Cautious United defeated by Villa



Aston Villa won at Old Trafford for the first time since 1983 to halt United’s charge towards the Premier League summit. Chelsea had earlier drawn with Everton but Villa inflicted United’s first home defeat of the league season. Sir Alex Ferguson bemoaned “just one of those days” but in truth it wasn’t good enough from the home side

The Villain’s began the match with intent, winning two early corners and causing United’s reformed defence far more trouble than Wolfsburg had in midweek. Wes Brown and Nemanja Vidic, restored to the heart of United’s back-four, added experience but it was Ashley Young, pitted against makeshift right-back Darren Fletcher, who caused most problems.

Young was central to Villa’s opener, headed home by Gabriel Agbonlahor on 20 minutes. The England international beat Wes Brown in the air to score his fourth against United in as many seasons.

Surprisingly, Ferguson reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation, leaving Wayne Rooney to lead the line, with Park Ji-Sung, Ryan Giggs and Antonio Valencia in support. It meant no place in the starting XI for Dimitar Berbatov or midweek hat-trick hero Michael Owen.

However, Rooney stoked controversy when he found the referee’s book for diving just minutes after the goal. The Scouser’s lack of protest served only to prove the referee correct.

United continued to create chances though, with Valencia wasting a good opportunity and Michael Carrick forcing a good save from Brad Friedel in Villa’s net. Rooney then went close with a shot thundered against the underside of the bar from six yards out.

At the interval Giggs made way for Owen but the former Liverpool striker lacked the sharpness demonstrated in the midweek Champions League victory. Berbatov and Darron Gibson soon joined the fray but United continued to miss chances as Martin O’Neill’s side defended doggedly.

United’s final ball had been poor throughout but when Carrick found Berbatov six yards out the forward miskicked horribly to waste a good opportunity, before Brad Friedel pulled off a spectacular save to deny the Bulgarian international minutes later.

“Second half I think we deserved something,” Ferguson told ESPN.

“There wasn’t much in it first half, they probably just shaded it and deserved the goal. Second half we pummelled them, had a lot of good chances and didn’t get any. It’s just one of those days it wasn’t going in.

“It’s not an easy league. I say that time and time again. If we get to January within touching distance of the leaders then we’re in with a great chance.”

Nevertheless, United wasted a great opportunity to join Chelsea on 37 points and the manager must take much of the blame. Sir Alex’ decision to field a defensive formation, opting for Park instead of Owen or Berbatov, backfired spectacularly. While Gibson did little to impress after three matches in the side, the trickery of Gabriel Obertan may have offered the penetration United lacked on the day.

It was Villa’s first victory over United in a decade. More tellingly, perhaps, it was United’s fourth Premier League defeat this season.

Team: Kuszczak, Evra, Brown, Vidic, Anderson (Gibson 68), Giggs (Owen 46), Park (Berbatov 63), Carrick, Fletcher, Valencia, Rooney

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  • stretford972

    park was horrific. He’s nothin more than a worker. No pace, strength, skill, end product. Can’t believe we keep persistin with him, never mine walk out for the 2nd half when we had obertan on the bench who at the very least has pace and at best looks real quality (see goal 2 v wolfsburg). And that’s before we mention playin 5 across midfield at home. Joke

  • jezz09

    I think Sir Alex made a big mistake by not bringing obertan off the bench today.

  • bob

    For me this was a lack lustre performance. Giggs at times looked like he didn’t want to be there, Park was awful and Valencia needs some confidence and try shooting. Obertan should have played and we should have an established defender playing right back (De Laet) played like an away team, we should be ripping Villa to shreds. Only player today I can say hand on heart played well was Evra.

  • Roshan Pius

    I totally agree with the cooments, obertan should have been bought on instead of both Owen n Berbatov. They looked so ragged at the end. There was absolutely no creativity in the side against Villa.

    As much as we appreciate Giggsy n Park for their hardwork, we need to have consistent performer on the left wing. I think it’s time Sir Alex gave a consistent run in the team for Obertan. Or even Tosic for that matter has been awesome for the reserves this season. He has been playing regularly in the Serbian national team and i’m quite shocked that he’s been not even given a look-in this season.

  • Vass

    Valencia seriously pisses me off. How fucking ridiculously one footed is he? I don’t think he’s ever touched the ball with his left foot in a Red shirt… ffs
    And Park is like a retarded Tevez without even what little end-product the Argie cunt has. How he ever got into the starting XI ahead of Nani and Obertan is honestly beyond me.

  • chris b

    Bob- i think villa probably deserve a bit more respect than that

  • Andrew

    Park cannot run or shoot. Think he needs to follow nani out the door. Bring on The Obertron.

  • Coolidge

    I think the problem at the end – with probably 80-odd percent posession but no goals – was that it was simply too crowded up front. I mean, three strikers?!

    There was no space; Villa simply put 11 men behind the half way line. We needed one less striker in the second half, and Obertan to pry open the midfield. I felt I would have liked to see Gibson on a little earlier, to create danger from outside the box and drag defenders out towards him. That would have allowed Obertan opportunities to weave his way towards the box and put the passes through.

    This was probably not the game for someone like Owen to play, in spite of his hat-trick. Berba runs from Deeper and would force Villa (without James Collins for most of the match) to mark him, giving Rooney space. Owen likes to hang on the last line of defence, so the defenders are closer to him whereas Berba drifts a bit more.