Paul Scholes’ tackling an unappreciated asset + Rooney’s influence + more
Some observations on Manchester United’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa, along with a bit of gushing over Paul Scholes …
> Tackling an unappreciated asset of Paul Scholes
Paul Scholes, the scruffy, half-blind, asthmatic messiah brought down to Old Trafford in January to aid an ailing Manchester United side — or already ailed according to some back then — has shown that, despite its negative connotations, it’s never so bad to act desperately. Indeed, many have retracted their initial cynicism for the U-turn; it’s only a desperate masterstroke, now.
An important point: not long ago, a commentator remarked that since his re-arrival, he’s even managed to improve on his tackling. Contrary to what some think, Scholes’ tackling have never been as bad as made out. It was just that the midfielder never helped himself with the odd rash one that always stuck out; unfortunately, something that’ll always stay with him. At Old Trafford, he made two vital challenges in the first half and, in truth, has been doing that sort of thing for nearly 20 years now.
> United badly missed Scholes at Wigan
Ryan Giggs still has a lot to contribute in his final years, but the feeling is that, realistically, he can only come from the bench to make an impact in most games. With Scholes, and Carrick beside him, United look far more in control — and it’s certainly no coincidence. A similar sort of player in their mould might be what is required in the summer, as opposed to the bulldozing midfielder (understandably) so many want. In fact, get both kinds (so that’s neither, then).
The joys of Danny Welbeck
Danny Welbeck has very few enemies. Yes, there are those who have doubted him, and still do, but it is a very unfortunate minority. Welbeck should be pleased with his efforts so far in this campaign; 11 goals is not bad for a player who does so much more for the side, tracking back and linking up play like an old Bulgarian used to (probably the latter more). His instinct to get on the end of the cross for the team’s second wrapped up the three points as Villa still held faint hope before it; where others might opt out because it looked like Aston Villa’s Nathan Baker would clear, Welbeck foresaw a possible opportunity to score. The only concern with him now is that he’s incredibly wasteful — but, at least, he gets himself into good positions and perhaps with experience, that problem will be addressed.
Ferdinand and Evans as a defensive partnership
Both Rio Ferdinand and Jonny have ensured Nemanja Vidic’s absence doesn’t become a deciding factor in where the title ends up. Should United not win the Premier League this year, neither can be culpable for what has been a very good season for two players who, initially, were under-fire and, in different ways, thought not to have a future at Old Trafford. Now things have changed; and, amusingly, Ferdinand, as good as he has been, looks to be playing second fiddle to the renascent Northern Irishman.
One way of measuring Evans’ confidence is the way he strides out his own half and well into the opposition’s. Indeed, Evans was there on the edge of the box to play a through pass for Nani to score and United’s fourth.
Bad, but not that bad. Next.
The good and bad of Wayne Rooney
> Rooney’s influence
Wayne Rooney needs help. It’s not entirely clear what exactly that is and should look like, but perhaps, and this is only a suggestion, he should play higher. As good as he did look in a deeper position last season and those before, he appears a little out of his depth — if that means anything and not another meaningless cliché — and someone behind (Wesley Sneijder, eh? Eh?). While indeed the main job of a forward is to score (and he’s scoring plenty), Rooney’s role in the team requires and demands so much more and you feel he’s coming short; countless attacks have fizzled out due to his negligence and wayward passes have become frequent, whether by illusion or not. Still, with the help of Ashley Young’s theatrics, he’ll almost certainly always influence a game, but you feel he can do even more.
> Rooney’s penalties
Rooney’s penalty technique is marvellous. Goalkeepers can guess the direction right, but preventing it going in is another matter (he missed a few at the start of the season, yes, but he’s managed to confidently dispatch the recent batch dead in the corner with ease). Penalty takers don’t get much praise for it — as they’re often expected to score anyway — but a successful penalty isn’t necessarily a good one. With Rooney it almost always is.