years later when they would qualify for Euro 84 at the expense of England.

England were the only home nation in competitive action as Scotland and Wales had friendlies.

Scotland faced Peru, a side who had beaten them 3-1 in the previous year’s World Cup. Teofilio Cubillas, Peru’s talisman predicts a win for Scotland, as Peru had declined since the previous summer. Cubillas wasn’t able to confirm if he would be appearing at Hampden Park due to commitments with his club Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Wales were in action in a friendly against Republic Of Ireland at Vetch Field, only the second meeting between the two sides, with Wales buoyed by Robbie James and Peter Nicholas scoring their first international goals that summer. Wales won the game 2-1.

Viv Anderson, now a columnist for Shoot, talks about the secret of Nottingham Forest’s success, having just been crowned European Champions. The secret, was Brian Clough’s man management. We probably knew that anyway.

In ads, there is an advert for a new football magazine called Top Soccer, with the headline “At last! Super NEW mag for young soccer fans” with Kevin Keegan on the cover of the first edition.

There is literally nothing about this magazine online, but i’d presume it was an IPC publication, seeing as it had been given an advertising platform in Shoot.

There was a free pull-out in this edition of Shoot, part of a series called “The Captains”, profiling captains of clubs in England and Scotland.

In letters, Ray Wilkins recent transfer to Manchester United has divided opinion, with Joseph Stanger wishing him good luck at Old Trafford, while David Ash from Catford expresses his disappointment that he didn’t stay to help Chelsea get promoted to Division One, pointing out that Trevor Brooking’s England career hasn’t suffered as a result of playing in the Second Tier.

Gregory Watts from Winkworth wants football matches extended to 120 minutes, while William Cook from Hoylake bemoans the fact that Liverpool have had their shirts sponsored by Hitachi.

Shoot give a double page spread to Rodney March’s retirement and the uncertainty as to where George Best’s next club will be.

Brighton, newly promoted to Division One get a club profile, where club Chairman Mike Bamber is dreaming of European football coming to Sussex.

Despite having made improvements to the Goldstone Ground, Bamber is planning to move the club away from the Goldstone Ground to a new stadium at a site in Waterhall at an estimated cost of £7m

It took 32 years for Brighton to get a new stadium, in Falmer, after a spell at an athletics stadium in Withdean, and a 2 year exile in Gillingham.

In international news, Shoot catches up with Lawrie Cunningham, recently signed for Real Madrid who face Valencia in their opening game. It was Valencia who face West Bromwich Albion in Europe the previous season , where Cunningham caught the eye of Real Madrid.

Meanwhile in Brazil, Garrincha has recently had a spell in hospital with health problems.

In Hertfordshire, Graham Taylor is trying to manage expectations of Watford, newly promoted to Division Two, after successive promotions, and the presence of a pop star chairman, in the shape of Elton John.

Panini took out an advert to announce that Football 1980 stickers would be given away by Shoot in January.

Danny McGrain writes that Celtic are going into the unknown ahead of their European Cup tie against Tirana. McGrain also argues that managers should have a transfer fee, following a rejected approach by Athletic Bilbao for Ipswich manager Bobby Robson.

On the back cover, was a team photo of Burnley.