Reaction to the Otelul Galati game…

by Sam Peoples

1. The victory last night was reminiscent of the 2-0 victory over Norwich from the beginning of October. In both games, United were sloppy in their own half with wayward passes and were a shadow of the United that convincingly went the entire group stage in the last campaign conceding only one goal. Time and time again United were seemingly complacent in their passing, poor with their movement and unrelenting in the amount of mistakes that made. Against tougher opposition, we would have been punished. Considering this was the home game that followed the dismal second half against FC Basel, I was taken aback by the lackadaisical approach. As soon as we scored in the eighth minute, you could see that we took the lead for granted and if we are going to get anywhere in this competition this year, the whole team has to buck up its ideas.

2. Now I normally don’t believe in singling out an individual for an overall poor team performance but Anderson was just terrible last night. I am a big Anderson fan and still hold the strong belief that when Cleverley returns to full fitness, we will see their central midfield partnership blossom like we did at the start of the season. However, last night was just too poor to ignore; seemingly all of Anderson’s passes were wayward last night, his energy going forward was sparse, he constantly found himself out of position and was a shadow of the player we saw glimpses of at the start of the Premier League season. Anderson finally had a pre-season without injury this year and with Scholes retiring, his time is now to stake his claim as the player we all want him to be. If he doesn’t pick up his form and show consistency, it won’t be long before the lynch mob jumps on his back.

3. Rooney is not a central midfielder and never will be. Anybody who argues otherwise is delusional. SAF stated at the end of the game that Rooney playing there was only a short term solution with Carrick out injured, Fletcher being rested for the weekend and Giggs being injured. It has to be said that Rooney did thrive in the position he played as a kid; energy, passing range, vision, tactical awareness and passion were all there for everybody to see and having completed 88% of his passes, it is not a case of it being down to his ability. We looked toothless upfront without Rooney and we need him there to spearhead the attack, not to control the game. What it did show was just how much United need to buy a central midfielder in January, with Rooney and Park being our central midfield pairing at one point. We cannot push for trophies with such a thin midfield if injuries keep depleting the squad.

4. Every time we play without Vidic, we seem to lose our defensive capabilities. The 1-0 victory against Everton was a classic example of a strong team who depended on the consistency of its defense to thwart all attacks convincingly, which allowed us to threaten with every chance we had. Having a reliable back line gives such mental strength to any team and United just seem fragile without our captain on the pitch. Rio Ferdinand had an invisible game, I don’t think he played overly bad but I also don’t think he did particularly well, so he didn’t exactly prove his worth in a week where many eyes would have been scrutinising his every move.

5. On the other hand, both our full backs had stand-out performances. For me, Phil Jones is quite easily the best purchase United have made this season without a shadow of a doubt. 19? How is he 19? He looks like a veteran. His bursts forward aren’t just pacy but they are penetrating and his deflected cross led to United’s opening goal and if he doesn’t cut outside to cross, then he will cut inside and shoot. Add to the fact that he isn’t even a natural right-back and the performance just goes further up in your estimations. Future England captain? Who cares. Future Manchester United captain? Yes please. Fabio has not had much game time under his belt this season but last night it didn’t show; all of his feisty attributes came to fruition in what was a very solid performance from him. The mazy run he made through the heart of the Galati defence had me standing off my chair and it was a shame he couldn’t find a delivery into the box but it is really nice to see him putting in a performance when he got his chance. There may be a time in the future of United that we will see Rafael and Fabio playing as our full backs and if his performance last night is anything to go by, then they will be fruitful times for United.

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