Get out of jail free…

thanks to this timely Dimitar Berbatov hat-trick!

Grossly inconsistent performance by United, who were completely bailed out by the sublime master of magic, my hero Mr. Berbatov (or, rather, Бербатов). Kevin McCarra is spot on in saying that “Dimitar Berbatov has so far been taking personal responsibility for Manchester United’s Premier League campaign.” People keep talking about Berbatov being reborn, but he actually had a good season last year; he just was left out far too often and when he did play, was often lumbered with being the focal point of a leaden 4-5-1. Rather, the mountain has moved to Mohammed. To some extent.

United are simply not good enough to have title aspirations at the moment, and unless they shore up the centre of midfield, I think second or third would be a good finish this year. Nani continues to inspire loathing with his ridiculous diving and catastrophic narcissism. For every good cross or shot there are ten genuine facepalms. Worse still, with Valencia injured, he won’t have to play his way into the team. Unlike Ronaldo, who adapted pretty well to the premier league within a year and a half of arriving, Nani has made no progress whatsoever – he still dives at the most minimal contact, fails to tackle back at all, and wastes no chance to lash the ball into the stands and then look aggrieved.

I score three goals, you like? Is great success.

A midfield of Giggs-Scholes-Fletcher-Nani is horrendously brittle. Fletcher is the only one with any defensive credentials and he continued his dreadful start to the season by producing only one decent ball all match (plus being directly at fault for the second Liverpool goal by feebly diving out of the wall and letting Gerrard’s tame chest-high effort curl into the net). It is (broken record alert) again down to Ferguson that against a side with a good midfield he picked a very weak centre line. Scholes is still wonderful going forward, at least for seventy minutes or so, but aside from some half-hearted Fletcher interventions there was nobody stopping Meireles and Cole running at the United centre-backs and causing panic. In an absurd case of shutting the stable door etc., he brought on the gruesome twosome of Anderson and Gibson (who I’d rather see start ahead of Giggs or Fletcher in a game like this) to act as all-purpose passing blockers, but only after Liverpool had already pulled two back.

O’Shea is just not good enough to be starting for a side with title ambitions. As I’ve said many times before, he’s a great man to have on the bench due to his versatility, but he is too slow, inaccurate passing out of defence and prone to some bad lapses. I can’t see any justification for him blocking Rafael’s development at this stage. The defensive miscues (also by Evans, who at least looked better than last week) were compounded by a poor game from Howard “They’ve clearly come to watch me” Webb. United should have had at least one penalty from a selection of handballs and shirt-tugs. Apropos of nothing, I love watching Carragher get frustrated at how utterly inadequate he now is as a top-flight footballer.

The unsustainable reliance on one player’s brilliance has been Ferguson’s only game plan since 2008 – Ronaldo, then Rooney, now Berbatov. It is lazy, blinkered management and I can’t see United making the leap back to true greatness until we get a new manager. The manner of victory doesn’t take anything away from the delight of beating the dirties, mind, but I am not too optimistic about the prospects for the season unless we acquire some grit in midfield, less panic in defence and more clinical distribution in the final third.

Published in: on September 19, 2010 at 9:22 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Loved him at spurs, and always thought he’d come good. Genius 😉

    • I’m just glad he’s getting a chance to play most games this year. Shame he didn’t start against Rangers, we might need those two points…

      • United, as always, will be fine and go through. Fergie, although you have some gripes with him, is still a great manager who knows how to win trophies

        If management was so easy, we’d all be doing it!

        Ps facebook has some good united fan pages 😉

  2. You’ve got to love Berba: “I’m going home with a smile on my face,” he said, “but to my kids I’m nothing special. And tomorrow is another day.”

    • 🙂

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