MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : TOTAL FOOTBALL – SUMMER 2004

Three models in the kits of England, Northern Ireland and Wales is the cover image of Total Football, with all three home nations in the same World Cup Qualifying Group starting in a few months.

In news, the Northern Ireland team have announced a kit supplier deal with Umbro, and a sponsorship deal with Nationwide.

There is a profile of new Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez and the impact he has already had in his first three games in charge.

There is a profile of Irish League referee Andi Regan, as she gets ready to head to Greece to officiate at the Olympic Games football tournament.

Having just made his debut for Southampton, Alan Blayney gets profiled where he reveals he had spent a period of time training with Glentoran the previous year after suffering from homesickness.

Another player leaving Glentoran for full-time football in England was Andy Smith, who had just signed for Preston North End, and he gets a full page profile.

The models in the cover make a reappearance as they review the new kits of both local and national sides.

Getting ready for a second season of top flight football, Ballymena United manager Kenny Shiels gets interviewed.

Over the page is an interview with Loughgall manager Jim Gardiner, as the club gets ready for their first season of top flight football.

In news, Linfield have announced a shirt sponsorship deal with Umbro to run alongside their kit supplier deal.

Linfield are one of three clubs, the others being Glentoran and Portadown, whose upcoming European ties get previewed in a double page feature.

There is a double page feature with new Cliftonville manager Liam Beckett as he gets to grips with the job at Solitude.

The magazine ends with a preview of the Milk Cup.

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2016-2017

So, the 2016-2017 season is over for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed my photographic look back at the season just gone.

I’ve selected some of my favourites, so feel free to vote for the one you like the best.

POLSKA

Taken back in June 2016 at Northern Ireland v Poland, I like the composition, how everyone is fixated on the action at the other end of the pitch, and the colour co-ordination of both sets of fans.



WILGAR

Taken at a pre-season game between Linfield and Dundela, it captures the joys of going to football matches in pre-season, sunshine and relaxation ahead of the hard slog ahead.



SEAVIEW

I like the framing of this, as the crowd is in position, awaiting kick-off in a big match.



CELEBRATION

Linfield fans celebrating Jimmy Callacher’s winner against Glentoran in October. I just like this for some reason other than the obvious.

PALMERSTON

There’s just something about the architecture of old football grounds that does it for me. This is out of use turnstiles at Palmerston Park, home of Queen of the South.

APPEAL

Linfield fans appeal in unison, all making the same hand gestures, for a goal to be allowed. The goal was disallowed for a foul.



ELF

Taken at the Steel and Sons Cup Final. Some people like getting dressed up for Christmas.

GAYNOR

I like the composition of this, from Ross Gaynor’s posture, to substitutes chatting to each other while the game goes on.

UNITED

I like the composition of this, all eyes fixated on the penalty area and the incoming corner.

SPOT THE BALL

I like the composition of this shot, it looks like a Spot The Ball image, except that the ball is in the shot, with two players getting ready for an aerial tussle.



COLERAINE

I love the framing and seeing players in the background running to join the celebrations.

WATERWORTH

Celebrations after Andrew Waterworth’s second goal against Cliftonville, capturing the joy of the event and the achievement just about to happen.

MANCHESTER UNITED 2-0 CRYSTAL PALACE 21.5.2017

The race for European Cup places went down to the last game. United weren’t involved but not in a good way, as they were locked in 6th, unable to go up or down.

Crystal Palace weren’t too unhappy about this game being a dead rubber, having been battling against relegation for most of the season, securing their safety with a win over Hull City last weekend.

It’s an occupational hazard of being a football fan that you can book a trip to a football match well in advance, anticipating it to be a big decider, only for it to be a dead rubber.

It was still better than when I went to United’s last League game of last season, at least I got a game this time.

