Posts Tagged ‘United’

Manchester Derby Preview
PLUS: The Magnificent Seven – Classic Matches Over The Years

By Rob Shepherd.

Di Maria is good value at 9/1 to score first

Di Maria is good value at 9/1 to score first

This Sunday’s Manchester derby at the Etihad stadium will be the 166th competitive meeting between City and United, and so far The Reds have secured 69 victories while The Blues have 46 and there have been 50 draws.

City are in desperate need of a win to keep on the shoulders of Chelsea, while a win for United would put them to within one point of City, making Louis Van Gaal’s boast they can still challenge for the Premier League not sound so fanciful.

It would certainly enhance United’s chances of securing a top four place at the end of the season thus achieving LVG’s major objective; regaining Champions League status.

United are 3/1 to with Corals who favour a City win which is 5/6.

The draw is 11/4. On that front Bobby’s Bets likes the look of a 2-2 draw at 11/1.

First goalscorer? Given his form Sergio Aguero has to be worth a punt even at favourite price of 7/2. United’s Angel di Maria is an attractive 9/1.

In these big game clashes, its often a centre-back from a set-piece who breaks the deadlock, so Vincent Kompany at 28-1 is worth a couple of quid perhaps.

For further inspiration here is a trawl back at seven magnificent encounters between the Manchester rivals over the years.

1. Manchester United 4 Manchester City 1, August 1957
Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, David Pegg, Liam Whelan, Duncan Edwards and Tommy Taylor would all feature for United – five months later all of them perished in the Munich air disaster. Goals from Edwards, Taylor, Johnny Berry and Dennis Viollet maintained United’s perfect start to the season in what was the last Manchester derby before the tragedy in Germany.

2. Manchester City 3-3 Manchester United, November 1971
Sheikh Mansour’s deep pockets have led to a return to the days of the early 70’s when the blues and the reds met as equals. United were top and City third when the latter came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down in front of over 63,000 and even won bragging rights at the end of the season, finishing four points ahead of the Old Trafford side (highlights below).

3. Manchester United 0-1 Manchester City, April 1974
If the 5-1 derby victory 15 years later was City’s zenith – until 2011, anyway – then this was United’s nadir. This result, after an ill-tempered affair, led to them to being ingloriously relegated at Old Trafford and their doom was confirmed when Denis Law – the former darling of the Stretford End – famously back-heeled them into the second tier. Law, utterly heartbroken at what he had done, was substituted immediately after and never kicked a ball in league football again.

4. Manchester City 5-1 Manchester United, September 1989
This was the first time in three years the great foes had met, and newly promoted City’s fans were at boiling point. After an enforced break due to crowd trouble the hosts ran riot, with David Oldfield scoring a brace and further goals from Trevor Morley and Ian Bishop, and City fan Andy Hinchcliffe capping a day still spoken of in hushed tones with a lovely fifth (goals are in below link). Sir Alex Ferguson used the pain of this defeat to best their nearest rivals for the next decade and more. The Maine Road Massacre, as it came to be known, would be the last time in 13 years City managed to win against United (their next was in 2002 when Nicolas Anelka and a Shaun Goater double won the game 3-1). Later that season Fergie won his first trophy.

5. Manchester United 5-0 Manchester City, November 1994
In the 1990s City failed to chalk up a single win against United, and this thrashing perfectly illustrated the gulf in class between the pair. Andrei Kanchelskis and the magnificent Eric Cantona starred on this occasion, with the Frenchman opening the scoring and the Ukrainian winger delivering the coup de grâce by scoring a hat-trick, which he completed in the final minute. Mark Hughes, who would go on to manage City eight years later, also found the target.


"Sorry pal, are you OK..?"

“Sorry pal, are you OK..?”

6. Manchester United 1 Manchester City 1, April 2001
This game is remembered not for the goals but for the culmination of a long-standing feud between Roy Keane and Alf-Inge Haaland. It started in 1998 when the United captain suffered a cruciate ligament injury when chasing a through ball against Leeds, who the Norwegian Haaland was with at the time. Three years later Keane made an x-rated knee-high tackle on Haaland that would have made Graeme Souness blush. He was sent-off and later admitted in his autobiography that it was a premeditated attempt to injure. He eventually received a £150,000 fine and a five-match ban as punishment.

7. Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United, 2004
It was almost 1989 relived again as United were convincingly humbled once more. A struggling City side somehow lifted themselves to rout the old enemy. United were not at their best but City had Jon Macken, veterans Trevor Sinclair and Robbie Fowler and the erratic Shaun Wright-Phillips – all of whom found the net – meaning this is still one of the most unlikely derby results on record.


United v Chelsea Preview
PLUS: When Dixon ended Big Ron’s title hopes & Violett the hat-trick hero

by Karl Hofer.

For a club that has utterly dominated the domestic game in recent times, United’s home league record against Chelsea is not particularly impressive. In the modern Premier League era United have won eight, drawn eight and lost six against the Blues.

It’s fairly common knowledge that Chelsea have the best record of any other team in the Premier League against United, but this is seen as something of a modern phenomenon. It is not.

If you look at the results between the two clubs at Old Trafford, stretching back to the 1966-67 season, a quarter of a century before the Premier League era began, you’ll see something quite extraordinary;

United wins: one. Draws: eight. Chelsea wins: eight.


Dixon netted a brace to end United’s title hopes

Perhaps the most painful of those eight defeats for United – and bear in mind one of those was a 4-0 humping as the newly crowned European Champions in 1968 – was Chelsea’s 2-1 win in April of 1986. Despite Everton and Liverpool breaking away from the chasing pack, both clubs were still grimly hanging on in the title race but neither side were in any kind of form going into this meeting. Chelsea were squandering away the games they had in hand on the leaders, having just been slapped 4-0 at home by fellow contenders West Ham and (even more disastrously) 6-0 away to neighbours QPR.

United meanwhile were starting to resemble that depressed drunk guy at the end of a night out, now rambling to themselves in the corner with bottle in hand having initially arrived as the life and soul of the party. Having seen a 10 point lead at Christmas dissolve into nothing, Ron Atkinson’s side knew their long wait for the title would continue for sure unless they won this one. This was make or break for both clubs.

After a goalless first half, Kerry Dixon beat the offside trap to score his first goal for four months. United then equalised through a Jesper Olsen penalty, big Doug Rougvie doing what he did best; this time sending Hughes crashing to the floor in the area. But Dixon had the final say in the dying moments to knock United out of the title race and send the many thousands of travelling fans into delirium and the home fans into despair. The future looked bright momentarily for John Neal’s team but Chelsea would subsequently win only one of their last seven games to finish in sixth spot.

United’s poor form continued through the beginning of the following season, and with the club languishing at the foot of the table in November manager Ron Atkinson was dismissed – with Alex Ferguson and his assistant Archie Knox taking over that same day.

Without question the greatest match between the sides was an 11 goal thriller at Stamford Bridge back in October 1954. Ted Drake had taken over Chelsea in 1952 and had been busy trying to rid them of their image, one that saw them as the butt of many a comedian’s jokes in the music-halls up and down the land. Out went the nickname ‘The Pensioners’, replaced with the more respectable ‘Blues’. Also dispatched was the affable septuagenarian on the clubs crest. This was a new Chelsea, one that Drake was instilling with a winning mentality.

To that end Drake drafted in solid defenders Peter Sillett and future England boss Ron Greenwood, plus striker Roy Bentley. As a consequence the team established itself in the top flight and were no longer involved in relegation battles, but nobody expected more than a safe mid-table position when the 1954-55 season came round.

The favourites for the title were reigning champions Wolverhampton Wanderers and Matt Busby’s upcoming Manchester United side.


Dennis Violett was a hat-trick hero

The game on October 16th was a glowing confirmation of the emergence of the attacking prowess of the ‘Busby’s Babes’. The visitors went 1-0 up with Dennis Viollet opening the scoring but a pair of unknown amateurs making their debuts returned fire as Seamus O’Connell equalized before the Thermos-flask seller Jim Lewis put the home side 2-1 up. Tommy Taylor and then Viollet put United back in front 2-3, a lead they held at half-time.

The same pair in the same order, Taylor and then Viollet (completing his hat-trick) seemed to have put Matt Busby’s side out of sight at 2-5 but then Ken Armstrong pulled one back for Chelsea. Jackie Blanchflower looked to have sealed the points when he made it 3-6, but cattle-farmer O’Connell then scored twice to record a famous debut hat-trick and set up a grandstand finish, but United’s shaky defence clung on for an extraordinary 5-6 triumph.

