Saturday, October 16, 2010

United-West Brom: Player ratings and match recap

Manchester United went up 2-0 and then let it all crumble away. Again.

It all started so brilliantly. Hernandez niggled home after a deflected Nani free-kick after just five minutes.

United controlled easily. Later in the half, they scored again after some interplay between Nani and Berbatov, with the latter setting up the other for a pretty simple slot. Two to the good, home and dry.

But the second half was all hairy. West Brom scored luckily with some pinball after a low-cross from a shallow free-kick. That was early in the half. Five minutes later, van der Sar howled ridiculously, dropping a blasé cross so Tchoyi could pass it home. Barthez-esque from the Dutchman.

So, United gave it up, again. At this point, let's just hope they compete this year, much less win anything. After such a dismal match, what'd you expect, a detailed recap? Come on! Onto player ratings.

Player Ratings

Manchester United

van der Sar: 1: Only had to make one or two real saves. Otherwise, his gaffe was atrocious. Sure, it's just a gaffe, some mistake that belies how good he usually is; but, it changed the game for the worse, and he was mentally at sea from then on. Maybe he deserves a four, but that's boring.

Rafael: 5.5: Added some impetus down the right. Usual stuff. By that, of course, I mean he doesn't play the most fundamental defense, but the end justifies the means. Nice to have him when United go forward, and besides, every game is an improving one for the Brazillian, unlike O'Shea or Brown who've already plateaued long ago.

Vidic: 6.5: Pretty quiet. West Brom weren't exactly besetting United's backline. Two crap goals weren't really anyone's fault. Wears the armband with pride. Vocal. Good enough for me.

Ferdinand: 6: Not too much blame to assign here. Rio surprises me with how consistently he's starting playing only just returning from injury. Good tidings, despite the suicidal result.

Evra: 5.5: Wonky back-tracking sometimes. Buccaneered forward enough though.

Nani: 5: Wasteful. Dove a bunch. Scored after some nice play with Berbatov, though. But, it doesn't matter how skillful you are when you don't apply it correctly. Looks good more than he plays well.

Carrick: 4: Absolute Nancy. Too scared to try to be above average. Content to pass the ball and hope no one notices him. Waste of space. If only United bought Huddlestone instead, way back when. Hated him then, still do; at least he rewards me by reinforcing the narrative that he is completely effing useless. Inevitably subbed.

Anderson: 6: Did a good job in the middle in the first half hour. Sadly he was again lampooned on the left-wing when Giggs took a knock. His drive and impetus in the center was not coincidentally paralleled by United's best patch of the game.

Giggs: 4: Came off just prior to the break with a little knock. Didn't have much say in what was going on, but did some good things here and there without overcommitment. Sadly, United needed his creativity, a dour indictment of a would-be elite squad.

Berbatov: 6: Some market correction going on here. Berbatov was in positive form in the beginning of the season. Looks to be equaling out a little. Granted, his form was over-stated by his Liverpool hat-trick. Still, some nice touches, good through-balls, and important headers were still hallmarks. A little wasteful here or there, though. Still fun to watch, still a great footballer.

Hernandez: 6.5: Portends well. Scored nice and early like a good poacher. From open play, he didn't have much influence. Unfortunately he didn't' make as many vertical runs behind defenders as much as his speed may allow. Got shifted to the left-wing when Fergie got desperate—since the mule gaffer sold Tosic and has no natural winger on that side, and the Mexican did alright there too.

Subs: Rooney (as poor as he's been lately), Scholes (briefly ineffective), Gibson (too much like Carrick)

West Bromwich Albion

Carson: 5.5: Parried Nani's early first-half free-kick right onto Hernandez. So that was a big of a gaffe. Couldn't do much with United's second. Otherwise, he didn't have a lot of work to do, because the Devils weren't getting many shots on target. Carson got better as the game went on, but his punting was poor at times.

Shorey: 6: Misplayed a cross here or there. Otherwise did pretty well snuffing out Nani's play.

Ollsen: 6: Presumably handled Berbatov and Hernandez for the most part. United weren't overly dangerous in the final third of open play, so, I give this guy a six without being able to spot him in a police line-up.

Tamas: 6.5: Another player I was studiously tracking throughout the match. I don't know where these guys come from, but I know they leave Old Trafford with a big point after shutting down the immensely more expensive team for the last 45 minutes.

Jara: 6.5: Got beat here and there by Hernandez and Giggs. Got forward really well, though. Didn't always work out, but when does it. United afforded a lot of space, and this bloke obliged.

Brunt: 7: Bluntly blunted the free-kick into the danger zone for the first goal, like mushrooms growing from a pile of dung. Got stuck-in, and such, and enjoyed space in the middle.

Mulumbu: 6.5: I predict West Brom turning a profit on him in a year or two. Athletic holding midfielder. Explosive too. Well, not really, just making an inside joke. This guy played pretty deep today. Hey, can't fault him.

Scharner: 5: Quiet match for one of the few Baggies I was familiar with. Where's Jonathan Greening? Yeah, that's all I got.

Tchovi: 6.5: Played soccer.  Scored when van der Sar spilled his milk.

Morrison: 7.5: Nuisance. Good on the young lad. Not awed by the stage, played like he was on the home side. Good stuff. Deserved the result more than anyone

Fortune: 6.5: Able to befuddle his defenders sometimes, which is enough for a striker. Even if you're successful a third of the time squaring up and beating your opposite, you're doing alright. Got space, fired some shots; not bad for a visiting forward at Old Trafford against a supposedly elite side.

United should have won this game. The heart of the team quivers, pumped by no one. Ferguson would be sitting on three points if he starts Fletcher, but hey. In the end, they should have won, regardless, but totally gave it up. The vacancy showed by Carrick throughout personified United's lackluster drive to take back the lead once squandered. Who sees them beating Chelsea domestically or abroad this year? Not I, nor anyone else.

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