Despite being locked in their position, this was a game United still had to win, purely for form and morale ahead of the UEFA Cup Final against Ajax. United went into this game on a run of one win in seven games. Not ideal going into a game of this magnitude. One win in eight, isn’t exactly great preparation either.

I’m disappointed that United surrendered a top four place in to concentrate on Europe, when both were achievable. A strong finish to the League season would have been perfect preparation for Stockholm.

A downturn in form going into a European final brought back memories of 1991 for United fans. That season saw a 3-0 defeat against Crystal Palace on the last weekend. Hopefully, that would not be repeated.

Jose Mourinho had stated in the build-up that there would be a much changed United team for this game. The only certainty was that Eric Bailly would be starting, due to his suspension for the UEFA Cup Final.

In the end, there were debuts for Demi Mitchell, Scott McTominay, Josh Harrop, and a first start for Joel Pereira.

In years to come, I might be able to say “I was there”, though my record of Untied debuts isn’t great – Marouane Fellaini and Victor Valdes. At least I can say I was there for Sam Allardyce’s last game as a manager.

For a lot of people, there would be quick Google searches to find out more information on these players. I know, minus Top Red points for not having an MUTV subscription and watching Reserve and Underage match. I should never be allowed in Old Trafford again.

The first chance of the game came when Wayne Rooney got in behind Palace’s defence, but his lob went just over the bar.

It was two of United’s debutants who were involved in most of their early attacks, Josh Harrop and Demetri Mitchell combining to good effect down the left.

It was down the left that United’s first goal came, Harrop being played in by Paul Pogba, getting into the penalty area, cutting back and then smashing it into the net with his right foot.

He wasn’t the first United young player to score on his debut. Hopefully, he’ll be more of a Paul Scholes or Marcus Rashford rather than a Federico Macheda or James Wilson.

A few minutes later, it was 2-0 when a pass came to Paul Pogba when it looked like it was going to be intercepted by a Palace defender, and Pogba made no mistake.

Pogba was playing to give him game time ahead of Stockholm, after missing recent matches due to a recent family bereavement.

It wasn’t a long appearance by Pogba, as he was subbed for Michael Carrick towards the end of the first-half, followed soon after by Jesse Lingard making way for Anthony Martial. The substitution denied Lingard the opportunity to score against Palace on 21st May for the second successive year, as this match fell on the first anniversary of the 2016 FA Cup Final.

Jose Mourinho wasn’t taking any chances. United certainly were. If they were this efficient in the previous 37 matches, a top four finish could have been secured a long time ago.

Palace’s attacks were easily nullified by United. The best they could offer was a Christian Benteke header which hit the post, denying him the opportunity to equal Darren Bent’s record of scoring at Old Trafford in three successive seasons for three different clubs.

Unsurprisingly, the second-half was typical end of season stuff as United won comfortably. The main talking point was the introduction from the bench of Angel Gomes, United’s youngest player since Duncan Edwards.

He was also United’s first player born in the 21st century.

It’s sad now that I can now remember the closest game to when a United player was born. In Gomes case, he was born during an international break. The closest match was a 2-2 draw against West Ham at Upton Park. I watched the game in a bar while on holiday in Spain. United threw away a 2-0 lead.

The final table saw United finish 6th. A win in the UEFA Cup Final will certainly retrieve the season.

It frustrates me that United surrendered 4th. Even though winning the UEFA Cup will bring the same result for United next season, they would be one of five English teams in the European Cup. Being one of four would have been much better. We could have really damaged a rival.

Ultimately, it was points dropped in drawn games at Old Trafford which cost United a top four finish. If United hadn’t thrown away leads against Stoke, Swansea, Arsenal and Bournemouth, they would have finished 4th.

Add in an extra two points from the numerous 0-0 draws to that, they would have finished 3rd. It could have made the final weeks of the season very relaxing and made it easier to balance Europe and League commitments.

This was my last match of the 2016-2017 season. The day after this match, United announced a friendly against Sampdoria in Dublin for August 2nd.

