Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tykes test United on mixed night for Reds youngsters....

So then following Sunday's 'no show' at Anfield, the champions bounced back with a just about deserved two nil win at Barnsley in the Carling Cup last night, thanks to goals by Danny Welbeck and Michael Owen. United are through to the next round and with rivals Manchester City likely to be in the draw what chance a quarter final meeting? It if happens, interest levels in the lowly 'Fizzy Pop Cup' will rise markedly... and then some.

So what of the performance at Oakwell? Fergie likes to give the kids a chance in this competition, especially in the early rounds, last night was no different. Gabriel Obertan made his first team debut and so all eyes were on the Frenchman, who did quite well in the first-half, but faded in the second period. Obertan, has the build of former Fergie 'fledgling' Luke Chadwick, it is to be hoped he doesn't follow in his footsteps...

The two da Silva brothers started and played the whole 90 minutes. Fabio was steady at leftback, but not overly impressive. Rafael played in the centre of midfield and after one or two nice early touches, like Obertan he faded and was largely anonymous.

Macheda was given a rare start and he failed to impress and looked slow off the mark at times - it is be hoped rumours of stardom going to his head plus alleged off the field antics are not going to hinder his progress after such a promising start to his career at United.

Danny Welbeck scored early doors with a regulation header from a corner, but in truth the marking was nothing short of criminal. Welbeck does some things quite well at times. Against Barnsley, his best moment came in the first-half when he took the ball out of the air with one touch a la Berbatov, but that moment of brilliance was spoilt by what happened next as he took the wrong decision when Michael Owen was better placed for a pass. It's too early to tell if Welbeck will develop into the finished article, he needs to beef up and he needs to improve in just about every aspect of what it takes to become a top striker - if doesn't improve he will follow the likes of David Healy out of the Old Trafford exit door.

Owen was United's star man in attack, whenever he actually managed to get on the ball, unlike Welbeck, he usually found someone in a United shirt. However, the former Newcastle striker had another mixed night in front of goal; he missed one excellent chance, but he more than made up for that with his late second-half effort when scoring with a textbook Owen goal.

Ben Foster was in goal and at times you could almost sense tension between himself and the defenders in front of him. Following a run of dodgy first-team games and his subsequent axing, the England stopper looks like a bag of nerves, but to his credit he made one truly world-class second-half save when he looked beaten all ends up.

Jonny Evans and Wes Brown were in harness in the centre of defence and they didn't cover themselves in glory, because the Tykes could easily have scored four in the second half, but a combination of Foster's 'keeping and poor finishing ensured there was to be no upset at Oakwell.

Gary Neville received his marching orders following what looked like a rash challenge. Neville went over the ball, but didn't follow through - if had done he would have broken Adam Hammill's leg. It looked as though Neville thought about it, raised his leg but in a split second came to his senses and pulled back from the brink, but by that time it was too late because in real-time it just looked bad. No wonder Fergie didn't defend his club captain in his post-match interview, but in truth it really wasn't such a bad challenge and Hammill needed no treatment whatsoever.

All in all, we didn't learn very much about those on duty at Oakwell, at least not from a United perspective. Ho hum, bring on the Bitter Blues.

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