Little Pea strikes to give Rooney food for thought



Relief came at the Britannia but this time it had nothing to do with Wayne Rooney’s ladies of the night. Instead, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won away from home in the Premier League for the first time this season, breaking a sequence of three successive league draws. Javier Hernandez scored twice, including a late winner, after a week of very public turmoil.

On this evidence Rooney’s biggest challenge may not be regaining the trust of his manager, colleagues and the fans but getting back into the United side. Hernandez’ brilliant double – the first an outrageous back-header, the second a late poacher’s strike – takes the Mexican’s tally to five in five starts this season.

Yet United so nearly threw three points away again, following Sanil Tuncay’s superb 82nd minute equaliser. United, so dominant in the first half, was again careless in letting a lead slip, although the midfield’s now routine wastefulness in possession was evident.

This time, much to Ferguson’s delight, Chicharito came up with the end-product that Rooney has so often lacked this season.

“We got careless with possession,” the United boss told Sky Sports.

“They never gave in and that’s a quality this club has had for many years now.”

“He’s [Hernandez] got a great attitude to the game, he’s got a wonderful demeanour about life and wonderful manners. He speaks the language well, trains really well and he’s coming on great.”

Rooney may have been the central figure in the past week’s drama but the 24-year-old will miss the next four matches with a Paul Scholes-induced ankle injury. It mattered little as United began with Dimitar Berbatov and Hernández in attack. The pair nearly created United’s opening chance, with the Mexican heading back and across the Stoke box with Berbatov unable to latch on to his partner’s centre.

United was ahead inside half an hour though, as Nani and Patrice Evra worked a short corner, with the Portuguese’s cross headed home with the back of his head by Hernández. Brilliant, instinctive and memorable; in the Little Pea, Ferguson may well have pulled off the transfer coup of the summer.

But United ended the half fortunate to retain a full compliment after Gary Neville, on his 600th appearance for the club, espcaped a second yellow. The veteran defender was unlucky to pick up a first caution for a foul on Matthew Etherington, but only good fortune prevented a second for a wild tackle on the Stoke winger.

Tony Pullis naturally focused on the incident in the post-match media round, although the Stoke manager failed to bring up the cast-iron penalty referee Andre Marriner failed to award United for Rory Delap’s crude barge on Evra in the second period.

As the game descended to Stoke’s level in the second period, Pullis’ side clawed its way back into the game. United’s passing and composure faded badly – the third Premier League game in a row that United’s midfield has been culpable.

With the vociferous Britannia support urging its side forward, substitute Tuncay cut inside John O’Shea and smashed a wonderful left-foot drive into Edwin van der Sar’s top corner with 10 minutes to go.

With minutes to go Hernández volley just inches wide as United chased a seemingly unlikely winner. This time, however, United didn’t capitulate and with four minutes to go Hernández stabbed home Evra’s shot from six yards out.

Relief at last; an away win at last.

“We were very happy with the result. We know about Stoke’s style and are delighted,” Hernández told Sky Sports.

“I’m working a lot because I want to stay here a long time and win a lot of tournaments.”

“I jumped and saw the ball behind me and tried to head it towards the goal. I don’t remember doing it in training. It’s a good goal but the most important thing is the result.

“Here there are no heroes, it is about the team. My team-mates trust in me and all the staff too. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for me to play with the biggest team in the world.”

Messy the performance may have been but any result at Stoke is truly a team effort. In that, Rooney should take note.

Match facts
United – 442 – Van der Sar; Neville (Brown 46), Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, O’Shea (Carrick 70); Nani, Scholes (Obertan 87), Fletcher; Berbatov, Hernández.

Stoke – 442 – Sorensen; Huth, Collins (Higginbotham 57), Shawcross, Faye; Wilson, Pennant (Gudjohnsen 78), Delap, Etherington; Jones, Walters (Sanli 66).

Attendance: 27,372
Man-of-the-match: Hernández

Possession: Stoke 47% – 53% United
Attempts: 6 – 12
On target: 2 – 5
Corners: 5 – 6
Fouls: 6 – 13

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Comments

  1. Zi Indefatigable says:

    Loved it.

    Watching United line up in the zone defence (basically a diagonal line) for the thousand set-pieces was a friggin’. Joy. We’ve got defending set-pieces down to a military precision.
    Don’t ask why I’m mentioning it, it just stuck out to me.

    Btw, how good was Vida??

    And Berba put in a real shift. He must have been the first to head away quite a few of Rory Delap’s throw-in.

