By Matt Dodd.
1) Fergie is a team building genius
Sir Alex Ferguson time and again illustrates his ability to transform average players into invaluable, exceptional team players. Almost like creating perfect robots with the precise function to do what is necessary at the right time, Sir Alex brings out the absolute best in his players – as shown with Fletcher, Park, Vidic, the list goes on. It is a different approach than that of our Noisy Neighbours, who, on the face of it, blindly pick the alleged next superstar, shedding millions on players, throwing them into the side before thinking about where this player could be vital to the team, and how the player can fit into the side’s system. Fergie has the unique know-how of carefully blending a side together, assiduously working at players’ strengths and instilling a remarkable belief into the team. That is the difference between Manchester United and Chelsea, and this was shown last night.
2) Value for money
At 22, Javier Hernandez is five years younger than Fernando Torres. Hernandez has scored 18 goals in 37 games, while Torres still hasn’t found the net for Chelsea since moving to West London in January. ‘Chicharito’ cost Man United just £8 million, while the Spanish striker cost Chelsea over six times as much at £50 million. Torres was, yet again, ineffective last night as his incredible barren run continues while Hernandez can’t stop himself from being at the right place at the right time to score. Let’s forget the fact that United haven’t had much luck with Latin American players in the past, because this young lad is fantastic. Already tipped as the next Solskjaer, his creative, sparkling, energetic movement is something special, as it was last night, which confirms that United have once again found a gem without digging deep into the piggybank.
3) Ancelotti will be kicking himself
Perhaps Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to play Torres was prompted by the reminder that it was Roman Abravomich who sanctioned the £50 million record-breaking transfer. It is clear that Ancelotti had a huge decision whether to go with Torres or Didier Drogba – whether to go with a striker tremendously out of form, touch and confidence, or a striker who can always grab a goal – especially in the big games. I think the pressure to play the player who was supposedly bought for these big European nights swayed Carlo’s decision, and boy did it backfire. The Spaniard was lifeless, useless, and the shadow of the player he has been at times at Liverpool. Drogba was entirely the opposite, and had he played the full 90 minutes, Chelsea may actually be having a Champions League semi-final to look forward to.
4) Carrick’s rejuvenation
You do wonder where this lad has been for the last couple of years. The ex-Spurs midfielder’s price tag of £18.6 million was looking like bad business in hindsight a couple of months ago but Michael Carrick was really come to life. Carrick has a solid first season or two at Old Trafford but his performances faded over time, and with it he became out of favour with Fabio Capello’s starting XI. But he has put in some fantastic performances recently, and over both legs against Chelsea he was arguably the star player. Controlling the midfield, breaking up play and his innovation going forward has reminded United fans just why we paid a fair bit of money for Carrick five years ago.
5) The Treble is still on
As if we need reminding. United are once again in the driving seat of the Premier League, and Fergie knows exactly what to do when it comes to ‘squeaky bum time’ so you would have every faith with the team. United are two games away from lifting the FA Cup for the first time since 2004, and two games away from a Champions League final. Although Barcelona are likely to reach the final, and many are already writing off United chances against the Catalans, it must be remembered that United would be on home soil in England. Wembley is like Old Trafford’s little brother given the fantastic record Fergie’s men have there. Of course (probably) Schalke stand in our way, but for now we must believe!
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