Frustratingly, it’s a midweek, so I’ll have to take a half day on the Wednesday and try and get some sleep before work on Thursday.

In terms of trips to Old Trafford, I’ll have to wait until the fixture list is confirmed on 14th June.

As much as I enjoyed doing a Thursday-Sunday double header last November, it’s not something I’d want to make an annual event.

I’m hoping there’s a midweek fixture list in December, like in 2016-2017, with United at home, and then possibly a European group match. Midweek games are handy due to lower hotel costs.

Elsewhere, the Irish League hasn’t stood still since I attended the Irish Cup Final just over two weeks ago.

Lots of ins and outs at Linfield. The signings of Robert Garrett, Jordan Stewart and Andrew Mitchell are all welcome additions to the squad. It was Linfield’s squad which won them the title last season, when you consider the impact of players such as Cameron Stewart and Alex Moore/Gareth Deane when covering for injured team-mates.

It was a squad which needed trimmed. The departures of Sammy Clingan,Michael McLellan and Kris Bright are of no surprise to anyone.

I would have kept Josh Carson, Roas Gaynor and Sean Ward, but I can understand if the players wanted to leave in order to get first-team football.

Jonny Frazer leaving was a bit of a shock. No disrespect to Ards, but I’m glad he hasn’t joined a top half team.

Linfield’s first pre-season friendly has been announced, a mid June trip to North Wales to take on Bala Town, only 90 minutes from Holyhead.

I’m holding out for Stena or Ulsterbus to do a bus/boat package. It’s the day after The 1975 concert at Ormeau Park, so I would be functioning on little sleep if I went.

The ridiculous notion of UEFA Cup Play-Offs produced a lot of goals, which means they are probably here to stay. I’m glad natural justice prevailed when Ballymena won it.

Having spoken about possibly going to see United in Dublin, I’m going to Dublin for two days in July, hoping to do the usual touristy stuff and catch some football. Shelbourne have a home match on one of the days I’m there. St Pat’s and Bray have home matches schedule, but they are dependent on their opponents being out of Europe by then.

It hasn’t been booked yet, but I’m hoping to go to Edinburgh in August. Hopefully, it’ll be on a weekend when Edinburgh City are at home. It’ll be a pleasant change from Hibs and Hearts.

Hopefully if I go to a European group match at Old Trafford next season, it’ll be in the European Cup instead of the UEFA Cup.

Photo Album

Manchester United v Crystal Palace September 2013

MANCHESTER STREET ART – MAY 2017

I was in Manchester last weekend to go to Old Trafford to see United take on Crystal Palace. As is usual when I visit Old Trafford, I took the opportunity to go into the city to check out Street Art.

The first port of call was the Northern Quarter, where the vast majority of Street Art in Manchester is based.

I took the opportunity to get photos of a piece of a Sloth with David Bowie’s trademark lightning bolt on it’s face.

The reason for this, was that it was painted over a mural of David Bowie which was painted last year after his death, a change which has polarised opinion in the city.

I also headed to Ancoats to get pictures of some pieces which were still a work in progress on my last visit to Manchester in February.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any photos of Salford Quays this time, but I did still manage to capture a lot of Street Art in Manchester.

Photo Album

Manchester Street Art February 2017

Manchester Street Art November 2016

Manchester Street Art May 2016

Manchester Street Art January 2016

Manchester Street Art November 2015

Manchester Street Art May 2015

Manchester Street Art November 2014

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : FEBRUARY

February’s football watching began for me at Old Trafford on the first day of the month, to see Manchester United held to a 0-0 draw by Hull City.

Three days later came the first in a trilogy of road trips, first to Drumahoe to see Linfield take on Institute, then to Ballymena to see Linfield win the County Antrim Shield, and then to Carrick to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed by a visit to Windsor Park to see Linfield held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Portadown.

The following day, I was Seaview bound to see Ballymena United take on Carrick Rangers in the NIFL Cup Final.

