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Match Reports

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.