Some much-needed perspective on Darron Gibson
Darron Gibson is no closed book. Apparently, the Irishman, in the aftermath to Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham, was the only United player to applaud the visiting fans. What that immediately suggests is something quite heartening about Gibson and not so much about his team mates. Perhaps, the others were left frustrated by events that unfolded on the pitch; be it United’s failure to score another or, more likely, Lee Bowyer’s controversial goal. Gibson might have been quite peeved too, but looked every bit thankful for Sir Alex’s decision to hand him a rare league start, and dare I say it, pleased with his overall efforts. After all, it was his pass that had set up Dimitar Berbatov to put United in front.
Yet, some were not so pleased. In fact, fans had vented their anger about ‘that podge Darron Blast-the-ball Gibson’ (to quote a Guardian user) in their numbers. In truth, while Gibson’s performance was hardly of the inspired sort, he certainly wasn’t the worst player on the pitch. In fact, and to quote another Guardian user, he was hardly ‘fucking woeful’ at St Andrews. Was he made scapegoat for United’s shortcomings? No, not quite – but he was very close to being so.
His United career so far has many similarities to that of Darren Fletcher, another who was much-maligned at this point. The typical response would be that Fletcher is technically superior, but this is no question about technique, or ability. Fletcher hardly won anyone over in his first few seasons at the club. Heck, the Scot had gone through much worse. There was even a story of how a cheeky fan had put him ‘on sale’ for 10p on Ebay, giving an indication as to how he was perceived by United fans then. Fletcher has since become recognised as one of the best on these shores. Gibson needs time.
The criticisms are not justified. It’s worth noting that Gibson has only made four league appearances this season (and he’s only started that many in the whole of 2010), and so it seems rather bizarre to call him the usual or to ask to sell him. It’s hardly enough games to judge him on. Actually, take the game against Bayern last season, where, if not for a spirited fight back from the German outfit to win the game on away goals, things might have been so different in Gibson’s case.
What might have been his finest hour turned out to be nothing of sort. On that night at Old Trafford, Gibson looked every bit of a Manchester United player. Originally it seemed a bizarre selection to start him in a do-or-die match, but it soon looked an inspired one as he scored inside three minutes and he continued to set the tempo in a blistering first-half. Unfortunately, for Gibson, Arjen Robben had other ideas.
Gibson is practically screaming out for more games. He needs the gift of the time, and probably less of the berating. In a Carling Cup game where United were ordinary, Gibson himself was extraordinary, scoring two (of the trademark long-range sort) in a 2-0 win and paving the way top another domestic cup success. “He’s the one player from our club who can get goals from outside the box,” Ferguson said shortly after. “He’s got tremendous power; the second goal in particular was fantastic.”
The human mind is not complex and is no enigma. The act of being irritated by another is by them having an annoying trait, and in Gibson’s case, that is shooting, well, almost all the time. Even up to a point where United fans even sarcastically cry ‘shooot’ whenever he approaches the penalty area. Games against Bayern, Spurs and Hull City, where he scored a cracker on the last day of the 08-09 season, are examples of what he could do when given time and space. While it’s frustrating at times, it doesn’t justify selling Gibson. He, like Fletcher did in his early career, still has a lot to offer at the age of 23. I know it, Sir Alex knows it and he knows it (just shoot bloody less, yeah?!).
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I’d also like to say Happy New Year to all our readers (and Darron Gibson)!