The football watching for the month ended with a trip to The Oval to see Linfield get a 1-0 win against Glentoran.

Manchester United v Hull City

Manchester United v Hull City Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

County Antrim Shield Final

County Antrim Shield Final Photo Album

Carrick Rangers v Linfield

Linfield v Portadown

NIFL Cup Final

NIFL Cup Final Photo Album

Glentoran v Linfield

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 20.10.1979

Allan Hunter and Mick Mills of Ipswich Town, dressed in their respective national kits, are the cover stars of this edition of Shoot. That can only mean one thing, England are playing Northern Ireland. It’s not a Home International game, but on a continent wide scale, a European Championsip Qualifier at Windsor Park.

Mills and Hunter get a joint interview in Shoot’s preview.

Shoot do a feature on soldiers in Belfast who’ll be guarding the England team.

The feature reveals that, despite a lot of them being football fanatics, they’re not allowed to attend Irish League games when in civilian clothes due to security fears.

As well as England and Northern Ireland, there are also previews of Republic Of Ireland, Wales and Scotland’s European Championship Qualifiers.

Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson expressed his frustration at a League Cup defeat away to Arbroath. Fortunately for them, a comfortable first leg win saw them go through.

As well as winning the European Cup on the field, Nottingham Forest were celebrating after being voted European Team Of The Year by France Football magazine.

Wolves get a profile by Shoot, with the headline “Wolves Are Biting Again”, and so it briefly proved, as they won the League Cup that season. The rest of the decade wasn’t as good for Wolves.

In Northern Ireland, Portadown defender Herbie Pearson fears his career could be over, while QPR saw off competition from Manchester United and Everton to sign Northern Ireland Schoolboy international Alan McDonald, while Bobby Carlisle has signed for Newry Town, who have ambitions of joining Northern Ireland’s top flight.

Gordon McQueen uses his column to describe Scotland’s European Championship Qualifier against Austria as “Win or bust”

The draw for the 1982 World Cup is coming up soon, and Shoot previews this and how it will be decided, as this is the first 24 team World Cup. Shoot writes that there is a possibility of two UK teams being paired together, and so it proved, when Scotland and Northern Ireland were paired in the same group.

In ads, Phil Neal is advertising Gola.

Derek Johnstone uses his column to deny he had a punch-up with Scotland manager Ally McLeod.

Meanwhile, teenage defender Tommy Caton is juggling playing for Manchester City with his studies. He is interviewed by Shoot and says he is yet to face his biggest footballing examination, a match against Joe Jordan.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WORLD SOCCER – JULY 2001

Rivaldo is the cover star of World Soccer, as the 2001 Copa America approaches. One international tournament that has already taken place, was the Confederations Cup, which was won by France, and gets a double page feature.

Sepp Blatter is under pressure following recent scandals, most notably players using false passports, and doping.

Didier Deschamps announced his retirement, and was immediately appointed manager of Monaco, while Owen Hargreaves got a two year extension on his Bayern Munich contract.

Pele, in his capacity as a columnist, suggests that you write Brazil off at your peril, ahead of the 2001 Cop America in Colombia. It turns out it would have been wise to write off Brazil, as they were eliminated in the Quarter-Finals by Honduras, 2-0.

They did manage to improve over the next twelve months to win the World Cup.

World Soccer gives a page to each team, previewing their chances in Colombia, apart from Brazil, who get two pages.

Roma’s Scudetto success gets a double page spread, while in Spain, Hector Cuper leaves Valencia on a low, missing out on the last Champions League place to Barcelona, and losing to Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final.

One of the club’s who qualified for the 2001-2002 Champions League, was Cuper’s former club Mallorca, who get a feature.

In Germany, the focus is on Bayern Munich’s signings of brothers Niko and Robert Kovac.

