1. Nani’s best position. Yesterday, we saw the best of our Portugese star Nani as he scored two and set up one of United’s goals yesterday from the left wing. It was a simply outstanding performance from a player who I felt continued his good form from midweek in the Champions League travesty, where he constantly threatened the opposition’s goal with his tricky and dangerous wing play. For me, I feel that it came from Nani being allowed to play on the left wing – it gives him more opportunities to cut inside on his stronger foot and whip in a shot. It is goals like his first yesterday that give Nani the freedom to shoot when he has the space and for all the frustrations of seeing Nani spoon many a shot wide, we can’t complain when we know there is a chance it could be a goal. This is an incredibly important fixture period for us leading up to New Year and we will need our big players to come through, so let’s hope Nani can find a vein of form.
2. Rooney ends his goal drought. Rooney, more than most strikers, seems to grab his goals in gluts. At the start of the season he scored a hat-trick against Arsenal one week and Bolton the next but he then didn’t find the net since September until his brace yesterday against Wolves. Thank God for that. It has been a topsy turvy week for him – a terrible miss against FC Basel epitomised his performance on the night but a successful appeal to UEFA saw his European ban dropped to two games, so his 90 minutes against Wolves could of gone either way. Both of his goals were top class finishes and he was finally getting the service from both wings that allowed him the freedom to shoot on goal rather than create the chances himself. Let’s hope he can start a goal spree now and try and continue in throughout the season.
3. That was exactly the type of team performance we needed. The pressure was firmly on the shoulders of all of our players yesterday after crashing out of the Champions League at the group stage since 2005 and the media was full of hyperbole, with some even calling it the end of SAF’s era at United. I knew that we could come out and get a victory if we put our minds to it but it would of been very easy for us to fold under pressure – however, that wouldn’t of been very United now would it? Everyone put in a good shift yesterday and players such as Valencia, Carrick and Evans all put in improved performances that impressed me. More than most, we need all of our defensive players to be improving now that Vidic has been confirmed to be out for the season as without our captain, we are much more vulnerable to conceding.
4. Jones and Carrick in the midfield. I cannot remember the last time United played the same two central midfielders two games on the trot since Anderson and Cleverley were struck by injuries, but I am hopeful that we might have finally found our partnership. Jones played the deeper role yesterday and allowed Carrick to find space further up the pitch, giving him creative freedom that he has not really had over recent years due to his holding role in the team. He even almost scored a diving header to get his first goal since scoring in the derby in January of 2010 but his passing and ability to control a game brought an improved tempo to the final third for United. Phil Jones, as he does in almost every game, was indomitable in his defensive duties and was always in the right position at the right time. As well as that, his surging runs always brought a threat to the Wolves goal when he strode forward but to his credit, his tactical positioning was spot on and he rarely left the United defence exposed. If Jones and Carrick can get a string of games together in the middle of the park, then it will do United the world of good to not have a constantly shifting midfield pairing and we might bring some consistency back.