Tag Hull City

Tag Hull City

Rooney rescues United after blunder

December 28, 2009 Tags: , Matches 2 comments

Manchester United draw to within two points of leaders Chelsea in the Premier League title race following a hard fought victory over Hull City at the KC. Wayne Rooney had a hand in each of United’s three goals but not before the Scouser had gifted the home side an equaliser in another tough away fixture for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men this season.

In truth Ferguson leaves Hull with a sense of relief after the home side made a competitive match of the fixture despite gaining just two points in the club’s previous five outings. No longer is United sweeping the lesser lights of the Premier League away but with the return of a back four actually composed of defenders, Ferguson’s men were able to win without excelling.

Rio Ferdinand is missing for the foreseeable future but Sir Alex named Wes Brown, Nemanja Vidic and Rafael da Silva in the starting eleven for the match. It meant a return to the heart of United’s midfield for Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher, whose absence has exposed the side’s soft underbelly in recent weeks.

Another restored to the side, Ryan Giggs, created United’s first chances by first firing just over the bar with a left-foot volley and then curling a free kick just wide in the opening minutes.

Rooney then stung Boaz Myhill’s gloves in the Hull goal with a fierce left-foot shot before intricate United football released Rafael through the middle only for the ‘keeper to block the Brazilian’s effort one-on-one.

While Giggs’ looked tired on his return to the United side – and Dimitar Berbatov had little impact until a late goal – at least Ferguson was able to count on Wayne Rooney to score the visitor’s opening goal. United’s leading marksman struck home Fletcher’s superb curling cross from the right for his 14th of the season, with Giggs providing little more than nuisance value at the near post.

United of old might have laid waste to Hull’s fragile defence but Phil Brown can take heart from a spirited comeback by the relegation-threatened home side. Alan Wiley, officiating in his first United match since Ferguson questioned the Staffordshire-born referee’s fitness to do the job in October, handed the Tigers an equaliser following Rooney’s error. The Scouser, fresh from giving United the lead, promptly lost company with the ball yards from his own goal. In the melee that followed Rafael barged over Jose Alitidore in the box, enabling Craig Fagan to score from the spot.

But United was always a major threat on the counter despite Hull’s best efforts to score a second. Ji-Sung Park, Giggs and then Rooney contributed to restoring United’s lead as the visitors’ lightening-quick break resulted in Andy Dawson turning the Scouser’s cross into his own net.

Moments later and Rooney threaded a final pass through Anthony Gardner’s legs to tee up his Bulgarian strike-partner for a simple tap in. Berbatov acknowledged Rooney’s brilliance in turning around not only his side’s fortunes but a potential ‘hairdryer’ moment in the dressing room had United not pulled off the victory.

“It’s a relief,” Rooney told Sky Sports.

“When they got their equaliser it was a mistake by myself. It’s the first time that’s ever happened to me and it’s not a nice feeling. I didn’t want to let down the lads though I was more worried about what the manager might say. But thankfully we got the win, which I’m pleased about because the manager would not have been too pleased.”

The victory moves United to within a win of Chelsea in a season where none of the leading sides have found any consistency. United’s five defeats in the Premier League before Christmas is the club’s worst run of losses in nearly a decade but Ferguson’s side could conceivably top the table by New Year’s Day.

With the club’s injury list finally easing now is the time for the Scot’s side to mount a series of victories if a fourth Premier League title in a row is to head Old Trafford’s way.

Rooney is central to that ambition.

“He (Rooney) was a threat all game; his penetration behind their back line was very good,” the United manager said.

“Yes, he made a mistake with a wayward ball for their goal but that was his one bad moment and otherwise I thought he was exceptional. He’s a natural winner and he’s always got that determination to do well. He would have been sicker than anyone that he made a mistake but he rectified it in a nice way.

“It’s looking more and more like it’s going to be a really tight league.

“It’s certainly different because we are seeing some unusual results. Experience will come into it. The team that steers clear of injuries will also have an advantage. Other than that, if you make mistakes in this league you are going to get punished. If we can eradicate mistakes we have a great chance.”

United aims to defend from the front at Hull

December 26, 2009 Tags: , Matches No comments

Manchester United’s players return from a longer-than-usual Christmas break with little respite in the injury crisis that has engulfed Sir Alex Ferguson’s team in recent weeks. The Scot need no longer worry about a festive season drinking culture but will once again deploy a makeshift defence as United travel to Hull City hoping to improve on two defeats in the past three games.

Ferguson hopes to have either Wes Brown or Nemanja Vidic available for the trip to Hull, although both will definitely feature against Wigan in three days time. Good news also comes in the shape of Brazilian brothers Rafael and Fabio da Silva who, true to form, have each been injured in recent weeks.

However, Ferguson says there is little hope of Rio Ferdinand returning to the team in the near future. Ferdinand, who has appeared just five times this season, last week said there’s is “light at the end of the tunnel” is the search for a cure to a back injury that has plagued the defender for more than a year.

“We gave Rio an injection just over two weeks ago so we have to let that settle for a week then he can go back into the gym work and do some more core work,” Ferguson said.

“We are just hoping that pain goes away. There is no light at the end of the tunnel and it is difficult to put a timescale on a back injury. But I don’t think he is too far away.”

Ferguson says that the best form of attack at Hull is defence. It’s a strategy that United totally failed to enact in the 3-0 away defeat to Fulham last weekend or the 1-0 reverse at home to Aston Villa a fortnight ago. Indeed, Ferguson may revert to a more attacking formation against relegation-threatened Hull, with Dimitar Berbatov in contention to start along side Wayne Rooney despite a knee injury that requires an operation.

“Hull will be encouraged by the fact we have got defenders injured. They will certainly have a go at us,” he said.

“It’s always a dogfight down at the bottom of the table and, as usual, there are six, seven or eight teams involved in that battle.

“We looked fragile once we lost the goal (at Fulham). We got away with playing midfielders at centre-back once or twice, but it proved difficult.

“We have to make sure we are better attacking-wise than we were against Fulham. We didn’t make a lot of chances in the match, we had a lot of possession but it didn’t amount to anything.

“In terms of creating chances, we have to get that creativity, imagination back.

Ferguson says that the injury situation will return to some form of normality by the time United play cup games against Manchester City and Leeds United in the New Year. In the meantime the Scot’s side requires six points in the coming week to keep in touch with Chelsea, who continue to drop points in a season where none of the contenders achieved consistency.

United’s cause will benefit from the return of Darren Fletcher to the heart of Ferguson’s midfield, should either of the da Silva brothers be deemed fit enough to start against Hull. The Scot’s absent destructive abilities have exposed a soft underbelly to Ferguson’s defence in recent weeks.

Ferguson will also choose from Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-Sung, Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes and Anderson in midfield, with Michael Carrick likely to reprise a role in central defence.

“I think losing to Aston Villa was a bitter disappointment, we made enough chances to win it. Winning your home games can stabilise you from bad results away from home,” Ferguson said Boxing Day.

“It’s unusual for us to lose two games in December, it’s not happened that many times but hopefully by the Leeds United (in the FA Cup third round) game we will have three centre-backs and we can then kick on and get back to our normal selves.

“The way the league is at the moment, I think Arsene Wenger said the other day you could lose seven games and still win the league this year.

“Someone pointed out the recognised top four have lost 41 points between them this season. Nobody would have bet on that.”

Wenger may be proven right in May but with Ferguson’s side slipping to a fifth defeat before Christmas last weekend the side cannot add a sixth at the KC Stadium Sunday.