In England, the national side has been rejuvinated under new manager Sven Goran Eriksson, winning his first five games in charge. Sir Alex Ferguson has been given a pay rise ahead of his final season in charge before retirement, which he decided to delay for another eleven years.

In Northern Ireland, there is very little transfer activity, with Roy Hamill signing for Coleraine, while Linfield have released John Easton and Stephen Beatty.

Across the border, Roddy Collins has parted company with Bohemians after failing to show up for contract talks.

17 year old Arjen Robben is profiled, as the hottest prospect in Dutch football, having already agreed to sign for PSV Eindhoven in the summer of 2002.

Another promising youngster profiled is Bosko Balaban, Croatia’s new goal king, already linked with moves to Barcelona, Real Madrid, Marseille and Fiorentina. He signed for Aston Villa that year, and was barely seen in England.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 4.10.1986

Mark Hughes, in the early months of his first season at Barcelona, is the cover star of this week’s edition of Shoot.

His fellow cover star Kerry Dixon is fighting back at critics who criticised his performance in England’s recent friendly defeat against Sweden.

Dixon will be on your TV screens at the weekend as his Chelsea team take on Manchester United, with United goalkeeper wanting revenge for the previous season’s defeat to Chelsea at Old Trafford during the title run-in. The previous season’s meeting was between two teams at the top, this time around it’s between teams in the bottom half.

In news, John Wark is wanted by Hearts, Aberdeen and Norwich, while Mickey Thomas is wanted by Wichita Wings in North America.

One man who did move was Kevin Richardson, who moved from Everton to Watford, and got a phone call from Elton John welcoming him to the club, and believed it was a wind-up from his former Everton team-mates.

Everton supporters with a tenner spare could join their Fan Club, advertised in this edition.

There were plans for a testimonial for Pat Jennings before the end of 1986 at Windsor Park between an All-Star British XI to take on a European XI.

In the editor’s column, editor Peter Stewart rubbishes the idea of a proposed “Super League”, pointing to the success of smaller clubs such as Wimbledon, Oxford and Charlton.

The same column also praises Luton Town for their ban on away supporters at Kenilworth Road, as they aim to combat hooliganism.

Brian Clough tells Shoot that he doesn’t want Forest star Franz Carr to get an England call-up, because his former club Blackburn will be due a payment as part of the transfer arrangement.

Talking of England, they’ve been invited to a tournament of former World Cup winners in Brazil in 1989 to commemorate 75 years of football in Brazil. England were paired in the same group as Brazil and Uruguay.

It was a tournament that Enzo Bearzot, Italy’s 1982 World Cup winning manager, won’t be taking part in, having just resigned from his role as national team manager.

Mark Wright is on the comeback trail after an injury during Southampton’s FA Cup Semi-Final against Liverpool which ruled him out of the World Cup in Mexico. He talks to Shoot about his experiences coming back from injury.

In Glasgow, it is young players that are the talk of the town, with Shoot doing a feature on breakthrough stars Tony Shepherd (Celtic), Ian Durrant and Derek Ferguson (Rangers)

Another (relative) youngster making a mark was 32 year old Wolves manager Brian Little, who gets a double page spread in what Shoot describe as “Football’s hardest job”

Cover star Mark Hughes gets a double page feature, where he lists his favourite things. Since you ask, his favourite bands are The Jam and U2.

Also getting a double page profile are Derby County, who Shoot describe as “on the march”, and so it proved as they got promoted to Division One in 1987.

The magazine ends with Charlie Nicholas uses his column to urge Scotland fans to stand by newly appointed manager Andy Roxburgh after a disappointing start to their Euro 88 Qualifying campaign.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 14.6.1997

It might be the summer of a non tournament year, but there is still plenty to occupy Shoot, as Ryan Giggs and Gary Speed are the cover stars in June 1997.

In transfer rumours, Alen Boksic is heading to Manchester United, while Dino Baggio is heading to Newcastle United or Liverpool.

