Five Things We Learnt From Man United’s Victory Over Chelsea


By Nathan Thomas.

Well, not quite the blistering football we’ve been used to so far this season but considering the quality in Chelsea’s team I’d call that a brilliant result.

In the end it was United’s superior finishing that won the day and we even managed to miss a couple of sitters, we can’t complain though, now for Leeds!

Five things we learnt against Chelsea

1. For all the great football this current set-up still possesses the grit and determination of last year’s team

Don’t get me wrong; watching Manchester United get off to a blistering start and tearing up all before them has been a joy to behold. I’ve not seen United look as fluid, as potent and as exciting as this since Cristiano Ronaldo took European football by storm in 2008. However one thing I have wanted to see is United grind out a result, like last season; you can say what you like about last season’s team but one thing you cannot deny is that they knew how to win, in any situation. With Sir Alex bringing in an influx of young players the football has without doubt gone up a step (or five) but with the departures of Scholes, Brown, O’Shea, and Hargreaves I was concerned as to whether this current side would still maintain the ability to win when off your peak. Today showed they can. Ok United will play worse this season but against the toughest test we have had so far United put out a thoroughly professional performance. Some of the football at times was very good however it was not the ninety minute long pulsating intensity witnessed against Arsenal and Bolton and in the second half against Spurs. Chelsea were very good and could have easily notched a few themselves in their first half but as it was United’s superior finishing was the difference. However bearing in mind the difference in experience of both sides United’s young guns matched and often bettered the experienced Blues and although the slick fluidity wasn’t as prevalent as it has been United dug deep produced the goods and achieved a very important win.

2. Valencia would make a decent right back, if he wasn’t such a fantastic winger

We’ve seen it fairly irregularly over the last few months but Sir Alex once again put his trust in Antonio Valencia to occupy the right-back position after Chris Smalling’s departure. Opting for Valencia’s experience over Fabio’s better positional knowledge the Ecuadorian showed arguably the key quality of being a Man United player, versatility. I can’t see Valencia being moulded into a permanent right-back give the other, more defensive, individuals such as Jones, Smalling, Rafael, and even Evans who can occupy that position however when needed Valencia can certainly be called upon to be a rather talented stop-gap. His physique and qualities on the ball make him fairly well moulded for that position, big, strong, pace to burn and with an excellent first touch, with a slight improvement of positional knowledge and his ability in the air and I’d be happy to be a regular fixture in the position, however I can’t see that happening in truth. Ji-Sung Park has operated in a central position in most of his appearances this year which leaves Nani, Valencia and Young as the clubs only wingers so on a personal note, Valencia stays as he is. Having said that given the current situation with defenders with Vidic, Rafael and possibly Smalling out injured for the League Cup game with Leeds the boss may use this as a chance to get Valencia some more minutes on the pitch in the right-back position against the men from Yorkshire, it is a role I am sure he would thrive in!

3. Young defence earn their stripes at the top level

‘Phil Jones was immense today’ have been five words which have accompanied pretty much every game the big Lancastrian has played in for United this season and he continued his stellar start to his United career against Chelsea on Sunday. Jones, is a monster, in the nicest possible way of course, as a footballer he possesses everything, strength, aerial ability, positional sense and a great attacking nous. He brings the ball out of defence like no defender I have ever seen and it is this trait that has triggered comparison with a certain number six from the Busby Babe era, however I’m not of an age to comment on that so I will avoid that particular debate. What I do know is that Jones, along with fellow young compatriots Smalling and Evans coped valiantly as they were constantly put into difficulty by an unusually sloppy midfield. Fletcher is still finding his feet after a lengthy spell out however Anderson was slightly off the boil and was not as effective without Tom Cleverley as a partner however this is Chelsea we were playing, they are no pushovers. However at times the whole team was guilty of giving the ball away but the young defence coped very well, led by the experienced Evra they shackled the Chelsea forwards well and although in the end they were probably lucky to only concede the one they way they coped against a strong Chelsea side can only bode well for the future. However one thing the youthful aforementioned trio must learn is that at United you have to be switched on for ninety minutes, in the past two home games United have conceded goals at silly times, (against Arsenal just before half time and against Chelsea just after) key times where concentration is paramount but the only way they will learn is through playing and the manager clearly has faith in them, they will surely only get better.

4. Nani is becoming the player we always hoped he would be

He was never going to be the new Ronaldo, there’s only one Ronaldo after all (well there’s two actually but that’s another story). Nani has had it tough at United, constantly compared his fellow countrymen people expected Nani to simply ‘be Ronaldo’ after United’s number seven left for pastures new in 2009. This was completely unfair and it was silly for fans to burden him with this pressure, parallels can be drawn with Paul Scholes’ retirement and the emergence of Tom Cleverley who has been dubbed by some as the ‘new Paul Scholes. Tom’s a  top player no doubt however he is entirely different to Paul Scholes and if he is like anyone of that era I would say he bares more parallels with David Beckham but what we want is a not a new Paul Scholes or a new David Beckham we want a new Tom Cleverley and a new Nani. Great players are remembered for being themselves and not by being similar but not quite as good as a predecessor in their position; thankfully Nani is now paving his own path into to possible United greatness. Nani is an out and out winger unlike Ronaldo and to be honest the idea that he was a winger was a bit of a myth, he could play out wide of course but he thrived through the middle, Nani, like Valencia and Young are blistering out and out wingers. They create and score goals, a simple formula that will have him uttered in the same breath as Kanchelskis, Coppell, and Sharpe et al if he continues to thrive. At only twenty-four Nani is some way off his peak and he clearly possesses the same application that his good friend Ronaldo once showcased on the training fields of Carrington which will serve him in good stead and it may see him gain the proper recognition he deserves amongst the United faithful.

