Thursday, 18 September 2008

United 0-0 Villareal

Player Ratings

EVDS - 6 - had little to do, but did that comfortably. No real basis for an opinion, and nothing to suggest either that a corner has been turned or that the crisis has deepened. Holding pattern (unlike their keeper who barely held anything all night).

Neville - 6.5 - good to see Gary back with the armband, and his performance was perfectly acceptable. Looked very rusty going forward, particularly his crossing (which used to be such a strength). Not his worst game ever, though - I’m prepared to stick my neck out and say I’d play him against Chelski instead of Evans on the grounds of experience of the big day.

Rio - 7 - As good as ever, including bringing the ball out of defence. Shame about the missed chance early on.

Evans - 6.5 - Looked fine, but didn’t seem to have much of a physical presence. It was the lad’s first proper game so I’m not judging him, but I didn’t see an imposing centre back there - not sure he’s ready for a game like Chelski away yet. Hit the post and had one other decent header from a set play.

Evra - 7 - Little to do defensively, but was very lively going forward and linking up with Nani then Ronaldo. I still worry that he occasionally gets caught too far upfield too often, but then given Villareal’s negative tactics we could easily cope with 3-at-the-back. Wouldn’t like to see Joe Cole in those acres of space behind him, though.

Park - 8 - very lively first half, working hard as usual but also with an added touch of skill (on lovely turn in particular). Made intelligent runs, and should have had two penalties - one in particular was stonewall. Let’s give up on him ever learnnig to shoot properly, though.

Fletcher - 8 - Seems to be doing his best to turn into a box-to-box superman (well, super-Fletcher, anyway). Work rate was great all night, won and retained possession well, and was involved in some of our more intricate passing stuff upfield. Deserves a place against Chelski.

Hargreaves - 7.5 - controlled the midfield well, supporting either full-back when under pressure and using the ball quickly and simply. Sometimes got a bit over-enthusiastic and joined in attacks at the same time as Fletcher, leaving a yawning chasm behind; when you’re playing 4-4-2, one midfielder has to do some sitting to tidy up loose balls and co-ordinate the play.

Nani - 7 - Lively in possession, always looking to take people on and get balls into the box (where he’ll benefit from having Berba to aim at). Encouraging display, but didn’t actually create all that much or have any real shots on target. We’re definitely in Ronaldo season 2 territory - he still needs to learn how to make decent decisions; one particular example when he could have played Rooney in but instead carried the ball and then tried the wrong pass.

Rooney - 7.5 - What a difference. Roamed across the pitch, getting involved both deep and on the shoulder. This is what Rooney was made to do, and it was one of his better games. Put a goal on a plate for Tevez, whose shot was cleared off the line.

Tevez - 7 - Standard performance, but we’re still looking for a cutting edge to match all that industry. Rooney and Tevez currently look a million dollars out of the box, but just don’t get in the area often enough to net a heavy scoring tally. Highlighted why we bought Berba.

Ronaldo - 8 - the whole team was a different proposition when he was on. In his 30-minute cameo, he showed us glimpses of everything he can do except scoring, and god have we missed it. Most interesting, though, is the space that he creates for others - teams are inclined to double or treble up on him, leaving big holes for others to exploit. Great to have him back and I hope he’s fit enough to start against Chelski. Now is not the time for bitterness, now is the time ti kick-start our season.

Anderson - 7 - Lively in midfield, much better than against Liverpool, but like Nani needs to work on his decision-making in the final third. A couple of wild shots in good positions need to be shown to him in slow-motion so he gets the point. I like him as an impact sub at the moment, but the boy could also do with a proper break when we get Carrick back.

Fergie - 8 - back to 4-4-2, thank god. Everyone knew their role and played it, our midfield was much more effective and both Nani and Park ran their fullbacks around the block. I know the flexibility and fluidity of the 4-3-2-1 appeals greatly to Fergie, but when the going is rough he should keep it simple. I’m hoping for the same again against Chelsea, although away against one of the big four usually leads to a three-man central midfield.

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