Real Madrid offered Hercules players a bonus to beat Barcelona and help Real win the title, which they did, with Shoot wondering why Middlesbrough boss Bryan Robson didn’t think of doing something similar.

England’s recent World Cup Qualifier in Poland turned out to be a nightmare for marketers, as the referee wouldn’t let England wear their new away kit, while Umbro sponsored Alan Shearer was photographed in a Nike Poland kit after swapping at the end of the game. To top it all off, pitchside advertising at the ground had adverts for Sky’s coverage of England games in France that summer. Poland v England was broadcast in the UK on Channel 5.

Crystal Palace’s Bruce Dyer has got the Adidas logo shaved into his head, saying it stands for “All day I dream about scoring”

Ryan Giggs gets a two page interview, where he speaks of his relief that David Beckham was taking a lot of the attention and spotlight he previously had.

Also getting two pages, is Tottenham Hotspur launching their new kit, with model Sophie Anderton, no relation to Darren, joining players. One player not there, was Teddy Sheringham, who had handed in a transfer request.

Lee Bradbury gets a profile after a successful season at Portsmouth with earnt him a big money move to Manchester City. Simon Grayson gets asked who he would like to be stranded on a desert island, choosing his teamamte Steve Walsh, Ian Botham, U2, Princess Diana and Sandra Bullock.

In posters, you could put promising teenagers Michael Owen or Nicholas Anelka on your wall.

Gary Speed gets a double page interview, reflecting on a season that saw Everton battling against relegation, to the point that Speed was constantly checking the league table on Teletext.

Speed credited survival to youngsters such as Richard Dunne, John Hills and Michael Ball.

In competitions, there were two seperate Eric Cantona videos – one looking back at his time at Manchester United, and the other being his cinematic debut, a French movie called Le Bonheur ….. Est Dans Le Pre.

Tim Sherwood gets a double page interview, looking forward to meeting new manager Roy Hodgson in order to secure his own future at the club, and hoping that Hodgson can help attract top English and foreign stars to Ewood Park.

World Cup Qualifying gets a round-up with the headline “WE’RE GOING TO ITALY” – I’m not sure why, as the 1998 World Cup was in France, though England’s next away game was in Italy. England, Scotland and Republic of Ireland’s chances are profiled, with Wales and Northern Ireland being footnotes, due to both teams being as good as out.

MANCHESTER UNITED 0-0 HULL CITY 1.2.2017

On Wednesday night, it was a third trip of the season for me to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on Hull City, having done a double header in November against Feyenoord and West Ham United.

When writing about the West Ham game, I observed that in November 2015, things were looking great for United when I went to my first game of the season, then it all went wrong by the time I returned in late January. I was hoping for the opposite effect this season, and that United’s form would have an upturn between Old Trafford visits.

Well, that’s what happened, as December and January saw a nine match winning run, though that was followed by three games without a win.

Despite that, United came up smelling of roses in that three match run, gaining a point on Liverpool and Manchester City and reaching the League Cup Final.

Curiously, this wasn’t the first time i’d seen United play on 1st February. It was exactly eleven years, also a Wednesday, that I saw United lose 4-3 to Blackburn Rovers in the freezing cold at Ewood Park, though I did get to meet Statto after the match.

That night, United faced a team they had just beaten in the League Cup Semi-Final, just as they did with Hull City.

When I booked this game last June, it was either Tuesday or Wednesday, so I booked Tuesday to Thursday to cover all bases.

With the game on the Wednesday, I was hoping to get a game on the Tuesday. Unfortunately, none of the teams on the Metrolink were at home. Agonisingly, Rochdale have a home match against Charlton which needs to be rearranged due to their FA Cup run. They didn’t arrange it for the night I was in Greater Manchester.

Burnley were at home and were tempting. The problem was, there was too little margin for error in terms of getting back to Manchester and getting across Manchester back to my hotel. I looked at getting a ticket on Tuesday afternoon and there were still some available.

