During the build up to the game against Liverpool this weekend, much of the talk was about the return of Liverpool’s inspirational skipper, Steven Gerrard and the impact Wayne Rooney’s three game suspension would have on England.
And because of this it made Sir Alex’s team selection even more of shock.
To leave both Rooney and Hernandez on the bench raised more than a few eyebrows, and led to suggestions of an overly defensive approach, not to mention criticism of the wrong team selection. Before jumping on the bandwagon that Fergie got it wrong, it cannot be forgotten that players were just back from a hard international break, Rooney had a more torrid time than most and Welbeck has been on a prolific run of form when he has played this season.
Fergie also evidently had one eye on the trip to Bucharest this week, with the admittance that although it is not time to panic, United’s Euro campaign has not gone the way they had hoped thus far, with two draws and a very sloppy performance last time out against Basel at Old Trafford. For that trip, Rooney and Hernandez are more than likely to start as it is vital for United to pick up at least one, if not all three points.
For all the criticism levelled at the team selection, Welbeck more than justified his inclusion, providing the assist for the equalising goal scored by Hernandez after he came on as a substitute and looking lively throughout the time he was on the field. Although a point may be seen as a disappointment by United fans, especially with City’s convincing win, the fact remains that United have played Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool at Anfield and Stoke at the Britannia, non-of which are easy games, and with City still to play all of these games as well as visit Old Trafford this week, we are only two points behind our local rivals.
For City’s part they will be looking forward to the game this week, visiting Old Trafford as league leaders and contenders for the first time, and should make the most of their moment in the spotlight. The real test for City comes at the start of December, with Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Arsenal and Stoke to play in the space of a month.
Should they still be leading the table after these games, then we may have something to seriously worry about.
Until then, our focus must now turn to the Champions league and a must win game this week.