Analysis and Observations: Wigan floored by United’s counter
Wigan Athletic 0-4 Manchester Utd: Edwin van der Star
Perhaps the scoreline was a little flattering at the end. But, and this is a very encouraging but – Manchester United, a team constantly criticised for their failure to kill off games this season, made use of increasing possession and tired legs of the opposition to score three goals in the last 15 minutes.
United remain deadly on the break. We haven’t exactly seen United at their vintage best this season, the stalemate at Marseille on Tuesday acting as evidence of thier inconsistencies on their travels, but the effectiveness and execution of the counter attack is a trait which remains one of United’s most deadly tactic.
Ignore the pathetic excuse of print screen of a chalkboard (!), both Figure 1 and Figure 2 show just how good the visitors were on the break. The first goal, scored by Javier Hernandez (the first of two for him), was something rather routine and special at the same time. Nani, collecting a Scholes pass in his own half, ran untroubled before playing a quick one-two with Rooney on the left. One look was enough. Rooney saw Nani approaching the box and found him, and the Portuguese winger slipped in Hernandez who finished clinically. Done quickly and effectively – that was 1-0.
Figure 2 might surprise a few – that long arrow isn’t indicating a pass from Paul Scholes or Michael Carrick. It was Gibson, good old Darron Gibson, who delivered an excellent pass from his own half; Berbatov picked it up and took it on, into the box, before releasing Rooney to score United’s third.
Gibson has seen a reversal of fortunes. He hasn’t been spectacular, but having appeared in a Unied shirt in the last three games, he has looked far more assured and that pass at least signalled to those who criticise him for being someone who lacks creativity. His performance against Marseille on Tuesday also went somewhere to dismissing the notion.
Gibson’s passing coming on as a substiture was respectable. He made 14 and completed 11 (78%). Carrick and Scholes were excellent in the middle, with a pass succession rate of 86% and 89% respectively. Some praise must go to Rooney, too, and this game made it increasingly obvious that he is suited to the 4-4-2 (Fletcher, the third CM, was on the right); that the case no matter if his partner is Mexican or Bulgarian.
Clinical Chicharito: Goals/min ratio in the Premier League. Hernandez: 1 goal/90mins, Drogba: 1 goal/119min, Berbatov: 1 goal/125min, Tevez: 1 goal/142min, Malouda 1 goal/146min
Courtesy of @foreveruntd
Van der Sar in fine form. Time is running out for the Dutchman – how United will miss him when he finally hangs up his gloves at the end of this campaign. Here, at the DW, he was consistenly assured between the posts, making some vital saves in the first half. He was helped, too, by the presence of United’s latest central pairing at the back, Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling.
The report card. Playing the role of the teacher, I’ll attempt to grade United’s players on their performance. Obviously some of the ‘grades’ will be argued against – but it would be appreciated if you gave feedback on the not-so-tried-and-tested system:
van der Sar A, Patrice Evra B, Chris Smalling B+, Nemanja Vidic B+, John O’Shea B, Michael Carrick B, Paul Scholes B, Nani C, Darren Fletcher C, Wayne Rooney B+, Hernandez A