5 Things We Learnt From the Draw at Benfica
By Sam Hill
1. Anders Lindegaard
Anders Lindegaard is the ideal backup, not since Raimond van der Gouw have I seen a more capable understudy. He dealt with everything superbly and I was even surprised he managed to get his fingers to Cardozo’s snapshot. Everything that came towards him, he held. This isn’t just a one-off either, during pre-season he was absolutely magnificent; drawing plaudits from a lot of fans. Competition is never a bad thing and David de Gea will rise to the challenge.
2. Out with the new, in with the old
The average age of last night’s team was 27, compare this with the average of 23 we saw at the 8-2 mauling of Arsenal, and it leaves a lot to be desired. I was less than pleased with the first half performance Manchester United turned in. It was shoddy and it was obvious to anyone that Fletcher and Carrick were still rusty, having not played for months and weeks respectively. Obviously resting people is critical, but when Jones, Nani and Hernandez came on, things became a lot more urgent.
3. Michael Carrick, the enigma
I am very much pro-Carrick but it hurts to see him used as a shield in front of the back four. Don’t get me wrong, I think he does an absolutely superb job and his interceptions are second to none. But in the match, in the last 30 minutes, something strange happened. Carrick galloped forward with the ball, passing, collecting and dribbling with it. He was playing football like we all know he can! Now I think with a Giggs-Carrick or even an Anderson-Carrick axis, Carrick can push on himself, both Giggs and Anderson have shown they are adept at the defensive side of things, and Carrick would benefit from the freer role and enjoy his football, making goals and scoring goals himself.
4. Ryan Giggs, 37
Well, what more can you see about Ryan Giggs? It’s fair to say that in the grand scheme of things last night, he was poor with a touch of sunshine. His passing was awry at best and he seemed to be in some odd positions, mostly on level with Carrick or even further behind… strange places to be for the attacking member of the midfield. However, Giggs’ class shows in instances such as that goal. Beautifully took. We were also treated to a few dribbles, just like he did in the good old days. Hard to believe that this man is 38 in November.
5. Dimitar Berbatov
I’m not even going to try and hide my love for this man. I think he’s every positive superlative in the sun; and it saddens me to see him wasting away on the bench, regardless of the fact he has a big smile on his face. I don’t care about how many goals he scored in 3 games or whatever. He makes football exciting. And that’s exactly what we could have done with last night, in a very workmanlike 4-5-1. Berbatov would have been like a spark with his flicks and tricks to get past a very effective defensive block. Oh how I miss thee, Dimitar…