Sunday, January 17, 2010

Was it enough?

They may have scored thrice, but Man United hardly looked like a team of champions. Call me difficult to please, if you like, but I thought the 3-0 scoreline was a little flattering.

For starters, Burnley missed two golden opportunities. The first was when Chris Eagles sent David Nugent away with a precise pass and the latter in turn played a delightful ball in to Steven Fletcher, only for Fletcher to send the ball wide. Then, in the second half, Nugent himself missed the target when it seemed he would score with only Edwin van der Sar in his way, and Gary Neville trailing behind.

Antonio Valencia and Patrice Evra posed some danger flying down the wings, especially the former. But Nani was only producing in patches, and even then not so effectively. The best chances were falling mostly to Dimitar Berbatov but the Bulgarian star just was not producing his best, perhaps due to the pain in the knee that he is suffering from. Still, he should have put away some of the chances he had.

United didn't look like scoring until that overhead kick from Nani which was heading into the bottom corner till Burnley keeper Brian Jensen managed to get his fingertips to it.

So it was that at half time, I was beginning to think it was going to be one of those nights where for all the possession they had, the Red Devils would fall to a solitary goal because they could not make their chances count. Thank goodness for a five-minute purple patch in the second half.

That pass from Rooney to set up Berba for the first goal was just inch perfect, wasn't it? The entire sequence was great actually -- good movement, a great little run from Berba, the defence-splitting through pass from Rooney and a good-enough finish with a touch of luck as the ball hit the defender's boot. Really, I felt sorry for Jensen, who had put up a great performance so far. Not sure if he would have saved the shot if not for that little deflection.

The second goal, too, made me feel sorry for Jensen. He did well to save the shot from Berba, but could do nothing about the follow-up from Rooney, so well did England's top striker place the ball. It was a mark of a good striker that Rooney took the time to push the ball a little further before picking his spot. A first-timer may not have resulted in a goal, so taking his time was the best choice, and he certainly did.

When Mame Diouf came on for Rooney, I was pretty excited. The boy is fast, powerful and strong in the air. His movement is good as well, as proven by his first goal for the club on his Old Trafford debut. That probably wouldn't have been the toughest headed goal of his career -- it hardly showed his strength in the air -- but it took great presence of mind to loop that header over the hapless Jensen. Here's hoping we see more from Diouf.

By the way, how many Dioufs are there in the world who play football? That name seems to be as common as Smith and Johnson!!

As an aside, it was good to see Chris Eagles playing. I was a big fan of his when he was in United, but unfortunately he never did quite make it. I thought he played well last night, and still think he has a good career ahead of him.

So, all in, it was not the best of performances. But hey... a win is a win is a win. The three points are all that count at the end of the day.

Now bring on that pretentious team from across town!

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