1) Ferdinand not “past it”
Many have declared the England defender “finished” and “past it” this season, Ferdinand has struggled for form and fitness at times this season and had a nightmare to forget at Old Trafford in the derby along with many other Man United players but since then his form has got better and better and he was incredible today, making a mammoth 20 clearances. Ferdinand really stood up today in Vidic’s absence and his performance was very Vidic-esque, very dominant and commanding. His distribution was another nice feature during the game as it has been during his whole career. Ferdinand also instilled confidence at the back and lead the defence very well and this helps the young players around him especially Jonny Evans, who looks more assured when the former England Captain is next to him as do many players. More of this will be needed from Ferdinand for the rest of the season with Vidic out and now more than ever it is vital that he stays fit, it may be too much to ask though with his recent injury record. One thing is for sure though, when fit, Ferdinand is still one of the best around and certainly not “past it”. More of the same please Rio.
2) Carrick & Jones: Midfield Partnership
An unexpected but thoroughly pleasing midfield partnership that is getting better and better with every game. The duo complement each other very well, both are defensive minded players but are also comfortable in attack and their defensive abilities allow each other the freedom to get forward. Jones’ energy and drive has provided the United midfield something that has been lacking for a while. For the past few seasons Carrick has been handed a more disciplined role protecting the back 4 and has rarely gone anywhere near the opposition box but yesterday we saw him allowed more freedom getting into the penalty box to make a diving header which just went over the bar early on. The freedom for Carrick to get forward also allowed him to be more effective in the final third with his passing, creating a few chances which isn’t something we’ve seen from Carrick for the past few seasons. It’s only early days with this partnership but Jones is bringing the best out in Carrick and hopefully this will continue as Carrick can be very effective and who knows had he been playing in Switzerland on Wednesday we may even have got the draw or win that we needed to progress to the next round.
3) The season isn’t going that bad
Yes we’re out of the Champions League but our Premier League campaign isn’t going that badly especially when compared to this stage in past seasons. After 15 games last season we were on 31 points, this season we’re on 36 points after the same amount of games and usually we finish the season stronger than we start. It’s not going to be easy to win the league as we’re picking up a lot of injuries and City are doing well but they have a tough run of games coming up over the next month and we could be top come the new year or the gap should be reduced. We have a young side and potentially a very good side on our hands, even if we don’t win the League this season, the future is still bright and is looking more positive than the last time we went out of the Champions League at the group stages and even 2 years after that we were in Moscow lifting the Champions League.
Manchester United’s league points tally after 15 games: 06/07=31, 07/08=33, 08/09=31, 09/10=34, 10/11=31, 11/12=36
4) Youngsters need patience
We have a very young squad this season. The outgoing Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar, Wes Brown and John O’Shea were replaced in the squad by the incoming David De Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck were also added to the first team squad after successful spells on loan in the Premiership last season and they have both impressed but have struggled with injuries. Ashley Young has also struggled with injury after a bright start. David De Gea has come in for much criticism this season, most of which has been over the top as he’s been very good for a young goalkeeper, there have been mistakes but it was to be expected with buying someone so young, the fact is he is potentially the best keeper in the world and he has shown signs of becoming that player so far in his short time at the club. Other young members of the squad require patience too; the likes of Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling will be at the club for many years to come. You can’t expect young players to be instant successes, not even Cristiano Ronaldo was an instant success, I’m not saying any of our youngsters will turn into the standard of player that Ronaldo was, but patience was key with him as it has been for many players that have come through the club’s academy or have been brought to the club at a young age.
5) Rooney and Nani: Key Players
Rooney and Nani are probably our main 2 attacking threats and yesterday they scored their first goals since September which is pretty hard to believe given the start to the season they both had, especially Rooney who scored 9 in the first 5 league games of the season. Rooney however tends to score in bursts, he’ll go 8 games without a goal and then score in 8 consecutive games, I’m not sure why but it seems to happen quite often. Nani’s fluidity and ability to use both feet makes him unplayable at times, where as Valencia and Young are more predictable. Both will need to kick on now as with Vidic out for the season we may be required to score more goals. They are 2 players who are capable of scoring goals on their own but they can also create goal scoring opportunities for others. These 2 will have a key role in any success we will have this season and hopefully they can both kick on after yesterday’s good win.