Let’s get this straight: United didn’t deserve the point.
One may argue about United throwing everything at Spurs, towards the end, but then it is only natural to do that when you are behind by a goal.
Spurs were well organised, bolstered by the arrival of Alan Hutton (and Woodgate’s second appearance) who made Dawson appear better than he has been for them. Also Huddlestone and Jenas were ready to take the game to us.
I wouldn’t want to really blame SAF’s team selection. He picked the best XI possible. Scholes alongside Hargreaves; Giggs, Ronaldo on the wings; Tevez, Rooney up front; Brown, Vidic, Rio and Evra in defence. There is really nothing to complain about the selection. However, playing Rooney out wide really beggars belief.
We have seen time and again how badly the experiment to field Rooney wide has failed. What makes this development more curious is SAF’s comments on Rooney’s goal drought:
We told him after the game he doesnâ€™t need to expend so much energy in midfield. Wayne worked too hard and that maybe cost him the opportunity to get goals.
So, surely, playing him out wide is not the solution? Oh well, he didn’t have a good game, which is being very generous. And it wasn’t just Rooney. Ronaldo, Tevez, Giggs and Scholes were all peripheral in the first half. I thought Hargreaves was the only player who did a decent job.
United were rattled as Ramos tried to instill the speed that characterized Sevilla’s attacks into Spurs. While we got away at home, in the FA Cup, we really couldn’t do much other than whine to the referee yesterday. You know things are not going your way when Wayne Rooney dives.
The introduction of Anderson gave our side a much needed impetus. Nani also injected some urgency when he replaced Giggs; the veteran winger having an entirely forgettable afternoon. It was also a measure of the way Anderson has continued to grow in the side — the change he brings to the side belies his age. Which brings us back to the midfield debate.
In Scholes, Carrick, Hargreaves and Anderson SAF has four very capable midfielders. However, as the English national side will attest, having excellent players may not necessarily transform into excellent partnerships. We have seen Scholes and Carrick last season do extremely well, and Anderson and Hargreaves do well this season. Hargreaves and Carrick has been uninspiring, while Scholes and Hargreaves wasn’t very encouraging yesterday.
Whatever be the partnerships, certain things got a little more clear yesterday. In Anderson we have a player who could send passes all round, go on a rampaging run and, at the same time, tackle tigerishly — all attributes of a well-rounded central midfielder. The only thing missing in his armoury is goals, and with age that should come; he came pretty close yesterday. Against Spurs, Scholes tended to play very deep and cut out his runs into the box — which is where he is usually very dangerous.
It was a late corner and a Tevez goal, thanks to some bad marking, that got us out of jail. However, Tevez was well out of the game before this and it was his only telling contribution throughout, although it was a crucial goal.
At the end of the day credit must be given to Ramos’ men for their performance in the first half, especially. But there must be genuine concern raised at the general poor play of our team — the lack of link up play, the misplaced passes. The boss will be angry with the number of yellow cards in the game and Rooney will be suspended from the derby game.
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