Oțelul Galați 0-2 Manchester United – as it (barely) happened
Awful awful from United, who nonetheless contrived two penalties, and we got a couple of red cards to enjoy too.
Anyway, thanks all for your company – Netherton will be back tomorrow night with the Marseille-Arsenal game, because he’s – you know – not French. And we’ll stick up some other stuff for you to grunt over between now and then. Lehit.
A fairly odd game, that. This time tomorrow, no one will remember a single thing about it, and yet the last half-hour or so was actually quite entertaining. United have lost their flow, though, and need to arrange some consistent selection to get it back.
FULL-TIME: OTELUL GALATI 0 v MANCHESTER UNITED 2
GOAL! GALATI 0 v UNITED 2
Rooney goes the same way as last time, and this time the keeper guesses right, but though his kick’s a sidefooter, it’s still hit with plenty power, and rises over Grahovic’s outstretched arms. United’s players celebrate sheepishly.
91 min: ANOTHER PENALTY FOR UNITED!
Rooney takes the ball on the left of the box, and sways away before checking back inside, urging Antal to leave a leg out, which he duly tumbles over.
90 min: Nani hits the post, coming off the right and thunking a right-footer that bounces just in front of Grahovic and into the upright.
89 min: …which classy segue is interrupted by a RED CARD! Carrick rolls one to Rooney in centrefield, and on the turn, he lifts it over the top for Hernandez, racing away from Perendija. The defender, knowing he’s done, pulls Hernandez back, and is shown a second yellow card.
88 min: Gulati’s nickname is the Ironworkers, which I misread at first sight. Odd, given that I’ve no idea what an Ironwanker is. Is it someone who…
87 min: Viglianti on for Punosevac.
85 min: There’s been about as many decent moves in this game as there are flies on Phil Jones, but ye cannae say that these last twenty minutes have been dull – unless you’ve been reading this, of course. And that’s The FCF: making the mildly diverting worse.
83 min: Ilie on for Frunza.
82 min: Great effort from Punosevic, who pulls behind a cross from the right and, side-on, swings his right foot to meet the ball on the volley, which goes not far wide of the near post.
81 min: Hernandez turns onto a pass and races across Giurgiu, who brings him down just outside the D, on the right. Nani ushers Rooney aside, and lightly arcs one over the wall that Grahovic collects.
80 min: Some jiggery-pokery from Nani on the right results in the finding of some space, and he pokes a careful ball between two defenders for Anderson, who tries a smartarse touch past his man that comes to nowt.
77 min: In the other game in this group, Benfica are 2-0 up in Basle. And the Napoli-Munich game is 1-1, as is City-Villarreal.
77 min: Gulati win a throw on the left, deep in United’s half, and a minor kerfuffle ensues, before Lindergaard, who is really very dashing, comes over the top of Evans (that he always keeps in his goalmouth) and gets the ball away.
76 min: Jones on, Fabio off.
75 min: Phew. I feel rather like Miriam from the bible, who spoke ill of Moses and was immediately struck with leprosy. In fact that’s precisely how I feel.
72 min: Pena, a striker, replaces Neagu, who I now know not to have been the perpetrator of the overhead pass.
71 min: Valencia – who’s done almost less than me tonight – is replaced by Evans. Hernandez is now alone up front, with Nani on the left and Rooney on the right of midfield.
68 min: The ball’s popping around the United box, until a brilliant overhead kick from Neagu (I think) diverts it to Antal, wide on the right of the box. He smelts a volley towards the far post, but out of nowhere, Carrick slides in front of him to block the ball away.
66 mins: VIDIC SENT OFF!
Vidic is late and high on Neagu, but is still a little unlucky to be sent off – which when I put it like that, suggests that maybe he wasn’t. He’s also nay business hurling himself in like that on the halfway line, and looks utterly aghast, though for now at least, is directing his aghastivity towards the ref.
GOAL! GALATI 0 v 1 UNITED
Rooney delays, the keeper goes right, and he rolls it left.
64 min: PENALTY TO UNITED! AS MY NET LAPSES! THANK YOU BRANSON WITH YOUR HOT AIR BALLOONS YOU AMAZING ADVENTURER IN THE TRUE BRITISH STYLE, YOU!
Rooney crosses from the left, Costin sticks out an arm for nay reason, and is booked.
63 min: Best chance of the evening for United. Nani, free down the left, crosses for Rooney, who kills the ball very well, but it still goes slightly behind him, so that when he shoots right-footed, it’s with his inside heel, so squirts wide of the left-hand post.
