Reaction to the Villa game…

by Sam Peoples

1. SAF, take another bow Sir. Yesterday was SAF’s 963rd game in charge of United and he has now become the longest standing manager in the history of Manchester United. Sir Matt Busby’s legacy of 962 games in charge of United stands firm in the history of the club but for SAF to surpass Sir Matt’s achievements is a testament to the legacy that he has created. After recently renaming the North Stand after SAF, this record is just yet another notch for his incredible managing career. Only 37 games away from the magical 1000 mark, that will surely be a day to savour for both fans and SAF alike and with his health and approach to the game looking as vibrant as ever, who knows how many he will eventually reach before deciding to pass the torch.

2. Who is our number 1 keeper? Anders Lindegaard put in another great performance last night and kept a clean sheet to further stake his claim on top spot between the sticks for United this season. I have to admit that I am yet to see a bad performance from Lindegaard dating right back to his impressive form that started in our pre-season tour of America. The Dane has always held a great attitude towards the competition for the goalkeeping spot and it is a testament to his professional approach to the position he is in. Although David De Gea is undoubtedly coming into his own and starting to show the promise that we all expected of the young shot-stopper, it is fantastic that we actually have two goalkeepers that we can depend on in the squad. Long gone are the days where we all buried our heads in our hands when we saw PIG on the teamsheet, something that breathes great confidence into both the squad and the fans.

3. Yes Phil Jones. I jumped out of my seat when he scored his first goal in a United shirt because he thoroughly deserved it. I was at Old Trafford last Tuesday when he scored the own goal against Benfica and you could see the disappointment written all over his face but he didn’t let it affect his game that night nor his approach to playing after. What a difference a goal can make to the confidence of a player, especially a young player who is typically famous for his defensive capabilities but for all his galloping runs and forward play this season, a goal was the only thing missing for him. He thrived in the central midfield role alongside Carrick yesterday and perfectly balanced his forward surges with controlling the middle of the park for United and it was the most confident and composed I had seen a United midfield for a few weeks. After Ferdinand went off in the 64th minute, Jones seamlessly switched back to his favoured centre-back role like he had been playing there since the first whistle and few players can brag of such effortless versatility. He is going to be such an important player for us in the years to come and I am so glad I will be able to watch all of it unfold in front of me.

4. The overall discipline of the team. The win against Villa yesterday makes it 5/7 away wins for United this season and in the¬†entirety of last season, we had 5 away wins. It is refreshing to see such discipline being held by United away from home because time and time again last season we lost concentration and lost vital points that only didn’t affect us in the title race due to our indomitable home form. This season, United have already lost twice at home in all competitions, so it seems that our form away from home is going to have more of an impact this season than it did in the last campaign. SAF was full of praise for the team’s concentration yesterday with Vidic and Ferdinand not having much involvement in the game because of the control that our midfield and attack were exerting over the game. The 3 points yesterday were key with City smashing Norwich 5-1 and with City coming into a tough run of games starting with Chelsea next weekend, we have to make sure we put the pressure right back on them.

5. The injury to Hernandez. Most of the time, the injuries caused by your own body weight are the most serious and it is almost a blessing that SAF has confirmed that Hernandez will be out for only four weeks with ankle ligament damage because I thought it would be a lot longer judging from his grimaced face as he writhed on the ground. It is irritating to say the least that our magical Mexican has joined the long list of United injuries but the silver lining on the cloud is that Danny Welbeck now has his chance to stamp his place back on the starting spot in the squad. Up until he limped off against Arsenal, Welbeck and Rooney were our starting strikers and were part of our impeccable and fluid start to the season. It tugged at the heartstrings to see Welbeck’s deflated face as he walked off down the tunnel in the 8-2 victory but football is as football does and injuries happen all the time. He will be hungry to grab this opportunity and I think that with a solid run of games, he will start scoring once again and help United close the increasing goal difference on City which is increasing with every week that goes by.

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