Reaction: Reading 3-4 Manchester United – Football…bloody hell

by Sam Peoples
Reading 3 (Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre, Morrison) Manchester United 4 (Anderson, Rooney, Rooney, van Persie)

1. Defence, what defence? Manchester United have never conceded three goals as quickly as we did in the Premier League as we did tonight against Reading. It was our worst defensive display in the league in 11 years and we have now conceded 21 goals in the league. An abysmal record to break. More than that, it was the manner in which we conceded.

The first was a super finish from Robson Kanu but the ball shouldn’t of dropped to him in so much space. As for the second and third, both were simply corners.

I was surprised that Ferguson made any changes at the back considering we got our first clean sheet in ten games against West Ham on Wednesday and we paid for not playing Smalling from the start.

Rafael – hero to zero. Last week was his best performance in a Manchester United shirt, today wasn’t. You don’t ever see Sir Alex Ferguson making a substitution before half time but he took Rafael off after 30 minutes, and understandably so. Rafael was getting eaten alive by Jobi McAnuff, was already on a booking and seeing as Chris Smalling silenced McAnuff when he came on, he can’t argue with the decision either. Not shaking Ferguson’s hand wasn’t a smart move but he was fired up, so we’ll let it slide.

2. Poor performance but a win – story of the season. Once again, Manchester United have come out on top of a game they have failed to dominate, like champions do, and it is shaping our season so far.

Once again, we fell behind to an early goal and despite scoring twice in quick succession, conceded another two before scoring another two ourselves that was enough to seal the win. We’re conceding goals for fun this year and it is only our free scoring attackers that are saving our blushes.

It’s obvious that without Nemanja Vidic, the performance of our defence is about as predictable as the English weather. The sooner our captain returns the better because we need a real presence in the middle of the defence, we are suffering without it.

3. Cannot afford for Anderson to be injured. Next week, we go to the Etihad in what is undoubtedly the game of the season thus far. Last year, it was the most dismal 1-0 defeat – we went there with Park Ji Sung in midfield to try and quash the threat of Yaya Toure and it was a limp performance.

MUTV have confirmed that Anderson has suffered a hamstring injury.

I’m worried that the same can happen again, especially if Anderson is out. Already we have Shinji Kagawa sidelined but with Anderson in tip top form, we were coping without. So, naturally, he goes off injured the game before the derby. His surging runs from the middle have been so fresh in our stagnant midfield and without him, we might end up depending on Paul Scholes starting with Tom Cleverley looking a bit rusty. Shudder.

GIF by @brocadfael

4. Lindegaard has played De Gea into goal tonight. Speaking earlier this week, Ferguson said:

“There’s no actual reason to leave Anders out in terms of form. Hopefully David understands that. There is no long term issue.”

From tonight’s performance and what Sir Alex said, there is no choice but to drop Lindegaard. That was a very poor performance from a keeper who is normally so assured. He didn’t seem to want to come and claim anything at all, he seemed lost.

De Gea is our #1, Lindegaard is a more than admirable back-up. The sooner Dave gets back between the sticks the better – not because Lindegaard is a bad goalkeeper but because De Gea needs the game time to fulfil his potential.

5. We should of won that by more than one.┬áRobin van Persie had the ball at least a yard over the line but the linesman somehow didn’t see it. Later in the second half, Robin van Torres missed an open goal with an absolute sitter of an opportunity when Federici lost possession to him in the six yard box.

It ended up being a nervy last ten minutes for Manchester United because we sat deep. We had four centre backs and two defensive midfielders on the the pitch in an attempt to tighten up, and it worked. We didn’t concede but we invited pressure onto a goalkeeper who looked shaky to say the least.

I have to say that Ashley Young played very well today. For all his critics, he was linking up great with Patrice Evra on the overlap and it gave us a real fruitful outlet on the left.

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