62 min: Nani spins away from Salageanu, and heading infield, he’s brought down. Yellow card.
61 min: Happily, it’s a false alarm, and Fabio’s back on.
60 min: It’s all very well playing for United with your twin brother, but less handy when the robustness genes are shared between the two of you. Taking possession, his studs catch in the turf and he goes over, looking hurt.
58 min: Because Galati have marked Rooney so well, Hernandez has hardly been involved at all. It might do United to replace him Welbeck, who by dint of being better outside the box, allows Rooney greater licence to get into it, which also makes him harder to mark. That’s what I’d do if this were a game of subbuteo, anyway.
56 min: Peredija crumples Rooney in centrefieldish, and is booked. There follows a brief period of writhing, and then some getting up.
54 min: Carrick is late on Antal, sliding in and trying to hook his left leg around the ball. While watching a replay of the foul, and then another, both showing that he didn’t get a touch, Parry and pal remain outraged at the subsequent yellow card.
53 min: “Pleh”, says Tom Britten, which is rather overstating the case. Pl, maybe.
51 min: Given how decent he is with left foot, it’s surprising how much less effective Nani is when deployed on that side. But it remains the case, though a burst past Neagu forces Rapa to bundle him over, for which he’s booked – a trifle harshly.
50 min: Salageanu clatters Nani, but the ref doesn’t care. That Gulati haven’t done similar all game long is a decent indicator of how despicably United have performed thus far.
49 min: Any reading philosophers: is there a colour darker than black? If so, Fergie’s overcoat is it.
47 min: United are in desperate need of imagination, so Dimitar Berbatov should expect to spend the next 87 minutes manicuring his post-match smoke.
46 min: Later than expected, we have the first tea-cup reference. That Alan, what a one.
46 min: And off we nudge…
“Galati are bound to tire”, Ben Shepherd tells us, and he should know; he watches them regular.
John Reid is also looking on the bright side, anticipating a Stone Roses reunion that’ll “be full of people in their 40s ‘relieving their youth’ by taking countless E’s and Ian Brown scaring any animals and breaking all the windows in the area with his ‘unique’ signing style.”
You forget the spiky-haird types who missed it all first time around, although a small microbe of my being retains the hope that it might be ok. I’ve no idea how they’ll transcend the singing, but Ian Brown’s written some decent solo stuff, they can still all play their instruments, and Mani still knows what it’s like to be in a proper band.
Consolation Dept: Ben Shepherd is in the studio, and he once did this:
I’m going to cry softly for a little while, and then I’ll be back with the second half.
According to Alan Parry – which I realise is quite a qualification – that half of apparent football will have been “very interesting” for Gulati coach Munteanu. The only way that can possibly be possibly so if he’s eaten 17 [seventeen] microdots for his tea.
HALF-TIME: GULATI 0 v 0 MANCHESTER UNITED
45 min: Miniscule Mercies Department: there will be nay added minutes.
43 min: Nani sets off from the left towards the heart of the Gulati defence, beating a man or two as the rest back off, and from the edge of the box, hits a low shot that bounces in front of Grahovac. He makes a right to-do of it all, fumbling in front of him, but Hernandez can’t reach the loose globule in time.
41 min: I’m awaiting knowing commentary box hilarity about tea cups and hairdressers, but really, this is pliers and blowtorches territory. Nani actually wriggles some space, and with men in the box, picks the onlumbering Carrick, who with time and space, sidefoots a sheepish attempt over the bar.
40 min: A high-speed, acrobatic one-two between Rooney and Hernandez doesn’t almost come to anything, but we can pretend that it did in a vague sort of way to pretend that we’re engaging in worthwhile activity.
38 min: So, the Stone Roses, then. Any doctors out there know if they do voice transplants? Other doctors, that is.
35 min: United are playing a little faster now, Evra finding Rooney out on the left, who diddled Peredija and rolled back a return pass. Evra – who’s been United’s most sprightly attacker, which tells you a lot – drilled a pleasant enough shot, but one that Grahovac gathered easily at the near post.
34 min: Rooney finds Hernandez in what by our standards amounts to space on the right of the box, and suddenly danders are raised, before he has no option other than to attempt a pull-back into a phalanx of defenders.
32 min: Evra lifts a nice ball down the line for Nani, and he takes it down before crossing into the foot of Giurgiu. And so it starts again.
30 min: United win a free-kick 25 yards from goal, and Rooney bends a low shot around the outside of the wall, but it’s too close to Grahovic, and he gets down easily enough to tip it away.
