Sunday, 28 September 2008

United 2-0 Bolton - Report Part I

The result that we wanted, although nobody can deny that the breakthrough was "lucky" (read gifted to us by the ref). There are plenty of places where you can read a blow-by-blow account of the match, so instead I'm going to examine whether we met the goals I set out in my preview. Then, I will look at each player's performance in detail. This will be the usual format of match reports here - please let me know what you think in the comments.

Goal 1 - Attacking fluency - mixed success here. We had a lot of the ball in the first half, and whilst there was the odd nice move and some dangerous crosses that didn't quite find a head, we didn't look like carving apart a team with 10 men behind the ball. We improved a bit in the second half as Ronaldo started to get going, but there was a total sea-change when Rooney and Scholes came on. From that point, we ran Bolton ragged, moving the ball fast and intelligently, and looking a threat whenever we were in possession - and you couldn't ask for a better second goal.

Goal 2 - Sustained performance - well, we were at home and we ran the game for long periods of time. Again, we did move up and down the gears, but we kept knocking on the door and I was confident that the goal was going to arrive without a dodgy decision (read howler) from the ref. There was no sign from any of the players of flagging fitness levels, which has been a question mark in past performances. A step in the right direction, but there's further to go.

Goal 3 - Berbatov's integration - it is clear that the team needs to learn how to play with him as much as he needs to learn how to play for us. There were over ten occasions when he suddenly pulled back off his centre-back, wanting the ball to feet - he created a couple of yards for himself in a dangerous area, but his movement was rarely spotted. I think he will benefit greatly from Scholes or Carrick's presence in the team, since they are always on the lookout for - and are capable of playing - that precise forward pass into feet. Again, encouraging but with a way to go yet.

Goal 4 - bossing central midfield - we didn't really achieve this. Another central midfield pairing, and another ok showing. But pairing is the word to stress - I really believe in the value of a consistent partnership, where one will know where the other is and what is expected of each. I think Fletcher and Andersonare a bit too all-action to play well together. Both like to cover ground and get involved in the play wherever it is, and the both did fine, but there wasn't much sign of the co-ordination necessary to run the game rather than just compete.

Goal 5 - no goalkeeping errors - fully achieved. Granted, EVDS didn't have much to do, but it has been the simple things that have been causing concern recently. One eye-catching take from a corner which must have given him confidence - that is the sort of dominance and sure-handedness that makes the whole defence feel better about life. Long may it continue.

What do you make of the performance? Do you agree with my assessments? Lets hear from you in the comments.


Anonymous said...

Always enjoyable reading your analysis. Very insightful.
Good Luck with the Blog!!!
Good on you...

MoYa said...

Fantastic That you have your own blog Penguin!
Look forward to some great reading.

Liam said...

Berbatov still has a lot to do to prove to me that he belongs at United. I couldn't believe that chance he wasted when it was just him and Jussi. Some good touches but really has to get more forward when the ball is put across

Penguinissimo said...

Anonymous and Moya - thanks very much, and cheers for looking over. I'm aiming to put up one post a day, so keep checking back!

Liam - I know what you're saying, but there was more encouragement yesterday than any of the previous games. I think he needs fully ten games before we can start to assess how good a signing he is. I'm still in the "for" camp, at the moment...

Gapi said...

Loved your articles on RedRants and look forward to reading your blog daily Penguin. Keep up the excellent work!

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