United 4-0 West Bromwich Albion
Another nice weekend, another three points in the bag, yet we’re not better than Hull. Oh well, that can wait, I suppose. It still is fairly reassuring seeing us just 6 points off the top with a game in hand. But, again, we’ll get to the topic of the title race later on (in time that is — not in this post).
Fergie started off with Rafael at right back and Fletcher and Giggs in central midfield. Nani was benched; Tevez, in some parallel dimension we don’t know about — perhaps, the international break had something to do with that?
To put it simply: first half not so good, second half very, very good. I suppose anyone who looked at the scorelines during half time and at the final whistle could have come up with that. The truth is, despite doing everything we could in the first half, and being wrongly disallowed a genuine goal from the man of the moment, Wayne Rooney, something wasn’t quite right in the first half. Perhaps, it was the tireless running and harrying by West Brom? Perhaps, we were feeling the effects of the oft stated excuse of the international break? Perhaps a bit of both? We just couldn’t get beyond fannying about near the box while misplacing passes at the same time.
To West Brom’s credit, they defended exceedingly well in the first half.
The game was a microcosm of what I have been noticing from our football lately. There is this strange sense of ennui mixed with moments of genius from United this season. At times it appears as if the players, fresh from having won every trophy they wanted to win, couldn’t give a fuck about the “recreational activity foisted upon them” (they are champions after all). At other times, it’s as if they wake up from the said ennui and realise they need to play some football to do justice to their wages and also to avoid much bollocking — as if to say: “Ok lads, let’s play some football now and get home without an earful from the gaffer”. And they wake up, go bang four goals for fun while playing some training kickabout in the process.
I may be the only one seeing it, but we seem to be switching on and off whenever we feel like.
I am not sure how to see this though. It could be good, because we are yet to see the return of a bonafide creative central midfielder in Michael Carrick, who improves our ball retention several fold.
In individual performances, we should really be talking only about Wayne Rooney. It’s nice to see Rooney dominate a game as much as he did on Saturday. I did hope for a barnstorming performance from Rooney for United, in my last post, and he gave one that made me — a Rooney fan — quite happy. Berbatov, despite being in and out of the game, seems to have really helped Rooney — who has started to learn how to best use his energy during a game. We saw finishing, power, vision, touch — everything we wanted from our golden boy. And if he stays injury free, we can expect the breakthrough season we’ve all been expecting from him for long.
Among other players, Berbatov is an example of a player who does so much with little. An assist to Rooney and an instinctive tap in would help relieve some of the burden of the transfer fee off him. The ease at which he plays his football is one thing, but his obvious footballing brain is what will help him settle into our system. He can pull balls out of air like they were velcro balls. And very rarely wastes passes. He had a poor first half, but made up for it in the second. One would hope he stays in the game more often than he drifts out of it.
Ronaldo is still finding his feet, and it’s good that we are winning despite that. But his pace is what gives our team the bite on the counter attack. So an off key Ronaldo is still a very potent weapon.
I felt happy about Nani’s goal because it makes him work harder and feel rewarded for his efforts so that he can tell his manager that he wants to start.
Giggs didn’t have much to write home about, and was quite disappointing. Rafael had another productive day in his learning curve, and his display was more about his defensive ability rather than his forays up field. Either way we do have a gem in our hands.
In conclusion, it’s great to see some real football after a sleep inducing two weeks and I’m sure the Celtic game will be a cracker. More on that, in future posts.
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