Manchester United 1-0 Reading: Five lessons we learned

by Sam Peoples

Job done

After the excitement, thrills and disappointments of the double header against Real Madrid and Chelsea, the performance against Reading was exactly what we needed.

It was a no frills professional 1-0 win. With City dropping more points earlier in the day, the onus was on United to make sure we took advantage of their slip up, and that’s exactly what we did.

The win puts us 15 points clear at the top of the table. We now only need to get 13 points from our remaining fixtures to take part our title that City are looking after for us and after the complacency of last season, I’d be surprised if Ferguson let it happen again.

Five Premier League clean sheets in a row.

De Gea isn’t good enough for United, right? What a fantastic turnaround it has been for the young Spaniard who has showed mental resolve way beyond his years to overcome the swathes of attacks from critics since his arrival at Old Trafford.

United’s defence has transformed from the leaky cauldron we witnessed at the start of the season to a water tight barrier. Even when both full backs are rested, we looked extremely comfortable and the resurgent partnership of Vidic and Ferdinand has exuded a confidence back into our defence we hadn’t seen for some time.

I do feel for Evans who is now third choice behind the pair but for as long as they are at the club, they will remain first choice.

Fine form for Ferdinand

All eyes were on Ferdinand against Reading because of his rightful England re-call this week and he certainly delivered. I think it might have been his best performance of the season.

We saw a Ferdinand of old – bringing the ball out of defence with confidence and a freedom of movement that some thought he didn’t have any more. His distribution and positioning were flawless and it was his burst through the middle that led to Rooney’s goal. He was my man of the match.

The big question is now whether he will play for England or not. Ferguson has confirmed that he will join up with the squad but given the disrespectful treatment from the FA to Ferdinand over the years, he certainly doesn’t owe England or the FA any favours.

Fringe players

Ferguson chose to rest Carrick, Rafael and Evra ahead of what is going to be a tough April and gave Buttner, Young and Anderson a start. Nobody particularly impressed against Reading but it was a 1-0 victory nevertheless and it just goes to show the strength of the squad.

United have got such a strong squad this season that we could send out two full starting XI’s littered with world class talent. We’ve got a plethora of choices and it has been Ferguson’s greatest asset this season.

We’ve never had a dependence on one player, bar Carrick, because there has always been fantastic back up. No other squad in the Premier League has that. It has allowed us to stay fresh all season and is a big contributing reason why we are 15 points clear atop the league and in the FA Cup quarter-final.

Robin van Persie

No goals in six starts from van Persie. Crisis – hardly. Rewind to van Persie’s dramatic winner at the Etihad this season. It was another important goal from the Dutchman and everybody said United depended on his goals.

Are they still saying that? Not likely. This season we’ve had a fantastic variety of goalscorers and it shows the quality of the squad that when your top scorer is on a goal drought, you are still scoring goals and winning matches.

It won’t be long before van Persie hits the net again anyway. With 23 goals to his name, he is on course to make it 30 in his debut season and what a phenomenal return that would be.