Chelsea lost their next two games – completing a run of six games without a win – to end October in 12th place, Wolves having taken over from United at the top. But then Drake’s Ducklings got their act together losing only four more games all season as they stormed up the table and, beating Wolves home and away, shocked the nation to win the title. Their last defeat of the season was at Old Trafford – but by then, the title, Chelsea’s first trophy in their 50 year history, had been won.

The Busby Babes would have to wait to make their mark on English football’s roll of honour.

The Odds

If you fancy a repeat of that scoreline then you’ll no doubt be delighted to hear that William Hill are offering a handsome 500-1 on it. Realistically the game is set to be a much tighter affair, United (15/8) will be keen to stifle Chelsea (7/5) early on, wary of the attacking threat they pose, before imposing their own game on the blues.

There will be a lot of mutual respect, both managers know each other extremely well having worked together previously at Barcelona and neither will want to concede an inch to the other – So Bobby’s Bets recommends a draw at 23/10. A 2-2 final scoreline is 14/1.

Diego Costa is sure to return to Chelsea’s starting line-up and is 7/2 to open the scoring. You can also get 7/1 on the in-form Eden Hazard to score first whilst Oscar and Fabregas are both 9/1.

If you think one of the home team will strike first then Robin van Persie is the favourite at  5/1 with Radamel Falcao. But we feel the best value in the goalscorer markets is with Angel Di Maria who is 9/1 to be the first scorer. If you fancy Juan Mata to do a ‘Frank Lampard’ then you can get 13/5 for the Spaniard as anytime goalscorer against his old club.

Bobby’s Bet of the Day: 8/1 for Chelsea to come from behind and win.

Odds courtesy of William Hill.


Goals Aplenty Between Baggies & The Red Devils
West Brom’s 3-5 Win Remembered

by Rob Shepherd.

You only have to go back to the final day of the season before last for a memorable West Brom and Manchester United encounter when they played out one of the most memorable matches between the two clubs down the years and one of the more remarkable on the Premier League era.

It was the occasion of Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game and United, already crowned champions, were strolling home 5-2 only for Albion to storm back and draw 5-5.

Older Baggies fans though will still suggest that the their best ever display against United came at Old Trafford in 1978.

Albion stunned United with a tour de force of cavalier football, Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis leading the charge with some devastating play, brimming with panache and pace, as Albion won 5-3.

The mastermind was manager Ron Atkinson who would go on to manage United the following season and of course Albion’s midfield driving force that day was a certain Bryan Robson, who would follow Big Ron to Old Trafford.

Have a look at this;



West Bromich Albion v Manchester United, Monday October 20th, 8pm KO.

For those who believe lightening can strike twice then Betfair offer 400/1 for a 5-5 draw between Albion and United on Monday night. Corals offer a rather conservative 150/1 for a 5-3 Man Utd win.

PaddyPower have the draw at 3/1 and for the first scorer offer Van Persie and Falcao both at 4/1 with Di Maria at 13/2. The Baggies Berahino is well priced at 8/1 to open the scoring.

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: I will have a little flutter on United winning 3-1 at 14/1.


United Lose Their Cool In Battle With Argentine Champs
October 16th 1968 Remembered


by Karl Hofer.

On October 16th 1968, Estudiantes of Argentina won the Intercontinental Cup, beating Manchester United in a bitterly fought two-legged final.

Manchester United were the reigning European Cup holders having overcome Benfica at Wembley to become the first English side to lift ‘the cup with the big ears’.By winning the previous season’s Copa Libertadores, Estudiantes earned the right to face them to decide which was the finest side in club football.

They met for the first leg on September 25th in the Estadio Alberto J. Armando, home of Boca Juniors, as Estudiantes’ ground was deemed unsuitable. The hosts eked out a narrow 1-0 victory in a match that saw United midfielder Nobby Stiles sent off and winger Bobby Charlton receive a blow to the head that required stitches.

Despite that result, United were favorites going into the second leg at Old Trafford three weeks later. A crowd of 63,500 were on hand to cheer on the reds, many waiting for as much as five hours in the heavy rain to purchase their tickets which ranged from 10 shillings to as much as £3 in price. The match generated over £50,000 in gate receipts which was a record for the time.

Despite the partizan crowd United fell behind early when Estudiantes forward Juan Ramón Verón headed a free-kick past Alex Stepney after just seven minutes. There was more bad news for United when striker Denis Law received an injury and had to come off in the 43rd minute, replaced by the Italian Carlo Sartori.

