1. We would have settled for a point ahead of kick-off, at a ground no English club has ever won at before, but it’s hard not to be disappointed with the result after taking the lead so early and containing our opponents until late in to the game. After a great first half performance, it was frustrating to see us take our foot off the gas in the second half. We sat back and let Donetsk come at us and in the end we paid the price. You do have to wonder how the game might have finished if we had started the second half as positively as we did the first, but it stands to reason that an away performance in Europe will be cagey. God knows we’ve seen Fergie do the same.
2. Danny Welbeck gets a lot of stick from United fans and I genuinely can’t understand how any red can’t want the best for him, and be patient enough to wait and see if he’s got what it takes. He’s only 22-years-old and has shown signs of being a quality player. You get the likes of Rooney and Ronaldo who were bossing it when they were teenagers, but they’re the freaks here. Welbeck has flaws in his game but it’s very rare for someone his age not to have. He was in the right place at the right time for our only goal of the game and put in a great shift out wide. Having a player who genuinely loves the club, has spent his whole life dreaming of playing for us, and who has learnt his trade here is a luxury. Please be patient with him.
3. Chris Smalling may have just edged Rio Ferdinand out of our starting XI, with yet another competent performance in our back four. He played a blinder against Liverpool in the cup and was fully deserving of another opportunity to prove himself. Smalling is such a composed player, such a natural defender, and I hope we get to see more of him in the coming weeks. He’s a player who has really taken advantage of the opportunity Moyes has given him and he should be rewarded for that.
4. The goal was a disappointing one to concede, with the cross coming through Carrick’s legs and Vidic not able to react quickly enough to do anything other than stab the ball in to the path of Taison. There was nothing David de Gea could do with the resulting shot though. It came at him so quickly. There were a couple of occasions in the game when our goalie was getting stuck in, showing a bravery we were missing when he first signed.
5. Marouane Fellaini had another fairly underwhelming performance although deserves credit for setting up our goal. Imagine we’d signed him before his clause expired. Not only would we have saved some money but he would have spent the pre-season with us. As it is, he’s been thrown in to the team with players he is not familiar with and expected to fit right in. The midfield did look more assured with Tom Cleverley and Michael Carrick alongside him, and you imagine that Moyes is wishing he went for a similar line-up at the Etihad a couple of weeks ago. When Fellaini was replaced by Ryan Giggs, who broke the all-time record for European Cup appearances, we looked a bit sparse in midfield, so maybe the Belgian was doing more right than he had been given credit for. His night was summed up though when he was booked for a foul Antonio Valencia made.
6. United are top of their Champions League group and put in an assured European away performance, particularly in the first half. Those berating Moyes have very short memories. Those of us who can remember back to last season, or even the season before, will be more than aware of how familiar displays like this are from United in Europe. Moyes is learning all the time and, so far, the man with no Champions League experience is doing a decent enough job in the competition.
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