Norwich City 1 (Pilkington) Manchester United 0
1. Worst performance of the season. None of that game made for pleasant watching for any Manchester United fan. From the start, it seemed that it wouldn’t be our day. Our pedestrian tempo didn’t do anything to stretch the Norwich defence and we couldn’t find any way through.
Credit to Norwich City as well. Their defensive display was superbly disciplined and John Ruddy had his game of the season so far to keep a clean sheet, but we certainly could of done more to pressure them.
A pedestrian midfield didn’t put enough pressure on Norwich who coped well with our wingers and we didn’t have any alternative. Considering our fantastic victories over Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal this season, it is a shame that we have thrown away points in a game we would of expected to get something out of.
2. Wrong players, wrong tactics. Giggs starting? Valencia and Young on the wings? We set up wrong at Carrow Road on Saturday.
I’m not sure why Sir Alex chose to start Ryan Giggs in the middle alongside Michael Carrick when we had Anderson, Cleverley, Scholes and Fletcher all fit on the bench, but it certainly didn’t work. His legs aren’t cut out for a starting central midfield role and we really missed the energy of Anderson or Cleverley in the middle.
As for our wingers, they were poor to say the least. Antonio Valencia has looked a shadow of himself so far this year and hasn’t lived up to the billing of the fabled #7 shirt so far. Ashley Young struggled to have any impact in the game as well.
Considering we had four midfielders sitting on the bench and our wingers are out of form, surely a switch to the diamond formation would of suited us better?
3. A lack of creativity exposed. Manchester United without Wayne Rooney are a different animal altogether and his importance to the team becomes obvious in his absence. Norwich set up a disciplined defensive back line and without an archetypal play maker pulling the strings, we had no answer to it.
Paul Scholes coming on in the latter stages opened up some doors and opportunities started to appear but it was too little too late. The injuries to Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney force us to play with width, but with Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia offering little to the attack, it forced us to stagnate on the edge of the box.
Hopefully Wayne Rooney will return from his injury in time for QPR this weekend because we can only score goals if chances are created.
4. However, no need for doom and gloom. If you were told at the start of the season that by November we would have beaten Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle away from home, you would of clapped your hands in delight.
We are sitting second in the Premier League table only one point behind Manchester City despite our inconsistencies at the start of the season. No team has been firing on all cylinders as of yet apart from Chelsea who have now started to flag and our defensive problems haven’t hurt us this season because of how brilliant our attack has been, spearheaded by the indomitable Robin van Persie.
Going into the busy festive period, we are certainly in a strong position and two games against QPR and Reading should give us six points before we face the away trip of the season – Manchester City at the Etihad.