In similar scenes to the previous years match between Celtic and Racing, tempers flared in the second half as both teams had a player dismissed – George Best for United and José Medina for Estudiantes- in the 88th minute after a scuffle. Allegedly Best punched Medina in the face and pushed Néstor Togneri to the ground in the build up to the fracas. After the referee produced red cards for Best and Medina, Best is accused of spitting at Medina, resulting in the two having to be escorted to their respective changing rooms.

Almost straight after Willie Morgan drew the home team level on the night in the 89th minute, but they could not find another goal and Estudiantes held on to win on aggregate.

After the final whistle the Estudiantes team attempted to run a lap of honour, but the home fans hurled objects onto the pitch, cutting the lap of honour short!

Probably the most violent member of the Estudiantes side was their midfielder Carlos Bilardo, whose conduct caused Sir Matt Busby to later comment that “holding the ball out there put you in danger of your life”.

In our Great Shot José Hugo Medina of Estudiantes is escorted off the pitch clutching his face in dramatic fashion after being sent-off along with United’s George Best in that second leg (Photograph: PPP).


Rooney Has Sir Bobby Charlton In His Sights As He Chases Immortality

by Roy Dalley.

Wayne Rooney has been calling himself England’s “Big Man” since he arrived late at the 2006 World Cup, clutching a note from his doctor declaring himself fit for duty. We all know how that worked out…

A new chapter begins in an international career that has so far brought 95 caps, 41 goals, and not much else apart from a few red cards and the odd broken metatarsal. Rooney has been awarded the captaincy he long cherished a month before his 29th birthday, and is saying all the right things as he looks ahead to the challenge.

Coupled with his appointment as new skipper at Manchester United there is no doubt Rooney’s chest will be even more barrel-like as he leads England into the forthcoming qualifier against Switzerland.

But he will do well to compartmentalise his pride, for the Big Man has taken on a Big Job, and the next two years may well show us once and for all what sort of stuff he’s made of.

Alistair Cook knows only too well of the pressures both mind and body suffer in such a lofty environment. Well, you can probably multiply the weight of hope and expectation Rooney will carry onto the pitch as the eyes of a nation burn into him.


Rooney is set to take Sir Bobby Charlton’s scoring records for club and country

He’s already getting it in the neck from former England and United right-back Paul Parker, whose scathing critique of Rooney’s early performances as United captain rivalled a spell under Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer in their venom. Views probably shared by many football watchers from Old Trafford to Wembley who reckon he shouldn’t be in their teams, never mind leading them out.

It will be fascinating finding out if Rooney can hold his nerve as the immortality he seeks appears on the horizon. Granted, United won’t win much more for a while… they’ve only effectively got the FA Cup and a top four place to play for over the next nine long months, for example.

But by the time of the European Championship Finals in 2016 Rooney might not just be captain of club and country, but their respective record goalscorers too. Something to tell the grandkids I daresay?

Who knows, a Knighthood may even be in the beckoning. Sir Bobby Charlton is the one currently holding those particular aces, scoring 49 for England and 249 for United. Rooney needs 9 and 33 respectively to surpass Wor Bobby, easily attainable in two seasons one would have thought?

Only problem is will he play every week, even if he avoids injury? Certainly Ross Barkley will be eager to add his name to the challengers for his place in Roy Hodgson’s team once he returns to fitness. And Radamel Falcao’s arrival in English football has already got Rooney on the retreat as he speaks of a more deeper-lying role in the years ahead.

Perhaps it may be so. Perhaps he will look to Andrea Pirlo for inspiration as he contemplates his 30’s. Or perhaps will he end up crying in his pillow? It’s time to find out…



Dream On, United
£200m Spent Since Departure of Sir Alex, But Success Still A Long Way Off


Luckily Di Maria has always wanted to play at centre-half apparently…

by Roy Dalley.

Insomnia might soon become the preferred option for many of those who have invested emotionally and financially in the Theatre of Dreams, Manchester.

It’s the place where one can buy a programme, a souvenir shirt, bedding, jewellery, DVD’s, cufflinks, toiletries and a wide variety of confectionaries before sitting down to watch a sprinkling of stars.

