So the improbable hat-trick wasnâ€™t to be and viewing from a pub in east London, it didnâ€™t look as though there were many periods where it looked at all likely. Man United didnâ€™t have to play very well to see us off yet again, our 14th defeat in 18 games against them.Â
After an even first twenty minutes of shadow boxing their pace down the flanks and Scholesâ€™ know-how in the middle were the dominant influences as we struggled to keep possession and get the ball to our â€˜bigâ€™ players in attacking positions. Modric, Bale, Pav, Bentley and Defoe were all anonymous going forward and there was a notable lack of quality about our delivery from almost every position. Having said all that, Gomes had few saves to make but Van der Sar had even less. It was a poor game.
Their goals game from Giggsâ€™ penalties in the 58th and 86th minutes plus a cool finish from Nani in the 81st minute following Ledleyâ€™s 70th minute headed equaliser. Their pens were both down to poor challenges by players playing out of position at right back. Redknapp obviously hasnâ€™t been happy with Kaboul playing there instead of Corluka and gambled with replacing him first with Assou-Ekotto and then Palacios, decisions which didnâ€™t come off.Â
The only time we looked like our normal selves was when Lennon came on for Bentley and Bale was pushed forward on the left. We scored and then attacked fluently for a short while. It was only five or six minutes but it was a nice five or six minutes. United regained their composure and scored an easy goal in the 81st minute after Nani ran through from midfield untracked.Â
All a bit disappointing. Only Dawson, King, Gomes and possibly Huddlestone came out of the game withÂ reputations intact. All the others need to wonder why they went missing for long periods (though the service to the front two was appalling so they might have plead mitigating circumstances).
Still, never mind. Six points from three games against the teams above us is a superb return and only a shock result in the City game (at the time of writing outcome unknown) puts us in a worse position than we were this morning.
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