Date: 26th September 2010 at 9:56pm
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After missing the first half of the Burnley game on Wednesday, and after being hoist over the coals by robbo for making Alonso the Man of the Match, I was determined to not miss a second of this game against the new enemy.

Unfortunately this was slightly hindered by a 7am finish and a severe need for a soft bed so when Mrs X woke me four hours later, the answer to my enquiry for the time of day came out more like ‘Fluffing miggy tims pass’. Mrs X, being able to speak spanner, advised me it was a minute to twelve.

My disbelief at this time check was made worse six minutes later when she returned to the bedroom and said, in more her more strident West Wirral tone, ‘Are you watching this game or what? Bolton have just scored.’ A leap from the bed and a run to the lounge didn’t do me any favours as I had left my glasses behind. Luckily I made it just to see United kick off. Fuzzily. So if you want an analysis of what happened beforehand, forget it.

But what a goal. Those of us who have seen Sir Knight arse a ball into his own net will know that he has the ability to score, but the little flick that came off his boot was something that players of the ilk of Zola and Bergkamp would be proud of.

You can talk about the Stretford defence’s deficiencies all day long, that Jonny Evans, unsurprisingly, as it turned out, preferred to Ferdinand, should have been better positioned to clear the ball before it reached Zat’s boot and that SuperKev’s French Bitch shouldn’t have moved off the post. But, as many have said before me, you can only beat what’s in front of you.

So, cup of tea and bacon sarnie (with brown sauce naturally) in hand, I settled down, glasses on face, to await the United onslaught. And waited. And waited. It goes without saying that they had most of the ball, but any fool can pass it around amongst themselves and not go anywhere. They had their chances, as United always will. Soon after we scored, Nani, not for the last time, got behind Stefan and crossed for Old Man River, but he just put the ball into Jussi`s hands. So far, so safe. Then Fletcher, ran through the middle, leaving Samantha in his wake, before hitting a shot again straight at Jussi.

Oh yes, Jussi. The man that some called for to be sat on the bench. One of the top keepers in the country who should be punished further for a small moment of madness by being stuck on the bench by his club. Get a grip.

In a game that had a frenetic pace for the first half an hour, with Bolton harrying the United players who appeared to be under the impression that they could walk through this game, we had our own chances. Fletcher took out Lee, the free kick was swung in, SuperKev nodded it on and TMS swung a leg through fresh air and the ball bounced into Van Der Sar`s hands. Any touch, any touch, and it would have gone in. This was not the last time that the hard working Elmander, who did everything else so well, would revert back to his nickname.

United swung balls towards each other but nothing came of them. Shrek found himself offside a number of times, Nani tried some trickery but was having the kind of game that was making Paul Robinson look good. Then, as if he had been told that the ghost of Gary Megson was returning, Sam Ricketts collected the ball in defence and ran. And ran. And ran. This is a Bolton Wanderers central defender, running at the players of the biggest club in the world. And going through them. Then reaching the box. Then hitting a shot on target.

Obviously it was straight at the United keeper but my second cup of tea was delayed by Mrs X asking if she had just seen what she thought she had seen.

Then she saw it again. Only this time Nani collected the ball in his own half, again left Samantha floundering, twisted Sir Knight this way and that way before hitting an unstoppable shot beyond Jussi and into the bottom left hand corner. Credit where credit is due, it was some goal. Cynics would say that a Bolton player should have taken him out. That cynic was Robbie Savage (no, the other one) on ESPN. But we don`t play that game anymore mister. We just didn`t tackle him.

From then it was mostly United laying siege to the Bolton half. Nani decided he had done enough for the day and started laying passes into no one and when United did manage to get the ball into box, one of Ricketts and Knight was there to snuff it out. I have to say, barring the Nani goal, Zat Knight was exceptional today. He kept both Shrek and The Sulking Bulgaraian mostly in his pocket. Put this down to them having an off day if you want but I`ve seen them both have off days and then score twice. His timing was terrific, his placement outstanding. For some reason, maybe a goal and an assist, the sponsors gave the Man of the Match to Petrov. While he had his best game in a white shirt, Knight stood head and shoulders above everyone else.

As the first half reached its end, the Bolton players appeared to tire, naturally after harrying the away team for forty minutes. Rooney picked up a loose ball and flashed a shot just over then, with virtually the last action of the game, Vidic headed a corner just wide. United had edged the first half and the commentators expected more from them in the second. I expected a third cup of tea.