Forthcoming attractions include, at the greatest of expense, Argentine Angel Di Maria and England’s new captain Wayne Rooney, but look closer and you may notice the red velvet curtain is either threadbare or peppered by rather large holes. The footlights are dimmed now too many of the bulbs have either blown or been reduced to a flicker, and the stage seems too big for many of the supporting cast.

The dream now seems to focus only on the nightmares. Gone are vivid images of Best, Law and Charlton, Cantona, Beckham and Scholes, Busby and Ferguson, to be replaced by faceless blokes from backwaters like Swansea and Milton Keynes celebrating another waltz through United’s lines.

Di Maria’s arrival took the club’s expenditure to £200 million since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson little more than 15 months ago, yet it is doubtful the club will reach the standards set by their old Master of Ceremonies for a very long time.

Former defender Gary Neville reckons it could take two or three years to get back on top but others suspect it may be a good deal longer….

Cautionary tales abound. Some of us are ancient enough to remember the rise and fall of Leeds United, a sorry story that may yet plummet to even greater depths. Something similar, albeit swifter, befell Derby County and Nottingham Forest under the stewardship of Brian Clough. Many more will recall Ferguson famously toppling Liverpool from their perch nearly 25 years ago.

It already feels an awfully long time ago now that Ferguson walked onto the Old Trafford pitch to collect the club’s 20th league title while the stadium announcer bragged over the house p.a. about the trophy “returning to its rightful home.”

Many will argue Ferguson’s retirement was the catalyst for the club’s current fall from grace, yet the truth is United’s downward spiral began the moment the late Malcolm Glazer somehow managed to gain control of the club using little more than smoke and mirrors as collateral.

Di Maria's arrival impacts on rising star Januzaj

Di Maria’s arrival impacts on rising star Januzaj

Profits were diverted away from the club to pay off extraordinary levels of debt incurred by the Glazer takeover. Not even Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid for £80 million allowed Ferguson to rejuvenate his ageing and ailing squad. He hid behind corporate jargon such as there being “little value in the transfer market” while Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and even Arsenal stole a march on their old foe.

It now seems like false economy at best and foolish pride at worst, to such an extent that Di Maria’s arrival as the most expensive signing in the history of British football smacks of desperation. He’s a decent left-footer, of course, but how much better is he than Adnan Januzaj, perhaps the brightest young outfield prospect at the club..?

Will Di Maria’s presence stunt the progress of the Belgian international, or will manager Louis van Gaal be forced into abandoning his 3-5-2 formation in order to accommodate both in a 4-3-3? And if so where does that leave Juan Mata, another of United’s expensive signings..?

In any event, surely the £60 million it cost to secure Di Maria would have been more wisely invested in top quality central midfielders and defenders?

We will find out over the coming months and years. It is sure to be compulsive viewing, whether it be high art, serious drama or simply a comedy of errors.



David Moyes Has Gone, Time For Sir Alex To Follow Suit!

by Rob Shepherd.


Time ran out for Moyes – but shadow of Fergie made it impossible to move forward

Sir Alex Ferguson has regrets over how David Moyes was sacked and the manner of his fellow Scot’s dismissal should be a warning that his own days at the club may be numbered…

Ferguson’s role as an influential director and ambassador is now likely to be downsized at the very least in the wake of Moyes’ departure. Fergie might have argued Moyes deserved the dignity of a bit more time but if he did offer such advice it fell on deaf ears.

The Glazers, United’s American owners, may be ready to sideline Ferguson as they look to rebuild the club and perhaps should have addressed the situation sooner.

After choosing Moyes as his successor, Ferguson didn’t do him too many favours and not just in terms of leaving an ageing squad behind.

There is a feeling among the Glazers and some board members that Ferguson’s Long Goodbye lasted, well, too long, and sections of the support are of the same opinion.

Mistakes that were made in the early 1970s after Sir Matt Busby stepped down have been replicated despite assurances there would be no repeat and Ferguson cast a shadow over Moyes the way Busby did to Wilf McGuinness and then Frank O’Farrell.

Ferguson did not have as much direct involvement in the day-to-day running of the club after his abdication compared with Busby but he has been sitting in the stands, often caught on camera grimacing as his old empire crumbled before his eyes.

You get the impression that some of the players were just waiting for him to scamper down the steps, storm into the dressing room, turn on the hair dryer and get things back on track. No doubt on days when players bumped into him they would still refer to him as the gaffer.

There can be no doubt Ferguson’s physical presence around the club had a psychological effect on the players, many of whom appeared to stop playing for Moyes.


