Thursday, December 31, 2009

Two R's star in festive Turkey shoot as Wigan roll over....

There's a well used adage in football that states you can only beat what is put in front of you, by way of the quality (or lack of it, in the case of Wigan) of the opposition; The champions did just that in what was a fully blown festive Turkey shoot at Old Trafford last night and the second five-nil demolition job of the season on Wigan Athletic, it was a thoroughly professional job and one that enhanced United's goal difference into the bargain.

No matter that the champions could easily have won the game by a much wider margin - the fact they didn't do so was largely down to one man, Dimitar Berbatov. Despite eventually scoring, the Bulgarian's finishing was nothing short of woeful. United have two important cup ties coming up in the next few days; it's one thing missing easy chances when they are coming thick and fast, it will be quite another if Berbatov fails so miserably as he did last night against either Leeds United on Sunday in the FA Cup or Man City next week.

Berbatov continues to test the patience of the fans' and no doubting his manager too, despite some good touches and the odd moment of inspiration, all too often the former Spurs star is the source of utter frustration and bemusement. It's easy to see why many United fans' are apathetic or else indifferent towards the Bulgarian striker and it's also why it's doubtful he will ever win over the masses.

While Berbatov continues to frustrate the fans' and those who question his worth, in sharp contrast, the stock of his fellow strike partner Wayne Rooney continues to rise.

Against Wigan Rooney was brilliant at times and extremely unlucky not to add to his goal tally, he eventually and fittingly did manage to open the scoring with a superbly worked goal following an excellent Gary Neville like over-lapping run down the right flank by Rafael. Rooney expertly latched on to the Brazilian's low driven cross with a deft touch that diverted the ball and gave Kirkland in the Wigan goal no chance. Frankly, at that point in the first-half Wigan were lucky not to have been dead buried.

Prior to the flood gates opening, Rooney had hit the inside of Kirkland's far post after he'd turned the fullback inside out on the left edge of the visitors' penalty area - quite how the ball didn't end up nestling in the rigging is a mystery. Berbatov missed a catalogue of easy chances - if indeed it were possible, someone should have given him a killer instinct for Christmas because he sure as hell hasn't got one in front of goal.

Carping aside, it was very good night for Rafael da Silva, who over the last two games has shown the best and worst of his capabilities; against Hull at the weekend he gave away a penalty after finding himself on the wrong side of the man he was supposed to be marking, but when the Brazilian goes forward and attacks he does so with conviction and pace, not only that, unlike Gary Neville, he is a goal-scorer.

Last night against Wigan we saw the very best of Rafael and it was fitting that he made it three-nil just before half-time, with what was arguably the best goal of night. The Brazilian collected the ball from Rooney on the edge of the Wigan penalty as he skipped beyond the attention of three Wigan defenders before spinning and then driving the ball into the corner of Kirkland's net with a left-foot finish that any striker would have been proud of.

It was a night when most of United's best attacking moves came down the right flank and prior to Rafael scoring, Michael Carrick had doubled the champions advantage, but on this occasion it was Atonio Valencia who was the provider from deep inside the Wigan penalty area with a pin-point pull-back that invited Carrick to strike the ball goal-bound, and he did.

Just minutes into the second period and after more good work by Valencia, Berbatov finally got his name on to the score-sheet when making it four-nil, following yet another assist by the Ecuadorian; once again the damage was done from a move that started on the right flank, at that point, as a contest, the game was effectively over, but the fans' and players' alike were enjoying this festive feast of goals even if it came at the expense of a hapless Wigan team who were more or less devoid of ideas, spirit and fight.

The fans' had to wait until the 75th minute to quench their thirst for more goals and when number five arrived, on this occasion it was Rooney who turned provider for Valencia to score. Prior to arriving at United, the Ecuadorian was 'goal-shy', so his increasing tally is just cause to celebrate for both player and manager.

The win over Wigan, despite the opposition's many shortcomings is a major confidence booster for United and it has come just at the right time; December has been a month of highs and lows were results and performances are concerned, but the champions have notched eight goals in the last two games and only shipped one and so Ferguson and has players' have good reason to be confident about the challenges ahead as the turn of the year approaches.


  1. Yet again a fair, just observation. In my blog I wasn't quite so harsh (or honest!) about Berbs, as - I know this is pretty lame - but I've been getting alot of rubbish from United fans about my overly pessimistic take on the season so far; especially with regards to our recent defeats. So I thought, with such a decent performance, I wasn't going to touch upon the negatives...although I did mention his poor finishing very briefly (again, not wanting to upset those fans who think United can NEVER put a foot wrong). Anyway, nice one and I'm glad to see someone else writes with such honesty; minus the red-tint that surrounds many United fans.

  2. POS; there's a lot of United fans who, to put it midly, wear red tinted specs.

    My blog isn't that popular (I don't actually care about that either), but that's partly because I write so honestly about the club - if the fans want Pravda style updates then they know where to go, that'll be the official United site or else those fans that rarely say it as it REALLY is.

    If United have played poorly then I slate them individually and collectively; but as you say it was a half decent showing against what was a pathetic Wigan side in midweek.

    The current squad is one of the worst that I can recall in Fergie's time - hence the pastings that I've been dishing out this season, what's more rather than this being a rebuilding process I can see things getting a lot worse in the not too distant future and I'm going to expand on that theme in my next post.

  3. I've put your review up as one of my 'Read of the Week's' this week. It's always important for people to get that all too rare 'honest' perspective.
    In terms of the current squad and the way things will become, I have to say I'm having similar fears. To lose our best player for a bit - well, a LOT - of loot (when we've NEVER been a selling club) shows how the financial difficulties within our club take greater precedents over on-field matters. And with clubs like City and whoever else being casually bought over by billionaire Arab's, we are in danger of being slowly but surely edged out.

  4. Pos, thanks.

    Regarding your point about being edged out, as you say without a lot of money being made available to Ferguson then I'm in total agreement and what's more I simply do not see that money materialising... and with Fergie's own future on the horizon how would the club compete for say Mourinho's services? As it happens, he may not be the best choice because of his short-termism.


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