Analysis and Observations: Berbatov lifts his collar once again
Manchester United 5-0 Birmingham: Observations and Analysis
It was something of the vintage sort; this was Manchester United at their very best. And guess what? It was Dimitar Berbatov, of course, who led the Red Devils to another victory at Old Trafford (34 points from a possible 36 at home) with yet another hat trick. So much has been made of United’s performances this season - their failure to kill off games or nail down any sort of rhythm. There have been games where this was not the case (think Blackburn), and this match was an evidence of that.
Berbatov and Rooney punish Birmingham. Always, always partner the Bulgarian with Wayne Rooney. This is when he is most effective. In the three games this season where Berbatov has found the net three times or more, he had started alongside Rooney. Coincidence? Don’t think so. While so much has been made of Berbatov’s free-scoring season (justified; that’s 17 goals off 19 games), the Englishman deserves some praise, too. He now has nine League assists this season, three times as many as the previous campaign. He’s still struggling to find the net; the reason may be his deeper role. He has three – and counting – although he certainly should have found the net today, only to see his shot go wide from a couple of yards out. Berbatov 9/10, Rooney 8/10.
Game over at the very start: Birmingham, bless them, for they didn’t see this coming. Two minutes in, Berbatov found the net. Then he scored another. Then Giggs scored. Half time. Game over. Without Scott Dann, the visitors looked thin on the ground and so it proved; they were well and truly humbled by United’ s quick, progressive, counter attacking display. Their back four was utterly non-existent when Giggs stroked home the third and even more so when the Welshman set up Berbatov for his hat trick.
Nani dangerous – at times: It was one of those days for Nani. Without doubt, he’s had his best season in a red shirt although this game brought out a mixed bag. His problem might be his tendency to shoot on sight (often the criticism for Gibson) and his final ball at times. Indeed, six of his effort son his goal were off target – some very wayward. Yet, he was a pain for the full-backs on the flanks, constantly linked up play and, again, his work rate was excellent. He got his reward with the fifth and final goal.
Man Utd 60% – Birmingham 40%
Attempts on target
Man Utd 9 – Birmingham 1
Attempts off target
Man Utd 14 – Birmingham 5
Man Utd 10 – Birmingham 3
United’s much-scrutinised thrive: John O’Shea, who has rapidly lost faith amongst United fans, was comfortable (although Birmingham were poor and lacked any cutting edge) and assured at right back. He pushed forward whenever needed, and added stability to a back four without the services of Rio Ferdinand. Anderson, who, bizarrely, still has his critics was excellent again through the middle. I suppose the only concern might be the knocks suffered by Patrice Evra and Michael Carrick, but both Fabio (or Rafael, depending on who you ask!) and Gibson, their replacements, deputised without any problem. That aside, this was vintage United. They already have the look of champions…