If you’d told me a few months back that it was Merseyside icon Fernando Torres who’d be turning his back on a NorthWest colossus and seeking pastures anew, whilst Mr Rooney would still be wearing a red shirt, I’d have said you’re on a WUM. Throw into the mix another icon in the making Andy ‘Wor’ Carroll, moving from the GeordieNation to ScouseLand for a fee which makes him the seventh most expensive player of all time… frickin hell, I’ve been saying for quite a while that the Premiership was slightly on the wane and it needed a lil shot in the arm, this was like a Charlie Sheen overdose on viagara then logs on to Fantasy Football, only it wasn’t fantasy.. it was very much real.
1. Still Here, Still The Main Man
Anyway the title of this Blog was not only meant to reflect Rooney staying at United, but also the fact he’s been facing alot of criticism with regards to his constant presence in the side amidst the rapid development of Javier Hernandez. Whilst Rooney’s goalscoring has been the subject of much debate (4 goals), what often goes under the radar is that he has been responsible for 10 assists to Berbatov’s measly 2, considering the calibre of the latters all round game, that is a pretty big gulf.
Yesterday he was at his fiery best and thankfully for the player and the manager alike (who can’t be finding it easy to justify leaving out Chico), he managed a brace of goals, both top drawer. The first an absolute belter after the most classy of first touches (reminscent of his volley against Boro & against Russia for England) and the second an expertly put away left foot volley from an orgasmic Nani delivery. All that was missing was the hat trick goal and he was denied what would’ve been the greatest hat trick goal I can think of, well if not the greatest certainly the hardest hit piledriver Rooney’s struck in quite a while, after some fantastic work by O’Shea (excellent in possession today), United’s No.10 struck it on the half-volley from 25 yards and it was Old Trafford’s nemesis Brad Friedel who somehow kept his wrist intact whilst keeping it out.
2. Giggs In Fantastic Form
If you didn’t know already Ryan Giggs was player of the month for January and if tonight was anything to go by, he’s hungry to make it two months running. The link above is to a fantastic new site, which logs down all of the MOTM performances for United players and is aggregated into a presentable manner, ready to be unwielded whenever a debate arises on the merit of such and such a player. Its produced by none other than Redcafe’s Top (Creator of that Berbatov & Rafa Gif!) and the data is accumulated by fellow blogger Phelan’s Shorts.
Anyway so we know he’s been good, but just how good.. well in 5 out of the last 6 games, Giggs has been rated in the Top Two in terms of performance, which for a man his age is outstanding in terms of consistency. Not to mention in three of those games the side was either struggling (B’pool/Soton) or up against a much-hated rival (L’Pool), which proves he’s not just beating down against opposition who were going easy on us.
Tonight his dribbling was bewitching as always but what really turned me on was his passing, since Giggs has become an elder statesman, he has relied less on his pace, trickery and more on his footballing nous or guile. There were a couple of sumptious through balls to the overlapping Evra and his general spreading of the play was top notch, with Nani hugging the touchline it allows Ryan to be more of a withdrawn wideplayer, an inside forward of sorts and he can playmake in central areas and drift wide when the situation demands it. He plays the role very differently to Park, who’s more of a defensive shield/ball carrier whereas Giggs is still a genuine creative force down that left flank.
3. Winger Watch: Nani v Young
Luis Nani 10/11 Statistics (AllComp): 8 goals, 13 Assists Ashley Young 10/11 Statistics (AC): 6 goals and 6 assists
Before you say anything, yes I’m fully aware that Young has started centrally alot for Villa this season to the extent he can barely be called a winger anymore but tonight as Villa struggled to break down the United defensive line, it was left to Young to deliver in dangerous balls from the wide positions which he managed to do to his credit.
As you can tell from the stats, Nani is having a very productive season, more so than Young but thats not the interesting bit, here’s some more stats to munch on:
- In 2007/2008 Nani produced 3 goals/9 assists to Young’s 8 goals/17 assists
- In 2008/2009, Nani produced 1 goal/4 assists to Young’s 7 goals/9 assists
- In 2009/10 Nani produced 3 goals/10 assists to Young’s 5 goals/11 assists
What these tell us is that Sir Alex had faith that Nani could produce better figures and kept faith in the youngster despite someone like Young who was of a similar age, maturing faster but having peaked as a player far earlier with less scope to develop his game and become an even more potent force. Nani is on the up there is no doubt about it, its finally clicked with him just like it did for his compatriot Ronaldo in 06/07 whereas Young whilst being a pretty productive player in his own right has reached a plateux of sorts, he’s been linked with the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool, but none of the big players in football would seriously be interested in him. He’s a limited player with excellent delivery and a decent shot, whereas Nani has world-class dribbling ability, a potentially amazing delivery and world class shooting ability off either foot, yes his short passing game is still incredibly frustrating but when he gets it right (today 42/48 successful passes) he can be the perfect winger and a league above any wideplayer in the premiership and that includes Gareth Bale.