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Pleased But With Complete Displeasure



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Manchester United did well to rescue another match away from Old Trafford, but there comes a point when a point is not enough.

The United players bowed their heads for a minute’s worth of silence before the match to honor the brave men and women that have served their country, but they should all hang their in disappointment after that disparaging showpiece they put on at Villa Park.

There will be a lot of shiny gloss on United’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa because of the way they fought back to extend their unbeaten streak to 26 games, but the problems are still there for all to see.

Six draws in seven away matches is only good enough for a team that is trying to qualify for the Europa League – not trying to win the Barclays Premier League title.

Two seasons ago, United won the league title by four points, but it was simply due to their hated-rival Liverpool’s inability to get a win as they drew 11 matches – five more than the Reds that season.

Not to compare them to their long-time, bitter rival, but United are on pace to trounce that draw total this season, because they have already had seven in 13 Premier League matches this season.

In over half of their games, United has ended dropping points, which is not, and never should be, acceptable by a club with their high standards.

So what needs to happen?

Sir Alex definitely does not need to go and spend boat loads of money to bring in a couple of quality players in January, but the ones that are culpable need to be held accountable for their actions and poor performances.

Against Villa, Ferguson made three changes in the last 20 minutes bringing off Javier Hernandez, Dimitar Berbatov and Ji-Sung Park, and all three of them should hold their head in shame for their retched performances.

To be fair to them, not a single United player that started the game was at their glittering best – or even remotely effective.

First, Ferguson showed his true displeasure and frustration with today’s performance by pulling BOTH his front two right after United conceded the first goal Villa.

Dimitar Berbatov started the season off wonderfully well, and a lot of the anti-Berbatov supporters were finally thinking he turned the corner, but since his treble of goals against Liverpool, he has not found the back of the net – stretching 13 games.

There were clear signs that he was frustrated today and it had to be with both himself and his teammates.

He missed an absolute sitter in the first-half when he was fed a through ball in behind the Villa defense by Chicharito, but his weak left-footed effort from just eight yards out went four yards wide of the post!

One of the final straws, and perhaps the main reason for his withdrawal from the match at a crucial stage, was when a cross did not reach him he kicked the bottom of the post in frustration.

When a player like Berbatov is having an off day, it is felt through the entire side, because he does have a tendency to sulk and let his frustrations be known, and the problem is that mental state is infectious and definitely not need when your team is trailing.

Javier Hernandez, more than likely, was taken off because he was on a yellow card and his runs and passing were not direct enough for the Gaffer’s liking.

Neither of those two players managed a shot on goal in 73 minutes on the pitch, which is not good enough if the service is there or not.

Park, who came off after the second goal, was very ineffective on every part of the pitch he operated on today.

He lost the ball to a much more sprightly Marc Albrighton no short of four times in the second-half, which led to unnecessary amounts of pressure on our flimsy back-four.

As stated in the match report, this was the second time that the back five of Edwin van der Sar, Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra played together since the 2008 UEFA Champions League final – and it showed.

They were constantly stretched, caught ball watching or giving the ball cheaply away – and NONE of them can point the finger at the other, because they were all to blame today.

Yes, Wes conceded the penalty, but it was poor tracking by Rio that led to it, and the second goal Evra was in complete la la land because Albrighton just outfoxed him for pace and true desire for his, and Villa’s second, goal.

Vidic did well to get the equalizer, but he almost gifted Villa an opening goal on a few occasions, but thankfully poor finishing spared his blushes.

Manchester United can either do one of two things: 1. get their act together or start WINNING games, or brace themselves for another season without winning their highly-coveted Barclays Premier League title – and hopefully it is the former that happens.

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"The United Religion: A Manchester United View From Abroad," www.theunitedreligion.com, is a blog that delivers an American perspective on one of the world's most successful football clubs. Since I have an opinion about anything and everything, I decided to put many of my off-the-wall ideas as well as passionate feelings about the ongoings of United into words. In my writings, you will discover that I do my best to back up all of my outlandish opinions, and finicky analysis with statistical and/or factual evidence. If you wish to publish any of the articles, or have any questions, please contact me directly at theunitedreligion[at]gmail[dot]com.