Wednesday, 22 October 2008

United 3-0 Celtic - Report and Player Ratings

Well, that was a lot easier than it could have been. For all the pre-match hype, Celtic were pretty docile and were hamstrung as an attacking threat by the absence of their first choice strikers. Admittedly our first two goals were both clearly offside, but given how dominant we were it was hard for Celtic to complain too much, especially when Rooney had one good goal disallowed for offside - the linesmen had a shocker.

Goals for the game

For newcomers, first off I'm going to analyse how the team lived up to the goals I set in my preview.

Goal 1 - control the tempo - we did this very well. Despite Celtic turning up with a five man midfield, and putting in a couple of rough challenges in the first fifteen minutes, we were able to control the match and not get knocked out of our stride.

Goal 2 - minimise set play opportunities - this, again, we broadly achieved. Nakamura had only two good chances to deliver from free kicks, and no real shooting opportunities. We also dealt with the corners well, apart from the mandatory O'Shea moment. 

Player Ratings

EVDS - 7 - his best performance of the season so far, making a couple of sharp saves, dominating his area well and distributing the ball quickly and accurately for the most part. Maybe what United's goalkeeping coach said is coming true.

O'Shea - 5 - was fairly solid defensively except for his attempt to score an own goal from a Celtic set play, but offered little going forward against a docile opposition. Sounds harsh to drop him a point for that, but he used to be capable of it and it is very much part of the remit of a United full back these days.

Vidic - 6 - a quiet night again, but nevertheless his return to the team after suspension has coincided with a run of five consecutive clean sheets, and it's no coincidence. Had McDonald in his pocket all night and seemed to have a good instinctive understanding with Evans.

Evans - 7 - very composed performance after being drafted in at the last minute. A couple of really impressive moments on the ball, including a turn inside his own area which allowed him to pass the ball out of defence rather than hoof it into touch. Looks to be a defender in the Rio mould rather than the Vidic, but that is no bad thing. With Rio passing 30, he defnintely has a big future.

Neville - 7 - really encouraging display, and for the first time I can see why Fergie has been pushing him to the fore. His overlapping runs showed good pace (something we worried he had lost) and were a genuine danger to Celtic, even if his final ball is still not quite at peak level. Totoally unworried defensively, and was frequently able to win the ball back high up the pitch.

Nani - 7.5 - this is the sort of performance we have been hoping for all season. I don't recall him making a bad piece of decision-making (which is the reverse of usual so far, where a right decision is a champagne moment). He regularly beat men, got to the byline and linking well with the other attackers around him. Should have done enough to keep his place on Saturday, and we can start hoping for a consistent run of performances now.

Fletcher - 7 - his energy levels have never been in question, but what has made the real difference is the intelligence which he is using to direct that energy. He is often in the right place ahead of time, rather than having to run like a headless chicken to catch up. Linked the play well, and outgunned Celtic even though outnumbered.

Anderson - 6.5 - a good showing, but in contrast to Fletcher he wanted to be everywhere all the time, and often ended up just following the ball. He needs to engage his brain (or have it engaged for him) and work out exactly what his role is and how best he can influence the game, rather than just charging around. As it is, we don't see enough of the skill we know he possesses.

Ronaldo - 7 - was a man on a mission in the first half, desperate to prove he wasn't tired or below par, and was the quick-slicing rapier to Berbatov's more languid katana (forgiven the elaborate metaphor). Brute of a free kick to set up Berbatov's second. Popped up both centrally and on either side to torment whoever he came across. Still, he misjudged an arrival into the box when a headed goal seemed on a plate, and did seem to fade later on in the game.

Rooney - 8.5 - his hot streak continues. One beautifully taken goal, drilled into the bottom corner from just outside the area, a far from easy finish and one which smacked of self-belief. Another good goal ruled out (that's the second in two games) for offside, and one absolutely staggering aerial scissor-kick (see inset) which was unwittingly blocked. And that's just his shots on goal, to say nothing of a couple of stunning cross-field passes and link play with Berba which makes one drool at the prospect of watching the partnership grow over the season. Just stay fit, son...just stay fit.

Berbatov - 9 - basically ran the game and won the game. Scored two real poacher's goals (admittedly both offside), bundling in from a rebound from Ronaldo's freekick and a scrappy corner. At the same time dropped off to play some sensational passes and through balls, seemed to have the ball glued to his feet and was undispossessable (if that's a work) regardless of how many players were around him. I've already touched on his partnership with Rooney, but he and Ronaldo seem to be on dangerously similar wavelengths as well. More, please.

Tevez (sub) - 7 - unbelievably energetic when he came on, he looked menacing and got into a number of dangerous positions. Seemed if anything too desperate to prove his value, and took on shots when a pass would have been a better option - he badly needs a couple of goals to reassure him that he hasn't lost his touch. Set up Rooney's goal with some intelligent link-up play.

What did you make of the performance? Do you agree with my ratings? Let's hear from you in the comments.


Wink said...

No rating for brown??

ANyway, Nani still made a couple wrong decisions. like the time when he elected to try and beat the man instead of passing to rooney who was open like nobody's business... got a corner instead....which luckily led to berbatov's goal i think....

i might be mistaken about the flow of events.. but nani made some poor decisions still.... hope to see better next time tho..

Anonymous said...

Brown played well and i'm still unsure why he's not first choice and understudy to rio/vidic when injured. Holding nothing against Evans

Penguinissimo said...

I agree - poor Wes seems to be third choice right back and third choice CB at the moment!

Andrew, Esq. said...

Great analysis. Completely agree with the Rooney bit. I would probably base my ratings upon his play, and therefore give Berba a slightly lower score and Fletcher a slightly higher score. Berba was outstanding, was in the right place at the right time, but I would like to see more of him, perhaps orchestrating the movement into and around the box, especially with the intelligent runs of Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez, and even Nani. Fletcher is continuing to make the case for retention in the starting XI. His movement off the ball has improved, and his decision-making with the ball has drastically improved.
As for no. 10...well, he is just something else right now. You nailed it when you said "self-belief". He is running every inch of pitch with PURPOSE.

Nukeleus said...

great analysis, though I'd take a point off Nani for a few hotheaded shots. Agree with you re: the reborn Fletcher who looks like he could be our Flamini this season.

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