5 Things We Learned: Cardiff City 2-2 Manchester United
1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Wayne Rooney, capable of doing some brilliant things on a football pitch and while he didn’t really display anything brilliant here, he did have a hand in both goals, scoring the opener and taking the corner which Evra scored from.
It was what happened at the beginning of the game that made the headlines, a petulant kick out at a player who although was impeding him, did little to provoke such idiotic behaviour from Rooney. This is not the first time we’ve seen this from Rooney, such behaviour used to be pretty regular in his early years, he has cooled down in recent years but the red mist does appear from time to time, he did the same thing for England against Montenegro a few years ago and also elbowed James McCarthy back in 2011 who was at Wigan at the time.
As I mentioned, Rooney is capable of the brilliant but has his flaws, an inconsistent first touch being the most highlighted in recent years but against Cardiff we saw something that was baffling to say the least, having conceded a late equaliser, Rooney was given the opportunity to win it moments later when Giggs, as he so often does, played a through ball that sent Rooney one on one with the keeper, in this situation you’d expect Rooney to go for goal but for some unknown reason he thought it would be best not to.
His moment of madness at the beginning of the game should have seen him sent off but it was the poor decision at the end that I am most annoyed with.
2. Chris Smalling is not a right back
Now I like Chris Smalling and he has had some excellent games at right back, last time out against Arsenal for example he was excellent for most of the game but I still found myself shouting at times during that game that we should play a proper right back. Earlier in the season against Stoke we went behind twice both to goals that came down our right hand side with Smalling playing at right back.
Chris Smalling seems to be getting a lot criticism for his performance at right back against Cardiff and while it’s right that he didn’t play particularly well, I feel the criticism is harsh as he’s not a right back, he’s a centre back and a pretty good one at that. It’s time we stopped playing him there, hopefully with Rafael coming back this will be the case but even with Rafael out I would prefer to see a proper full back like Fabio get a chance or even Valencia who has arguably played better at right back this season than on the wing.
Hopefully, Rafael, who was one of our best players last season will be back from injury soon, as he has been missed.
3. Midfield as expected
The win at home to Arsenal renewed confidence in what had previously been a poor start to the season. A few days later optimism was taken away as it was announced that Carrick would be out until Christmas. This not only shows how important I feel Carrick is but also how poor we are without him. The other midfielders we do have aren’t bad players by any means, they’ve won league titles and played in champions league finals and put in some good performances but they’re not as good without Carrick as was seen at Cardiff. It’s not just his fellow midfielders that miss Carrick, but the whole team too, he makes everybody’s job easier, van Persie for one was full of praise for him throughout last season. Our most important player
Cleverley and Fellaini started the game on Sunday, and did not do well together. I’m still unsure where Fellaini fits in at United. My personal belief is that his best role is playing behind the striker like he did at Everton but is not good enough to play the role at United, nor does it suit us, although it does provide a plan B. As a centre midfielder, he’s not shown anything yet to suggest he’s good enough to play there for us, I hope to be proved wrong. Cleverley was fairly anonymous but with Carrick out is probably the first midfielder on the team sheet, he no longer has Carrick to help him along and needs to step up now or may be deemed “not needed” by Moyes.
4. Hernandez more effective from the bench
He deserves his chances to start games but this was another game where I was left wondering whether we might have won the game had we the option of bringing him off the bench. When starting games he’s regularly ineffective for most of the game and has hardly had a shot at goal when starting a game in the League or in Europe this season, now this isn’t entirely down to Hernandez as the service to him hasn’t been great either. Many fans question why Hernandez doesn’t start more often but the answer is an easy one in my opinion, he is more effective from the bench. When he scored the winner and his sole league goal this season against Stoke a month ago, it was as a sub, a game in which he had 2 shots at goal, 1 more than he’s had in 2 league starts this season.
He can play better when starting than he has done this season, he’s shown that so far in his United career but I don’t think he has been or will ever be as effective from the start as he is from the bench for us and is unlikely to accept this role. Unfortunately I can see him leaving because of this, which will be a loss to us, as he’s turned around many a game from the bench.
5. Moyes must expect better
Moyes has said some odd things so far in his managerial career at United, I thought he’d turned a corner recently but he took a step back after the draw with Cardiff where he stated that he would have taken the draw before kick off. A draw at Cardiff isn’t the worst thing in the world, they did beat City let’s not forget, but to say he would have taken a draw is not what you’d expect to hear from the manager of Manchester United and it was disappointing to hear him say it. At Everton, he had limited resources. By appointing him as our new manager, we offered him the chance for his team to play better football, to coach better footballers and to expect to win. It’s still early days but the football hasn’t been great, his one signing has been an Everton player and he’s happy with a draw against Cardiff. I like Moyes and want him to do well but at some point he must expect better from himself and the team than he did at Everton.
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