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Brief thoughts on Valencia friendly

Our first pre-season friendly at home, against Valencia, ended in a comfortable 2-0 win for us, but the match was quite open and promised more goals than the score sheet would indicate.

Since it’s pre-season, I’ll just cap it with brief thoughts on the match and leave the stage for you to take over.

Antonio Valencia started out quite lively for the first 25 minutes but faded a bit during the second part of the first half. However he came back quite strongly in the second half being instrumental in both of our goals. I have been quite impressed with Valencia every time I’ve seen him in pre-season. He gives our side the much needed pace and attacking threat. He also seems undaunted about taking people on, seems to have the necessary physical presence to force the issue, and also has great delivery from the flanks. He also is capable of shooting well as his debut goal for us showed and yesterday, when he stung the palms of the ‘keeper with a good strike.

Michael Owen interests me now more, not because of his four misses, but the fact that we finally have a striker who plays off the shoulder of the last defender rather than spends time tracking back in midfield. He’ll get service in plenty, and I hope his misses today don’t dent his confidence. If he continues to make his intelligent moves into the box, I think the goals will arrive.

I disagree with the notion that Wayne Rooney was fantastic. I thought he was just good; his through ball when he slipped Owen clear was a joy, and he his goal will do good for his confidence. Other than that, I think I’ve seen better days from him.

The midfield remains a worry — we have players indecisive (read: Carrick) or unwilling to dominate the centre of the park putting our defenders under duress. This will not work for me. I’ve long maintained throughout this summer that it is our biggest area of concern. No number of wingers are going to help against physically intimidating midfields like the Chelseas and Liverpools. Also when Ferguson talks about spreading the goals around, he needs contribution from midfield. A Lampard-like player (or a vintage-Scholes) who can score goals from midfield is of utmost importance. We have, in Darron Gibson, someone who not only has the ability to shoot, but is also not afraid to have a pop when given the chance.

De Laet continues his amazing climb up in reckoning for more first team starts this season than anyone would have anticipated when he was first signed. His tackles were clean and decisive and inch-perfect. He’s very comfortable on the ball too, and is not afraid to rampage forward when given the chance. He’s 20 years old, and I see a maturity far beyond his age. It’s just a couple of appearances where I’ve seen him in action, but I think we have a real gem on our hands. Fergie, cut him up right, we need this diamond.

I must say I was quite underwhelmed by Zoran Tosic. I’ve heard rumours of people not being too impressed with his outings for the reserves, and I didn’t see much yesterday for me to make much of him. I hope Ferguson starts Nani on Sunday. He needs to be our first choice winger on the left (with Antonio on the right).

In all a decent outing for the side, but Sunday would be a better test of our side’s mettle. Nothing else springs in my mind about yesterday’s friendly. However, do feel free to add yours in the comments…

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And sorry for pimping the other blog I run (on general footy, among other things) but I have a long essay on football fan behaviour there — I’m sure that would require a lot more of your time to read and process, so you’ve been warned.



  1. Grognard

    9 August 2009 at 05:59

    @Craig Mc: And as much as I like De Laet, I still prefer Wes Brown for now. I think Rafael has a lot of upside but in my opinion those two are much better right now.

  2. Grognard

    9 August 2009 at 06:03

    @Redrich: Agreed but I feel we all can grab quite a bit from his two games with the big club. He’s very good at tackling and has the ability to go forward and make timely runs. That’s no fluke. You either have it or you don’t. I think the kid is a revelation and even Capello was so enthused he was hoping the lad was English.

  3. Grognard

    9 August 2009 at 06:07

    Like I have been trying to say for months but nobody would listen, well read this and watch your heart sink. 😥

  4. Karl

    9 August 2009 at 11:30

    @Footy4Eddy: I wonder how much of an impact his fooling around with CR7’s girlfriend had to do with Fergie’s decision to ship Smith.
    @Grognard: That’s just cruel. Funny, but cruel. Let’s give “The One” till the end of this season before we discard him. I too will write him off (I think) if he does not live up to expectation.
    @Grognard: That’s why I said, this was a stupid transfer in the first place. Not because of his ability, because he is just the best in his position, but for his injury record compared to the price paid. He was injury prone before we got him. He was injured when we got him. With our medical history of players ‘regularly’ getting injured (even before a game), what on earth made management think Owen would turn out different? Thinking about it, on a sidenote, with Nani/Anderson/Owen’s (and Carrick’s)transfer fees (before the great inflation), we could have gotten Kaka at the time and look for some freebies like Arsene.

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