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United End 2009 With a Flourish

I was contacted by ESPN (Asia) to do a small interview with them, taking stock of the season so far. I believe it will be up on their site in a day or two. But one of the questions that had me stumped was when I was asked to name an unsung hero for us this season. I think Fletcher had been unsung in past seasons, but there have been enough noise made about his importance this season. And Park Ji Sung has been too mediocre to qualify (Maybe his cause may have been helped if his name was Park Ji-Unsung.). Anyway the main impression I got was we have blown hot and cold far too often to have any heroes, sung or unsung.

There have been times this season when our passing has been kindergarten level. We’ve lacked the verve to put teams to the sword. Even in matches we’ve won by handsome margins, there has been a lurking feeling of disjointedness. And in some matches we’ve lost, like against Fulham, we’ve been alarmingly outplayed — or at least had little to complain about.

Which is why a Wigan 5-0 thrashing leaves you confused. On one end you want to desperately savour the moment; the thrill seeing a flowing move reach its intended conclusion as Carrick places a shot into the bottom corner. On the other hand, the ease at which we picked apart Wigan makes one wonder if this is truly the worst Wigan side we’ve faced.

It is a funny thing though. When we huff and puff against a side packed with ten men behind the ball we complain about the negativity. When a side tries to open up we say they folded too easily. But, at the risk of taking credit away from the lads, this was a ridiculously poor Wigan side. So a word of caution: let’s keep the champagne in the fridge for now, eh?

Positives to take from the match are plenty though. Rooney, following his impressive display against Hull, was all over it today. Hopefully this is a return to form and not another failed promise.

I’ve belaboured this point several times, but I’ve never been a fan of the Antonio Valencia signing. I’ve said in the past that there are better wingers available in the market. But I have been accepting of how soon he has adapted to life at OT and have been impressed with his goal return so far. He’s not Cristiano Ronaldo. He’ll never be one. Anyone who thinks so is out of his mind. And Ferguson said something to that effect recently, but that’s just spin for he’s not going to buy players in the market (in other words: maybe — just maybe — we’re skint).

And Rafael had a stormer. He didn’t put a foot wrong, and topped it off with a goal. Berbatov wasn’t too bad either — his influence was very visible, and puts paid to all that guff a few days ago about a possible surgery.

This ends 2009 on a high note. But there’s not much you can read into yesterday’s performance. It’s good to see the players were up for this, and hopefully this is a sign we’ve turned a corner, and not just Wigan’s utter crapness on the night.



  1. ebrahim

    3 January 2010 at 01:55

    vote for giggs

  2. Traverse

    3 January 2010 at 02:28

    @ebrahim: looks like it’s been hijacked by bitters

  3. NicoQB

    3 January 2010 at 02:35

    @Traverse: Yep, that’s a strange one since Hulk, in my view, is another player in the mould of Rooney/Tevez. Short, physical and technical.
    Not the all round goal poacher, many have been crying for. But I have to say that his left foot looks sweet!

  4. Redrich

    3 January 2010 at 03:05

    @NicoQB: He’s not that short, Nico – not a giant, as his name might suggest, but bigger than Rooney and much stronger than Berbatov.
    I think there’s a need for diversity among our front men and someone like him or someone even bigger (Djeko eg.), would be worth a gamble.
    Players like Rooney and Berbatov would do well with the scraps that he could serve up. Kind of like put a fox in amongst the chickens. 🙂

  5. NicoQB

    3 January 2010 at 03:24

    @Redrich: I don’t like Dzeko.

    If Berbatov is slow, then I don’t know what Dzeko is. But having Hulk would be a step towards regaining some of the dynamic we had with Tevez and that so many here seem to miss. But then we’ve still to solve the most pressing problem – that of midfield.

