Sunday, July 30, 2006

England Thrash Pakistan In Test Cricket Match

Meanwhile, over the road, at the home of Lancs.c.c the cricket match between England and Pakistan ended 2 days early after a convincing win by England.

England (461-9 dec) beat Pakistan (119 & 222) by an innings and 120 runs
After downward-spiralling in the first half of the summer, English cricket is on the way back up. In little more than 100 overs they twice dismissed Pakistan, with their daunting batting line-up, to win the second Test by an innings and 120 runs in well inside three days.

While England's batting has been solid all summer, thanks to the juniors as much as the seniors, three fresh ingredients have caused the turnaround. One is a captain who is in charge for every ball, another the revival of Steve Harmison as a strike-bowler, and the third the development of a match-winning spinner.
Harmison came first, setting the new tone and bouncing Pakistan out. He might have been a touch slower after tweaking his left side on Friday, but he still scared out the Pakistan tail when the ball had gone soft and finished not only with the man of the match award but also his first 10-wicket haul and his best Test figures.
The captaincy of Andrew Strauss came second, for a less natural leader would never have had a spinner on so early in the match. Together Harmison and Monty Panesar made the perfect combination on this pitch, out of which all the other bowlers in this Test derived little or nothing. The pair took 19 wickets for 169 - almost as good as Jim Laker 50 years ago - while everybody else laboured to take nine for 593.
It was a golden phase around Thursday lunchtime when the match was won and lost as Harmison bowled fast, often bringing the ball back into the right-hander, while the slow bowler spun the ball away. No wonder Pakistan lost eight wickets for 29 runs. What is a wonder is that so seldom in Test cricket has the combination of fast right and slow left been attempted before: John Snow and Derek Underwood made a rare previous pair.
Once Panesar had been wound up yesterday morning and set to bowl at the Warwick Road end (the one opposite to which Laker took 19 wickets for 90) until the conclusion, not too much captaincy was required. But it was still done capably and firmly, with attacking fields but without ostentation. To have a captain with his finger on the button all the time is crucial, and impossible when Andrew Flintoff is bowling. Strauss also took both slip catches that came his way and made his share of runs, to show that he does not think about the captaincy too much.
The one criticism that could be made of Strauss was that he did not have a few more overs at Pakistan on Friday evening when they were at their lowest ebb; South African cricket goes to show that not many matches are won if the possibility of defeat is completely eliminated first. But now he is no longer on probation, and has his first Test victory under his belt, he will grow in confidence.
Then came Panesar to tempt and turn and tease. His figures of five for 72 were the best of his eight-Test career, his match haul eight for 93. It may not be much of a title with Daniel Vettori and Ashley Giles on the treatment table and Harbhajan Singh wicketless save for one dream spell in the West Indies, but Panesar can claim to be the best finger-spinner currently in Test cricket.
After Harmison had bounced out Kamran Akmal with a throat-threatening ball, Panesar took the next five wickets, specialist batsmen all, as is his wont. Of his 25 Test wickets to date, 19 have been specialist batsmen, every one a Test century-maker, ranging from Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid to Kumar Sangakkara (twice) and Inzamam-ul-Haq.
After Lord's England had wondered if they would ever dismiss Mohammed Yousuf. Panesar did it twice in 28 balls, having him stumped second time around when Yousuf lunged too far forward at the first ball after lunch. In the morning Panesar had spun a ball out of the rough to have the left-hander Imran Farhat caught off bat and pad, but otherwise he turned off the true parts.
Panesar turned some balls as much as Pakistan's wrist-spinner had done. One spun so much that it went to slip; a couple more bounced so much they passed over the stumps. Giles can bore batsmen out, Panesar can bowl them out, and as such they would make a fine pairing in Sydney and any other ground which Australia prepare for Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill.
The bowler enjoyed an element of luck in Inzamam's wicket, but accidents will happen when a spinner bowls a long and accurate spell with men around the bat. Pakistan's captain - already bombed and bewildered by Harmison - played the ball down but up off his boot. Strauss must have realised his luck was turning when he saw somebody else out this way.
Younis Khan battled and ran busily between wickets but could find nobody to stay with him to form the long partnership Pakistan needed to avoid an innings defeat. The visiting vice-captain miscalculated when he shouldered arms to a straight ball. Not many people can claim to dismiss three of the world's top 10 batsmen in one spell, as Panesar did when removing Younis, Yousuf and Inzamam.
Faisal Iqbal has the reputation of being a fine player of spin, yet he too has been dismissed three times by Panesar. It was the classic left-armer's form of dismissal, turning and bouncing and taking the edge en route to slip. Imran Khan and Abdul Qadir, Alan Davidson and Richie Benaud, as well as Snow and Underwood, made famous pairs of fast and slow, but it is still surprising they have been so few.
Harmison returned to blast away the tail. It has been frustrating that he has not fulfilled himself for a year: if only he would do it just occasionally when a pitch does not stimulate him. The end was appropriate as Geraint Jones took the skier which the windy Abdul Razzaq put up, giving England's wicketkeeper a fifth catch in the innings in spite of the break in the tip of his right ring finger. If Jones is ruled out of the next Test, his replacement will have to follow a tough act who has begun to keep admirably.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

