Further analysis

Watch Denis Irwin’s verdict on United’s performance at Birmingham in the Big Match on MUTV from 17:30 GMT on Monday 11 January.
11/01/2010 08:35, Report by Stewart Gardner

Snow blow in Birmingham

Have United ever played a game in colder conditions than at St Andrew's on Saturday?

Moscow in November was positively balmy compared to Birmingham. I’m not a big fan of players wearing gloves for games but on Saturday it should have been compulsory. I had so many layers on in the St Andrew's press box I resembled the Michelin Man. One of the commentators sat behind us actually had his own portable heater! When I spoke to Tomasz Kuszczak on MUTV after the game, he told me it was the coldest conditions he’d ever experienced during a game. And he’s from Poland: Eastern Europeans laugh in the face of sub-zero temperatures so it really must have been cold.

Despite the chill I’m glad the game went ahead. The pitch was perfectly playable and the conditions around the ground weren’t too bad (although I did end up on my backside after parking the car). I wonder what Mame Biram Diouf made of it on his United debut? Although, having played the last three seasons in Norway, he must be used to the odd flake of snow.

To gain a bit of respite from the big chill, United have gone to Qatar for a warm-weather training camp. No doubt the squad will reflect on a missed opportunity to go top of the league. That said, a trip to Birmingham has turned into one of the tougher away assignments - the quality gap between the top teams and the rest really does seem to have narrowed. Trips to Wigan aside, the days of turning up at an away game and being convinced United will win have disappeared.

It all makes for a fascinating season. United still have a great chance of winning the title, despite not being anywhere near their best or producing the sort of winning run the Reds are famous for. Here’s hoping one starts against Burnley on Saturday and the Reds can avenge that shock at Turf Moor back in the heat of August.


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