Sir Alex didn’t do David Moyes a lot of favours with his presence and actions after retiring.

Then of course there was the high-profile impact of Ferguson bringing out his autobiography so soon. Why couldn’t he have waited a year or so rather than cause such disruption and controversy in the early days of Moyes’ reign?

Then there’s the frequent public appearances for lucrative fees. It’s not as if Ferguson needs the money or has anything to prove and basking in his past glories surely intensifies the pressure on his successor.

At a time when Manchester United needed the manager who had brought so much success to the club for 27 years to be selfless, the golden farewell engagements went on and on. Surely it would have been better all round had Fergie melted into background. Stayed away even, in the way that Pep Guardiola did after leaving Barcelona.

That is what must happen now and in all likelihood a new manager will demand it. Certainly it appears Ferguson will have a limited influence on an appointment the club must get right if they are to avoid going into the wilderness.

It was only when Tommy Docherty managed to make sure Busby was pushed firmly into the background that the club started the long process of re-inventing itself after relegation from the top flight.

Sport/Football, 1973, Tommy Docherty, Manchester United Manager with the former Manager Matt Busby

Docherty had to escape from Busby’s shadow

‘Relegation’ from the Champions League this season is in many ways more of a blow to the club now than it was dropping out of the old First Division in 1974. Certainly from a financial point of view with the loss of up to £80million in revenue equating to annual interest payments the Glazers pay on financing the debt.

It’s a massive call for the club to make as they seek to attract over £200million worth of new talent and it will be done, rightly or wrongly, with the Glazers putting on their corporate hats.

There is no longer any room for romance in seeking Fergie’s counsel in the guise of the Godfather from Govan.

Indeed, one suspects the board will prefer to see Ferguson spend most of his time in the coming months lecturing at Harvard business school again, not loitering around Old Trafford.



Don’t Abandon Hope!
Learning a Lesson from Manchester United’s Past

by Richard Bowdery.

With David Moyes gone and Manchester United out of the Champions League for the first time in 20 years, many of the club’s fans could be forgiven for thinking the rot has set in, regardless of who the board appoint as Moyes’ replacement.

But before they get too despondent they would do well to consult some of their older fellow fans.

Six years after lifting the European Cup at Wembley in May 1968, the Red Devils found themselves starring down the barrel of relegation at the end of the 1973/74 season.

This demise followed the success of Sir Matt Busby’s 25 year reign. During his time at the helm across three decades he achieved tremendous success.

• In the 1946/47 season, the first following the Second World War, United were runners up to Liverpool in Division One. It was their highest league position for 36 years.
• His 1948 side lifted the FA Cup for the first time in nearly 40 years.
• During the fifties United were crowned League champions on three occasions: 1951/52, 55/56 and 56/57. Sadly the Munich disaster in February 1958 put paid to any further honours – although they were runners up in that year’s Cup Final, won by Bolton Wanderers and in the League the following season.
• They lifted the Cup again in 1963 beating Leicester City 3-1.
• The 1964/65 season saw them crowned League champions pipping Leeds United on goal difference and again in 66/67.
• In 1968 United famously trounced Benfica 4-1 (after extra time) in that year’s European Cup Final at Wembley. Busby had rebuilt the club to reach the pinnacle of European football a decade after Munich.

In 1969 Sir Matt, who had been knighted the previous year, retired. After nearly three decades of success many of United’s fans could be forgiven for wondering whether the club’s success would continue; much as when Ferguson retired.

Two new managers, Wilf McGuiness and Frank O’Farrell, came and went in quick succession – with Busby temporarily steeping back up to the plate between their two short reigns.

In 1969 Wilf McGuinness took over from Sir Matt Busby and endured a torrid time at Old Trafford.

In 1969 Wilf McGuinness took over from Sir Matt Busby and endured a torrid time at Old Trafford.

Then Tommy Docherty was hired but he couldn’t halt the club’s slide into Division Two on 27 April 1974.

The irony of that season defining game was when old boy Denis Law, released by Manchester United the previous July and signed by Manchester City, back heeled the only goal of the game in the 81st minute.

He didn’t celebrate and was immediately substituted. That was the last time he kicked a ball in ‘anger’ and he retired from the game he’d served so well.

He was later reported as saying after the game: “I have seldom felt so depressed in my life as I did that weekend”.