5. The forgotten men now have their chance to shine

Many of my close United supporting friends have questioned how the likes of Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen would contribute to the United set-up this year. Their claims aren’t completely unfounded after all with the good form of first Welbeck and then Hernandez relegating the experienced pair to the bench or worse. However it is important to remember that United might be sitting pretty at the moment but it’s where you finish in May and not in September that really matters and United will need to utilise their deep depths of their squad throughout this season and Owen and Berbatov will get their chance and it is likely to come as early as Leeds on Tuesday. Albeit only a third-round Carling Cup tie the fact that it is against a certain cross-Pennine neighbour adds a nice bit of spice to the tie and one that Owen and Berbatov will relish. Also with Javier Hernandez facing time on the sidelines after a horrible tackle by Ashley Cole the two forgotten men may find themselves scrapping for a place in the starting XI against Stoke given that Danny Welbeck will only resume training on Monday. When everybody is fit being fourth or fifth choice striker seems a long way off the making the first eleven however it only takes one or two injuries and the reserve choices will be needed, and let’s face it having last season’s top goal scorer to call upon as back-up isn’t half bad is it!

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  1. Just two things learned really
    1. When you’re good and going forward. 2 offside goals against the run of play you’ll really take some stopping

    2. When you’re being outplayed you can always rely on the old stalwarts – the officials – two offside goals against the run of play, I ask you!

  2. Well there is only one way for Man Utd.They have to buy it, rely on ref’s. There’s not ONE PLAYER, whom show’s any loyalty. Look at Rooney through and through. It’s money that keep’s him there. Sorry no more Bobby Charlton’s. Remember [money can’t buy me love] it won’t buy loyalty.

  3. Look at it this way, if you will.

    As for the first two goals I can totally understand your grievances, however, both were extremely marginal and could have been given either way, particularly the second goal as when Nani received the ball he was more or less on line with the last defender, possibly an arm was offside and after all they do say advantage to the forward. Like I say though both times the flag could have easily gone up and I know for a fact that had the roles been reversed and it had been Chelsea who had the two goals I would of course be annoyed so I can empathise with you on that respect. On another note I totally agree Chelsea can consider themselves unfortunate not have got something out of the game having displayed some very good football and an astute attacking nous, however you do not give United enough credit. Given we had a significantly in-experienced side compared to Chelsea they matched and bettered the Londoners throughout the game and nobody could deny we merited the win, although the scoreline did not begin to tell the story.

    Qualms about refereeing decisions on the day I can understand however what I cannot accept is this utter guff about ‘the refs favouring Unted’. Chelsea fans seem to have very short memories when it comes to this topic, only last year in the league game at Stamford Bridge David Luiz scored when he should have been dismissed for a blatant elbow on Hernandez and Lampard won it through an extememly debatable penalty. Even further back Didier Drogba won the game at Old Trafford in 2010 with a goal that was clearly offside (a good yard offside may I add a lot clearer than both Smalling or Nani). Even yesterday United were denied two clear penalties other than the one they were awarded after Ivanovic handballed it in the area from an Evra cross in the second half and Ashley Cole’s terrible tackle on Hernandez should have seen him sent off and another penalty awarded. Now, I’m not for one minute saying the ‘referee’s favour Chelsea’ as that would be rather hypocritical however what I am saying is the referee’s are only human and they get things wrong on both sides of the coin (two possible offside goals from United and a blatant penalty for Ramires at the end of the 1st leg of the CL qualifier last year), one things for sure it is not all one way traffic.

    As for the ‘loyalty’ comment, what this has to do with the context of this argument I have no idea but let me just list a ‘couple’ of names, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Nemanja Vidic, Ji-Sung Park, Edwin van der Sar, I could go on.

    Yes, loyalty has gone in the modern game.

  4. Five excellent points. The thing with Anderson us that he will give the ball away on occasions due to the fact he always attempts a pass that is taken early and in an attacking manner. He creates a fantastic tempo and has significantly contributed this season in our brilliantly chaotic, at times, attacking style. He has previously only shown flashes of his ability and has appeared to be carrying a little excess timber, however if reports are to be believed he has improved his diet and I feel that the results can be seen in the flair he is playing with. This years style of play may not be as defensively sound as previous sides but the freedom that the team are playing with at the moment is exciting. At times last season I sat at the match and was a little bored, not this year and this is a view shared by those around me at the match. This year will be a roller coaster at times but a fantastic one that will be based around outscoring the opposition. I didn’t think it until this year but Anderson may be a key component who drives the team to great rewards with verve and panache.

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