A routine win in the end – always felt we could raise our game if we needed to. Some encouraging performances from the likes of Carrick, Berbatov and (yet again) Evra, who was just terrific. All this aside, the media were still obsessing about 2 issues – firstly, the ongoing ‘Ryan Giggs is a genius, how does he do it at his age, he should be Pope/ Prime Minister’ etc etc ad infinitum and secondly, the (probably doomed) attempt by Michael Owen to get back into the England squad before next summer’s World Cup.
Patrice Evra – brilliant, yet again
If we’re going to be generous, Giggs scored his 150th goal for the club, though if Columbus had got that big a deflection, he’d have discovered Spitsbergen before he discovered the New World. It was an own goal for me….. Giggs was quietly influential again, which is fine, but there were other more telling performances they could have talked about,however everyone wants to get in on the Giggs lovefest right now.
As for Owen, his 20 minutes on the pitch before leaving with the recurrence of a groin strain were just as telling. Every time the ball got within 15 yards of him, we got a shot of Fabio Capello through the Mancunian drizzle and the muppet commentator, Pavlovian electrodes firing in his brain, started babbling incoherently about whether or not Capello was there to see Owen and would Owen make it into the squad for South Africa etc etc…..bring back Clive Tyldesley, for God’s sake….
Well, on the basis of the 20 minutes we saw from Owen last night, I doubt if Capello would have noticed him anyway. He had one half-chance but never looked convincing and the major impact his replacement (Berbatov) immediately had on the game put Owen’s performance into an even bleaker perspective. I could never really understand the United fans who were foaming at the mouth when we signed Owen in the summer. He is clearly a shadow of the player he was in his early years with The Dippers and whatever he says, he is injury-prone. Fergie will probably feel that the Derby winner has vindicated his decision to sign Owen, but in a team full of over-achievers, Owen actually brings very little to the table except his ability to find space in the box and put half-chances away. Of course, this can be a priceless skill and , as his winner against City showed, he can still do it. It will, however, be interesting to see how often he is able to do it before next summer. Looks like he’ll probably be unfit for the Anfield trip in a few weeks, which is a pity. A 95th minute winner by Owen would have gone down very nicely round here.
As for South Africa, I suspect that the nearest Owen will get to it is to rent a copy of ‘District 9’ when it comes out on DVD. And – after all – Fergie didn’t sign him up in order to breathe life back into his moribund England career. The hacks may want to obsess about that, but there’s an awful lot of United fans – myself included – who are conspicuously disinterested in Ingerland’s progress or lack thereof. If Owen does make it into Capello’s squad for the World Cup, it will only be because he has caught fire in a United shirt first – in which case I’ll be happy to jump on the ‘Owen for England’ bandwagon.