At approximately 8:17pm last night, United’s push for a record 19th title looked like it had grounded to an amazingly sudden halt. After being positively sublime against Birmingham on Saturday, United followed that with possibly the worse half of football played by the Red Devils this season. The score-line read a disastrous 2-0 to Blackpool, the performance felt more like it was 4-0 as Blackpool were the better team by a country mile. The punditry on ESPN (whilst obviously very anti-united) were spot on when saying how poor United were. My time-line on Twitter reflected pretty much the mood of the United fans in attendance, utter disbelief and devastation. I mentioned to one United fan on Twitter that I felt that whatever happened in the next 45 minutes could possibly define our season. I could hardly believe how right I was.
The second half comeback that followed was one of United’s performances of the season, if not the best. Not because of the football we played, or the goals we scored, but because of the attitude of the players. Those players came out, having probably just felt Hurricane Ferguson at half time, to show why we are currently top of the Premier League. The story of our season so far has been our paltry away form, not being able to hold onto leads and the inability to turn draws into wins. Although it wasn’t obvious straight away, as Blackpool went close to making it three within the first few minutes. The change in United’s fortunes, I believe, can be attributed to two moments of perfect timing by the Gaffer. The first, was bringing of Darren Gibson at half time for Ryan Giggs, making United’s formation a more fluid 4-4-2. Gibson was poor in the first half, just as was Scholes and Fletcher. He was unsuccessfully deployed to the left-wing before half time and that sealed his fate. The second, and what I feel is most important switch, came when SAF took off Wayne Rooney in the 66th minute and brought on cult hero Javier Hernandez.
There have been many an argument this season about Wayne Rooney’s form. Some believe that the fact he hasn’t scored many goals this season is testament to his poor form. Others believe his all round team play and work rate qualify as his return to form, and inevitably the goals will come. Whatever you make of Rooney’s form, Fergie has stuck by him throughout the goal drought and he has always been a mainstay in the first team. Taking him off when two down against Blackpool not only says to me ‘enough is enough’, it shows Rooney that no one is guaranteed their place. Berbatov was dragged off many a time last season when he was short of goals, yet this season Rooney has pretty much escaped that treatment. Three goals in 16 wonderful minutes seemed to show the Sir Alex had made the right choice.
So how does this define our season? Firstly, it shows that we look like we are finally entering ‘Champions’ mode. Coming back to win after being two down at half time, regardless of the opposition (and no disrespect to Blackpool meant as they were brilliant first half), is no mean feat. It shows the kind of metal that has accompanied all of SAF’s title-winning teams. It shows the ‘never say die’ attitude that all champions must show, and what this team looked like it lacked so many times in the earlier stages of the season. Secondly, I believe it shows that Sir Alex is ready to give Rooney the kick up the backside he needs to get him firing on all cylinders again. Regardless of your feelings about Rooney or Hernandez, Rooney is vital to our season. One thing Rooney hates, more than the News of the World, is not playing football. Here’s hoping that being taken off after an hour triggers some kind of reaction from the player who is England’s greatest talent. Finally, it fires a warning to the rest to the rest of the league that we are finally looking like we can put a run together. At the end of the day, points in the bag are much more important that games in hand and we now have the points on the board. The gap is looking prettier by the week and allows us a slight lapse when the Champions League comes around. The Manchester United that everyone else hates looks like its returning, just in time to stick one up our noisy neighbours in February.
Good Read. I believe the key is as you indicate in your thoughts on the second 55 minutes was the Managers changes having seen the way we were trying to play through the Middle of Blackpool and with Rooney on the left flank with almost zero success.
As we all know he has been through all these scenarios before so he knows the changes to make.
On saying the football park at Bloomfield road hardly was idle for playing on the floor football in a sand pit and this is what we tried to do in the first half.While Blackpool through Charlie Adam launched telling ball after telling ball effectively in the first half, which I think we mirrored in the second half with much more reward through the magnificent Paul Scholes’s raking passes.
When Giggs was brought on there was clearly more danger on the left flank and more telling delivery into dangerous areas.
Clearly they know and new of Hernandez’s lightening pace so this intoduction kept their back four closer to Kingston, all though bye which time with 24 minutes left of the 90 regulation time they were noticably flagging and tiring having worked like Trojans on the muddy pitch.The door was effectively opening for the opportunities to come, which they duly did.And brilliant feeling it was to witness, being taken to the cliff edge, to be pulled back to safety.
Javier had 4 great chances to score in 34 minutes of play which to me says more than words.
He is made for United, hand and Glove fit perfectly.
Nobody wants to keep on banging on about Rooney we can all witness his various failings of recent and the shocking scoring record in the last 10 months.He needs to well, just go back to basics.
To me there is a deeper problem in this whole Rooney docu/soap that is the effect he is having not only in the United dressing room with natural animosity but the bigger picture.
How difficult is it now for United to attract top quality players like Mesut Ozil,Van Der Vaart,Sneijder as of recent examples who were availiable, because of the huge wage that their agents could demand based on what was squeezed out of United through Stretford and Rooney.This simple has to have a bearing on United going into the transfer market,I have always thought there was a double edged Sword with this Rooney saga and the resultant insane wage he is allegedly being paid.
Role on the 19th, its in our hands and “clear daylight ” between United and the challengers.Erm Arsenal. 😉
Pundits,pundits, pundits…..Guys, just enjoy the game and leave the coaching and management to those that do, Fergie and Co… seriously this continuous run on as though you have a clue, and we care, is way past its’ sell date….enough already!!!!!!!!!!!!
Richard, I’m wondering what exactly you expect from a United blog other than opinion on United based topics? If you aren’t happy with reading about peoples opinion on the club they love then I suggest you try BBC.co.uk and they’ll just give you hard facts. Alternatively, if you just want to read about United, manutd.com will do the trick.