Writer: Mike Field
Date:Sunday April 15 2012
Personally I think Alex McLeish has out done himself in his after match interview today.
We've all experienced the gems like 'I know Gabby is not a winger' and 'I play four strikers' this season, and no doubt there will be a slightly more sensible after match ramble on the official site later, but some of you are going to love this.
Speaking to Sky Sports McLeish said:
'I'm not disappointed from the view of the young players. They gave everything.'
Fine so far isn't it...
'United are a world class side and we've got a lot of young players out there that haven't played half a reserve season before now.'
Erm hold on just one second.
'...a lot of young players that haven't played half a reserve season...'
Shall we look at that? I really don't want to because I know what the answer will be, but sometimes I suppose you have to force yourself.
We started with:
Baker, Lichaj, Clark, Bannan, Weimann and subbed in Carruthers.
For fairness I suppose I should mention we also had Johnson and Delfouneso on the bench, of which, Johnson has not yet made his first team debut.
Let's look at that claim again, 'haven't played half a reserve season'.
So go overkill, let's go back to 2010, specifically January 23rd when we played Brighton in the FA Cup.
Who do we find in the first team, Delfouneso starts the game and we know that season he was a regular in the second string at that point and we also find that Clark got on the pitch again from the substitute bench.
I'm pretty sure Clark was a regular in the second string that season because he was the sodding captain!
So that's two players down.
So let's look at the continuation of the reserve season in 2010.
Now I can't find the stats for the Chelsea match, but the prematch article on Feb 1st lists the team as being:
Bevan, Lichaj, Clark, Davies, Bouma, Roome, Hogg, Collins, Weimann, Delfouneso, Hofbauer.
Subs - Carruthers, Roberts, Williams, Simmonds.
Now lets' jump forward a few days to the stats for the Wolves game on Feb 16th.
We again see Clark and Weimann in the starting line up, and Carruthers on the bench.
Now clearly Clark, Lichaj, Delboy and Weimann are regulars at that point. We all know this, I don't have to prove it.
Now if anybody is wondering why Baker is missing, this is because by now he'd already gone on loan until the end of the season with Lincoln - Lichaj also spent a spell at Lincoln alongside him that season.
Carruthers meanwhile, in the 2010/11 season, was in his second year of his Academy Scholarship, making I believe 11 appearances for the second string (not including the games he remained on the bench).
So it's a bit of a stretch to even say Carruthers hasn't 'played half a reserve season'.
Leaving firstly, just Bannan, who if memory serves was on loan at Blackpool that season. But it doesn't matter much because Bannan was turning out for the second string in the 2007/08 season and then secondly Johnson.
Now we knew about Johnson as he caught Houllier's eye last season and made the bench, but that season he also made 13 appearances for the second string, so just like Carruthers, you can't even stretch the claim to him.
So ultimately what can we deduce from this...Alex has Ecked up again. The press might fall for it, other fans might fall for it...but anybody with half a knowledge of the youngsters coming through can see right through it.
Had Eck chosen to say this a few months ago, maybe at the start of the season, maybe he'd have been close because of Carruthers and Johnson and maybe I'd have let it go. But in April 2012 having gone back to January of 2010 and looked at our reserve match stats seeing all those players involved...not a chance.
Must try harder really should be his catchphrase and it's a shame really, because the interview started so well.
Just for completion, he also rambled:
'We've got three cup finals now at home and one away at West Brom and the players have to bare their teeth. If we play as we did in the last couple of home games we've got a chance. I'd like to get six points, at United today we always believed we could get something, as we believe at any club, but it was a bridge too far for us.'
Just like those other clubs where McLeish also said we shouldn't expect anything from.
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Date:Sunday April 15 2012
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