The build up to a cup final is always special, especially the morning of a final and this was no different. Armed with scarves (was a tad nippy) and a greasy burger later my friends and I headed for our choice of location to watch the game. The atmosphere was great with plenty of singing and cheering for the lads.
On hearing the team selection the biggest surprise was obviously the omission of Wayne Rooney from the starting line-up. As I mentioned in my pre-match discussion of match I felt we would start with a 4-4-2 formation, which proved to be the case but I fully expected Rooney to start alongside Berbatov.
The match had barely started before Aston Villa were awarded a penalty. There is no argument regarding the penalty decision, the bigger controversy was the non-sending off of Vidic.
If there is a weakness in Vidic’s game it is playing against a striker with searing pace, first noticed against Torres. Agbonlahor easily outpaced Vidic but with some pulling of the shirt Vidic had got goal side Agbonlahor. Once goal side why did Vidic dive in with a tackle? There was no need.
I think virtually every Manchester United fan would admit Vidic deserved to be sent off. Why he wasn’t sent off, I’m not sure; he prevented a clear goal scoring opportunity. We were very lucky and it was definitely a game changing decision. I can fully understand why Martin O’Neill and Villa fans are unhappy.
Villa started the match the much better team; we barely got a kick in the first ten minutes. Our goal came from virtually nothing – Berbatov stole the ball from Richard Dunne showing a desire for work rate which continued for the full ninety minutes. Dunne tracked back and tackled Berbatov but the ball fell for Michael Owen who finished like only Michael Owen can – bottom corner of the goal posts leaving no chance for the goalkeeper.
After a decent performance from Owen, the cursed hamstring injury occurred again. You have to feel for Owen, in front of a watching Fabio Capello he surely must have impressed with his performance and clinical finish. Will the injury end Owen’s world cup dream? He would be in my squad that is for sure.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Aston Villa as we began to dominate. Park grew into the game, I think he was superb, my man of the match with Valencia a close second for his second half performance. Both players were taking on defenders, creating chances for others and Park was unlucky with a shot that hit the post. At £16 million the price paid for Valencia is looking like a steal.
As with the West Ham United game during midweek the same combination of players combined again to score the winning Cup final goal. The Berbatov, Valencia and Rooney partnership is really gelling and is turning into a real goal threat. Berbatov passes to Valencia, Valencia crosses for Rooney, Rooney heads into the goal. Easy really… Rooney probably should have scored with another header chance from a Valencia cross. Rooney’s heading this season has been sensational, he’s extra training sessions have bear fruit. Who says hard work doesn’t pay off…
Also a small note on Kuszczak, I felt he had a good game. His performance will perhaps push him ahead of Foster as the number two goalkeeper behind Van dar Sar.
The victory was Sir Alex Ferguson’s 26th trophy as a United manager and his 32nd in total. The man still loves winning. His smile was bigger than anyone’s as he lifted the trophy and received a massive cheers. Without question the greatest manager ever to grace football. Liverpool fans will no doubt suggest Shankly or Paisley but they are wrong… 🙂
One down, two to go now… Or is that over-confidence on my behalf. After Chelsea’s defeat against the noisy neighbours I really believe the title is ours for the taking. We will have to wait and see what the draw holds for the Champions League…
Afterwards, my friends and I celebrated long and hard into the night. It was a great day, winning brings a special feeling and it will never become tiresome.