Sir Alex Ferguson will have many fingers pointed at him for benching Wayne Rooney against West Bromwich Albion, but it was two other very experienced Manchester United players whose heads were not right.
Two very telltaling mistakes by both Patrice Evra and Edwin van Sar forced United settle for their FIFTH draw – third on the bounce – in the Barclays Premier League, and it could very easily be curtains on their attempts to securing the title this season if they do not stop.
Despite the cries by some of the supporters, Rooney’s omission had little effect on the outcome of the match, and when he did come on with almost 20 minutes to go, the out-of-sorts center forward did little to prove that exclusion was the wrong choice by the manager.
Many opposers will say at least United is still undefeated, but if you are in the middle of the standings in the league does that really matter?
Not one bit, because Manchester United has a standard to win the Premier League, not just finish in the UEFA Champions League places – which is also under real threat now as well.
Regardless of what the commentators or analysts have said or will say, the surprising mistakes by both van der Sar and Evra have just brought their poor seasons to the forefront because they have been there all season long for all to see.
Many pundits are quite shocked by the calamity of an error that van der Sar committed, but all season long the 40-year goalkeeper’s performance have been suspect to say the least.
Whether it has been his poor distribution, lack of communication or his indecisiveness, VDS has been an achilles heel to United’s success this season.
For instance, in his last three games – against Bolton Wanderers, Valencia and Sunderland – the aging goalkeeper has made some glaring, careless mistakes which could have cost United even more than it has.
Against Bolton, his distribution was very, very poor and led to The Whites the chance to continuously attack and put his fellow defenders under more, unnecessary pressure.
Then against Valencia a similar cross to the one against West Brom went unpunished as Roberto Soldado some how put the ball over the bar from close range.
Finally, he was very shaky at Sunderland as he did not command his area and that leads to disorganization of the back-four, luckily, The Black Cats did not punish him and United for their mistakes.
van der Sar could do little about the first goal, because by the time he was able to reach the ball it was already across the goalline by the next culprit.
He seems to be letting his involvement in the France’s shameful and embarrassing display at the FIFA 2010 World Cup continue as it has effected his performances this season.
Evra has been making awful mistakes all season long, which led to Ferguson benching him against Sunderland.
What some fail to realize is that the fist goal was clearly Evra’s fault, because it was his decision to pretend that he was injured.
That poor choice gave a very pacey Somen Tchoyi the advantage over a trailing Anderson, which led a free-kick from a very good position on the endline.
Justifiably, the resulting free-kick caromed off Evra, which was very similar to Joe Cole’s decisive goal in Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford, and passed a stranded van der Sar.
Multiple goals this season came as a direct result of his lack of concentration and unwillingness to track a run.
Whether it was Simon Davies’ equalizer at Fulham, his audacious attempt at an acrobatic clearance against Everton or his inability to stay on his post against Zat Knight’s flick.
These are just a few of the examples that Evra has subjected his fellow defenders to receive blame for conceding goals.
When a full-back is beaten down the wing, it forces a less nimble central defender to try to cover a speedier attacker, which was clearly evident in the early going.
Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were both forced to track the runs of both of James Morrison and Tchoyi in the first-half, thankfully, though, United were let off the hook, because of poorly timed jump by Chris Brunt and Rafael’s quickness and clever touch in front of the same player.
Known for his ability to go forward, Evra was very lackadaisical with the ball and needlessly gave it away time and time again.
John O’Shea, who was Evra’s replacement against Sunderland, was given an unfair rating, because he was forced to deal with TWO attackers – Ahmed Al Muhammadi and Nedum Onuoha.
It goes to show that teams will continue to attack down the flanks – particularly the left-hand side – against United, because they know that they have a better chance of getting the advantage against either full-back than Ferdinand and Vidic.
Both Patrice Evra and Edwin van der Sar are very experienced players, and should have the stomach to handle the justified assessment of their continuous poor displays, but hopefully for Manchester United’s aspirations finally come good sooner rather than later.