Monday, 20 October 2008

United 4-0 West Brom: Report and Player Ratings

A good, decisive result against a spirited West Brom side. Tony Mowbray's team defended a lot better than the 4-0 scoreline sugggests - they were well organised in midfield and defence, and were not cowed by the reputations of those facing them. Ultimately, though, they knew there was no way back once they conceded, and their heads noticeably dropped at that point.

Straight on, then, to looking at how the team matched up to the pre-match goals I suggested:

Goal 1 - finish the game within 60 minutes - well, it was the 68th minute before we went two up, so maybe we were slightly out. That said, Rooney scored a perfectly good "goal" after 24 minutes, and if that hadn't been ruled out for some phantom foul, we'd have been done sooner.

Goal 2 - Bolton level of performance - I think that's about where we were. At Blackburn, we absolutely shredded our opponents and deserved four or five, whereas against Bolton we were good value for our win without ever hitting top gear. I think the latter describes Saturday's game better.

Goal 3 - defensive dominance - absolutely achieved, West Brom could have played for another 90 minutes and not scored.

Player Ratings

EVDS - 6.5 - one good save near the end, but otherwise he could have brought his sleeping bag as there were no shots on target for a 60-minute stretch.

Evra - 6 - good but unspectacular until he was forced off with a hamstring injury. He is apparently doubtful for the Celtic game, but let's hope it's no more serious than that, since left back is the only position where our squad does not provide quality cover (however optimistic we are about Fabio, he hasn't played yet).

O'Shea (sub) - 6 - did nothing wrong (although there was a comedy drilled pass down the line to, um, the ballboy behind the corner flag), but contributed nothing offensively when he was hardly under pressure at the back. That will be the element we miss most if Evra is out for a few games.

Vidic - 6 - perfectly solid at the back, with the exception of one instance near the end where he over-committed himself on the halfway line and was beaten easily. Very little of substance to do, though, against a timid West Brom attack.

Rio - 6 - again, did everything asked of him at the back on a generally quiet afternoon. Didn't offer as much going forward as he has in recent games.

Rafael - 6 - a really valuable learning experience for him, this game must have highlighted how different the Premier League is from a civil night against Champions League minnows. He was encouraging and enthusiastic going forward, albeit without making an particularly telling contributions, but he was equally suspect defensively. He was caught ahead of the play on at least three occasions, and seemed overly keen to delegate tracking down the flanks to Park. Still, no harm came of it and the more games like this he can play, the faster he will improve.

Ronaldo - 7 - still not at his best, and his free kicks are currently just a waste, but even when he's not dominant he still pops up with a goal and various other threatening moments. Most wingers in the world would be delighted to have played as "badly" as he did on Saturday. Has also been criticised for not celebrating more after his goal, but scoring a second against a team that has clearly given up is hardly going to spark laps of honour - people are too keen to read things into his body language at the moment.

Giggs - 7 - would have been higher but for a woeful first 15 mins, where he was invariably out of position and gave the ball away repeatedly. After that, though, he was world class, showing both incisive passing and the ability to beat men with the ball. Made no attempt to get into the box, but rather held back and always offered an outlet then distributed with an intelligence that Scholes would have been proud of.

Fletcher - 8 - his later blooming continues with a barnstorming performance. He was everywhere in midfield - harrying in the centre, covering both Evra and Rafael when they ventured forward, hoovered up loose balls and found time to make runs forward. Seems to be thriving on the new responsibility given to him by cluband country, and should retain his place even when Carrick and Hargreaves return to fitness.

Park - 6 - displayed the work rate you would expect, and supported Rafael well defensively, but there was little spark going forward. To be fair, he had just flown halfway around the world, but it seemed a strange selection.

Nani (sub) - 6.5 - this is the sort of cameo we would like to see more of. Lively in possession, a bundle of energy off the ball, and most importants playing with his head up. Made a great chance for Rooney, and did so by getting into a good position and then looking to to choose a pass, rather than hitting a generic cross into a good area. Good run and cool finish for his goal. No extra marks for the acrobatics!

Rooney - 9 - scored one, had a good goal disallowed, made two more, and generally was a threat every time he touched the ball. Growing understanding with Berbatov complements his existing connection with Ronaldo, and he currently deserves the plaudits coming his way. The path to greatness - keep this up for a long stretch, preferably over the whole season; only then can we start saying things like"can claim to be the best player in the world".

Berbatov - 7 - quieter than against Blackburn, but scored another poacher's goal of the type we rarely saw last season. Made Rooney's goal with a perfectly weighted pass, and generally linked up well with those around him, without any of the breathtaking touches we saw against Blackburn. A couple of shots on target, but straight at the keeper. More to come, still.

Roll on Celtic tomorrow!

What did you make of the result and the performance? Do you agree with my player ratings?


f4tb34r said...

I think the rating is fair but what i worry about is Tevez. He didn't even make it to the bench! Maybe i'm just overreacting cause he just flew back from his international so maybe fergie just want to let him and ando rest but somehow it really bother me.

And who will be starting against celtic? or rather, who will be pair with Rooney? Is it Tevez or still stick with Berb?

Penguinissimo said...

Don't stress about Tevez - him and Ando only arrived back from international duty on Friday afternoon so weren't seen as ready for the game.

Keeptheolemould said...

Prior to signing, most people were thinking as Berb as either an out and out striker or at least a finisher in his own right. Now we see him playing as a focal supplier, someone who can feed the oncoming Rooney, Ronaldo and, hopefully, Tevez. It’s a great plan, which should keep our strike force unpredictable all season. Plus, he can score as well – I thought his reflex strike against WBA was cracking.

BTW, I didn’t see the replay, but did Nani do his backward flip from a standing position? And did I even see a smile?

Wink said...

Slight run up to the one legged backward side flip. haha yeah a big ass smile as if he had scored one of the best goals of the season. honestly think he has a bigger ego than ronaldo... but hey, who am i to judge.

about the ronaldo body language thing, i agree totally with people whipping themselves up into a frenzy prematurely.

much ado about nothing....

really warms my heart to see rooney play like this. cant wait till the next games

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