Reaction to the Fulham game…

by Sam Peoples

Rooney celebrates after Welbeck puts United up in the fifth minute. Photo: Glyn Kirk (Getty Images)

1. A galvanised performance from Evra. Luis Suarez was rightfully slapped with an eight match ban for racially abusing Evra this week and judging from his performance against Fulham, I’d say it came as a welcome boost for Patrice. He has obviously been playing with this case niggling on his mind and an assured 90 minutes from our left back both in the attacking and defending sense, comes as a great relief. Against QPR on Sunday, Mackie had Evra in his back pocket and always looked like dancing past him down the wing but for me, that was Evra’s best performance of the season. Ever since France went out of the World Cup in dramatic style, Evra has found it difficult to re-find the form that once made him the best left back in the world but if he can now find some consistency, it will be a massive boost to a defence that is currently missing it’s two most experienced centre backs.

2. Four starts and four clean sheets for Lindegaard. I think Lindegaard has earned his stripes in every game he has played in and has a viable stake on the number one jersey at United. When comparing him to David De Gea, although I feel that De Gea is by far and out the better shot stopper, Lindegaard seems both more assured with the ball at his feet and has greater distribution than his Spanish counterpart, so SAF will be extremely pleased at the fact he could potentially have a selection dilemma on his hands. For the most part of this season, however, David De Gea will continue as the first choice goalkeeper but surely having such stiff competition breathing down his neck with increase his desire to improve and better his game to make sure he holds onto the starting spot. Peter Schmeichel said that Lindegaard wasn’t good enough for United when we bought him for £3.5 million but surely he will now be eating his hat?

3. Nani is a world-beater when on form. Three goals and three assists in his last three games? That is the sort of form we know Nani is capable of and to watch him play when he is in full flow is a real joy for the eyes. Now some may disagree but I think Nani’s best position is easily on the left-wing but his versatility is a testament to his ability after he moved to the right-wing following Jones’ injury forcing Valencia to right-back. When Nani has confidence in his game, the ball seems almost stuck to his foot when he runs at defenders and he always looks like he will get the better of his man (and most of the time, he does). To have a player in your team who strikes fear into the opposition’s defence is an incredibly important asset for any football team (take Silva from City, for example) but if there is one thing that Nani has been guilty of over the years, it is his lack of consistency. Will he be able to keep up his recent form or will he dwindle out in the new year? I hope that he finally nails it on the head this season and shows just why SAF has invested so much time in his progression as a footballer.

4. Seven wins away from home this season. What more can you say? Even before we played at Fulham we had picked up more points away from home this season than we had done in the entirety of last season and to then get a 5-0 thumping on top of that is the icing on an already indulgent cake. SAF has obviously changed the mentality of a United that looked tentative on every away occasion last season and has re-vitalised his team following the exit from the Champions League in a way few thought possible. Some lunatics even cried that the exit marked the end of the SAF era at United, ludicrous I know, so for the team to come out and perform to such a level under the masses of pressure on their shoulders is just a fantastic showing of character and spirit. We may well have lost our indomitable appearance in home fixtures but we have most certainly gained it away from home this season. Can’t have both really, can you?

5. What is United without Giggs? Another Premier League season and another goal for the mercurial Ryan Giggs. Combining his (lucky) goal with tackles across the pitch and an overall excellent performance, it is still really hard to comprehend the fact that Ryan is 38 years old. How are United going to cope without having him in the squad? Sure, he may not be a regular starter by any stretch of the imagination anymore but there are few better substitutes than Giggs. He is just irreplaceable in the same category as Scholes was and considering how much we have struggled without having Scholes to bring on when we needed some class in the midfield, what are we going to do when that gap widens with Giggs’ retirement? You have to imagine that he cannot play into his 40s but if he keeps up his daily yoga then who knows what age Ryan will play until. All I know is that when that day comes, it will be one of the saddest in United’s history for me as I have never known a United without Giggs.

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