Little Pea and Rooney add cutting edge to United grit

by admin

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

As United rumbled their way to the title number 19, most fans consoled themselves with the fact that this was not one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s vintage sides, more a cheap bottle of plonk with just enough fizz to see of their rather flat rivals.

The midfield is too slow and would be outclassed by the best sides in Europe. There are too many squad players and not enough leaders.

As United thrusted passed Schalke to put more than a foot into the final of Europe’s premier cup competition, the doubts surrounding them evaporated into the German night sky.

Last night’s defeat represented the German club’s first loss in 10 Champions League games, a run that takes in wins over Lyon, Benfica and Valencia – in short they are no mugs, despite their misleading league position.

So the reclassification of their worthiness after the manner of their defeat last night must be addressed. Schalke are a very good side, and in the semi-finals of the Champions League on merit, even if United were bigfreebet favourites.

But the manner that Man Utd not just beat but dismissed their opponents finally put to bed the notion that they would be league champions (barring a catastrophic collapse) and finalists in the Champions League (barring a catastrophic collapse) by default.

Their reputation often precedes them. Most revert to the notion that they are a workhorse rather than a show pony; an efficient machine rather than something of beauty. But last night gave the opportunity to show what they could do, and boy did they show us.

The core of their comprehensive 2-0 victory in Gelsenkirchen over Schalke was to be found at the feet of perhaps the most maligned of the Man Utd squad.

If Darren Gibson had been forced off Twitter in little under two hours because of the abuse he received as reported, then Michael Carrick would surely have lasted little longer on the social networking site.

Yet the former Tottenham midfielder set the tempo and did most of the groundwork for the 2-0 win. His range of passing was immaculate, but it was the direct and piercing nature of his raking balls that did most damage. His incisive balls to bypass the wayward Schalke midfield set the United attack on their way was a feature of the evening.

Javier Hernandez thrived on the service Carrick provided, chasing and wining countless balls delightfully chipped over a watching Schalke backline, on another day the Mexican would have easily had a hat-trick.

And if Carrick laid the foundations then it was Chicharito and his partnership with Wayne Rooney that has lifted the side from their previous incarnation as efficient but unspectacular to pleasing on the eye. With this pair in tandem, they are now an attractive, thrusting, delightful football side.

Their movement was something to behold. In the stadium that holds more than a few bad memories for the England striker, rooney’s link up play with his diminutive partner in crime devastated an admittedly shaky Schalke backline as they wove the prettiest of patterns.

The work of Patrice Evra and Antonio Valencia also paid dividends for both strikers as they tormented their opponents time and time again.

With both still yet to hit their physical and creative peak, the basis of yet another great United side appears to be forming, but this time it is being built from the top down.

Most will agree the scoreline should have been much higher, and it would have been were it not for the heroics of Manuel Neuer, whose impending move to Bayern Munich Sir Alex Ferguson will be cursing.

There have been plenty of times this season that United have done what most expected of them, and ground out results when they were not playing well. Now they can add another string to their impressive bow. Following the departure of Christiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, their creativity took a hit. Now they look to have finally recovered and found the swagger associated with teams of years gone by.

Ferguson maintains he is aware of how his team came to crumble in the face of the Barcelona onslaught in the 2009 Champions League final, something which could be put to the test at Wembley in May. What an occasion that could be – who would be favourites with big free bet is anyone’s guess.

Next season could see this current side developing beyond anything they have achieved this season, a frightening thought. United continue along a path to silverware it has trodden countless times before, but they now pirouette rather than charge. The message to their rivals all over Europe has been sent.

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