  2. I’m downloading the .avi files of the match in order to re-watch it – this time, with English commentary and, almost certainly, a better picture, but my recollection would not include a United-dominated first half. I thought they were careless in possession for nearly the entire game.

    I understand that the players enjoy the way Phelan mixes up the training routines, but someone needs to make sure that the side are drilled in the fundamentals of football. Things like passing (to teammates) and receiving passes should be stressed. From the manner and frequency in which United surrendered possession today, you would think they were playing against Barcelona.

    Must say, however, that I enjoyed the way the match petered out with United keeping possession in Stoke’s end. Much better than the anxiety-inducing, scrambling defending in which most of the matches have been ending lately.

  3. “as the game decended to Stokes level”
    You are on the money.
    I thought we were pinging the ball about man to man brilliantly. During the first half. One touch away, was much better than up to this point of the season.
    Not for me to pick holes in United players performances I thought o’shea was dreadfull. A nightmare waiting to happen. He must have at least 4 times passed the ball with the wrong weight to a united player. Worse straight to a Potter.
    One good thing to come out of this was some leverage lol can be applied to our talisman.

    great review.

  4. O’Shea gave the ball away a lot but let’s not be too harsh. Tuncay cut inside Evra to score. As you’ve said- this was with ten mins to go. You’ve also pointed out John was subbed after 70mins.

  5. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    I missed the game… caught the highlights on MotD, but that’s not the same, so I can’t comment too much… still one thing I’m fairly sure of… Chico isn’t going to keep Rooney on the bench.

  6. herbie simms says:

    Still got big problems in midfield. If only the midfield can get it together. I guess this will be the routine until hopefully in January when someone should be coming in to boost the midfield. If not, the team will struggle to win matches. I’m sure SAF can identify the problem, its in every game. Need quality midfielders.

  7. Despite a generally good performance – he put in a shift and helped out with the defending, who’d have seen that coming – I was struck yet again by how poor Berba is when Utd are looking to counter on the fast break. Invariably as the speedier Utd players make yards slicing through the opposing midfield and are heading towards the box, the ball goes to Berba and the attack stops dead in its tracks as Berba dribbles in a little circle at a pace that my 70 year old mum could beat. Berba and the whole side would be much better served if he stayed up top and let someone quicker (ie Chicharito or Rooney when he’s fit and in form) make the running in nmidfield – Berba should be aiming to be receiving a pass at his feet in or near the box and finishing the move off, hopefully with a goal.

    Sorry to sound a sour note on an otherwise fine weekend for the club.

  8. Fair play to Vida, he was a total beast. He seems to enjoy a good header as much as Pea enjoys scoring.

    What on earth has happened to Michael Carrick though? Confidence is totally shot

  9. Would someone please help me figure out if John O’Shea knows which team he is playing for? Time and time again he gave the ball away. He can’t pass more than 3 yards! Genuinely awful from JoS, matched by GNev’s deathwish defending. Vidic and Rio were both outstanding though.

    I do agree with the poster above RE Berbatov slowly down our counterattacking. I think he needs to be encouraged to release the ball earlier to allow our pace to be used.

    Nani was good yesterday too, great work rate and team ethic. Fletcher seems to be improving which is an encouraging sign.

    All round, I was happy enough, but the possession issue is still looming large.

  10. Leroy Cain says:

    I think I love the little pea. Seems like an incredibly likeable and intelligent guy with a great attitude. Very promising…

  11. mongoletsi says:

    I wasn’t even sure where O’Shea was meant to be playing; and it seems neither did her. Absolute disgrace, I’ve no idea what Fergie sees in him.

    Carrick yet again failed to produce. He’s not even good enough for Spurs; and allegedly they’d take him back.

    Thought Nani was excellent again. He really does have confidence now and shows real glimpses of Ronaldoesque skills. Plus he tracks back and works hard.

    We can’t keep blaming Berba in the way we do. We knew exactly what kind of player he is when we bought him. It’s not his fault; it’s the managers. He put in a real shift yesterday, a proper team performance. Oh and he’s not *that* slow. I don’t recall us slating Cantona – although he would generally release to Giggs etc I guess.

  12. I don’t think it is his pace that’s the issue, more his release time when he gets the ball. He generally receives the ball to feet when static which I don’t have any problem with, on the proviso that he releases the ball to quick players who are moving at a higher speed than him. There were a couple of opportunities where Nani and JH were moving rapdily ahead of him and he should have released earlier. I have no issue where he gets the ball when he’s moving, because while he isn’t lightning, he is pretty nippy and any defender, regardless of who they are, fears skilfull players running with the ball because they are unpredictable. This is exaggerated where players are genuinely two footed.