27 min: A couple of shots, one for either side, neither of them remotely threatening, though, out of embarrassment, the players pretended that they were. And apologies for my technical gremlins.
25 min: Nani makes ground down the left and slings over a cross that Valencia knocks down and back for anderson, but the defender intercepts and clears.
22 min: To relieve the tedium, Nani runs with the ball whilst sporting his willy-in-mouth face. Sorry, who do I think I’m fooling – it’s the only one he ever makes, but the only incident worthy of note in the last bit of nonsense.
21 min: Almost every United attack has traversed the left side so far, and on key, they move it right for Valencia, but he can’t get by Salageanu.
20 min: Wayne Rooney had greater involvement in the first quarter of the Liverpool game than he’s had in this.
19 min: More passing from United, more harrying from Gulati, and then a nice touch from Nani on the left finds a soupcon of space, before immediately vanishing.
17 min: As ever, things appear to be taking place in other places: Bayern lead Napoli 1-0, and Viyyareaye are 1-0 at City.
16 min: All I can say is that if I were that bastard Something, I’d be making it my business to bastard well happen with extreme prejudice.
15 min: Anderson foxes his man in centrefield, drawing him in by making to go towards the ball before allowing it to run across him, then predictably ruins everything by spreading his pass behind Evra.
12 min: Vidic sells Smalling short (geddit) with a square pass, and there’s momentary cause for concern, before a dragged shot finds its way back to Lindegaard. United then break, and work a shooting opportunity for Anderson, who drills a characteristic lamer into the ground.
10 min: I think it’s fair to say that absolutely nothing has happened so far. It’s a bit like the life, in which, I’m led to believe, the point is that nothing happens.
7 min: As expected, Gulati are sitting deep, baby, deep deep down, like sleep sugar, while United attempt to inject some pace into proceedings. What they wouldn’t give for Theo Walcott.
6 min: Back to Valencia, I take it back: he’s wearing white boots, the tart.
4 min: Gulati fans do the reverse Man City. Oh what cards.
2 min: Tony Soprano fan Steve Ferrigan is pleased to see strong, silent archetype Tony Valencia back in the team:
“All he does is fizz up and down the right wing, fling in quality crosses, and what does he get? Ashley Young booting him from the starting 11. Would love to hear the conversations he shares with Berbatov.”
He’s lost his place to Nani, really, who’s better on the right and less effective on the left. As for the conversations, I imagine they’re conducted solely via eyebrow.
1 min: Hernandez gets down on his knees and begins to pray, adjacent to a cold-loving preacher who knows he’s here to stay. Then United kick off.
Pomposity and patronising tones poised, we cross to the commentary box in Bucharest and the music starts up. Antonio Valencia is singing along.
It seems that Fergie has decided to show everyone how clever he is by selecting Rooney and Nani, his two best players, and actual midfielders in midfield [some chuntering about Carrick no longer being worth of the name and Anderson being an inverted inside-out fantasista]. Smalling makes his first centre-back start of the season, alongside the returning Vidic, and Fabio comes in at full-back.
For Gulati, their team is as expected, save for in one position – captain Paraschiv is injured, so Punosevac replaces him at the top of the Non-Denominational Winter Festivities tree.
So, your teams:
Otelul Galati (4-3-2-1): Grahovac, Rapa, Perendija, Antal, Frunza, Costin, Filip, Salageanu, Neagu, Giurgiu, Punosevac. Subs: Branet, Skubic, Iorga, Ilie, Sarghi, Pena, Viglianti.
Man Utd (4-4-2): Lindegaard, Fabio Da Silva, Vidic, Smalling, Evra, Valencia, Anderson, Carrick, Nani, Rooney, Hernandez. Subs: De Gea, Jones, Evans, Owen, Berbatov, Welbeck, Fletcher.
Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)
I have been known to practice an affiliation to one of the teams participating in this game. And yet when they were busy chucking in goals to an admittedly enterprising Basle, part of me was pleased to escape the misery of yet another easily-negotiated group stage in this, the very UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE sponsored by Sponsorship ™. Because make no mistake, United fingers must now be unanused – fail to win tonight, and they’ll have a problem.
Galati won’t necessarily be a pushover either (yes they will – no offence Galatians). They lost their first two games, though only narrowly, and have also started their domestic season badly. But they’re apparently well-furnished with speed on the break, which is something.
Who am I trying to kid: this is going to be an exceptionally dull two-to-three goal victory (see Rapid Vienna, Fenerbahce, Bursaspor, Aalborg, and many many others) so I’ll try and keep things as football-free as possible for you.