Yes, it’s amazing how many important and late goals Carlos Tevez has got us this season. Yesterday was another such occasion where he chipped in with a crucial late goal that still keeps United in control of their own destiny.
The match report won’t be too comprehensive here but I’ll touch up on the main points.
What was surprising here, with all talk about United’s squad depth, was the way some of the players looked knackered. I don’t know whether it’s because of the way Blackburn took the game during the opening exchanges or if it was because they generally kicked us all over the park, or closed us down as the politically correct line would go.
Ronaldo who usually does show a lot of desire, even in games where he’s subdued, looked strangely uninterested except for the last 15 minutes — by which time every player seemed to come to life. Till then I can’t think of any player, save for Evra, and to some extent in the early stages, Tevez, who really gave a shit.
Now I am not accusing the players for slacking off. The problem with a bad performance with a full strength side prior to a Champions’ League tie against an opposition like Barcelona is that it exposes the flaws in the team that you really don’t want to reveal to your opponent. It could be viewed another way too — we could bounce back as the squad will be motivated, or that Anderson, Hargreaves, Rooney and EVDS will be fit for this encounter. See it as what you want, but Barcelona would be certainly interested.
That said, yesterday was a day where we needed someone to come on and change things up in central midfield in the second half — something we managed in previous games. Anderson and Hargreaves were sorely missed because their energy and bite would have perfectly complemented Michael Carrick’s passing range.
The first goal from Santa Cruz was due to something that has been rare this season: a defensive blunder. A misjudgment of a throw-in by Ferdinand, let Roque through to score his 20th of the season.
But then, we did little to prove that it was undeserved for Blackburn. Mark Hughes deployed Santa Cruz on the right to close down Evra and Giggs and Ronaldo and Nani or whoever chose to play there and he did a good job of it. It was the only toward the end where desperation sunk in and Rovers were pummelled. Anyway here’s a brief lowdown on some of the performances.
Scholes and Giggs were poor yesterday; Scholes more anonymous than Giggsy. Although, it was funny that it was Scholesy’s header that was turned in by Tevez. Nani’s arrival showed what we were missing on the left wing. Maybe Scholes might get more space against the less physical Barcelona, but I would rather start Nani in future. Giggs should be used to come on towards the end to use his experience. At the moment, we need people with energy and pace to avoid a repeat of last season, and hence I say it once again: Anderson, Hargreaves and Nani can provide us with that.
Rooney tried his best despite a knock to his hip but he was thwarted by Brad Friedel who somehow saves his best for games like these. Tevez showed all energy early on but faded out later on only to nick a goal late on. Carrick tried to be as positive as he could and he didn’t do too badly. But again, he usually does better when he’s afforded enough space. But he, and everyone in front of him, was closed out quite well. So it really didn’t make things too easy for him.
Tommy K looked uncertain with the crosses that were pumped in and his kicking still remains dodgy.
Nani and Evra were bright spots today, though. The left back bombed forward but lacked support and the winger gave the team the impetus it so badly needed. And his corners kicks were much better than Giggsy’s were, which eventually led to the goal.
So a draw leaves us needing to draw Chelsea and win at either of Wigan or West Ham to retain the title. So it’s all not so bad as it might seem. What we need to concentrate now on is Barcelona. Get in a decent performance at Camp Nou, and we can rest easy and think about Chelsea.
EDIT: Oh, and the referee was a right twat.
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