Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ranger loss pales to Valencia blow

Manchester United went out and drew nils Tuesday evening at Old Trafford with Glasgow Rangers.

The result itself isn't as alarming as some would have you believe. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson opted to rest the majority of his first-team players—only some of whom surely needed it, though all benefited from it.

United dominated the match, but Glasgow had their tactics right. Not that their manager's ideas were revolutionary: the majority of sides coming to Manchester just try and put 10 behind the ball. More often than not, United eventually breaks through after constant pressure, and while they controlled throughout on Tuesday, the opening goal never came. If it had, it would have been for the Red Devils.

As things stand, United can afford to drop two points here rather than any more in the EPL. Their group consists of Spanish side Valencia and Turkish minnows Bursaspor. Valencia are without their two best players of seasons past: striker David Villa is now at Barcelona, and David Silva rides pine for another Mancunian club. Bursaspor are essentially walkovers. United should be fine.

On the home-front, United host Liverpool on Saturday, and are already four points behind Chelsea in the EPL rankings. That's not to say Ferguson didn't gaffe by leaving Berbatov off his teamsheet Tuesday night:

''We wanted to see how Javier Hernandez would do in a full game,'' said Ferguson. ''Because of that we left Berbatov out and his form has been absolutely fantastic. He has been one of our best players this season and his ability to create in tight situations would have made a difference.''
Javier Hernandez looked better than his strike partner, which would become a trend if they were expected to play together often. Wayne Rooney's poor form for United continued despite being rested on Saturday after playing brilliantly for England twice last week. 

Obviously, the most alarming development Tuesday night was the injury to Antonio Valencia. Behind Darren Fletcher, the Ecuadorian was United's most form player last season, with Wayne Rooney in third for sheer goal glut. But only the two former players arrived and ended the season in positive touch, while Rooney often scored despite his form, not because of it.

Looking at United's roster now, you wonder why Ferguson was so eager to get rid of Zoran Tosic, or why he wasn't eager at all to sign Adam Johnson. If the gaffer wasn't so bloody stubborn, United fans could hope to see more of Gabriel Obertan, but what we'll probably end up seeing is more Ryan Giggs on the wing throughout another trophy-less season.

Having said that, you'd still expect them to get out of the Champions League group stage. Ferguson's notion to rest his first team players wasn't imprudent, but his second-tier players were ineffective, more an indictment to his personnel than his ideas.

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