So, City 2 United 1 in the first leg of the League Cup semi and things set up nicely for the second leg next week.
If United can produce a reasonable performance as they did at times tonight, they should go through comfortably. All the media and most City fans will want to talk about is Carlos Tevez (Bless the boy!) but I’d rather focus on some other issues – firstly, how good is Shay Given? We’d be heading home with a healthy lead if it wasn’t for him.
Carlos doesn’t understand why I don’t want to discuss his match-winning performance
Given the media’s fondness for soap opera headlines and goalscorers, it was inevitable that Tevez’ performance was all the talking heads on the BBC wanted to talk about. So, anyway, well done Carlos – have you got that out of your system now? Dear oh dear, the boy has anger management issues, doesn’t he?
Anyway, hats off to City for whom tonight was such a big deal. They probably just about deserved to win because they made less mistakes than we did and they had the game’s 2 critical performers in Tevez and the marvellous Shay Given, who played Rooney on his own for the last 20 minutes. He will need to keep that form going for the second leg, though, because I suspect City are going to get battered at Old Trafford next week.
Shay Given – played United on his own towards the end
United were better than of late and it’s encouraging to see that they haven’t lost it altogether. Evra, Valencia and Rooney were our best performers, but we showed a lack of defensive composure for both goals; Rio and Vidic were badly missed tonight – Brown and Evans were guilty of poor organisation and of giving the ball away far too often. Rafael da Silva is guilty only of being young and enthusiastic…
However, the suspicion remains that United’s current woes are really in midfield. Tonight’s selection was probably as strong as we can muster – Valencia, Carrick, Anderson, Fletcher, with Giggs shuttling backwards & forwards to support Rooney.
Of the 5, I thought Valencia did pretty well, especially in the first half when he hugged the touchline. He can be a dangerous player. As for the others, whilst none of them did really poorly, none of them did that well, either. Anderson, as usual, flattered to deceive and faded later on. We keep waiting for him to become the dominant, forceful player he has threatened to be for some years now, and it just never happens. Carrick seems to have gone backwards in the last 12 months. There was a time when he used to strut around the midfield quite imperiously, pinging balls to left and right, but opponents have learnt how to neutralise him by putting pressure on him. He played a few telling passes, but you’re really looking for s bit more than that from him. I feel a bit sorry for Fletcher because he has been landed with the role of dynamic midfield leader that he really isn’t up to. As for Giggs, he always does his best and can still pull the odd rabbit out of the hat, though not tonight.
In my view, what United’s midfield lack is a leader – someone who can pull all the strings together and make things happen. This would need to be an experienced player who can drive forward but also tackle back. Were I in Ferguson’s position, I would ring West Ham tomorrow and tell them to name their price for Scott Parker. He may be pushing 30, but he is having a great season and would, I’m sure, do a fantastic job of welding our midfield together. I’m just as sure that the likes of Anderson & Carrick would prosper from having someone like him in the team.
“Fergie, Fergie, sign him up….”
It won’t happen, I suspect, but I feel Fergie has to do something because my fear is that the current team lack the kind of character needed to be truly successful. Of tonight’s line-up, only Rooney & Evra really have that kind of feistiness and we need more of it.