Contribution by Jack Rawlinson
Despite what the half time score line may have suggested, today’s early kick off saw Manchester United play some good football, with only their own errors leading to them being two goals worse off at the interval. In the end, the stats will show that the team that won the match did in fact deserve to, dominating in every area of play. Here’s how the players’ individual performances ranked today.
Tomasz Kuszczak: 6
Man United’s stand in keeper, a late inclusion due to Van Der Sar injuring his groin, had very little to do all afternoon, yet still found himself picking the ball out of the back of his net twice. He also claimed the ball well in the air when he was called upon.
Fabio Da Silva: 6
The young Brazilian was playing out of his preferred position due to injuries, but he looked lively whenever he had possession. He helped Valencia out frequently down the right hand side, and looked particularly strong in the second half as they game swung further in United’s favour. He did well in the build up to United’s penalty with his cross coming back off of Upson’s arm.
Patrice Evra: 4.5
This really was an afternoon the French international will want to forget. Caught out of position in the lead up to West Ham’s first penalty, he managed to get back to try to defend against Carlton Cole, only to raise his arms and concede a penalty. The fact he was substituted at half time, despite not looking to be carrying a knock, pretty much says it all.
Despite his relative inexperience, Smalling has looked rock solid in United’s back line for the past couple of weeks. It was no different against the Hammers, where he continued his good form, and was unlucky not to get on the score sheet, after going close with an early header.
Nemanja Vidic: 5
In his first game back after injury, the captain didn’t have the best of days. Lucky to stay on the pitch for 90 minutes after several risky fouls, particularly on Demba Ba when he looked to be the last man, Vidic himself will know he has had, and will have, much better days in a United shirt. The decision to award a penalty for a foul on Cole remains contentious, with debate as to whether or not it occurred inside the box or not.
With players in the United ranks seeming to be picking up injuries for fun of late, it’s great to see Valencia back after his own nightmare, and performing to such a high standard. He persistently threatened West Ham, who at times looked like they would never get the ball off of him. His delivery into the box was consistently good, and United will think themselves unlucky not to have made the most of it.
Ryan Giggs: 7
At 37, it is amazing that nobody is surprised at the level of performance Ryan till produces. They are simply used to him pulling on a United shirt and doing the business. He was a big part of the United resurgence after the break, and weighed in with an assist for Chicharito’s goal at the end.
Michael Carrick will probably feel he could have made more of an impact on the game. With Paul Scholes out suspended, United were crying out for someone to bring composure in the middle, yet Carrick struggled to impose his range of passing for a sustained period. Despite showing good intent at times, whenever he did manage to advance up the pitch, his efforts on goal were high, wide and handsome.
Darron Gibson: 6
Gibson did well defensively and certainly worked well to win back possession when United lost it. However, with an opportunity to really stake a claim for a place, he didn’t make too big an impact. Occasionally, he managed to get forward and have a go at goal, but the screamer we have come to expect every time his right boot hits the ball failed to materialise.
Ji-Sung Park: 7
Ji has been out for quite a while, not featuring for United since returning from his exploits at the Asia Cup with South Korea. However, against West Ham, he showed the energy and effort that typifies a Ji sung Park performance. He pressed and probed well up until his substitution, and United will certainly be glad to have him back for the run-in.
Wayne Rooney: 7
Inevitably, Rooney’s hat trick will be the big story from the game. However, despite scoring the goals that turned the game in United’s favour, it wasn’t a vintage Rooney performance. That said, he showed his great class and technical ability to execute the free-kick, and his second goal showed the touch and finish of the Rooney we all know. A nerveless penalty will also act as a signal that Rooney is nearly back to his old self.
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez: 7
The ‘little pea’ showed once again why he has been such a revelation this season. On for Patrice Evra in the second half, he nearly scored with a flick after his lightning pace allowed him to sneak in behind defenders to meet a cross from the left. He proved a constant threat, and was again in the right place at the right time to poke home his 17th United goal of the season.
Dimitar Berbatov: 6
When Dimitar Berbatov plays, you are guaranteed class, control and composure whenever he is on the ball. Though he never managed to add to his 20 goals this season, he managed to create a few opportunities for himself, and showed several moments of combined audacity and brilliance. He linked play well, and played his part in the time he was on the field.
Nani only came on for the final few minutes, and time added on. He did well to hold the ball up in the short time he was on the field, and helped United see out their win. Hopefully, the break will mean he is fresh for the huge games United have, coming thick and fast for the rest of the season.
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