Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Aalborg 0-3 United - Match report and ratings

On the face of it, last night was a good result for us. 3 goals, including two for Berbatov, a clean sheet and a win at a canter. On the other hand, we should have scored six, we were sloppy defensively and all three substitutions were forced by injury.

I'm not too fussed about the lack of more goals or the defensive performance, but the injuries could be a problem. Knee ligament damage for Scholes, which will keep him out for weeks even in its mildest form. An unknown ankle problem (it just "gave way") for Rooney, just as he was starting to hit his straps. Not so sure that Rafael's injury was a biggie, though.

On that slightly sour note, let's review how we measured up to my pre-match targets, and get into the player ratings.

Goal 1 - integration of Berbatov - improving, in a word. He saw a lot more of the ball into his feet, which suggests that his teammates are starting to work out what he's looking for. He had plenty of opportunities to play key passes (more on his personal performance in the ratings). The goals can only help.

Goal 2 - quick victory - well, quick-ish. We bossed the game from the moment we scored, and after the second went in we had 30 mins to play exhibition football. Still, hardly as though the boys were required to tear around for 90 minutes, so got to be happy there.

Goal 3 - confidence booster - three goals away from home is always a decent result, and it could have been more. The boys should feel better knowing that they scored three without being clinical and having taken their foot off the gas after the second.

Player Ratings

EVDS - 5.5 - didn't have much to do, and did it all well apart from a dodgy punch in the first half when under no pressure - for that he loses half a point.

Evra - 6 - not his best game. He was the most slack defensively, with most of Aalborg's opportunities originating from his wing. He also got beaten to a header at the back post. Unusually, didn't make that much of an impact going forward to compensate. Not disastrous, but we've seen better.

Vidic - 6 - also not his usual dominating self, partly because there wasn't much to dominate. Still managed to put his head in where it hurts, and got a kick on the head for his troubles - the man's a nutter.

Rio - 8 - awesome defensively, particularly with a last-ditch challenge in the first half. Organised the others, looked after Rafael and brought the ball out of defence well. Only a matter of time until one of those far post chances from a corner goes in - his positioning there is starting to look like a consistent strategy.

Rafael - 7 - bags of confidence and great going forward, a really good first start. He does look to have, as Fergie says, a special talent. Will need to toughen up defensively before he can be a force in the Premier League, but very encouraging.

Nani - 5 - saw lots of the ball, but didn't really do much with it, always trying to beat the extra man or dallying too long before picking a pass. Should be persevered with, of course - we know how good he can be on his day, and once he gets his head right the frustration will turn into joy. Good dead ball delivery is a real asset.

Scholes - n/a - not on long enough, and I just hope the injury isn't serious. A bad knee injury at his age could well be curtains, and nobody would want to see it end like that.

Giggs - 8 -
anyone who sniggered when Fergie said his main role now is through the centre was laughing on the other side of their face last night. He single-handedly ran midfield, picking intelligent passes - not least the peach for Rooney's goal - and carrying the ball effectively. If he plays even ten games a season at this level he'll be more than worth his spot in the squad. A pleasure to watch.

O'Shea - 4 - really, what was the point? He gave the ball away on at least four occasions when under no pressure, he was beaten embarrassingly easily 25 yards from goal and didn't contribute anything in Aalborg's half. Just as Giggs was reminding everyone why he held down a central midfield spot for the second half of the 05/06 season, O'Shea was asking never to be played there ever again. Please...

Ronaldo - 7 - lively, involved in everything, and seems to be on a smooth road back to his best. Also seems to be making a conscious effort to involve Berbatov and develop and understanding with him - if Ronaldo thinks Berba is capable of playing on his level, then that's high praise in my book.

Rooney - 7.5 - good, decisive finish for his goal. Full of (well-directed) energy and purpose, balancing dropping deep or wide with making incisive runs forward. Shame about the injury, hope it's not too serious.

Berbatov - 7 - two goals, both good finishes but the speed he got himself into position for the scissor-kick second was eye-catching. One gem of a pass to put Ronaldo through. On the flip-side, he missed a sitter at the start of the game and wasted a few passes when he had runners to aim for and time to get his head up, hence why I've only given a 7.

Brown (sub) - 5.5 - confidence looks shot, understandably having been relegated from first choice to third choice in a matter of weeks. God knows what he's done to upset Fergie (if I had to guess, maybe he didn't take being dropped against Chelsea too well), but I hope it sorts itself out soon because Wes should have a big role to play this season.

Tevez (sub) - 6 - reminded us why we can cope with an injury to Rooney - only that will alleviate what promises to be an ongoing selection headache for Fergie.

What did you make of the performance, and do you agree with my ratings?


Andrew, Esq. said...

First off, love the blog. It's now a part of my morning reading routine. thanks!

I agree with your ratings for the most part, especially as concerns Giggs. Outstanding performance, and still one of the most intelligent passers of the ball. My main beef was with Nani. Granting what you've said about persevering with him, I thought he was a complete waste of space yesterday. Only about half of his corners were decent. The very few times he decided to cross his delivery was poor, at best. The remainder of the time he played as if he were the only man in blue out there, with his head down, completely selfishly. He had so many wonderful opportunities to set-up his teammates, so many great passes gone wanting. I know he can be a fantastic player, and I will be patient, but yesterday I wanted to throw my television out the window. He MUST learn to play for the TEAM first. At this point I'd rather see Park starting and Nani coming on around 60-70 mins.

Penguinissimo said...

Andrew - my pleasure, thanks for reading.

I was trying to be positive about Nani, because he is at exactly the same stage of his development as a certain C Ronaldo was during his second season. I just find myself screaming "get your head up! and make a decision!" at him all the time.

But I can handle a few dodgy performances if it contributes to an upward trend. If we're still saying the same things in March, my patience will have totally run out by then. But in terms of potential, Nani on form is in a totally different league to Park.

Gapi said...

You summed it up perfectly. Nice article. I haven't been worried about Nani before but he needs to up his game. We need him to perform like he did against Arsenal last year.

thethreeRs said...

Consistency is a difficult thing to achieve as a winger it seems. Look at Lennon,Bentley,Wright-Phillips, Walcott, Downing, Pennant. Confidence and belief seem essential. Berating these types is counter-productive so patience is needed. Ronnie has huge self-belief - to the point that he believes the only way he can lose the ball is if he is fouled! Difficult to tell if Nani is going to make it or not. He doesn't use his pace as directly as ronnie and doesn't seem aware of the play around him.
We have been spoiled with wingers.
Aston, Best, Morgan, Hill, Coppell,
Kanchelskis,Blonquist, Poborsky? Ronnie and of course Giggs, to name but 10. Oddly, Becks did not fit the winger mould in the conventional sense, able to cross without having to beat his man and producing as dangerous a cross from further back as others who hit the by-line.
The stand-out winger at the moment, who seems to deliver in all senses of the word is Ashley Young. There doesn't seem a flaw to his game and he is playing regularly which gives confidence. I suspect he is worth a great deal of money. Congrats to O'Neill for taking the plunge when others dithered. Agbonlahor started as a straight winger but now seems more in the Ronnie mould, I'd say. Nani needs playing minutes and good handling. Berbs body language when passes are poor are unlikely to help Nani, I fear. Thanks for your blog. Already i value your match report ahead of the nationals.

PO13 said...

Great work, I really enjoyed reading your columns and comments on RedRants and now I get a new blog to read!


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