It`s all turned out very sad in my view for van Nistelrooy and Fergie.

van The Man scored 110 goals in his first three seasons in Manchester. He overtook Denis Law's title as the club's all-time top scorer in European competition in his fourth term, and, in his fifth year at OT, reached 150 goals in under 200 starts.

In July 1998, he signed for PSV Eindhoven from Heerenveen for £4.2million, a then record Dutch fee. In two years Ruud notched 60 goals for PSV, alerting United. So keen was Sir Alex to sign van Nistelrooy that he stayed in contact with the player as he recovered from a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained in training for PSV. That setback came days after failing a United medical in April 2000. He finally arrived on 23 April 2001 for £19m.

All that effort to bring him to Old Trafford, yet after just over 5 years he`s fallen out of favour with Fergie for whatever reason and has now departed. Such a shame. Can he be replaced?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Fergie gets the blame for van Nistelrooy departure

Van Nistelrooy insisted he would not bear a grudge against FergusonRuud van Nistelrooy said the breakdown of his relationship with manager Sir Alex Ferguson was the only reason he wanted to leave Manchester United.
"My relationship with Ferguson had ended which was very painful," said the 30-year-old Dutchman after signing for Real Madrid on Friday.
"It had nothing to do with the club or the fans.
"It was the relationship with the manager that broke. I thought it was best to leave."
Van Nistelrooy said he had begun to feel unsettled at Old Trafford after he was left out of the team for February's Carling Cup final.
He eventually handed in a written transfer request, with Real Madrid seeing off competition from Bayern Munich for his signature.
Ferguson did a lot for me, waiting for me while I was injured
Ruud van Nistelrooy
However, Van Nistelrooy said he did not bear a grudge against Ferguson over the bitter end to his five-year spell at United.
"I had an incredible five years in Manchester and I will always remember my time there and the unconditional support from the fans," he said.
"I never got to say goodbye to Ferguson but there is plenty of time for that. I owe him a lot and that is why it was so painful."
Ferguson pressed ahead with a move for Van Nistelrooy even after the then-PSV striker failed a medical in April 2000.
The Dutchman then sustained a serious knee injury while training with PSV a few days later but United stood by him and he eventually joined for £19m.
"Ferguson did a lot for me, waiting for me while I was injured then giving me the chance to play and giving me confidence," Van Nistelrooy told a news conference at the Bernabeu on Friday.
"But what happened, happened. A good relationship ended. It was very disappointing for me."
United issued a statement on their official website, which read: ""Manchester United would like to wish Ruud all the best at his new club and thank him for the great service he provided."

Nistelrooy out - Carrick in?

With Ruud van Nistelrooy expected to complete his move to Real Madrid, Manchester United appear set to sign England midfielder Michael Carrick from Tottenham Hotspur for a fee reported to be between £15 and £18 million.
Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who has been looking to fill the midfield void left following the departure of former captain Roy Keane, has been a long-time admirer of Carrick, who cost Spurs £2.75 million when they signed him from West Ham United two years ago.
Although he will not be a direct replacement for Keane, Carrick's passing skills will provide the eight-times Premiership champions with an outlet they have lacked since the Irishman left Old Trafford at the end of last year.
Carrick's loss will come as a major blow to Martin Jol, who guided Tottenham to fifth in the Premiership last season and helped the 25-year-old force his way into Sven-Goran Eriksson's England World Cup squad.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, hope to seal van Nistelrooy's switch from Manchester United to the Bernabeu, subject to the 30-year-old Dutch hitman coming through a medical.
It is believed that the nine-times European champions will pay around £11 million to secure the services of van Nistelrooy, who lost his place in the starting line-up alongside Wayne Rooney to Louis Saha in the last three months of last season.
The Dutchman, only the eighth player to score 150 goals for Manchester United, is expected to put pen to paper to a three-year deal at the Bernabeu where he will link back up with former United team-mate David Beckham.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

United beat Celtic 3-0

Even in comfortable victory the doubts persist. Manchester United, inspired by the busy industry of the recovered Paul Scholes, swept beyond a disjointed Celtic last night yet the few hundred visiting supporters amid a relatively meagre crowd for these parts still found time to holler for improvement.
United remain the only Premiership club yet to add to their squad before the new season and, with Ruud van Nistelrooy set to leave Old Trafford, the lack of incoming transfers is prompting consternation. Sir Alex Ferguson arrived here having dismissed that concern with a shrug and a smile. "Some people are trying to make it into a desperate situation," he had said. "We are working on a couple of things but if I were to start the season with all the players I've got available, all fit, I don't think the supporters would be disappointed."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Interesting! No new signings thus far during the summer, van Nistelrooy on his way out, several players have left, Ronaldo despised by some fans - even M.U., yet Fergie is confident we`ll be ok come the beginning of the season.

