Sunday, January 15, 2012

Scholes vindicates return. De Gea left out again, but all is not well at Manchester United....

United went level with Manchester City at the top of the Barclays Premier League thanks to Saturday's three-nil win over struggling Bolton. In truth, for the second home league game in a row, despite the winning margin, United made hard work of it. While the win over Bolton keeps the pressure on leaders City, it was not the performance of champions.

Jonny Evans and Rafael were restored to the United starting eleven, at the expense of Jones and Smalling, both were rested along with Anderson who we are led to believe suffered a knock in training. Interestingly, Paul Pogba was among the United substitutes, but as things turned out, he was left on the bench along with Dimitar Berbatov (more about these two shortly).

But for the poor quality of United's final ball into the Bolton penalty area in the first ten minutes, the champions could have been three-nil up, but that didn't happen.

With Scholes pulling the strings in midfield, United's build up play was good, at least it was until that vital final ball was delivered into the Bolton box.

Rooney failed convert a penalty in the 24th minute, but much credit should go to Adam Bogdan in the Bolton goal who made a fine save. Bogdan, had an excellent first-half, but he could do nothing about Paul Scholes tap-in on the stroke of half-time.

Danny Welbeck very nearly denied Scholes his first comeback goal when he appeared to try to control Rooney's pass, but he failed to do so, luckily for United, the former England midfield general was on-hand to open the scoring.

From that point onwards, United should have gone on to close the goal-difference gap on leaders City, but the crispness of passing, speed of thought and accuracy wasn't there for much of the second-half. At least that was the case as far as too many were concerned in the famous red shirt.

Scholes was the exception - at the grand old age of 37 - he was by far United's most effective midfield player on show. Scholes made the effort to get into the Bolton penalty several times, but the quality of United's final ball wasn't what we have come to expect from Nani and Valencia.

Scholes and Nani were eventually replaced by Giggs and Park in the 68th minute. Scholes didn't look too impressed with the manager's decision - and with some justification too, because he was by some distance United's most effective player on show. At the time of that double substitution, United were only one-nil to the good, no doubt fearing another Old Trafford slip-up, Ferguson took the decision to bring on fresh legs and to rest Scholes.

Former Liverpool striker, David Ngog missed the opportunity to put Bolton on level terms, but instead his shot nearly ended up in the third tier of the East Stand.

United's second-half play was sloppy on too many occasions and this gave the visitors' encouragement to push for an equaliser.

United finally scored a much needed second goal on 73 minutes and once again it was Rooney who was the provider. Despite being the attentions of a Bolton defender, Rooney managed to somehow prod the ball into the path of his strike partner and Welbeck finished with his first touch from just inside the visitors' penalty area.

The joy of scoring looked initially to have come at a high price, as both Rooney and Welbeck were felled just after getting what turned out to be a vital touch on the ball. Welbeck in particular looked to be in real pain as he lay writhing in agony inside the Bolton penalty area. With United travelling to North London next weekend to face Arsenal, the last thing Ferguson needs is more injury concerns.

Michael Carrick eased any prospect of another lapse by the champions when he hammered home a rare goal, one that ensured victory on 83 minutes with a well taken low curling drive into Bogdan's bottom right-hand corner.

In his post-match interview, Ferguson criticised referee Peter Walton for not showing Zat Knight a red card for his trip on Welbeck which led to the penalty. Nothing annoys manager's more than refereeing inconsistencies - fans and pundits alike will concur with the United manager on this aspect of the game.

In summary, Ferguson's decision to bring back Scholes in United's hour of need has been fully vindicated, at least it has for now. Scholes is still by far the most comfortable player on the ball, in any given situation; he is still the best passer of the ball at the club. However, while Scholes is likely to continue to prove his worth for the remainder of the season, his return to the first-team squad has had a knock-on effect where the likes of Anderson and Pogba are concerned.

For the third game in succession, David de Gea was left on the bench and it looks, for now at least, that Anders Lindegaard is the new no.1 goalkeeper at Old Trafford. De Gea will be given at least one more chance but any more mistakes could signal the end of his short United career.

With the January transfer window open, any of hopes of Ferguson adding much needed quality to his squad appear to be hopeful rather than tangible. Not unsurprisingly, Darron Gibson has been sold to Everton for a lowly transfer fee - as little as £500,000 has been reported.

The future of Dimitar Berbatov continues to be the subject of speculation linking the striker to PSG among others including Bayern

The re-emergence of Scholes has had a much talked about knock-on affect where the likes of Anderson and Pogba are concerned.

Anderson has failed to consistently live up to expectations - given his hefty price tag the Brazilian has been a disappointment.

In the case of Paul Pogba, United appear to have hit a stumbling block, because the club have revealed ongoing contract negotiations continue to be problematic. This situation has led to speculation about the youngster's future. According to one report over the weekend Manchester City are about to pass up the opportunity of signing Pogba on a pre-contract agreement for fear of causing upset with the neighbours.

Pogba's three year deal expires this summer - though United are thought to have an option to extend his current deal by 12 months. The notion that City wouldn't sign Pogba for fear of upsetting United is, it to put mildly, ridiculous. Man City signed Tevez and Hargreaves - their motives as far as the latter are concerned were questionable at best.

The future of Ravel Morrison has been the subject of much speculation over the last week, with United announcing the highly rated youngster is up for sale. United claimed the player has refused their contract offer, while Morrison has denied knowledge of any offer via Twitter. Newcastle are said to ready to sign Morrison. Manchester United have rejected at least one offer from the Magpies and so it looks as though it is only a matter of time before a deal will be completed.

The extent of United's contract troubles have been added to with the news that Danny Welbeck has become the subject of speculation about his future. United have reportedly offered the young England striker a bumper pay rise in recognition for his improvement and goals this season, but as yet we understand that deal remains unsigned.


  1. Quite funny ... Man City sold :-)

  2. I wish that story was true!

    Regarding Gary Neville and his business empire: Not a lot of people know this, but he's a director of a local engineering firm....

  3. Numpties please note: Offensive comments will be removed without warning or reply.

  4. This blog is great. I wish that story was true!
    Numpties please note: Offensive comments will be removed without warning or reply.



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