since 1878

Manchester United (2) 2 - 0 (0) Ipswich Town

FA Carling Premiership 2000-01

Saturday, December 23, 2000

Referee: S Bennett

Manager: Unknown

Old Trafford

Attendance: 67,597

Manager: George Burley

Match Number: 2879










G Neville

P Neville














Match Report

Town outclassed at Old Trafford

Two goals from Ole Gunnar Solskjaar send Ipswich to their 4th defeat of the season. Ipswich were outclassed, but not embarressed, against the richest club in the land.

All the glory hunters of the region can now safely come out of hiding, pull on their replica Man Utd shirts back on with pride (purchased from Woolworth's), and boast once more about what a great team they support. There must be a lot of relieved people about. Ipswich went down 2-0 at Old Trafford thanks to an Ole Gunner Solskjaar brace in the first half. The game was settled in the first period, where a nervy looking Ipswich never imposed themselves on an extremely impressive looking United. At times they passed the ball around with such pace and quality that another pummelling looked well and truly on the cards. Fortunately, the second half saw a much more composed performance from Town, and they at least showed Old Trafford in small glimpses why we are so high in the table. But by that time, the game had already been lost. Town fans left the stadium contemplating on how disappointing the Town performance had been, while also reflecting that at least we hadn't been embarrassed like our last visit here. Ipswich started the game with a 4-4-2 system that had Gary Croft playing left back. This meant there was no place in the starting line up for £4.5 million man Herman Hreidarsson. Jermaine Wright returned to the left of midfield. Man Utd had to make do with playing the ‘second rate' Solskjaar up front, as Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham were all missing through injury. United dominated the early proceedings, and at times their play was breathtaking. They put Town players under so much pressure that it made it hard for the Blues to string together more than about three passes together at a time. Every time they won the ball, they came forward with amazing pace. The accuracy of the one touch passing meant they looked capable of scoring every time they had the ball. They inevitably scored after twenty minutes, when a rampant united vitually walked the ball into the net. Giggs played the ball casually to Solskjaar, who rounded Wrighty and tapped the ball home. Ipswich were looking ropey to say the least at this point, and wasn't too long before Utd added a second. This time it was Beckham who's exquisite pass found Solskjaar. The unmarked Norwegian needed no second invitation to fire a low shot into the corner of the net. Most Town fans were now nervously being reminded of that fateful day in 1995, and were preying Town would decide to start playing soon. In reality, another thrashing like that was never on the cards, but most were happy to see half time arrive with only a two-goal deficit. For second half, Burley decided to bring on Alun Armstrong for the rather disappointing Jermaine Wright. The change had an immediate impact. Town were able come forward with more vigour, and looked much more dangerous as they created several good chances. Indeed Armstrong himself nearly scored within minutes of coming on. After latching on to a long Venus pass, the new signing raced towards goal and let fly with a vicious shot that produced a cracking save from Barthez. Had that effort gone in, it could have been a very different game. It didn't of course, and while United were never able to impress like they did in the first half, they were never under too much pressure. Burley brought on Hreidarsson in the 75th minute for the booked Wilnis, while Reuser was brought into the frey for the final few minutes. Town had given themselves a far better account of themselves in the second half, and the Town fans certainly enjoyed the occasion, making themselves heard in a very subdued Old Trafford. The 67,000 crowd sounded more like 6,700, and the Ipswich fans goaded the Utd fans with a rousing rendition of ‘You'll never walk alone'. To summarize, it's easy to be critical of Town. For the first time in while, I think Burley got his tactics horribly wrong. Why Burley opted not to play Hreidarsson from the start was a very odd decision. He's had a blinding season, and is sort of player you want at Old Trafford to start, as apart from being a great defender, he can use his pace to instigate quick breaks. Town players looked overawed for the first time this season, probably victims of all the media hype which was centred around this game. The Ipswich midfield looked very ineffective, with Magilton and Jamma not performing like they usually do. I think now is time to start playing Scowie in midfield, as we always look brighter when he moves into this position. It was too late by the time the switch was finally made. But we must take stock, and remember we have just played the hardest fixture of the calendar. Until last week, no one had won at Old Trafford for about 2 and half years. The fact that they had recently lost their home record meant we were on the end of the backlash. With all the added media hype, some Town fans genuinely believed were going to win, and to be honest, that prospect was always very unlikely. United are a class apart from any other team in the league, and the difference in quality between the teams was unfortunately very visible. But Town did give a good account of themselves, and can take pride in the fact that we can compete on the largest stage, and not look out of place. That is something one year ago, every Town fan would have settled for. From The Terrace

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