The first chance of the second half then surprisingly went to Bolton. Petrov jinxing inward past O`Shea before hitting a shot that was always rising. Elmander, who had been chasing down Van Der Sar all game, then almost got lucky as a clearance ballooned off his foot but going to safety. Mrs X commented, not for the first time this season, that Elmander was playing well and if she says it, take it as gospel.

Nani then decided to moan about running into Samantha`s elbow like the little boy that he is. Now, I can understand it if Samantha had raised his elbow and smacked Nani with it, and the cheating little scumbag would probably have deserved it, not that I condone violence not even to small, cheating, crying, babylike, motherloving southern Europeans. But Samantha was running with his elbows pumping, as you do, and Nani decided to cheat. It never ceases to amaze me that they think referees don`t make mental notes of their reputations and when they see something that comes off as 50/50 disbelieve that players like Nani are fouled. Ronaldo eventually caught onto this, somewhat, and it would do Nani good to follow his lesson. Obviously his football lesson, as Nani is to Ronaldo in everything else as Pauline Fowler was to Miss Brahms.

United made a couple of changes, Park coming on for a hamstrung Giggs before Macheda came on for the underperforming Rooney. On Bolton`s side, Mark Davies came on for Samantha, who hadn`t performed much better. Berbatov and Macheda almost immediately conjoined with the Italian flashing the ball wide of Jussi`s goal.

Now imagine this scenario. Scholes collects ball and flashes from one side of the pitch to another, Giggs takes one touch to bring it under control and make space for himself from an advancing defender before passing to Rooney who hold the ball up before Scholes reappears to his left. A quick pass, Scholes brings it onto whatever his weaker foot is before smacking the ball against the defender who leaves the keeper helpless. Sky would be wetting themselves for weeks.

So Petrov collected the ball and flashed it from the left to the right. Lee took one touch to bring it under control and make space for himself from the advancing Evra before passing to Elamander who held the ball up before Petrov reappeared on his left. A quick pass, Petrov brought it under control before bringing it onto his right foot and cannoning the ball off Fletcher and into the net. This will be put down as “not the kind of thing we`re used to seeing Bolton play”.

As if being reprimanded for being in the way of Petrov`s shot, Fletcher was almost immediately brought off for the Scouse Turncoat. This didn`t make a blind bit of difference to the game that was now swinging from one end to the next as players miscontrolled the ball and gave defenders the chance to clear. From one such clearance, Elmander took the ball and, deciding that if Sam Ricketts can do it then so can I, ran at the United defence. Vidic seemed to disappear like those twins in The Matrix Reloaded as TMS ran through him and it was suddenly one on one with Van Der Sar. That he didn`t hit the target is nothing. That he failed to hit row S is an abject failure.

And then they made us pay. A free kick was given on the right and Nani swung it in. All five foot nothing of The Scouse Turncoat got in front of Stefan and flicked the ball up and over everybody and into the net. A well taken goal, yes, but one that could have been avoided if Stefan has remained in front of the United striker.

United came again. Nani staying on his feet to smash a shot through a crowd of Bolton players and just wide. Scholes, naturally, got himself booked before Vidic went through Elmander with a tackle that, if it were on an Arsenal player, would make Mr Vinegar bleat to the press. TMS got up and dusted himself off and then almost immediately had another go at goal, which went just wide of the upright after good interlinking play between Lee and Petrov. And that was mostly it. Ricketts had a go at Nani who had fallen over his own feet before United tried some long balls. A final free kick to United was dealt with by Steinsson and that was that.

Now, a number of things to note about after the game. First, the graceless handshake by the United manager. Yes, his team could have performed better but the look on his face and his inability to even look St Owen in the fact told its own story. To his credit he gave us praise after the game.

Secondly, after the game I, naturally, went back to bed. I woke to Stanley Victor partaking in one of the most ironic phone-ins ever about how poor football pundits are. A United fan, with a decidedly non-Mancunian accent, was talking about how Bolton were a pub team and that we had ruined their chances of going top and that we had kicked them up and down the pitch. He obviously hadn`t seen the Vidic or Scholes tackles and hadn`t seen that United had outfouled Bolton. He also talked about our long balls, which would suggest that he had turned off with ten minutes to go and missed United reverting to the more, how shall we say, direct game.

Third. Can someone please grow our stewards some new pairs and get them to sit down.

All in all, an enjoyable game, played in a great atmosphere by all accounts, that passed without too much incident. If we can take that sort of performance through the season, we shouldn`t be too far away from the top ten.

 

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