Analysis and Observations: Berbatov’s instincts earn United victory
Manchester Utd 1-0 Bolton: Analysis, Observations
It’s become something of a well-worn cliché, but they say that the true sign of a title-winning team is not just their ability to win games that they have dominated throughout, but to win those that they didn’t necessarily deserve either. On 18 different occasions, that has certainly rang true and proved decisive in Manchester United’s case every time they have won the League.
Here, at Old Trafford, we see it again. This hard-thought 1-0 victory over a stubborn Bolton Wanderers isn’t a game that is worth remembering for the football on display, rather what the result represents for United’s championship with rivals Arsenal dropping points on the same day.
Carrick and Rooney impress again. Both Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney have had their fair share of criticisms this season, but both continued their run of great form of late with an assured performance worthy of most of the superlatives in the book. Carrick’s contribution mustn’t be undervalued – as his shift defensively was crucial. Especially, when the Red Devils went ten men down.
Wayne Rooney is thriving as a trequartista. He started off playing just behind Javier Hernandez and although is strike partner did not quite enjoy as much success; Rooney was a danger for the duration of this. Especially in the first half hour when his teammates looked a touch sluggish and out of sorts. He played well in this position against both Marseille and Arsenal in previous games, but it is difficult to imagine how long he’ll play there. However, with the return of Antonio Valencia, we might just see the rebirth of the 4-2-3-1, a formation which Rooney has found much enjoyment in the past, and so he may continue to play in this position. Still, it must be noted slightly higher up the pitch.
Jonny Evans – the good.
<Figure 1> As the chalkboard above shows, Evans was excellent defensively and consistently won duels in the air and stifled any threat from Bolton. In the absence of United’s ‘no-nonsense’ centre-backs Ferdinand and Vidic, he put in a decent shift and could have reflected on a good day’s work had that moment of madness not happened.
From Guardian Chalkboards
Jonny Evans – the not so good. Then there was his challenge on Stuart Holden. It was a straight red, no doubt, and he will now miss the next three games. With all the defensive problems facing Manchester United (Wes Brown also went off injured), it is perhaps a tad surprising to say this but the international break could not have come at a better time.
Bolton started daringly. The visitors were positive in their play, and had United on the backfoot in the first 45 which brought about the two changes at half time which included the scorer of the eventual winner Dimitar Berbatov. The result is pleasing; Bolton, worthy of a top table finish, are no longer pushovers and the days of beating them 4-0 are long over. Yet, the overall performance was concerning. United lacked cutting edge against a battling side who probably did deserve a 0-0. When the hosts finally cranked it up, they defended as if they had riot shields and batons. Credit to them where it’s due
The Report Card. Behaviour is no issue in this grading system, so Evans’ red has no implications on his resulting mark. Indeed, the grades are made solely out of observation of their performances.
Van der Sar C; Wes Brown C, Chris Smalling C, Jonny Evans B, Patrice Evra C; Antonio Valencia D, Michael Carrick B, Ryan Giggs C, Nani D; Wayne Rooney B+; Javier Hernandez C