Analysis and Observations: Galvanised Anderson and Hernandez prompt victory
Manchester United 1-0 Everton: Analysis & Observations
“Nineteen and counting” was the headline of choice for ESPN for this particular triumph – how very apt as Javier Hernandez, with an incredible 19 goals to his name this season, scored the late winner that has surely propelled Manchester United to their 19th League title. However, it was not just the workings of a particular Mexican that inspired United to this most crucial victory…
Fergie’s subs make an impact. After an excruciatingly, entertaining first half in which both teams contested with some caution, a trio of substitutes meant a prolonged period of pressure in the second. Patrice Evra and Ryan Giggs looked constantly dangerous on the left, while Michael Owen struck the post. Because of Owen’s presence, Rooney dropped deeper and United were then able to take control of the game – a goal was ensuing and arrived soon enough.
Anderson thrives in freer role. Manchester United’s Brazilian midfielder represents something of an enigma in his central position; indeed, only recently, footballing legend Carlos Alberto emphasized the need to play Anderson in a ‘free role’. It was certainly evident here that Anderson was able to play in the position that Alberto had desired – with the 23-year old thriving alongside the ever-so-deep Wayne Rooney and Darron Gibson, who was decent but rather cautious and did not penetrate like Anderson did despite playing a similar role.
“He has shown at times how good he can be but if Sir Alex gives him freedom to play, he is going to show that he can be one of the best players in the world.” – Carlos Alberto
<Figure 1> Anderson’s performance was almost flawless. He covered great distances on the pitch and had played several successful balls up forward to the wingers and to a ball-hungry Rooney as the passing diagram above shows. Guardian Chalkboards
Speedy Hernandez provides a nuisance. There’s more to Javier Hernandez than just a lousy nickname (which explains why I’ll refer to him as ‘Speedy Hernandez) and scoring goals. Having clocked up an incredible top speed of a number close to 20 mph in the previous World Cup for his national side, his pace can only naturally cause damage to an opposing defence and that’s what he did here at Old Trafford – such interrogation that is only perhaps familiar on an episode of Traffic Cops. And if that wasn’t enough, he did score a late header from a deflected Valencia cross. The winner. Ah, good times.
Collectively, there’s no complaints. If this really is going to be number 19, then there will be a sudden anticlimactic feel in the sense that this special moment had little moments of flash and panache. Not like ’99 anyway. However, if solid, assured and composed win you titles then there is simply no complaints and that is precisely what this Manchester United side are giving. Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans proved to be such while Fabio displayed his usual verve down the flanks. It was good team performance and, sure enough, a title-winning performance. In a sense.
The Report Card. Van der Sar C; John O’Shea C, Rio Ferdinand C, Jonny Evans C, Fabio da Silva B; Antonio Valencia C, Anderson A, Darron Gibson C, Nani D; Wayne Rooney B+; Javier Hernandez A