I was away for the weekend, so excuse the late, late review of the game.
Apart from the obvious (Chelsea drew and Manchester United won so we’re back on the top of the Premiership table), there are 2 or 3 talking points from the game that I’d like to address.
Mainly, the form of Nemanja Vidic, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney.
Its great to see Vidic playing for Manchester United again – there’s no doubt that him and Ferdinand form an excellent first-choice central defensive pairing – Ferdinand has played better since Vidic’s return (not to mention Heinze’s) and the team has been more solid as a result.
One great thing about Vidic is his ability to take the hard knocks, get back up, dust himself off and start playing again without any fuss. He was kicked by Shola Ameobi while on the ground and got up without complaining too much, even though this was worse than Ballack’s ‘stamp’ on Sissoko, which got the German a straight red. He’s also willing to go forward (although Newcastle invited us forward really) and he went close to scoring twice against them. He’s getting better and better with each game and if him and Heinze can stay fit United have a very good chance of holding off the other top teams from scoring.
Plus you rarely see Vidic make the sort of defensive errors that Wes Brown and Mikael Silvestre have made in the past.
A lot of people have criticised Carrick’s performances for Manchester United since he’s joined the club. They’re right, he hasn’t performed well, but I also think that most people don’t understand what Carrick’s role is in the team and the reasons behind his relatively poor form (I’m not defending him, but before lambasting him you need to know the backstory).
For starters, Carrick wasn’t supposed to be the solution to Keano’s absence. That solution was (and still is) Owen Hargreaves. Michael Carrick is a creative midfielder drafted in as part of a long term solution to rebuilding Manchester United’s midfield. The objective was to get a holding midfielder alongside Carrick and play them together after Scholes had retired. It is one solution to United’s midfield problem, not the ultimate one and not necessarily the best one.
Secondly, Carrick is not a hard tackler – something we knew before he was signed. He’s slow on the ball, so you’ll have to expect him to take some time to readjust to playing for Manchester United where he’s offered less protection than he was at Tottenham.
What Carrick is good at, and something I that I felt was important for United in signing him, is his passing. He’s shown it in glimpses in his short stay at United, and he will undoubtedly get better.
Third, and this is a bit of a cop-out, Carrick had no pre-season to speak of. He was hardly used at the World Cup, and he got injured early in Manchester United’s pre-season and was injured till September. He’s had few games to get himself back in shape.
There are a lot of expectations attached to Carrick brought upon by his price-tag and his position as the solitary midfield recruit. Please don’t be hasty in judging Carrick. Look at Fletcher – he’s finally turning into a decent squad player! Maybe Carrick will prove himself in the coming months – I’m sure of it.
The kid needs more games, so lay off him 🙂
Fantastic pics from the Manchester United v Newcastle game – I’ve put up two here:
Rooney’s season needs to improve, but then again he just might be missing Giggs and Saha.
How long will Ronaldo ‘carry’ Manchester United?