Rooney’s drive and industry steers United to priceless away win
West Brom 1-2 Manchester Utd: Observations
There was hardly much to smile about, if anything really, in 2010 for Wayne Rooney. Playing deeper than he has in past seasons, Rooney hasn’t exactly had any stand-out performances as of yet in this campaign – but this, although not by any means at his explosive best, was a sign of greater things to come.
Ditching the gloves, Rooney was ready for the occasion. Apart from the goal, he tracked back and added stability to a midfield that desperately needed it; inspiring United to a rare win away from home. Gabriel Obertan has set about finding an early goal, causing problems for the full back before laying it off for Patrice Evra to deliver a cross which Rooney delicately eased in.
However, the Red Devils were largely ineffective through the channels – indeed, apart from the first goal, they created little. Obertan did a decent job, but without another orthodox winger to call on, West Bromwich duly dealt with any possible attacking threat. They showed much character. Chris Brunt and James Morrison were both in inspired form; the latter finding the net on 14 minutes with a cracking finish form the edge of the 18-yard box. And no, despite the immense power, the net was not left with ‘Broken Strings’.
Gary Neville, doing his best Laurel and Hardy impression, surely wasn’t there for the football. He was, in truth, disastrous, nearly letting Jerome Thomas in to make it 2-1. On first view, it looked as if Neville lacked any awareness and simply didn’t see Thomas, however, replays suggested that he saw him twice and, it might pain to say it, he did not want to commit himself to the challenge. And the comedy show continued and he soon brought down Graham Dorrans in the box. In true Neville style, he dusted himself and looked every bit as innocent as the cat on the Shrek movies – and so the referee waved away claims. Looking at replays, it was a stonewall penalty and Neville should have been sent off.
The second half was not so impressive. Albion finally got a spot-kick thanks to Rio Ferdinand – but Peter Odemwingie hit it well wide off target. The Nigerian striker has been the in-form player for the home side this season, and so left the majority of fans stunned at his wayward kick. United ramped it up a bit, but seemed to struggle without Rafael. That was increasingly obvious – so Fergie threw on the next best thing in the shape of Fabio da Silva. He was full of attacking verve – having been given a license to go forward and look for the winner.
From a Rooney corner moments later, supersub Javier Hernandez nodded in the winner and United could afford the breathe a huge sigh of relief. The visitors were hardly impressive, and bar the industrious Rooney, looked a tad jaded. Next up is Stoke City in midweek – United know that an improvement is required.