By Tom Pattison
Earlier this season in the midst of speculation surrounding his future I wrote a blog on Michael Carrick’s position at Manchester United. This coincided with a joyful upsurge in Carrick’s form which happily made my article appear at best premature and at worst foolish. I dearly hope this entry suffers the same fate.
Yesterday as I watched our feted number ten fail to find feet yet again with a simple pass, Andy Gray turned out the kind of searing insight that has made his a rich man from Murdoch’s millions; ‘That’s just the way things are going at the minute.’ No doubt Jamie and Richard in the studio were mesmerised by the Scotsman’s analysis but quite frankly I’m fed up of it. Not Andy Gray – I tired of Mr ‘Take a bow, son’ long ago. I’m tired of the constant excuses for our supposed star player’s wretched performances in a red shirt since that disappointing night in Bavaria. The fact is Gray’s comment could have been made any time during the last six months where he has been actively playing football for Man United. I refuse to console myself with the view that the Murdoch media spin that ‘he just needs one to go in’.
If the last couple of months had seen him create and miss a litany of chances I would be quick to jump to his defence. Yesterday he missed a couple of chances yes, but most inexcusable was a pass completion of 50%. In reality this means that he was as valuable to Tottenham yesterday as us. Detailed to play in his favoured role of creative second striker Rooney managed to find a Spurs with half of his passes and was eventually cast out to the right side. I would like to know how badly he needs to play to be hauled off but I guess his engine was deemed useful to pin back Bale. In effect he was reduced to filling the gap left by Park Ji Sung like a Scouse Dirk Kuyt. Just imagine instead of Wayne Rooney this was Andy Cole twelve years ago – the condemnation and mockery would be deafening. We have tried sending him to fat camp. We have told him well done for a mumbled sort-of-apology on Pravda. We have hailed a possibly mis-directed header against West Brom as if it was Cantona at St James Park. We have returned him to the starting line-up immediately regardless of the fine form of Chicharito.
I don’t really have an answer to this. It upsets me to see a player so ruthlessly effective for much of last season reduced to a passenger in the current side. Thank god for his sake we are still managing to be successful or else I suspect it would be more than this disgruntled teacher at the end of a long day sticking the boot in. When the news came that the fiasco was over and Our Wayne had signed on to stay as a Red I felt empty and oddly not even relieved. It felt like something had changed that was potentially irreparable, more questions remained than had been answered and I can’t shift that sense that ‘one going in’ wouldn’t spark the resurgence in form that would comfortably carry us to number 19. My greatest hope is the mooted February return for Valencia provides the tonic and we can look forward to a golden end to the season feasting on magnificent headers and laughing at that stupid blogger who dared to question Manchester’s finest. Here’s hoping.
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