A week ago the papers would have had you believe the walls were caving in and the game against Man City was set to be the final nail in the coffin that was our season.
Back to back losses against Blackburn and Newcastle meant we had allowed Man City to open up an insurmountable 3 point gap in the league and with the 6-1 defeat in October fresh in mind, they were about to give us a hiding in the FA Cup too.
The return of a ginger fella named Paul Scholes and goals from Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck meant we dumped the FA Cup holders out, now we just had to get back to winning ways in the league.
Bolton were the ideal team to play in that respect. The win against City, a 5-0 mauling earlier in the season coupled with their poor form and relegation woes meant that we should have gone into the game full of confidence and it showed so here are 5 things we noticed from the 3-0 win over Bolton.
Some talked down Paul Scholes return as a step backward but I wonder how many of those people were going crazy when he swept home just before half time?
For all the fuss that was made about Henry’s return, this was just as impressive if not more when looking at the caliber of opposition. In his first game at Old Trafford since his return it was Scholes that popped up to break the deadlock.
It appeared the game was heading in ‘that’ direction as we were wasteful in front of goal and Rooney missed a penalty. Bolton would inevitably start growing in confidence as long as the score stayed level but Scholes popped up at the back post to give United the lead.
There is still some rust to be shaken loose but anyone that can’t see his addition to the team as a positive probably needs their eyes checked!
If we are going to salute Scholes then we have to salute Carrick too! Carrick is(was) a frequent outlet for anger from fans, with many often finding fault with his work but this season he has turned that around.
For the past few months has there been a more consistent player?
In the middle of the park he shields the defence as well as pulling the strings with his passing. If you haven’t seen it already have a look at this.
In a game where he did so well it was only right his performance was rewarded with a goal and he duly got the third bending a left footed effort around a defender into the bottom corner where Bogdan couldn’t reach it.
Long may his good run of form continue!
Another player that is often criticised, Evans’ performance yesterday should be praised.
It is often said that Evans always looks like he has a mistake in him but yesterday he was calm and confident.
Evans has had a much better season than last year and beyond the red card against City, he hasn’t really given us much cause for concern.
Earlier in his United career his trajectory gave us the impression he would be sensational, he has been knocked slightly off course but I, like many others, still have the faith that he will be a very good center back. Performances like yesterday confirm that.
He brought the ball out from defence well and could be counted on to clean up when Bolton did threaten. Hopefully he can continue to build on these solid performances.
In one of our earlier podcasts I remember not being too happy with Antonio Valencia’s performances. He had become predictable and was lacking that something that endeared him to us in his debut season.
Since then he has been brilliant with yesterday one of his best performances in a United shirt and rightfully he was named MOTM by a few sources. Speaking after the game Patrice Evra said:
“I think he ate a motor, he was unbelievable! “I don’t know the left-back of Bolton, but I’m sure he had muscle problems after the game. Antonio’s so powerful. “It’s just great to see Antonio back [on the wing] and in great form.”
And it’s true, Valencia gave Ricketts a torrid time with his powerful running.
He put numerous brilliant crosses into the box and only God knows how he didn’t end the game with at least 1 assist.
He is an option at right back but is much more dangerous as a right winger as he showed yesterday. This is the Valencia we all love and when he is like this he is unplayable, Ashley Cole will attest to that.
Seeing analysis of Rooney’s performance yesterday is interesting to say the least. Some have described his performance as awful but I feel that is well off the mark.
We have seen ‘awful’ Rooney (early part of last season), when he is awful he is as useful to the team as a one legged man but yesterday, although it wasn’t one of his better performances, he wasn’t terrible.
Yes he missed a penalty, the 4th in the last 8 he has taken, but he played a part in 2 goals and worked very well with Welbeck.
His missed open goal wasn’t the easiest chance, yet for a player like Rooney you will always expect him to hit the back of the net in that situation.
This just goes to show how football works, last week he was top of the world with two goals against City but now he is being talked down after an average performance against Bolton.
I just hope he finds his shooting boots with a trip to Arsenal next!
The game looked like it could have been a frustrating one until Scholes opened the scoring. Even then there was still the off chance they could have got one back, so to win 3-0 was a relief as it looked like the ball didn’t want to go into the net.
We did it after the last game and will do it again today; Danny Welbeckis becoming a brilliant player for United. He was all over the pitch today, working hard as he always does, and it was brilliant to see him get his goal (even if he got injured in the process).
There was a time when a lot of fans were unsure about him, but I think now there is no doubting his quality and this is made even better by the fact he is a Manchester boy that has risen through the ranks at the club.
Just as an extra kick did anyone else notice that after Rooney missed the open goal, Welbeck ran over and picked him up? That for me symbolises Welbeck as a player, no stopping until the job is done and constantly looking out for the team.
It was also good to have Rafael back in the team, a settled defence is essential to any title challenge. He played well yesterday down the right flank and if he can finally stay clear of injury (how many times have we said this?) there is no doubting he can develop into a quality right back.
We are back level with City again and are 3 goals closer to them in terms of goal difference, anyone that thought the title race was over because we were 3 points behind them must feel foolish now!