Reaction to the Wigan game

by Sam Peoples

Maloney scored the only goal of the night with a superb effort. Photo: Russell Cheyne (Reuters)

1. A terrible performance all round. The only players who can hold their heads high after that game would probably be Ferdinand and De Gea, who played well considering the circumstances. Everything else about the game was woeful.

Our midfield was non existent. Our defence was unprofessional, poor and not in control of the ball. Our attack was as woeful as it has ever been and the first time we tested Al-Habsi was in the 83rd minute.

What was even more baffling than the poor performance was the terrible substitutions. To take Rooney off and leave Giggs on in a game where we needed shots on goal was a decision beyond me. What was the thinking behind it? Cut our losses and save Rooney for Sunday? I doubt it.

To be fair to Wigan, it was a great performance all round. They pressed for 90 minutes and never let United settle on the ball. We couldn’t cope with the energy and desire they showed at any point. Maloney’s great finish was a goal that deserved to win any game.

It should be noted that any fan who highlights the decisions that went against us as the reason for losing needs to take their red-tinted specs off because although we could of had a penalty and it wasn’t a corner, they would simply be taking away from the fact that we got played off the park.

2. Why the formation change? Valencia has been unbelievable for United but for some unknown reason tonight, Tony and Young were not hugging the wings. United played a narrow game with Rooney dropping deep, leaving Hernandez isolated to no effect as a lone striker.

It seemed to me that Valencia and Young spent more time supporting Evra and Jones in defence than attacking the Wigan full backs. As a result, we had no idea where to play the ball. We have consistently punished defences with our wide play but we were unrecognisable tonight.

Wigan played a formation that would of given Valencia and Young a lot of space had they played in their usual positions but from the start of the game, it was obvious that SAF had come to the DW Stadium with an agenda to defend deep and hit on the counter-attack. It has reaped rewards previously but in hindsight, we should of most definitely stuck with our traditional 4-4-2 that got us into the position we are currently sitting in.

3. No Scholes and no goals. It is quite sad to see how reliant we really are on the creative spark and calm that Scholes brings to our midfield. Carrick and Giggs were terrible. Neither of them struck the ball forward with any confidence and they gave the ball away countless times.

It allowed Wigan to dominate the middle of the park and Moses got in behind them many a time running straight at the defence. There was no energy at all and Wigan capitalised. Like flies on shit, Wigan gave us no space at all and we couldn’t do anything about it. They simply toyed with us.

We didn’t even have a shot on target until Welbeck tested Al-Habsi with an effort in the 83rd minute, such was our lack of penetrating drive tonight. Nobody had any way of cutting through a disciplined Wigan defence and not even the attacking tenacity of Cleverley couldn’t break them down.

It doesn’t bode particularly well with the fact that we were simply invisible without Scholes. I have high hopes that Cleverley can play consistently at the levels he showed before he got injured by Davies but our midfield options are far too thin. We cannot go through another summer without investment in that area because it will really punish us.

4. Giggs. He may well be my favourite United player but there is no way Giggs can put in another woeful performance and not get singled out. He has been terrible in the centre of midfield with Carrick the past few occasions when he has played there.

Wayward passes, leaving too much space, poorly timed tackles and a complete lack of attacking drive meant United were far too easy to break down in the middle. He seems to be looking for the hollywood ball far too often and needs to take a leaf out of Scholes book and knock it sideways and simple, ensuring that possession is kept.

When he was deployed out on the wing, he seemed more comfortable in his natural position but he was still putting in a poor performance. Countless crosses that went nowhere summed up how he was playing.

This season has not been vintage Giggs by any stretch of the imagination. His twilight years aren’t quite upon him just yet but SAF needs to utilise him in his most comfortable positions to get the best out of him. I don’t expect Ryan to have the energy and stamina to play a full 90 in a two man midfield but SAF  does, unfortunately.

5. Five points and five games. All those fans biting at the heels of United on the back of tonight’s performance need to take a step back. We have dropped three points tonight, yes, and City have shortened the points difference but we still sit atop the Premier League with a substantial gap.

The title is still well and truly in our hands. Win the last five games and we will win number 20. The damage that tonight’s loss will have, however, is that City will now be galvanised.

Tevez scored in his first start since September and City ran away 4-0 winners against West Brom. Football is fickle – the title race was all but over on Sunday but now it is open again. The situation can change completely on the back of one result, such is the league we play in, but our players will have to focus.

Going into this game, we had won eight on the bounce but this setback needs to be pushed aside before Aston Villa visit Old Trafford on Sunday. The momentum is still in our wheels and as long as we can be professional enough, then tonight can be nothing but a blip on the road to victory.

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