Bowyer proves a handful but United mustn’t panic
Birmingham City 1-1 Manchester United: Observations
“We’re still in a good position when you look at the bigger picture. We haven’t lost, we’re in good form – we played well at times tonight, controlling the game – and so we go into the next game looking to keep the momentum up.” Indeed, Michael Carrick, you are right. There’s no need to hit the panic button yet; United remain in firm control of top spot.
They are at the summit merely on goal difference. However, they have played two games less compared to City and so they must remain focused. It’s crucial. Had they not conceded in the very last minute of a somewhat disappointing game, things would have been so, so different. Fatigue might have played a part – rotation is key in this festive period but spare players is not what Sir Alex has a lot of at his disposal at the moment – perhaps why Darron Gibson was left to play on the right. The Irishman, having set up the only goal, endured a difficult game but was wrongly made scapegoat. He was not the worst player in a red shirt by any stretch.
But Lee Bowyer also proved a handful. Literally. United have had their fair share of decisions go their way in the past but they had a right to protest. It was unjust. Bowyer had committed a number of offences in this instance (and in the past, too!) for the goal not to stand. United were rightly peeved.
In the first half, it was all possession but no real penetration for the visitors. United simply couldn’t create and lacked any real cutting edge. Ryan Giggs did hit the post, but apart from that, United struggled. After the interval, things did improve and when Dimitar Berbatov scored shortly after the break after good work with Gibson, United looked comfortable and the inevitable was very much an away 1-0 win. A rare win. And the way Berbatov is playing, there was surprise that he’d find himself on the scoresheet again. Although, Bowyer, credit to him in the sense that he’s still playing at this level, had other ideas. No credit to him as to how he scored, however.
But as controversial as the equaliser was, United need not complain too much. It wouldn’t do them any good. What is vital is that they don’t let this get to them psychologically and go to the Hawthorns on Saturday lunchtime and get three points, although that is no easy task as United have won just one of their travels. That needs to improve – but, remaining optimistic, I’m sure United can reverse their away blues.