United hit five, Rant takes credit

August 24, 2009 Tags: , Matches 8 comments

The message was loud and clear: United is back and how. Victory against Wigan Athletic may be commonplace but it was the five second half goals that has truly ignited United’s season. The response to last weekend’s underwhelming win over Birmingham City and the midweek defeat at Turf Moor was emphatic. But if United could have scored ten at the newly renamed DW stadium then there will still be concerns that there was profligacy in front of goal in the first half and a midfield that feels lightweight.

But what a response to criticism that the team lacks creativity and penetration without Cristiano Ronaldo. This was a United side that managed just four strikes on target against Burnley Wednesday night; there were nine more at the DW on Saturday. United, in this vein of form is always going to score goals, albeit against a Wigan team that was more than generous in defence. Roberto Martinez has brought his ethos of attacking passing football from Swansea but in this company his team needed a little more grit.

It took United nearly an hour to get started though and the flurry of late goals gave the scoreline a flattering feel. Wayne Rooney’s free-header for the opener was symptomatic of Wigan’s defending in the second 45. Indeed, better finishing from United’s forwards would have led to a cricket score given the number of chances that the team created.

But Wigan’s bright midfield three of xxx, xxx and xxxx were never out of the game, and the home side could have had three itself.There must still be a concern that United’s midfield lacks quality of the highest level. Paul Scholes, who was very fortunate not to see red after raising his hands, joined the excellent Darren Fletcher in central midfield. While Scholes is increasingly showing his age, The Scottish Player is no longer the love that dare not speak his name with the United fans. On a day when Rooney once again excelled in a central role, it was Fletcher that took the man-of-the-match plaudits. But United’s midfield four was sometimes overrun by Wigan’s three, and despite the away side hogging the possession better teams than the Latics would have cause United significant problems in the middle of the park.

On the wings Nani and Antonio Valencia were dangerous, although the mindless booing of the former Wigan player was as predictable as it was petty. Valencia created the space and delivered the cross for United’s opening goal, while Nani curled in a fine last minute free kick. Cristiano who?

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson will have been pleased to see both Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov score too. Owen’s superbly taken strike, clipped past the ‘keeper with his left foot, was easily the hardest of the chances he has created in the start to his United career. Meanwhile, Berbatov was bright and hard-working once again. Criticism of his performances last season were unfair, and it is clear the Bulgarian has put in the work during pre-season this time around.

United now face fixtures against in-form Arsenal and then Tottenham Hotspur. They are the first big tests of the season, despite the defeat at Turf Moor. United can ill afford to waste chances again in what are likely to be two tight games.


Red Ranter - August 24, 2009 Reply

United now face an away fixture at in-form Tottenham Hotspur.

Before that we face Arsenal, then Spurs, followed by City. All three tough fixtures — will tell us a lot about this team by the time we’re done with them.

Ed - August 24, 2009 Reply

Thanks for the spot. Updated.

Geoff Airey - August 24, 2009 Reply

Valencia only got boo’d after he went down from a challenge, don’t know if he was genuinely hurt or play acting, but the Wigan fans turned on him at that point, beforehand they’d been gracious.

It worries me that Carrick was not even in the squad on Saturday, has he done something wrong?

gingerprince - August 24, 2009 Reply

The midfield is the one area that worries me as well, it goes without saying that we are missing Owen hargreaves , but SuperFletch’s continuous improvement is heartening. What I think is that Fergie should pick his best 4 midfield players (if he knows what they are)and play them together for the next 4-5 consecutive matches, that way atleast we can get some understanding b/w them , this constant squad rotation especially in the middle is really hurting us .

Our best midfield for me would be

nani Carrick Fletch Valencia

gingerprince - August 24, 2009 Reply

@Geoff Airey: I thought the booing brought out the best in valencia…he was almost invisible in the first half

venu - August 24, 2009 Reply

Fletcher’s the poor man’s Hargo and Nani, Ronaldo!

Sharath - August 25, 2009 Reply

Nani is the poor man’s Michael Jackson 😉

gingerprince - August 26, 2009 Reply

And Michael Jackson was just a man who died poor…….

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