    So, I think the key is encouraging Berba to have faith in Nani, Evra and JH, releasing them when they’re in full flight and then joining them in the attack. I’ve seen Berbatov do just this before for us and he is actually really good at playing the right ball to feet. I suppose it could have been the Stoke defence closing down quickly and roughing our players about.

    Nani has come so far he isn’t the same man, I’ve convinced. He frightens defenders whenever he gets the ball. Just a little improvement in confidence and decision making – same with JH really – and I think we’d have been 2 or 3 nil up yesterday.

    It’s all coming together, though.

  13. .

    What on earth has happened to Michael Carrick though? Confidence is totally shot

    Its the same Carrick that was a panic buy in a january window for pathetic money, who was surplus to requirements at Spurs and West Ham. He was 5th or 6th on our shopping list at the time of purchase but the others were either overpriced (like he was) or they simply would’nt move clubs. Expect him and Jimmy Spark, O’Shite to be moved on in January or the end of the season at the very latest. Neither of them have ever reflected value for money, especially Carrick. Some fans say he “works under the radar” and they’re probably the same fans who think every player we buy is world class.

    But the stats don’t lie. Considering the amount of posession United have and the chances they create, Carricks goal return and assists for a center mid are absolutely fuckin dreadful, allied with his piss poor tackling, milk floatlike pace, devoid of any aggression what so ever, and a shot that makes Nicky Butt look hard done to.

    I’ve been watching United since Tommy Doc, and never have United had such an inneffectual central midfielder who’s got so many games under his belt, its mind boggling? Obviously Fergies dragged his feet with him because it was him who wanted him.
    But its looking increasingly likely now that the penny has eventually dropped. So hopefully now we are in the market to go out there and get that stonewaller we are so desperately short of in the middle of the park. A good stopper who can not only win a ball back, but look to go forward with it at pace, as opposed to Carricks (what they call negative tactics these days) “percentage play”.

    We’ll have to wait ‘n’ see for now.

  14. I’m fairly certain Carrick was never ‘surplus to requirements’ at either West Ham or Spurs. He had a number of very good seasons for United when they won the league. I think it is rather unfair to try and re-write history regarding his performances.

    As it goes nowadays, he is performing very poorly. His passing ability, which is the one truly great attribute has, has left him.

  15. danniitronix says:

    Liam said:
    I’m fairly certain Carrick was never ‘surplus to requirements’ at either West Ham or Spurs. He had a number of very good seasons for United when they won the league. I think it is rather unfair to try and re-write history regarding his performances.

    As it goes nowadays, he is performing very poorly. His passing ability, which is the one truly great attribute has, has left him.

    spot on

  16. herbie simms says:

    Well SAF said yesterday that 10 players will be replaced by next summer, so I guess Park, Carrick and O’Shea is on that list. SAF says he is rebuiling the team into a super team, so he must have been promised a lot of money by the Glazers.

  17. Liam said:
    I’m fairly certain Carrick was never ‘surplus to requirements’ at either West Ham or Spurs. He had a number of very good seasons for United when they won the league. I think it is rather unfair to try and re-write history regarding his performances.

    As it goes nowadays, he is performing very poorly. His passing ability, which is the one truly great attribute has, has left him.

    Nor was he bought in January.

  18. herbie simms says:

    SAF listed Van de Sar, Neville, Brown, Giggs and Scholes who are retiring at the end of the season. Who will replace them?

  19. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadforfucksake says:

    when did fergie say all these things

  20. herbie simms says:

    On BBC sports, they were reading an article of some of SAF’s comments. These players are retiring and they will have to be replaced.

  21. Unregistered User said:
    On BBC sports, they were reading an article of some of SAF’s comments. These players are retiring and they will have to be replaced.

    Well yeah, but did Fergie actually say these player would retire at the end of this season?

  22. herbie simms says:

    Yes, he said they will retire. How long you expect these old men to play? The report said at least 10 players will be replaced by next summer, including the ones that are retiring.

  23. herbie, give us some links man

  24. herbie simms says:

    I will get you the links. I was just trying to figure out who else SAF will replace and I could only come up with Park, Carrick, O’Shea, Michael Owen and Hardgreaves. Iam not sure about Kuszczak, unless he wants to leave. Then who would be the number 2? Amos? I think Macheda will go out on loan and Cleverley, Diouf and Ajose will come back from loan.

  25. He didn’t say it was definitely their last season. He alluded to the fact that it could possibly be their season. He did however, go on to note that because VDS, Giggs, Scholes and Neville are still in such good shape and still performing well, there is no reason why they can’t continue on beyond this season.

