1. Rooney’s wide-ranging performances
When he plays well, he’s world class but when he has a bad game, as he did against West Ham on Wednesday night, he can be really awful. I can’t think of any other player of his quality and reputation whose performances vary from such a wide range. It’s not as if this is the first time this type of performance has happened either, in fact it happens too often. Why it happens could be down to a number of things, I don’t think anyone can really explain it though. A common explanation or excuse for it seems to be a lack of fitness or match sharpness, with Fergie often saying he needs a few games to get into form. This explanation would seem a little odd here though given he was man of the match only a few days before Wednesday’s game at Stoke. A game in which there was a lot of talk afterwards that it may be the start of a permanent move to midfield, yet the game against West Ham seemed to prove otherwise. The overuse of long ’hollywood’ passes and the failure to track his opponent’s runs were the biggest problems on Wednesday as they have been when he’s played in midfield in the past, it’s also probably why he will never make a permanent move into midfield, he’ll need to learn pretty quickly if it is to become permanent. For me, the role is not for him, it would be a waste of his strengths if he was to make the move into midfield, we need to get some proper central midfielders in and stop playing players from other positions there.
2. Kagawa settling
Many United fans and neutrals will probably consider Kagawa’s debut season to be a disappointment but there have certainly been signs of huge promise in a difficult start to his United career. As well as having to settle in a new country and adapt to a different league, he has also had to deal with injury and playing out of position for most of the season. Despite this he’s shown his potential from day 1, in the last 2 games though I think he’s made a step up from showing signs. Earlier in the season he was often bullied by physical opponents and yet playing away against 2 of the more physical sides in the league, he coped fine. Against West Ham, he showed his ability to create something from nothing in the build up to both goals. Had he stayed on the pitch for the full 90 we may have won but with him having not played a lot this season it would have been a lot to ask for him to play 2 full games in just a few days, the fact he even started was a positive for me because of this. We’re now beginning to see Kagawa settle into the side and his team mates are beginning to understand him better. It’d be nice to see him given a run of games now in his favoured central position until the end of the season, with Rooney struggling it seems like a possibility. With a full pre-season, we could see him become a key player next season.
3. Confident Carrick
Having been a Carrick fan for a number of seasons, it’s been great to see him finally get some acknowledgement from fans and media. He’s not been doing too much different to previous seasons, he’s looked more confident recently though, a confidence which seems to have appeared since the fans started singing a song about him. He’s now playing with such confidence and freedom that he’s taking more risks and being more creative on the ball, making 5 key passes vs. West Ham. However it is a worry that we are so reliant on one player to keep us ticking in midfield, when Carrick isn’t present we struggle. It’s something that will need to be addressed in the summer as I’m not sure we can continue to play Carrick so often and be able to compete in more than one competition.
4. Don’t write Valencia off quite yet
Still not at his best but in recent weeks he has shown glimpses of the Valencia of old, the one who would actually run down the wing at defenders and put a good delivery in to the box, we saw this last night and it was his best performance in a while, probably his best of the season. While his goal was just a tap in, he gained a lot of confidence from it as he looked an improved player afterwards and looked a threat, delivering a brilliant cross at 2-1 for van Persie who was denied with a good save by Jääskeläinen. He provided a few other good chances too. There seem to be many things affecting Valencia this season, given his performance after he scored it would seem confidence is one. Other likely factors are fatigue with him having to travel to Ecuador to play international games during the season and the summer, which also means he doesn’t get a rest, and maybe he’s even suffering from pressure to perform having bagged a few awards last season and receiving the iconic number 7 jersey at the beginning of the season. He has been extremely poor for most of this season but I think his performance, especially in the 2nd half was cause for optimism.
5. One Step Closer
Despite only drawing with West Ham on Wednesday night, we now need just 6 points from our last 5 games, maybe less if City drop points in their remaining 6 games. Some may be getting a little worried now with us not playing too well since we exited the Champions League, but I don’t think there is need to panic, not yet anyway, it’s still firmly in our own hands. While it would obviously have been better to win at West Ham on Wednesday, I think we have to be content with 4 points from two tough away games against Stoke and West Ham, and with a home game vs. Aston Villa to come on Monday night we shouldn’t be alarmed. With Aston Villa battling relegation, it could be a tricky game but you’d expect us to win at home. City travel to Spurs on Sunday, we will know before our game on Monday whether a win will be enough to secure title number 20.
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