Hmm, work that one out if you can.

Scholes says `we want title back at Old Trafford`

"It was not nice seeing Chelsea pick up the trophy at the end of the season. We want it back. Winning the Premiership is more important than anything to us now. We have to concentrate on that" - Paul Scholes
Former England midfielder Paul Scholes is desperate to help Manchester United end their three-year Premiership title during the coming season.
And the 31-year-old has insisted that the Red Devils are hungry for success ahead of next month's big kick-off after seeing Chelsea be crowned champions following their 3-0 mauling at Stamford Bridge on April 29.
He said: "It was not nice seeing Chelsea pick up the trophy at the end of the season. We want it back. Winning the Premiership is more important than anything to us now. We have to concentrate on that."
Scholes believes that if United are to be crowned English champions they will have to retain their tag as the team everyone wants to beat.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wayne Rooney has revealed he fell out with Everton manager David Moyes before he left the Toffees to join Manchester United in a deal worth £27m in 2004.
The 20-year-old England striker said the row meant he considered an offer from Newcastle before moving to United.
"I would have gone almost anywhere just to get away from David Moyes," Rooney said in his autobiography, which is being serialised in the Daily Mail.
"To me, he appeared overbearing; just wanting to control people."
He added: "I suppose being young and confident and playing for England at 17, I wasn't bothered about upsetting him or answering back."
Rooney claims he had already decided to leave Goodison Park when he had a training ground confrontation with Moyes and told him: "I don't want to play for you ever again."
The striker became the youngest Premiership goalscorer when he scored a blistering last-minute strike to secure a 2-1 win against Arsenal in October 2002, five days before his 17th birthday.
He went on to score 17 goals in 77 appearances for the Toffees before securing his move to United in August 2004.
Newcastle made the first offer for Rooney but he says he was only interested in a move to Old Trafford once it became apparent United boss Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to sign him.
"If no-one else had come in I would have gone to Newcastle," stated Rooney.
"But I knew that United was the club I wanted to join."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Liam Miller looks set to leave Manchester United with the club willing to listen to offers for the Irishman.
The 25-year-old has failed to establish himself at Old Trafford since arriving from Celtic in 2004.
The attacking midfielder struggled to break into Sir Alex Ferguson's first team plans and found himself frustrated on the sidelines.
Miller spent the second half of last season on loan at Leeds and helped them reach the play-off final only to lose to Watford.
The Republic of Ireland international has been informed he does not figure in Ferguson's plans and that they will let him leave for the right offer.

Will He Won`t He?

Ruud van Nistelrooy returned to training with Manchester United this morning - but doubt still remains over whether the Dutchman will still be at Old Trafford for the start of the season.
After his massive bust-up with Alex Ferguson prior to the final game of the last campaign against Charlton, after which Van Nistelrooy was banned from playing in Roy Keane's testimonial, it was widely assumed the 30-year-old would have moved on by now.
Instead, after insisting he wanted no discussion over his future until after the World Cup, Van Nistelrooy's hopes of an immediate move have been scuppered, with neither Real Madrid nor Bayern Munich currently willing to meet United's £15million asking price.
Van Nistelrooy has indicated to both clubs he would be willing to join them, with Bayern yesterday revealing they had already started talks with the striker.

He wasn`t supposed to be back just yet.
Instead, he joined many of his senior team-mates - including Edwin van der Sar, Park Ji-Sung and United's England contingent - at the club's Carrington training ground.
Ferguson was not due in until later, having delayed his departure from South Africa by 24 hours.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Ah that`s better, now I`ve managed to upload the M.U. crest. They should now appear automatically on all my posts in future.

Sir Alex Ferguson plans to revert Alan Smith back into a striker next season. It`ll be interesting to see how things develop now that Van the Man seems almost definite to exit Old Trafford. After his bad injury last season when playing against Liverpool Smith will be welcomed back with open arms by the Old Trafford faithful.

With the return from injury of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this means that Sir Alex has a fair amount of choice in the striker department, though to lose someone of van Nistelrooy`s quality will surely impact on United`s ability to score goals.