1. Sir Alex Ferguson obviously has a lot of faith in Ander Lindegaard to let him make his début behind a defence with the average age of 23 (that’s including 29-year-old John O’Shea!). Or maybe he really believes in Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans’ ability. By and large, we got away with. Smalling got higher than his opponent time and again to head clear and Fabio made some great runs down the left flank to get the ball out of danger. But the inexperience of the centre backs was exposed when Southampton went 1-0 up, with Smalling bothering more about marking the player in the box than keeping close enough to Evans. Once Evans was beaten (far too easily), Chaplow was able to take advantage of the space Smalling had left and lashed it past Lindegaard. There was nothing the keeper could have done with it. You have to think when Rio or Vida partner one of these younger centre backs they are bossing the back four, telling them where to go and what to do. We missed that presence today but Smalling/Evans will learn this with time.
2. Whilst still regarded as a scouse bastard by many, we have to acknowledge that Michael Owen was probably our man of the match today. Whilst it was the substitutions that helped us turn the game around, Owen was one of the few players who managed to have a positive influence even in the first half. With just over an hour played, he picked up the ball and played a lovely Scholes-esque pass to Gabriel Obertan on the right. The young Frenchman, who we’ll come to later, beat his man and put in a ball for Owen, who had continued his run in to the box, to head past the keeper for the equaliser. For the winning goal, it was Owen who won the ball just outside our box and passed to Giggs to assist Chicharito. Is he now ahead of Rooney in pecking order too? Ok, I jest, but strikers need to have good all round play as well as putting the ball in the back of the net. £180k a week Rooney generally only manages one of the two, sometimes neither. Owen surprisingly suited the deeper striker role though. Will Fergie he entrust him with it in the league though? Not with three players ahead of him.
3. Broken record time. Our midfield wasn’t good enough. Anderson and Gibson were very disappointing, whilst Scholes again struggled to have his usual controlling influence on the game. He had more of an impact when we switched to 442 and got rid of the dead weight in midfield though. Ryan Giggs and Nani helped change the game, as did switching Obertan on to the right flank. It seemed like an odd decision, given Obertan usually plays on the left and Nani prefers the right. It looks as though Obertan plays on the left for us because he usually has French speaking mentor, Patrice Evra, playing behind him. He was so much more effective on the right and got the assist from the equalising goal. Giggs got to grips in the centre of the park, with the help of Scholesy, and assisted our winning goal. Nani beat his man time and again, got in the box, and won us plenty of free kicks from dangerous positions, with his tricky feet too much for Southampton.
4. We had enough talent on the pitch to beat a League 1 team today, even though they obviously had a point to improve a very talented player in Chamberlain. But you have to wonder how effective we’re ever going to be when shoving eleven players who don’t usually play together in a side to face a team that plays together week in week out. Then when you put them in some silly formation, you’re on the road to ruin. Does Fergie play FM11 by any chance? Whilst Giggs and Nani made a difference, it’s also no coincidence we suddenly started to look like a team that was going to win when we switched to 442.
5. Chicharito is the most natural goal scorer we’ve had since Ruud. It’s unbelievable. Doesn’t matter where the ball comes to him, which position he’s in, which part of his body the ball touches, you always fancy him to score. Fans had been suggesting he was only use to us from the subs bench, as fresh pacey legs able to exploit a tiring defence, but he was on the part for 75 minutes today before scoring the winner. Well done Hernandez.
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