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Watford 1-2 Manchester United – shaky, very shaky.

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Watford’s misfiring strikers and van der Sar’s excellent keeping help Manchester United to make it 3 wins out of 3.

In many respects the match was confirmation of what we all expected – Watford will keep playing attacking fooball no matter what the score, while United’s fringe players are going to keep getting us into trouble.

For anyone who has taken the liberty to defend Darren Fletcher and Mikael Silvestre as deserving a place in Manchester United’s squad deserve to be shot.

It’s not that Fletcher is a bad player. When he’s given time on the ball and space to move in, he can dribble, shoot, and generally pla. And he’s worked hard at his shooting this year, scoring a good goal from outside the box in pre-season and then against Charlton on Wednesday.

But the fast pace of the Premiership rarely affords you any time on the ball, and Fletcher was responsible for United giving away the ball too many times in the midfield. He didn’t have John O’Shea to mop things up alongside him (O’Shea was at right-back with Carrick starting in the midfield) and the Carrick-Fletcher combination is not going to work.

Silvestre is … well … bad. Manchester United played Silvestre at left-back (dropping Evra to the bench) and pushed Wes Brown back in the midfield to strengthen the defence.

If Heinze was likely to start against Tottenham, he can be absolutely guaranteed to start now. Evra deserves a chance to prove himself as a left-back and if Vidic returns to the side Ferguson will have solved his defensive problems – or at least will be able to keep Silvestre out of the starting lineup.

Credit to Watford for playing hard, but they were arguably unlucky today not to score another goal.

If Carrick has to be successful, Manchester United need to play him together with someone who can at least keep the ball – Hargreaves? Just read that Bayern Munich are going to bring over van Bommel from Barcelona next week, so there could be a chance. Bayern are still playing hardball, and The Sun is reporting that Bayern Munich backtracked on a transfer agreement with United for Hargreaves. True? Possible, but it’s hard to trust the Sun.

Starting Lineup for Manchester United

Edwin van der Sar: van der Sar is a far, far better keeper than he’s given credit for (despite the high praises showered at him). The number of times he comes out to smother crosses and long balls and the way is almost perfect in his positioning is a treat to watch.

John O’Shea: Started at right-back and in the second half swapped places with Wes Brown to end the game at centre-back. Played better than Silvestre and Brown, but today that wouldn’t have meant much.

Rio Ferdinand: Good game, but can’t cover for everyone else’s mistakes. Could have stopped Young’s cross that led to the first goal, but that was a very tough chance.

Wes Brown: Making mistakes – better at right-back.

Mikael Silvestre: My my…scores, gives away a goal, looks like United’s worst defender. Is there any honour Silvestre has escaped?

Cristiano Ronaldo: Should focus more on passing and keeping the ball then on going on solo runs. Playing well this season. To his credit, has ridden challenges rather than tumbled under them.

Darren Fletcher: Fletcher is anonymous and back to his mediocre best. He’s being given a good run in these games though…

Michael Carrick: Played well, but needed a ballwinner alongside him.

Ryan Giggs: Leading from the front. Scored the winning goal, although along with Ronaldo guilty of not linking up better with the front two.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Still working his way back to fitness. Was surprised that Rossi didn’t come in his place. Was given little space, but played well.

Louis Saha: Set up the first goal, and was United’s best attacking player. Needs someone with good pace alongside him to be most effective.

Park Ji-Sung (sub): Came on for Solskjaer and did his industrious best on the ball.

Kieran Richardson (sub): Came on for Carrick and got booked needlessly.

A 2 week international break for the Premiership, and when Tottenham visit Old Trafford on 9th September they ‘should’ be facing a nearly full-strength United side (with only Scholes and Rooney missing, and that too for just one more game).

Match Highlights

Will we see another signing before the transfer season ends?

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.