Connect with us

Manchester United Fixtures

The Day After The Day After: Valencia 0-1 Manchester United

Watching several of Manchester United’s matches thus far this season has made for no shortage of excitement and entertainment, perhaps even for the neutral viewers out there.

That being said, for all of the goals, whether early, late, ordinary, amazing, or even funny, there’s been no shortage of frustration for United fans, especially with the lack of defense, and more importantly, wins, when United have ventured away from Old Trafford.

So then, it’s only natural that United’s first noteworthy away win of the season comes in a match and through a performance that was markedly different than what we’ve been seeing for the most part.

This is where it becomes about semantics. It can be easy to term a win of this nature both a great performance and a great result, but this is one of the situations where there is a discernible line between great performance and great result, with Wednesday’s triumph standing firmly on the side of the latter.

A great performance, at least from my humble viewpoint, implies an all-around success, in which all of the parts are clicking and everyone can walk off the pitch with their heads held high about their individual showing just as much as the team’s overall result.

There are several aspects of last night’s win that merit pointing out for positive reasons, certainly.

First and foremost, there’s the much needed improvement defensively. The importance of the presence of Rio Ferdinand, even though he’s not 100% healthy, can’t be understated. It was reasonable to expect things to be tighter at the back with Rio back, and though Valencia didn’t exactly provide a wealth of serious scares, it’s noteworthy to blank them in their house when the same couldn’t be done at Bolton, Everton, and Fulham.

And there was reason to be pleased with the contributions of Anderson, who will only improve as he reaches full match fitness.

And of course there’s the way United applied pressure late on instead of just sitting back and waiting out a goalless draw. That paid off, thanks to an excellently-executed move strung together by Nani, Federico Macheda, and Javier Hernandez, finished off with a well-taken and well-deserved goal by Hernandez, who made a huge impact in the short time he was involved. Starts will be hard to come by for him for the time being, but he could be quite the super sub.

It wasn’t all roses though. The better part of the match made for difficult and disappointing viewing, to put it mildly. There were far, far too many frustrating giveaways of possession, and Valencia keeper Cesar had little to do besides twiddle his thumbs until Berbatov’s excellent chance near the hour mark. And after that single opportunity, it was more of the same until Chicharito’s introduction with a quartervof an hour left livened things up.

And on an individual level, it was hard not to be frustrated with Park, who, for the impact that he has had in such occasions in the past, was not up to the task on Wednesday night. That being said, you have to give the guy credit for afterwards acknowledging that his subpar play, and though he was a prime candidate for an early substitution, perhaps being kept on for the full 90 will help him find his feet. It’s fair to say that he needs to, and fast, to warrant more than a severly limited role in a fully-fit squad (and that includes Antonio Valencia, if you’re ptimistic about his potential to return in February).

But the lack of a great performance can at least in part be attributed to the selection and tactical decisions made with the end and not the means in mind. And no matter your take on the ‘how’, the ‘what’ is a fantastic result, especially considering the ‘where’. Imperfect as the performance was, in a situation where results > performance, I know what I’m taking if I have to choose one.

As I said before the match, a draw would’ve been a solid result, a very good result, in fact.

But thanks to Chicharito’s fine finish, United ended up with a great result and rare, rare, rare win in Spain (let’s hope it doesn’t take another eight years for the next one, eh?). Not only can it inspire a step up in confidence and performances away from home domestically, but as a result of the great result, United now head in the double dip against Bursaspor well placed to get one foot in the round of 16, and perhaps one hand on sealing top spot in Group C, with two wins over the Turkish champions.

Next up, we’ve got a tricky match away to Sunderland ahead of a two-week international break. Steve Bruce’s already owns a home win over City and draws at home against Arsenal and away to Liverpool, and United will have their hands full with the in-form Darren Bent and new signing Asamoah Gyan.

After a huge win in Europe, this is prime letdown territory, especially with what Sunderland have done thus far and with what we’ve seen happen away from home in the Premier League thus far this season.

It’s imperative not to take any steps back defensively and in the table this weekend, as it’d be ideal to head into the break ff the heels of a positive week. With Chelsea facing Arsenal on Sunday, things could really tighten at the top if results can shake out the right way, and all the same, we could go into the break five or six points back of Chelsea if the opposite happens.

Will we see both great performance and great result tomorrow? Let’s hope so.