It makes me feel slightly ill to see Brian Kidd sat on the Manchester City bench, but it was probably him who felt sickest at the end of this match. Although this was certainly not a performance without flaws from United, there was plenty on display to be pleased about. Not to mention of course, that scoring the winner ten seconds from the end is just about the best way you can beat your closest rivals.
The unforgiving vice that is David de Gea’s existence looked to be tightening fatally at half-time. We will all do well to remember that Jaap Stam was made to look like a builder’s skip on his debut in the 1998 Charity Shield and he turned out okay. Although the Spaniard looked like he could have done better with the second, Fergie has been saying all along we need to give the guy time to settle. The fact that he is 20 years old boggles the mind and two of his saves in the second half were highly impressive. I also liked the look of his quick, Schmeichel-like distribution of the ball.
He has plenty of people up front to aim his kicks at anyway. Nani in particular is starting to edge towards awesomeness. Let’s hear it for that second goal of United’s, an absolute beauty and dare I say it, Barcelona-esque. Could this be the culmination of an enormous amount of training pitch work over the summer? I hope so.
The fact that Nani et al were able to pass it around despite the bludgeoning of some of City’s tackling is even more remarkable. Micah Richards is some player, his ability to not get sent off when clearly deserving of a red reminds me of Alan Shearer. I hope they win the same amount of medals.
Smalling and Cleverly were both also excellent but before we get lost in hyperbole let’s try to look realistically at why we conceded twice at the end of a first half we dominated. Frankly, Rio and Evra looked a little of the pace. James Milner made mincemeat of the man that United fans call ‘Postman Patrice’ and it may well be time to install a Da Silva twin at left back more permanently.
It is also hard to escape the feeling that one of the biggest factors behind the victory, yet again, is the indestructible quality of our manager. Fergie can obviously still deliver a teamtalk even if most of his players are younger than most of his suits.
With so much youth on display, lapses in concentration would be understandable, but not on the Scotsman’s watch. United have shown this weekend we have a side which won’t even peak for a couple of years. And they did it by dominating the most expensive team in history. The squad isn’t perfect, but if they can continue to deliver entertainment like then so what? We’re Man United, we do what we like.
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