West Ham 2-2 Manchester United: Five lessons we learned

By at 9:03 pm 18/04/2013

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The limp continues. Another game passes and United are still yet to shake off the Madrid hangover.

Beating Stoke seemed to have brushed off some of the cobwebs but West Ham opened them up again. Their physical approach got them plenty of chances and United never really got going.

Diame once again exposed United’s severe lack of genuine physical presence in the middle of the park with Carrick and Rooney unable to stop him dominating the game.

But in reality, four points from consecutive away ties against Stoke and West Ham is a fantastic return. The fact that we have done it without really kicking into third gear is a testament to the quality of the squad.

Aston Villa at home on Monday is a different kettle of fish entirely. We have to win that game to stop even the feint thoughts of complacency creeping back into the mind.

Rooney in central midfield. Rooney won man of the match against Stoke on Sunday and Ferguson decided to keep him in the middle of the park against West Ham on Monday.

But Rooney struggled, a lot. Up against man mountain Diame, he was lost. For West Ham‘s opener, Rooney has to take a lot of the blame. He lost the ball on the edge of West Ham‘s box and instead of sprinting to get it back, he just jogged and watched as West Ham counter attacked and scored.

And going forward, he almost seemed to get in the way of Kagawa a lot with their styles overlapping at points.

It was a point raised on this week’s Mouthy Reds podcast that Rooney may have played excellently against Stoke but he is yet to showcase his central midfield skills against top class midfield opposition.

And his poor performance against West Ham has certainly made me think whether or not Rooney’s future does lie in central midfield.

Give Kagawa more minutes. Shinji is quickly becoming one of my favourite players at United. He’s had a pretty up and down season but against West Ham, he once again showed why he can become so important to United.

It wasn’t just the fact that he got two assists to his name – one a classy run and square ball to Valencia and the other an unfortunate spank of both posts before the rebound was knocked in by van Persie - it was his whole performance.

Darting runs, light feet and intricate passing. His dynamic style of play brings such a depth to United that our other wingers don’t offer.

As far as first seasons go, he certainly hasn’t had a bad one. Five goals and three assists in 18 appearances, considering his injury troubles in the middle of the campaign, is a sign of what is to come.

In his last year at Dortmund, Kagawa got 17 goals and ten assists in 38 appearances on route to a domestic double. More of the same at United please Shinji.

De Gea has been taking tips from Vidic. No longer is De Gea a shy and unassuming boy between the sticks. He has had his fair share of rough and rumble this season and stood up to the challenge without a problem.

Last night, Carroll did his best to break De Gea’s face with a ridiculous lunge.

No problem for big Dave (as he is now known). He brushed himself off and got on with the game. Fair play lad.

As far as answering your critics goes, De Gea has done it emphatically this season. Prior to the last two games, he kept six clean sheets in seven Premier League appearances and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t named Premier League goalkeeper of the year.

Remember, he is still only 22. We’ve got a real world beater on our hands.

So nearly there. If Manchester City lose to Tottenham on Sunday and United follow up that result with a victory over Aston Villa on Monday, the title will be sealed.

It is almost certainly now a case of when rather than if in regards to United clinching title number 20 but uncharacteristically, we have fallen short of our own expectations in the run-in.

This is normally the strongest part of our season, a time where we normally turn the screw, but we have fallen into a lull since Madrid that we can’t seem to get out of.

And it is a shame because the football we have played this season has been breathtaking in the Premier League at times. Think back to the games away to City, Chelsea, Newcastle and Liverpool – tough games and tough wins.

Hopefully the team can turn it round a little bit and end the season with a flourish. It is the least they deserve.

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