Manchester United entertained West Brom on a wet and windy Saturday in a game of two halves. United dominated the first half and probably deserved a little more than a one goal lead at half time, but the second half was a completely different scenario. West Brom attacked United with numerous long balls into the box which fortunately enough, the new centre back partnership of Vidic and Evans dealt with comfortably.
A round of applause for West Brom’s resilience
It may have been a little easier than the Newcastle game but nevertheless, West Brom gave it all they could. Going in at half time after being on the wrong side of some wonderful Manchester United football, you’d have expected the Baggies to come out in the second half and watch the game run away from them. But no, they came out in the second half and in all fairness to them, dominated it with United at times leaving ten men behind the ball to try and get a grip of Brom’s style of play. All credit must go down to Steve Clarke. Most managers would have panicked and let United attack them even more and play on the counter attack but to his credit, they went for it and probably deserved a draw at best.
Vidic and Evans our first choice centre back pairing?
The reds have found it hard to maintain a stable centre back pairing this season with numerous pairings coming and going. But, I think we’ve finally found it. Jonny Evans has had a tremendous season and with the return of Nemanja Vidic, these two should be looking to cement their place as the first choice centre back pairing, especially after what I saw in the West Brom game.
No disrespect to Rio but for me, he’s lost that yard of pace and can often panic at times. There’s no doubting his footballing brain but we can’t depend on that. Evans very much reminds me of a young Rio with his eagerness to run the ball out of defence to create something out of nothing. Whereas, Vidic is already back to his usual self. Strong and forceful tackles and the ability to make any opposing attacker look like a Sunday league player.
After a clean sheet against West Brom, I hope Ferguson lets these two develop their partnership and hopefully, touch wood with no injuries, Vidic and Evans can become the best centre back pairing in Britain, potentially the world.
Valencia and Rafael are inseparable
Antonio Valencia has looked out of sorts recently. He seems to have lost quite a bit of confidence. He doesn’t look prepared to run at defenders anymore and he has been known to stop completely and look for a pass. Why may you ask? Because the lock has lost its key.
Rafael is a typical Brazilian right back. He doesn’t need any encouragement to get forward and both Valencia and Rafael thrive of each others work rate. When Rafael goes forward, Valencia covers him. He’s an overlapping defender and that’s what Valencia needs and wants.
But with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, both more established centre backs, covering for Rafael due to his injury, Valencia hasn’t had any support when he gets into the opposition’s third. Smalling and Jones are top players but they are both to defensive minded and Valencia therefore struggles as he’s got no real sidekick. Once Rafael is back, which is expected to be New Years Day away at Wigan, there’s no doubt that Valencia’s form will only improve back to the standard which we all know he is capable of achieving.
Welbeck’s effort with no reward
I’m a huge fan of Danny Welbeck. He’s a passionate local lad who has worked his socks off to be where he is today but at the moment, nothing is coming off for him. His work rate is one of the best in the Premier League but what a striker needs to do is score goals, and he just isn’t getting much luck at the moment.
I don’t think anyone can doubt that the ability is there but the fact that everything he seems to do is just not coming off. His ferocious pace yesterday to block a Ben Foster clearance nearly led to a goal with the ball going yards wide, just one example of luck not being on his side. A superb curling effort which was heading in to the bottom corner of the West Brom net, again, clawed out by a superb save by Foster. We need to give him time. Let him get his confidence back. I saw the expression on his face yesterday after both of his chances and he looked like a lost child. He’s young, talented and will only get better.
Sitting back at 1-0?
Something we have been renowned for in recent times is getting two or three goal lead and sitting back and letting the opposition attack us. But yesterday, it only took a one goal lead for the reds to play with ten men behind the ball. Yes, West Brom were tricky opposition but it wasn’t until Van Persie came on which was when we actually looked like we wanted to score in the second half.
At one point, I noticed United had reverted to a uncharacteristic 5-4-1 formation with Valencia filling in a right back, I couldn’t believe my eyes. When the opposition are there for the taking, we should be going to win games four or five nil, not lettingy them attack us and not depending on the counter attack. We lost the league on goal difference last year and having conceded so many goals so early into the season, we need to score a few more to make sure that no matter what the points difference is, we’ve still got the best goal difference in the league just in case it does come down to it again.