Incredible that you could get a ticket to see the Champions Of England at an away ground on the day of the match.

I was there to see United, anything else was a bonus.

Other results on Tuesday night went in United’s favour with Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool all failing to win. Having been 6th for so long, now is the time for United to go for the kill and start climbing the table.

United went straight on the attack in the opening minutes, Henrikh Mkhitaryan looked to set himself up for a certain goal, only to be denied by a last gasp tackle.

However, it was Hull who had the best chance of the opening minutes when Harry Maguie headed wide from a free-kick. He really should have scored.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic got space to shoot at goal, but his shot was turned around for a corner, which was overhit but retrieved by Marcus Rashford, whose fancy flick set up Marcos Rojo, who headed over.

Daley Blind was next to try to score, but his volley went over the bar, as United were having as many attempts on goal as an already booked Oumar Niasse was committing fouls without a second yellow.

It looked like a goal was inevitible for United.

United’s last chance of the half came from when Marcus Rashford went on a run, stayed on his feet when a Hull player went in with a late tackle in the box but didn’t get rewarded for his honesty, instead seeing his attack end with the half-time whistle.

The game was similar to the first leg of the League Cup Semi-Final. United were hoping it would have a similar result in the second-half.

Having already needed an injury time when the sides met at the KCom Stadium in August, United were finding out for the third time this season that Hull were stubborn opponents.

Jose Mourinho brought on Wayne Rooney for Michael Carrick at half-time as United sought the breakthrough. Juan Mata and Anthony Martial being kept for later in the game.

That plan would bite the dust early in the second-half when Phil Jones suffered an injury in a race for possession. The game continued with Jones struggling, but Hull weren’t able to take advantage as Chris Smalling came on for him during the next break in play.

It meant that one of Mata and Martial would be sitting on the bench when United needed them both on the pitch.

Marcus Rashford got in behind Hull’s defence but could only scuff his shot wide.

Juan Mata got the nod from the bench in place of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, meaning that Anthony Martial was the man who would be watching from the sidelines.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic fired just wide, before a Chris Smalling header to Juan Mata for what looked like a certain goal.

Unfortunately, Hull’s goalkeeper had prepared for this match by watching the 1973 FA Cup Final, and picked the perfect moment to recreate Jim Montgomery’s saved.

Hull began to grow in confidence and started to believe they could win the game. It looked like they did when Lazar Markovic’s shot left David De Gea stranded, only for it to hit the post. I was behind that goal and thought it was going in. Thankfully, it didn’t.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was trying the spectacular in a crowded penalty area, that was only going the result in a free-kick to Hull.

In the first-half, it looked a goal for United was inevitable. As each minute passed, it was looking more and more like another frustrating evening.

Marcos Rojo and Paul Pogba forced Hull’s keeper into a save, while Abel Hernandez was unable to take advantage of being behind United’s defence by only firing weakly at David De Gea. This came during five minutes of injury time, Hull’s reward for persistent timewasting.

Hull held on for a point, as United were left to rue more missed opportunities, both metaphorically and literally.

This result wasn’t fatal, no real ground was lost, but United need to start taking advantage of teams above them playing each other, of teams above them slipping up. A top four finish is still a realistic target. Beating Hull at home is a minimum to achieve this.

A disappointing start to February, a month that could see United finish with a trophy, a place in the last 8 of the FA Cup and the last 16 of the UEFA Cup. There is still a lot to play for.

However, a nine match winning run has become one win in six. On the plus side, it might give Hull a confidence boost before facing Liverpool at the weekend, and then Arsenal next weekend.

Sadly, we’re relying on a lot of favours at the moment.

I’m next due back at Old Trafford for the Crystal Palace game on the last day of the season. Three points to secure a top four finish ahead of two Cup Finals. That’s what i’m hoping for.

Photo Album

Manchester United v Hull City November 2004