Pardon the headline. I have no excuses, really.
United put on another excellent display to blow away Pompey and return to the summit of the Premier League, albeit on goal difference. To be accurate though, one would have to say that it was a splendid first half display followed by a little sedate second half.
We were breathtaking from the whistle and went 2-0 up in 13 minutes, with two goals coming in two minutes. The first one was a result of a neat one-two between Nani and Ronaldo, with Ronaldo finishing it off with the nerve of a genuine striker. The second, however, was magic. It would be unfair to say that the resulting free kick was unintended, just as it would be a stretch to say that Ronaldo precisely knew the trajectory the ball would take. He has been practicing a lot of free kicks in training, lately, and it shows in the frequency at which he’s managed to bang them in of late.
This one had a touch of audacity. The way he used the outside of his foot to give the ball a rip, in an attempt to lift it over the wall in itself needed some confidence. Of course I am not mentioning the technical ability needed to attempt such a shot with the appropriate power. It did David James — playing in his 500th game — little good as the ball swerved wickedly the other way to rifle into the top right hand corner. Pure magic, if I have not already mentioned it.
But let us talk about the not so glaringly obvious. Initially, I had my reservations when I looked into the team composition: Ronaldo and Rooney played up top — which wasn’t too concerning as that has happened before. The defensive end wasn’t anything to be worried about either. It was in the midfield. Park, Carrick, Scholes and Nani formed the midfield quartet. I was looking forward to Scholes’ full return to a starting role but Park and Nani’s inclusion was something I had to hold my breath over. Of course I also had my doubts about Carrick. The reasons were not because said players (I had reservations about) were crap; but it was because they may end up being too pretty for our own good.
But I guess there is a reason why I am sitting here writing about Manchester United in a blog, and SAF is there at Old Trafford, building another one of the great teams he’s built over the years — I am using the lines of one of the commenters here.
So it turns out that Nani had one of his best games for us. I think he played his best game for us so far, yesterday. He used to be guilty of giving the ball too often, dilly-dallying on the ball too often or showing a general lack of decision making. But I think enough work is going on in the training ground. So the results are there for all to see. Similarly Carrick had another great game. He has had more good games recently, and I think that can be attributed to a more continuous run of matches that he’s been getting. However, I would be interested to see if he has a good game when our team is playing poorly. I am still willing to stand by Carrick and want him to come good, and it would be great if he rises to the challenge of some other midfielders who are pushing for a more permanent berth.
Talking of midfielders, Scholes had a masterful game. It looks like he’s never been away. He initiated the move that led to our first goal and generally pinged passes around the pitch. The break has done him good, and at this age it’s nice to see him come back after a long ‘rest’. We all know what a destructive player he was last season when he returned from a lay off due to blurred vision. Here’s hoping a bit of the same during the second half of this season. A fresh Scholes is especially important when we head to Europe. Anderson showed some more glimpses of his outstanding abilities. He came extremely close to breaking his scoring duck. I guess that will have to wait a little longer. Nonetheless, he is making more runs into the box. Playing with the Ginga’ Ninja would help him become the Dreadlocked Ninja — a Paul Scholes MK II, albeit with better tackling.
We generally hogged possession and played them off the park. Which reminds me — Park was disappointing. I had expected more from him but, obviously, he is taking a lot of time to get going. Vidic played yesterday — shrugging off the virus like it was an annoying housefly sitting on his nose — and, along with Rio, looked rock solid. We need a lot of this kind of solidity if we are to keep Spurs at bay in the weekend.
The only regret at the end of the day was the scoreline. But then we United fans are certainly spoilt with success, aren’t we?
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