  26. herbie simms says:

    He made that statement sometime back! Things have changed since that meeting last week involving Rooney. How long do you think these players are going to be playing for United? You want them in the first team till their 50?
    This is not Bristol City or some league one team we are talking about. SAF is not stupid. He knows the weakness in the team and he knows he must bring in replacements or they will be no trophies at Old Trafford in the future.

  27. I believe he said what I wrote after the Stoke game.

  28. Ted said:
    .

    What on earth has happened to Michael Carrick though? Confidence is totally shot

    Its the same Carrick that was a panic buy in a january window for pathetic money, who was surplus to requirements at Spurs and West Ham. He was 5th or 6th on our shopping list at the time of purchase but the others were either overpriced (like he was) or they simply would’nt move clubs. Expect him and Jimmy Spark, O’Shite to be moved on in January or the end of the season at the very latest. Neither of them have ever reflected value for money, especially Carrick. Some fans say he “works under the radar” and they’re probably the same fans who think every player we buy is world class.

    What a load of rubbish. We bought him in the summer, when he was the only player we bought. He played nearly every match for Spurs and West Ham, and played nearly 40 matches a season for us for the next three seasons.

  29. The Times’ webchat today also cited the “clearing out 10 players” number, so there’s probably something to that. Probably all the following are leaving/retiring with their contracts up Scholes, Giggs, Neville, VDS, Hargreaves, Owen, which will open up a lot of space in the wage bill. We might also sell the likes of Carrick, Brown, Gibson, Park, probably some of the young lads who aren’t up to scratch. If you figure Fergie will be given about £50m on top of sales, which would still allow the Glazers to pay off nearly all the PIK debt, he’ll have a lot to spend. It’s not like him to buy loads of players in one go, but I guess from his point of the view the retirement of the old guard is a special occasion.

    I feel strongly that we’ll see some transfer action in January, the Defout rumours have always had the ring of truth to me.

  30. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Even if it’s true… “10 players out”… that’s just daft management.

    Why not just tell the football world, “we’re having a fire sale… and we’ll be spending lots to replace the outgoing players”.

    Clever strategy, that.

    We’ll get robbed for the players we want to sell. and we’ll get gouged for any players we want to bring in.

  31. herbie simms says:

    This is what I was saying to Kramer. Got the same information from BBC talking sports program yesterday. SAF intends to clear out 10 players by next summer. 5 will retire and 5 will be sold. This is what the program was talking about and of course, the Rooney saga.

  32. RobDiablo says:

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Even if it’s true… “10 players out”… that’s just daft management.

    Why not just tell the football world, “we’re having a fire sale… and we’ll be spending lots to replace the outgoing players”.

    Clever strategy, that.

    We’ll get robbed for the players we want to sell. and we’ll get gouged for any players we want to bring in.

    Spot on. Even better to name the amount in the war chest. With £100M, United will want to buy at least five good replacements, but every team we talk to will want at least a third of that for their player.

  33. Hmmm… The Bucs recently axed 5 players who were on big wages and who didn’t contribute a lot on the pitch anymore. I posted a link to the article on the old Rant.

    It was controversial at the time because some of the players were legends who loved by the fans. One of them was considered the greatest NFL footballer of a generation or something. Suppose the equivalent being our Giggs or Scholes.

    We have a few players on earning decent wages who don’t contribute a lot on the pitch: Owen, Hargreaves, Neville, Carrick (nowadays) etc.

    And I can’t see the Glazers being too happy about it

    To be fair, we need to get rid of some of the dead weight to make room for more quality. There was no chance we could afford Sneidjer’s wages, right? Because we have the likes of Owen, Neville, Hargreaves earning decent money yet contributing very little/fuck all.

    Less quantity, more quality

  34. herbie simms says:

    SAF will buy top class players but he will spend wisely. Like buying goalkeeper Stekelenberg for 7 million instead of paying 15 million for the other keepers they are also interested in. The dutch club Ajax are in trouble and need to sell players to get rid of debt, so he could look there for a steal.

  35. bman said:
    What a load of rubbish. We bought him in the summer, when he was the only player we bought. He played nearly every match for Spurs and West Ham, and played nearly 40 matches a season for us for the next three seasons.

    Appols for that bman, your right. But he is the worsed regular center mid we’ve had in many a year. He’s just been fortunate to have been in a side that had a superb Ronaldo and Rooney in it. The facts of the matter are that his re-sale value will be poor, and never getting a sniff for ingurlund sums him up.

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