By Lee Savery
Former Manchester United youngster Anthony Pilkington’s header inflicted the Red Devils’ third defeat of the season at Carrow Road.
The goal came on the hour mark when Javier Garrido was played down the left-hand side by Wes Hoolahan whose terrific cross was met by Pilkington with an equally terrific header to leave Anders Lindegaard with no chance.
The goal punished a lifeless and weary display from United. Wayne Rooney’s absence was certainly felt as the lack of creation from Sir Alex Ferguson’s men was frightening. Ryan Giggs was selected ahead of Paul Scholes as the playmaker but was largely disappointing. Scholes would later appear but he could do nothing to prevent the inevitable.
Coming up against a stubborn Norwich defence and an in-form John Ruddy it was always going to be difficult especially after, once again, falling behind. United had possession for long periods of the game without really threatening with it. The starting front two of Javier Hernandez & Robin van Persie were quiet and ineffective due to a combination of poor United play and excellent Norwich defending.
Norwich had few chances and Lindegaard was hardly busy either but once Pikington had converted his chance, the game was only ending one way. Norwich could easily have won by two with a counter-attack just before the end. Steve Morison & Johnny Howson were left two-on-one before Howson shot horribly wide.
Ruddy had to save smartly from Ashley Young and van Persie in the first half and even from a backward header from his own defender Sebastien Bassong, in the dying seconds, in the rare moments the away side threatened his goal. Anderson had the last shot of the game but Ruddy saved again, comfortably.
No positives can be taken from such a tepid performance and the tactic of giving teams a head start was never going to work every week. Coming from behind takes a hunger and desire from a team, something that United had none of here today.
An important match against QPR back at Old Trafford awaits next weekend as Chelsea & Manchester City meet at Stamford Bridge.
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