Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hernandez giving Fergie selection headache with Rooney ready to face Sunderland...

United were in action last night in the Mestalla in the Champions League. Going into the game Ferguson voiced his concerns about facing Valencia who are currently top of La Liga; United were without Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney due to injuries and so a win looked unlikely, especially given the manner of United's defending of late.

However, right from the kick-off it appeared as though both teams would have been happy to settle for a point as neither side showed enough attacking ambition. Ahead of the Group C game, Darren Fletcher had warned that United needed to retain the ball - especially against Spanish teams - yet the Scot gave away the ball three times in the opening 12 minutes. Michael Carrick, Ji-Sung Park and Anderson were all guilty of poor passing throughout what was a very disjointed opening period. But Valencia were just as bad as United in what was a very poor first-half.

The second-half saw both manager's making offensive changes, Berbatov was unlucky not to score following a magical piece of skill, the Bulgarian brought the ball down as only he can and then ran deep into the Valencia penalty area before firing at the legs of Cesar.

At the other end, truth be told, Edwin van der Sar didn't have an awful lot to do, much credit for that must go to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Fergie's first-choice centre-back pairing by and large played well together against a Valencia forward line that didn't pose that many difficult questions on the night. After a long lay-off, it was good to see Ferdinand coming through his second successful comeback game within a week. It was a timely return to action with United shipping too many goals since the season start.

As the second-half went on Valencia started to probe United's back line and that was the signal for Ferguson to make changes that would eventually win the game.

On 77 minutes Hernandez replaced Anderson, the Brazilian had played poorly on his return to the first team, but Ferguson later acknowledged that the former Porto midfield man needed games as he's not yet back to his best.

Nani was United's man-of-the-match and it was the Portuguese winger who supplied a superb cross from the right which Hernandez nearly converted, but the Mexican striker hit the post from close range.

Macheda replaced Berbatov with five minutes remaining on the clock and with more or less his first touch of the ball, the Italian striker played a neat pass to the feet of Hernandez who then scored a goal of the very highest quality; The Mexican controlled the ball with a superb first-touch, and with his second touch he blasted beyond Cesar low and hard into the bottom corner. United went on to win and deservedly so, because the visitors had created the better of the goal scoring opportunities.

The result means United are joint top of group C with Rangers. In the wake of what was an unexpected victory, reports claim Rooney is chomping at the bit to get his place back in the starting eleven. According to the Daily Mirror, Rooney had scans on his ankle yesterday which showed no serious injury, so it appears as though there isn't much wrong with the United striker, if so, this ties in with assistant manager Micky Phelan's post-match interview following Sunday's draw with Bolton.

Weekend media speculation suggested Ferguson had been planning to rest Rooney because of his mixed early season form, which has to be set against the problems in the player's private life.

A prolonged Rooney absence from the team would have given the manager the perfect opportunity to give Hernandez more playing time, but if the reports about Rooney wanting to play this weekend against Sunderland are true, it seems the manager could well have a selection headache to deal with, but it's a nice problem to have -at least it would be if Rooney was playing as we know he can...

It will be interesting to see who starts up front alongside Berbvatov against Sunderland.

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