1. Where to start? The beginning I think. That was a poor first 45 minutes from United. Looking objectively, it wasn’t dreadful, it wasn’t shocking, but it wasn’t good enough. Both goals came from corners after our lads failed to mark up. Chris Smalling, who had been impressive in his games so far this season, looked shaky and nervous. Patrice Evra saw a lot of the ball and didn’t do an awful lot with it. Our defence has been pretty solid this season but Charlie Adam was finding Varney with ease time and again. They were weak but then they also weren’t well protected by our midfield.
2. I don’t mean to sound repetitive but it’s hard not to when you witness the same thing every time we play away. Our midfield doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t matter what formation we play or how many midfielders we stick in to the centre of the park, we so often get outplayed there. Darren Fletcher works hard and that was appreciated better in the 97th minute when he was still giving 100% at right back, filling in for Rafael who went off with a concussion. But for the majority of the game he was ineffective, just like Darron Gibson. Paul Scholes lacked his usual control of the game but we can put that down to being rusty after two months out. Nani was frustrating again and there was nobody who was taking the game by the scruff of the neck. How I long for a midfield enforcer. It’s becoming more and more obvious as the weeks go by.
3. Dimitar Berbatov. I’ll say that again. Dimitar Berbatov. Scoring the comeback goal and the winner. 19 goals in 20 games. You fucking beauty! He’s arrived. He has to have the first song in our next few games. Then to top it off, super sub, Chicharito, is showing all the signs of our most natural goalscorer in years. It does beg the question where this leaves Wayne Rooney though, who has still yet to find his goalscoring form and was generally poor today. 2-0 down then he’s on the pitch, then 6 minutes after he’s subbed it’s 2-1, 2 minutes after that it’s 2-2, 14 minutes after that it’s 3-2. We can’t forget he was shoved out on the left initially, but the boss shifted it to 442 in the first half, yet Rooney was never in the game. Like Berbatov once carried the weight of a £30m transfer fee, is Rooney now feeling the pressure of his “ambition” claim and massive contract? Even if those of us who are still feeling the anger at his behaviour remove the emotional element from this, shouldn’t Berb and Chicharito be our starting strikers? They deserve to be in the team and maybe being benched will help Rooney get his act together.
4. Whilst it was Berbatov and Chicharito that saved our skins, it’s hard to deny the massive difference the substitution of Ryan Giggs made. To start the second half immediately correcting a flaw was a brave move from the manager and it paid off. People can point to Sir Alex picking the wrong starting line-up, with Anderson an obvious inclusion ahead of Gibson, the plan was probably to rest Giggsy. He’s played in all but one of our games in January, three of those for the full 90, so Fergie was obviously hoping he could get away without him tonight. We needed him though. This might be a bit of a worry, given his age, but with two of our wingers, Park Ji-Sung and Antonio Valencia, not in the match day squad, we haven’t had a proper options available over the past month. His urgency on the ball and rallying of his team mates was so important, but his best moment had to be his wonderful first touch to control the ball before playing it forward perfectly to Hernandez for the 2nd. He changed the game and it’s brilliant to see him having such an impact at his age. “Legend” is a term that gets thrown around a lot but Ryan Giggs is one of the few people around in the game at the moment who fully deserves that name.
5. Being 2-0 down with 20 minutes left to play and coming back to win 3-2 is like United of the good old days. You always have that hope as a United fan, but more often than not over the past year or so, we’ve been left disappointed when others have urged us to “BELIEVE”. We were left to wonder whether we’d be regretting those very late defeats at the hands of Everton and Fulham. That might still be the case in May but to dig out a result like that tonight was bloody special. No, we’re not playing well enough but then we’re still doing so much better than any other club. 10 points clear of Chelsea and 5 points clear of Arsenal on the same games, and 6 points clear of City with a game in hand. There’s 15 games left to play. Of course anything can happen. But it feels bloody brilliant right now.
6. Bless Rafael. Gave 100% again tonight and it wasn’t nice watching worried bro Fabio on the sidelines as they got the oxygen out for his twin brother. As he was stretchered off, Fabio left with him down the tunnel. He got taken to hospital with concussion so I imagine he’ll miss our weekend game in the FA Cup, something he probably would have sat out in favour of John O’Shea or Wes Brown anyway. “He’s gone to hospital,” said Ferguson after the game. “We just hope he’s okay. He’s got concussion, we know that, we just hope everything else is okay.” Get well soon, Rafael.