In my younger and more vulnerable years a football coach gave me some simple but very effective advice. “Just hit it towards the goal Mark.” It was a philosophy that has carried me through my life of running across football pitches, and indeed watching games too. On many, many occasions, I have found myself watching a TV screen and shouting the words; “Just shoot!!” I could never be an Arsenal fan.
This advice, it would seem, has been shared with many a young footballer on the British Isles, including the venerable Peter Crouch. For a number of reasons, Crouchy has been a secret favourite of mine for a while. I like the way he confounds expectations and shows flashes of skill that defy his critics. These are qualities that I value. But I love him even more this weekend because he scored that screamer of a goal to break Citeh hearts. It reminded me a lot of Cantona’s goal against Wimbledon in the 1993/94 season.
Crouch is often called a scruffy and ungainly player, and those words could easily be used to describe United’s performance against Fulham. It was another unconvincing display for the 2011/2012 collection but our points and goals totals are still remarkable.
For the large part, United were severely lacking in the midfield during this contest. Carrick and Giggs didn’t communicate enough and the dastardly Danny Murphy had far too much room in the centre.
There was the distinct impression that a team adventurous enough to attack us, as Bilbao did, might have had more joy in causing us trouble. The side has, on several occasions this season, resembled a donut with its lack of middle.
The United midfield against Fulham (C) Krispy Kreme
At the moment, Rooney is at the heart of every victory. His goal scoring form is phenomenal right now and that makes it 17 goals in 17 games. Over in Spain, Ronaldo has 101 in 92 appearances. I long for the days when those two were in the same side.
This campaign has been built on the back of Rooney’s goals, decent development of the defensive players, and Fergie’s formidable management. Several times in recent years, you could have put the Scot in charge of any of the top three and that side would have won the league.
At Old Trafford right now, one of the biggest dilemmas is choosing which wingers to play. With Young and, in particular, Valencia in this kind of form, will we even have room for Nani when he returns?
These are excellent problems to have and this could be our best crop of wingers since that famous double team of the early 90s. That was a turgid victory against Fulham though, and this side has a long way to go before it reaches the same level in my affections.
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