  6. Grognard

    3 January 2010 at 06:48

    @NicoQB: That’s the first bit of honesty to come out of Fergie’s mouth in two years. AMAZING! 😯

  7. Grognard

    3 January 2010 at 06:50

    @Redrich: The bottom line is that Fergie does not think he can win without Rooney in the lineup, and you know, he’s right. Even when Rooney is playing poorly he is better than the rest of the team. So Owen has to find contentment as a super sub. Where I get mad is when Fergie subs in a useless git like Welbeck instead of Rooney in the last game. Fine, you won’t start Owen, well at least bring him in as a sub and don’t screw him over there too.

  8. Redrich

    3 January 2010 at 06:53

    @NicoQB: Yep, MF and attacker.
    I’m not that keen on Dzeko either, but his size could create havoc for us in the box (if he could find his way there) and that could indeed be the catalyst we need!

  9. Grognard

    3 January 2010 at 06:54

    @NicoQB: We all need to stop reading the rumors over at because all it does is make us crazy with fantasies. And as for Hulk, I would rather have Spider Man or Wolverine personally as they are faster and play better off the last defender. 😉 😉 😛 😛 😀

  10. Grognard

    3 January 2010 at 06:56

    @Redrich: Dzeko is incredibly overrated. I said this last year when he was on an incredible second half goal scoring streak. This year he has been a lot more down to earth but still, he is not a world class striker in my opinion. And yes, he is slow. And size is overrated. Gerd Mueller and Inzaghi had no size and they both made goals in the box a science. It’s all about instinct and positioning. Crouch and Heskey have size. Nuff said

  11. Redrich

    3 January 2010 at 06:57

    @Grognard: I was actually surprised he sat Owen after the Wolfsburg game. Seemed like the perfect moment to cash in on his form and boost his confidence at the same time.
    Beats the shit out of me!!! 😯 😯

  12. Redrich

    3 January 2010 at 07:10

    @Grognard: I just haven’t watched enough of him to make a decision one way or the other, so I will bow to your knowledge here, Grog. But I am really craving a big strong CF – I think it will take the work load off Rooney, and Berbatov too, and then I won’t have to bitch about either of them! 😀 😀

  13. Grognard

    3 January 2010 at 08:08

    @Redrich: Big and tough really doesn’t suit our style of play. We do not have the kind of players who can provide the kind of service to big and strong forward. That would require a Beckham and Ballack. What we need is an elusive forward but one who when handed a half chance, makes the most of it more often than not and also one who is automatic when given a full blown opportunity. Our forwards are not aggressive but aggressive does not mean physically imposing. Like I said earlier, Mueller and Inzaghi are two great goal scorers who were not physically imposing but both knew how to find space, could instinctively read their teammates minds and when given a chance, pounced on it. One thing I have noticed of all our forwards, is that they are tentative in shooting when they do not have a full blown chance. Rooney is by far the most aggressive in this area, but Berbatov is virtually looking to pass first, shoot second, and that is the problem. Do you notice that when our forwards have their backs to the opposing goal, they rarely swivel and take a quick shot. It’s always a back pass or some kind of outlet. I think this is one of the reasons why Fergie so likes Benzema. Benzema loves to turn on a dime and take a shot as did RVN. No guarantees of success if they did so, but they would keep defenders honest. Right now our forwards are too predictable.

    Finally, regarding Dzeko, I have seen enough of him to declare that I do not believe he is good enough to be a United striker. Even Milan who were once high on him have cooled their interest, especially now that the far superior Huntelaar is starting to show his ability more. Dzeko does have ability in the air though. But a lot of good that would do us considering we have nobody who can deliver a high cross consistently well enough to take advantage of that.

  14. Grognard

    3 January 2010 at 08:11

    @Redrich: Fergie has never been one to take advantage of form or a hot streak. He has his lineups in his head and he makes them taking into account the schedule’s short term complications and it’s long duration. Because of that, we won the league last year with an underperforming side and why we are only two points behind this season. Fergie is the best at running the club like a marathon runner and he knows when to hold back and when to give er. Owen is not known for great longevity or endurance and his injury history is something that Fergie has to consider when balancing out his playing time. I have many issues with Fergie but that is not one of them.

  15. AndyCR7

    3 January 2010 at 08:56

    Is Aguero injured? He wasn’t in the squad for the yesterday’s match!

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