He needn’t have felt so bad as a 0-0 draw would have still sent United down which is probably why their fans invaded the pitch five minutes before the end of the game in the hope of getting it abandoned.

Although referee David Smith did in fact abandon the match the result was allowed to stand and Manchester United were relegated.

Twelve years later a Scot, like Sir Matt Busby, took the manager’s helm when United’s board fired Ron Atkinson. And like his successful predecessor he too reigned for over a quarter of a century.

So whatever the short term woes Manchester United will have to endure, history shows that in the longer term the good times will once again grace the Theatre of Dreams.


Cup Half Full..? + 2014 Odds
Will the Country Ever Rekindle it’s Love for the FA Cup..?

by Karl Hofer.

It has had it’s issues of late, but the FA Cup is still the world’s oldest football knockout competition,  and its role in the history of the beautiful game is unprecedented.

The FA Cup Final has been an indelible part of English national consciousness for over a century. Since the dawn of the television era the entire nation (and many other countries around the world) have been transfixed by the great spectacle from North London.

The whole of FA Cup Final Saturday would build up to 3 pm. Both ITV and the BBC would begin their coverage earlier and earlier each year to milk the viewers, sometimes as early as 8am!

The final itself generated so much excitement; we can all recall the TV crew on the bus to the stadium from the hotel, the players walking round the pitch in their specially tailored suits for the day, the crowd singing ‘abide with me’ – and teams would always release a single during the build up.

Not anymore though. With the incredible amount of live football on TV nowadays such romance and sentiment is unlikely to ever return, which is a shame. Be careful what you wish for as they say…

Regardless, the FA Cup has also produced some amazing memories and some fantastic games over the years, too many to reminisce about here. But before we look at the odds to win the 2014 competition lets remember three finals whose anniversaries are this year;

25 Years Ago: Everton 2-3 Liverpool

What a final, a Merseyside derby no less. The final was played only five weeks after the Hillsborough disaster and before kick-off there was an impeccably observed minute’s silence while the teams wore black armbands as a sign of respect. Gerry Marsden, lead singer of Gerry & the Pacemakers, led the crowd in an emotional rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone before the sides served up a match fitting for the occasion.

Liverpool went ahead after four minutes through John Aldridge, and held onto that lead until the final minute, when Everton substitute Stuart McCall equalised, and a pitch invasion by Everton fans ensued.

McCall’s goal was the last kick of the 90 minutes and the match went into extra time. On 95 minutes, Liverpool substitute Ian Rush scored with a half-volley on the turn to give Liverpool a 2–1 lead. Everton again equalised five minutes later when McCall again scored, chesting and volleying past Bruce Grobbelaar into the corner of the net. However, Rush – who had scored twice in Liverpool’s 3–1 win in the first Merseyside derby Final three years earlier – scored his second goal in the 104th minute with a header from a John Barnes cross and Liverpool would triumph once more.

30 Years Ago: Watford 0-2 Everton

The final of 1984 is remembered for Everton’s controversial second goal. After Graeme Sharp had put the Toffees ahead with a clinical finish late in the first half, Andy Gray seemed to head the ball out of the grasp of Watford keeper Steve Sherwood when he put Everton two up, but referee John Hunting allowed it to stand.

This victory ended a 14 year wait for silverware at Goodison Park and was the first trophy of the very successful Howard Kendall era. This was Watford’s only cup final appearance and Gray ensured that Elton John’s team left with the blues. 

 35 Years Ago: Arsenal 3-2 Manchester United

Terry Neill’s Arsenal held on to edge past Manchester United in what is widely regarded as one of the greatest-ever finishes to an FA Cup final. For over 85 minutes the game had been largely unremarkable, Arsenal having taken control with a 2–0 half time lead through goals from Brian Talbot and Frank Stapleton. In the 86th minute, however, Gordon McQueen scored following a set-piece, and two minutes later Sammy McIlroy dribbled past two Arsenal players to score a dramatic equaliser.

United’s celebrations proved short-lived however, as with the game poised for extra time Alan Sunderland scored a last-minute winner, making the final result Arsenal 3–2 Manchester United. This match is often referred to as the “Five-minute Final”.

THE ODDS – (Updated Jan 6th)

Man City  4/1,  Chelsea  9/2, Arsenal  9/2, Liverpool  11/2, Everton  8/1, Southampton  12/1, Swansea 25/1,  Sunderland  40/1, Stoke  40/1, Hull  40/1, Fulham  50/1, Palace  50/1, Forest 66/1, Norwich 66/1, Brighton  80/1, Bolton 80/1, Wigan  100/1, Ipswich  100/1

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower.


