1. I am not sure if I have ever seen United be so complacent. In my opinion, we were lucky to come out of that with a draw. We came out of the blocks firing, as you would expect us to do at home in Europe against lesser opposition and we played, I thought, very well in the first half. FC Basel did play their part in the first half and had their chances but were very wasteful in front of goal. Come the second half and 2 different teams walked out; everybody in United was guilty. Possession was lost all over the pitch and United just couldn’t seem to string moves together. Giggs missed what was a simple opportunity for him to put United 3 up. Welbeck was struggling to play as a lone forward in the second period. Young was finding his crosses ineffective from the wide positions and Valencia struggled to balance his defensive and attacking duties.
2. If it wasn’t for David De Gea, United would have undoubtedly lost this game. He is now showing all the characteristics that I knew he would: composed with the ball at his feet, sharp with his shot stopping ability and he is beginning to bark at his defence like a madman at points. He made some fine saves and could not be considered at fault for a cracking penalty that put Basel 3-2 up. His distribution is definitely the part of the game that excites me the most (think back to his instant and pinpoint pass to Hernandez against Bolton that almost led to a goal). He was visibly angry at Valencia after he conceded the penalty and too right, it was a poor attempt to get the ball in a dangerous position. Overall, De Gea was probably our most consistent performer of the night, so well done David.
3. Danny Welbeck was the prime example of a game of 2 halves. A brilliant and lethal 2 minute double led me to believe that he was going to easily net a hat trick but he fizzled out as quickly as he fizzled up. He should be, and is, still happy with the overall performance though: he is still a very young lad and to score 2 goals in Europe should be a great boost to his confidence, especially after returning from that unfortunate hamstring injury against Arsenal. It was a shame that the complacency wafted through the entire team and Danny was guilty of losing possessions on a few occasions.
4. What do we do with Dimitar Berbatov? I was angry when I saw that SAF didn’t give Berbatov his chance but when Welbeck knocked in 2 quick goals, I had to hold my tongue. When Berbatov did get his “chance” in the 80th minute, United were 3-2 down and in desperate need of a hero, so eyes were firmly fixed on the Bulgarian to deliver something special but he just wasn’t all there. I hold the utmost respect for Berbatov for the way he has conducted himself since being completely left out of the Champions League final but looking at the team now, you would have to say that Berbatov is the 5th choice striker behind Rooney, Hernandez, Welbeck and Owen: where does that leave him? The way this season is going, it is going to be a pale end to a topsy turvy United career for Dimitar. For me, he should of left last year on a high, leaving United as the current Premier League Golden Boot holder. However, SAF chose to hold onto him and promised that DB9 was in his future plans. Is he? Was he ever? The way his season is going so far, Welbeck’s rise to form has made SAF forget about his Bulgarian on the bench.
5. The whole defence. Everybody was found lacking at separate points. Evra was consistently beaten down the right and a mistake from Patrice directly led to the equaliser as Basel were allowed so much room out wide to whip in a cross. Jones was at fault for the penalty after he didn’t smash the ball out of the box, putting Valencia into a more than difficult situation that led to an ill timed tackle. Fabio, for all his energy and forward runs, was getting beaten too easily and you can see that he hasn’t had enough game time this season. Speaking of people that haven’t had enough game time…Rio Ferdinand. He looked a shadow of the player he once was at United and, for me, was lucky to stay on the pitch. Sure, it was a slip and it was completely accidental but 9 out of 10 referee’s would have sent Rio off for being the last man and if it was away from Old Trafford, I think it might have been a different outcome entirely. United can count their lucky chickens that they don’t find themselves 5 points behind Basel and 3 behind Benfica but as it is, we are sitting in a comfortable enough position to recover in the latter group stages.
Take a look at the video below to see SAF’s post game reaction to the match, clearly deflated by how his team performed in the second half and rightfully so.