Thursday, 13 September 2012

Evaluating United's Start of the Season

Man Utd have started off their season in their normal, un-impressive and lacklustre style. Last year Utd ended the month of August with an 8-2 thrashing of Arsenal as well as a dominating 5-0 away win versus Bolton (who were then relegated), this was the start of an off, on season for Utd. You can say the beginning of last year was a 'blip', as a normal start of a brand new season would see Utd losing early on as well as struggling for results.

And this is the exact case this year. Their opening fixture was a tricky away game against Everton at Goodison Park, which is always a tough place to visit, no matter what time of the season. To put it bluntly, Utd were absolutely dreadful. They couldn't keep the ball, and when they did they couldn't do anything with it. If it wasn't for David de Gea and the frame  of the goal, Everton could have gone on and won 5-0. Other than de Gea, the only other real stand out player was the new boy Shinji Kagawa. He kept the ball expertly and showed his guile and craft to create the best opportunities for his team mates. His unselfishness was put on show as he created the best opportunity for Utd in the game, only for Tom Cleverley's shot to be saved off the line. All in all, the performance was a shame. Utd were a shame. The team was out of place, out of fitness. However, nothing can be taken away from Everton, who with Marouane Fellaini, played the ball across the park with some amazing play which couldn't be stopped by Utd.

Fellaini heads in the only goal of the game

The next game was our first home game of the season against Fulham. Utd were much better during the duration of this game than against Everton. With goals from new boys Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa as well as a rare goal from Rafael, Utd won 3-2. But they did have to come from behind after a early Damien Duff goal. They also had to endure a difficult last few minutes after a lapse in communication from BOTH David de Gea and Nemanja Vidic, not just David de Gea as everyone says. David de Gea also made some excellent saves during the game, most notably against Mladen Petric from a one-on-one as well as a late save from Moussa Dembele (which proved to be his last game for Fulham). To say this game was an easy ride would be well off from the truth. Utd were made to work for every goal. They also looked nervous every time the ball entered the final third. The positives to be taken out of the game though were that RvP and Kagawa have seemed to settle into the squad very well and that Utd have their goal scoring touch back, which is always nice to see, from one of the best football playing sides in the country. The game might be remembered for the nasty injury sustained by Wayne Rooney, which left him with a gash on his thigh which will rule him out for up to a month (according to SAF).

Rooney showing his distress after suffering a gash to his leg

Their third game of the season was an away game against Premier League new boys Southampton. This game was a milestone for Sir Alex as he took charge of his 1000th league game. The performance was a mixture between the good, the bad and the ugly. The weather also played a big part in the game, contributing to a goal to Utd as well as Southampton via players slipping at the vital moment. The stand out moment of the game was undoubtedly Robin van Persie's first hat-trick for the club. He became zero-to-hero within the matter of a few minutes as he sealed Utd's comeback deep into injury time, which was a fitting tribute for the way SAF teams have played for during his tenure at the club. The downside of the game was the poor defending from both FB during the game. They allowed both Southampton goals to happen due to their own personal mistakes. Apart from RvP, Paul Scholes made the real differenece in the game when he came on as a sub in the second half. The whole team acknowledged his influecene, even the MOTM RvP who said in his post game interview that as soon as Scholes came on "everything ticked".

van Persie celebrating his injury time winner vs Southampton

Overall, Utd's start of the season has been very sloppy but with moments of great individual brilliance. Seeing as the season has only just begun, it is premature to expect what Utd will do in this fore coming season.

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