It was as I said yesterday. The unforgiving nature of the Christmas schedule lends itself to games that call for a good old fashioned scrap fest. Teams will come to Old Trafford, dig themselves a nice trench, build a wall and sit sipping some classic blend of English tea.
Of course, that doesn’t mask the fact that there are problems in the side — the lack of ability to put the ball in the net being just one of them.
Fergie started with Park, Carrick, Fletcher and Ronaldo across midfield, and Berbatov and Rooney upfront. The back four, predictably, consisted of O’Shea, Evans, Vidic and Rafael.
If I were to write a description of the way we played yesterday, I would be repeating myself several times over. It’s been typical of United this season: dominate possession, string a few passes right till outside the box, and then give the ball back to the opposition / shoot the ball into row z / cross it only for player x to inexplicably scuff it from point blank range.
The first half was a good illustration of the above scenarios. Rooney missed, Berbatov missed, Ronaldo missed, Park missed (but then if there was ever a contest on shooting and missing, Park would come out top — he’s the best misser ever).
The second half was a bit of the same. Although, bringing Scholes on clearly changed the game. Just as demonstrated by our title winning 06/07 season, Scholes and Carrick were good partners. In this season, though, Scholes and Carrick would work if 1) the Ginger Prince has the legs and 2) it’s against ‘lowly opposition’ at home.
Carrick showed a tendency to move forward more than he has in the past, and it was a positive sign in the player’s development. One of those forward runs was to eventually lead to making the goal as Berbatov kungfu kicked it in. The relief was palpable on most faces, as it was on Berbatov’s, showing how much of a worry this is fast becoming for even players to deal with. We are struggling to score, Ronaldo isn’t at his best — not by any standard — and we need to be picking up these wins when we are at our worst. [This is assuming this is as bad as it can get].
But the bigger talking point of the match would always be the incident in the first half. Before saying any thing further let me say this: Pogatetz, you fucking cunt. Get the fuck out of football. You’ve tried to end Possebon’s career, and, yesterday, made the footballing imitation of Homer strangling Bart. Just thank your lucky stars that the referee was somehow not looking. So, please, just fuck off.
Right. *clears throat*. Where was I?
In all seriousness though, here’s the thing: Ronaldo was fully justified in speaking his mind to Pogatetz in the tunnel. The “bust up”, everyone is on about was fully justified. Ronaldo’s had enough crap through this season. Pogatetz, on recent evidence, is clearly not a footballer and his tackling has been a professional hazard for his more skilled peers. I’d be shocked if the FA even contemplates taking action on Ronaldo.
On performances, I thought Park had transcended the realm of ridiculousness and moved to the surreal when it came to his finishing. I couldn’t have seen a better scripted tale on contriving to do the wrong thing over and over again. It must take a lot of skill to accomplish what Park did yesterday, no?
Rooney was a bright light yesterday while Ronaldo had another muted outing. Whether it was due to the ceasless hackjob operation performed on him these days, or the Pogatetz strangle, or his lack of full fitness — the hunger seems to be missing from his body language. Neville has moved from being a liability to being just about adequate. While Rafael showed ambition early on, he did tend to get caught up far too forward. Neville helped give that shape back to the side. And it worked for us, against a team that wasn’t showing too much ambition anyway. [To his credit, he has been decent recently and has shown improvement.]
And finally a word on Jonny Evans, for whom, Rio’s absence is proving to be golden. I like the lad, and he continued to give a good account of himself.
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