Before the Villa game, Chelsea had just drawn 3-3. There was all the motivation for the side to cut their lead from three to zero; separated on goal difference. The anticipation was also high among our lot; after all, we just beat sides by handsome margins with a joke of a defence. Surely the confidence was so high that we might have as well stuck in gardeners and the kitman at the centre of defence and yet manage to squeeze something out of the match.
Funny story: Saturday didn’t quite go to plan.
But while our defence, as stretched as it was (Vidic was just returning from his bout of flu) was to blame for their goal, it was the complete lack of cutting threat — actually anything — going forward that did us in.
It started with the obvious: Ferguson inexplicably going with a 4-5-1 formation at home. What was that all about? This is Villa. No disrespect to their status or their form in the league, but at home, given our record against their largely unchanged squad, we ought to have been a bit more positive. And to play like we had bags of lead attached to our feet was hard to understand. Moreso, when you have the chance to pair Rooney with Owen, a striker fresh off a red-hot display at Wolfsburg, you grab that chance with all the hands you have at your disposal — even the imaginary ones. Strikers like Owen deserve to be given the chance when they are on a roll. You don’t drop him from the starting line up immediately. It sounds a lot like rotating the side for the sake of it — which should never be the idea.
Despite all the talk about our lack of creativity and cutting edge, this season, we were capable of much better than the fare that was served up on Saturday.
Rooney started brightly only to frustrate for great parts of the game. There were also moments of desperation from him when he tried to do too much. Oh, and there was that dive! I’m not in the practice of getting on the backs of our players excessively, but I find the relative silence in the mainstream media on his dive astonishing. English star players like Rooney and that hypocrite, Gerrard, get away with a lot, I must say from the mainstream press. [This is not a rant on Rooney, although it feels like crap when one of your own players dive, but more on the double standards of the media — near hysterical reaction — when a foreign player dives.]
Also, I have to ask now: why Park yesterday? Why? I saw little point in him, and while he does very well for us as a defensive winger / wing back, Park as a winger is as useful as a blunt pencil for precision diamond-cutting.
Giggs, meanwhile, was having one of his off days. It can happen; he’s 36 years old. Can’t blame him necessarily as we can’t be expected to be reliant on him every week. Someone else needs to get that hint.
I won’t say who.
The manager later went off on one about time keeping to be taken off the refs’ hands: good idea, but we could have had all day yesterday, and still huffed and puffed. However, I’d like to agree with the other thing SAF said; that it was a bad day at the office. Having played our way through a horror injury crisis and still scored for fun over the past few weeks, I’d like to give him that benefit of doubt. Although I’m still in disbelief over our tactics.
4-5-1 at Old Trafford? Why oh why? Or as the kids, and most adults like to say these days: WTF?!
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