Not pretty…but …


One thing I do keep banging on about is results.

I am not one of those who wants us to play the beautiful game and end up losing one nil at home to the likes of Newcastle every week. I would much rather we put in a hard fought performance and come away with all three points – just as we did yesterday.

From the moment Welbeck got their goal it was not going to be easy on the eye, it was not going to be pretty, but one thing it was – it was effective.

With our backs to the wall – well our goal actually – we stood firm, built around the rock that is Michael Dawson playing his 400th career match of which over three quarters have been for us. I have been a critic of his lately for his lack of pace, but when faced with rank after rank of red shirts diving in (and I use the word advisedly) there is no-one else I would prefer to see in the thick of it.
Never one to shirk a challenge, never one to pull out of a tackle, he rose and rose time and time again to put his body on the line and help us survive. And survive we did. Ably assisted by all defenders, midfielders and even the strikers, he managed to keep them out.

Two well taken goals, three other very decent chances spurned, had given us a well deserved lead. With Lennon carving a path down the right – how he loves to outperform Evra every time they meet – creating havoc and eventually creating our second goal, he should have scored when put in behind his fullback but placed his shot on de Gea´s toe rather than past it.

On the other flank Erikson was less in evidence but he came good with a carefully judged cross for Adebayor´s opener and then a well timed run and brave stoop to nod home the winner. If we are to play 4-4-2 then left wing could be his position.

In central midfield neither Dembele nor Capoue had too much time on the ball but what they did they did well, breaking up the opposition and hounding them at every turn.

Up front it was much the same with Adebayor and Soldado chasing and harrying. Adebayor took his chance superbly, a graceful climb and a perfectly placed header into the corner. If only Soldado had been able to apply a similarly composed finish when freed by a delightful Lennon cross ball, instead connecting with his knee and blazing it high and wide.

So we come away with all three points from Old Trafford yet again – the last time we had back to back wins there was forty years ago. No-one knows if we have ever won there three times on the trot but I am sure the statisticians will be looking that up ahead of next year´s fixture.

United had their moments and they had their chances – many of them coming late on and from the head of Vidic – but a few dubious penalty claims apart we looked reasonably secure.

And as for those claims, I do suspect that the reputations of the diving community have come back to haunt them. Welbeck´s stubble when not touched should have resulted in a yellow while at least there was minimal contact when Januzaj and Young went down but all went down too easily and too theatrically to fool Howard Webb.

David Moyes is complaining bitterly about the performance of Mr Webb and his colleagues, yet we have suffered more than most for poor refereeing decisions at Old Trafford over the years, so it was good to get some payback, even if – in my opinion – none of the claims had any justification.

On a less than positive note, there is no news yet on any injury to Adebayor who came off with a leg problem sustained in the run up to their goal. On other websites he is currently rated as doubtful for the FA Cup game at the weekend. I suspect that unless it was merely a twinge then he will not be risked. With our list of injuries showing no signs of shortening – Naughton was supposed to be on the bench yesterday but had to be replaced before the start due to a problem – our squad depth will be tested.
Townsend has returned to training but Kaboul, Vertonghen, Sandro and Paulinho are all definitely out. Therefore and with no midweek game to worry about – for the first time since we lost at Citeh –Tim Sherwood has the enviable task of putting out our strongest team – whatever that might be under the circumstances.

But Le Arse are also struggling with first team regulars Giroud, Ozil and Ramsey all expected to be out while they have four or five others doubtful.

Old Trafford is one of the most daunting places to visit and play but we came away with a victory. All we need do now is replicate that result at yet another daunting venue on Saturday evening.

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