Sunday, September 11, 2011

Davies' tackle on Cleverley puts dampener on otherwise superb day for Manchester United...

Manchester United thrashed Bolton 5-0 on Saturday, with what was a near faultless performance by the champions, but the thumping win came at a price with Tom Cleverley leaving the action early in the first-half following a poor challenge by Kevin Davies'.

Quite what was going through the mind of Davies' when he made that tackle is a good question to ask, because there was no way he was ever going to win the ball, not without taking Cleverley out first, because the Bolton striker was on the wrong side of the United midfielder.

While there was no doubting it was a bad challenge, for some reason referee Andre Marriner kept his cards in his pocket, which in itself raises questions. Maybe Marriner thought Davies' had made a genuine attempt to win the ball, but that was impossible from the Bolton striker's position being on the wrong side of the player he was trying to tackle. The fact that Davies wasn't booked reflects badly on Andre Marriner and Ferguson had every right to say it was a bad challenge after the game, but he didn't take the matter any further. In fairness, the challenge didn't look like it was premeditated though, nor did it look like there was intent to injure Cleverley, but technically it was most certainly an ill-judged attempt to win the ball - one that went unpunished and left United cursing their injury luck.

Davies' was eventually booked on 12 minutes for a bad tackle on Patrice Evra and by rights, at that point Marriner should have been brandishing his red card. Davies' made another poor first-half challenge on Jonny Evans and again he was given the benefit of doubt by lenient Marriner.

United have lost Vidic, Ferdinand, Welbeck and now Cleverley due to injury since the start of the season and Jonny Evans also limped off at the Reebok yesterday. Thanks to Ferguson's superb work in the summer in the transfer market, the manager does at least have quality cover. However, central midfield is the single biggest weakness within the squad and the manager will be cursing his luck if worst fears over Cleverley and a broken foot are confirmed.

Injuries aside, it was another superb display by the champions and once again Rooney was the man of the match. Rooney notched his second hat-trick in succession to underline his imperious early season form. But it was Hernandez who opened the scoring on just four minutes from a tantalising cross from the right from Nani. United's Mexican striker gave a textbook lesson in how to lose your marker in the box, with England hero Cahill left floundering as the United striker made the difficult art of scoring look easy.

Rooney scored the second with a near carbon copy of the first and once again it came about following a good ball into the Bolton box from the right, this time from Jones'.

Michael Carrick replaced Cleverley on 24 minutes and went on to have a good game, and boy he needed to impress too because the pressure for starting places is intense, with Cleverley and Anderson looking to have cemented the central midfield slots.

United have been superb down the left flank this season, with Ashley Young pulling the strings when combining well with England team-mate Wayne Rooney, but against Bolton, all of the goal action started on the opposite flank, with Nani and Phil Jones' at the heart of everything.

Jones' was preferred to Chris Smalling at right-back in the starting XI, and the former Blackburn youngster did not disappoint from both a defensive or attacking an standpoint.

It was Jones' who laid on Rooney's first goal on 20 minutes with a good ball in from the right. United fans love to see Smalling supporting the attack with his powerful runs down the right wing, but Jones' looks, if anything, to be even better, as he showed in the 25th minute when he dazzled Bolton with a mazey run into the box which led to Rooney scoring his second and United's third.

From that point on, as as a contest, the game was over. United capped off a fine display with second-half goals from Hernandez and Rooney with assists from Carrick and Nani respectively.

In summary, it really has been a scintillating start to the new season with United and City fighting it out at the top of the table. The champions are ahead of City on goal difference and Rooney has scored more goals than any other Premier League club apart from City.

Ahead of Saturday's trip to the Reebok, Fergie had hinted that David De Gea might be rested; the media speculated that the United manager was fearful of a likely aerial assault by Bolton, as it turned out De Gea kept his place and the young Spaniard went on to fully vindicate the faith shown in him with another faultless display.

Following yet another top-class performance, some pundits are comparing Phil Jones' to the late great Busby Babe, Duncan Edwards - which is some accolade; but comparisons are never a good thing because it is so difficult to compare like for like. Phil Jones' doesn't need the distraction of being compared to one of the club's greatest ever players.

Next up, United travel to Portugal for Wednesday's Champions League tie with Benfica and that could be another cracking game.


  1. Mr. Marriner had a shocker. The tackle on Cleverley was clumsy, and Davies should've had two yellows at the very least. In fact, United's players had no protection from the ref for the most part.

    A great performance overall. I have no complaints apart from Anderson still passing the ball straight to opposition on a few occasions. Also, Carrick should try passing forward more imo. Both of them still had a good game mind you.

    Bolton 2 Man City 3. Bolton 0 United 5. Nuff said.

  2. get better Cleverley... you are the next scholes...


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