United v Spurs: 3 Great Games
We preview the New Years Day encounter at Old Trafford


A rare win at Old Trafford for Spurs would be a tonic for Tim

by Karl Hofer.

Nothing cures a New Years hangover like a decent game of football and we look set for a good one in 2014 as the live match on the box sees Tim Sherwood’s Spurs (sounds weird…) travel to Old Trafford to face David Moyes’ United (still sounds weird…).

These two usually serve up entertaining matches, and the team at BOBBY have searched through the archives to pick out three of the best from down the years to prove the point. Before we give you the odds and our prediction have a look back at these classic encounters:

Oct 16th 1965  Tottenham Hotspur  5-1  Manchester United

A match graced with legends all over the pitch including Mackay, Greaves and Gilzean for Spurs who took on the league champions with Law, Best and Charlton in their ranks – and ran riot with a 5-1 win at the Lane in front of 58,000.

Many people will tell you that Glenn Hoddle scored the greatest goal ever between the two sides when he volleyed home in a league cup tie in 1979, but in my opinion Jimmy Greaves takes the accolade for his goal in this match as he waltzed through the United defence and slotted home in the relaxed manner that was typical of the man (see link below).

It was a tremendous win for Bill Nicholson’s side, but The Red Devils would get their revenge with a 5-1 win at Old Trafford just a couple of months later.

Sept 29th 2001  Tottenham Hotspur  3-5  Manchester United

This was one of the most extraordinary matches in Premier League history, and it helped create an aura of invincibility around Fergie’s Manchester United team. It is also a result that has ensured that Spurs fans will never be able to relax against United, whatever the score may be.

Spurs were enjoying one of their finest performances in recent memory after blasting into a 3-0 lead at the interval. Spurs were coasting through goals from Dean Richards, Les Ferdinand and Christian Ziege.

The problem was the job was only half done, and in the second half United launched an astonishing comeback. After the restart Andy Cole grabbed the all important early goal to instill belief. Spurs were then blown away by the visitors as United fought back and then took the lead with goals from Laurent Blanc, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Juan Sebastian Veron. David Beckham completed the comeback in a match Sir Alex described as his most memorable during his long tenure at Old Trafford (highlights below).

It would be fair to say that this result had a bit of an affect on Spurs, who wouldn’t beat United for another 11 years.

Dec 7th 1986 – Manchester United  3-3  Tottenham Hotspur

One of the greatest clashes between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur came in a league encounter 27 years ago that really had it all. A topsy-turvy thriller that saw both sides wrestle control from each other at one stage or another before having to settle for a draw. United stormed into an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Norman Whiteside and Peter Davenport, before Spurs hit back with a diving header from Gary Mabbut in the second half.

Shortly afterwards Kevin Moran inadvertently turned a Glenn Hoddle shot into his own net and then Clive Allen put Spurs 3-2 ahead.

There was to be one final twist, though, as Davenport held his nerve to equalise with a last minute penalty. You can enjoy the highlights (and the wonderful commentary from John Motson) below.

(By the way, that match was played on December 7th despite what the graphic at the start says…)


Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur, Wednesday January 1st 2014, 5.30pm, Live on BT Sport

The head-to-head record between the two very much favours United who have 85 wins against Spurs over the years. Spurs have won only 47 and there have also been 47 draws.

United in fact had an astonishing 33 match unbeaten run (which included 28 wins) against Spurs in all competitions from 2001 to 2012.



Van Persie 3/1, Rooney 7/2, Welbeck 9/2, Januzaj 7/1

Defoe 7/1, Soldado 7/1, Adebayor 8/1


United to win: 1-0 13/2, 2-0 7/1,  2-1 7/1, 3-0 11/1, 3-1 12/1, 3-2 25/1, 4-1 22/1

Draw: 0-0 11/1, 1-1 7/1, 2-2 16/1, 3-3 66/1, 4-4 200/1

Spurs to win: 1-0 14/1, 2-0 28/1, 2-1 16/1, 3-0 66/1, 3-1 40/1, 3-2 50/1


Rooney to score first @ 7/2

United to win 3-2 @ 25/1


Odds courtesy of William Hill