There’s no substitute for experience, although energy and enthusiasm are going a long way at Old Trafford at the moment.
Sir Alex may not be able to call on the likes of Edwin van der Sar, Paul Scholes or Gary Neville anymore, but in the place of cool heads the boss now has pace, power and, judging by this performance, no small amount of panache.
Against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Monday night, United’s kids – we can call them that: the side Sir Alex sent out was the second youngest he’s ever fielded in the Premier League – ruled the roost and goals from Danny Welbeck, Anderson and Wayne Rooney handed the Reds a victory built as much on vim and vigour as patient passing or tough tackling.
There was also beauty. Anderson’s goal was pure pleasure, a simple finish after a crisp passing move and a cheeky backheel by Welbeck tore open the Tottenham defence to leave space for the Brazilian to blaze through the middle. That came sandwiched between two headers: Welbeck’s opener and Rooney’s second goal of the season, three minutes from time.
But while United were certainly brilliant at times, Tottenham were in this game for long periods – scores were level until 61 minutes – and played a pivotal role in an entertaining, end-to-end affair. The Reds started brightest, though, creating a pair of half-chances inside two minutes, before Tom Cleverley’s low side-footed effort drew a fantastic finger-tip save from Brad Friedel as United ramped up the early pressure.
Spurs gradually gained a foothold, although failed to test David De Gea on his competitive home debut until the 21st minute when Gareth Bale’s tame shot was fielded easily by the Spaniard down by his near post.
At the other end, Nani’s pace and trickery was causing plenty of problems for both Spurs full-backs and Young went close with a clever looping header just before the half-hour mark. De Gea’s next examinations came when Nico Kranjcar and then Rafael van der Vaart blasted efforts at goal from the edge of the area. He passed with flying colours, on both occasions showing strong, safe hands. Just as impressive was the Spaniard’s composure with the ball at his feet. On numerous occasions, with Tottenham forwards bearing down on him at speed, he kept his cool and picked out red shirts with accurate Edwin-esque distribution.
Despite both sides playing entertaining football at a good tempo and regularly swapping possession (MU 48% TH 52%) and goal attempts (MU 7 TH 8) in the first 45 minutes, the match remained scoreless as the teams trotted down the tunnel.
Friedel, diving down to his right, denied Young shortly after the interval before making an equally impressive double-save to keep out left-footed efforts from Anderson and Rooney.
But there was nothing the big American could do about Welbeck’s opener as the young forward rose high and glanced Cleverley’s curling right-wing cross into the corner of the net from six yards. Danny hadn’t set the game alight until then, but he took his chance when it mattered and proved why Sir Alex has shown so much faith in him at the beginning of this season.
Rooney, who had imposed himself more and more after the break, then went close with a curling free-kick from the angle of the penalty area that Friedel just managed to claw away, before Welbeck’s acrobatic overhead kick nestled safely in the experienced goalkeeper’s arms.
United were hungry for more and duly doubled the advantage when Anderson scored an early contender for goal of the season when he side-footed home from 12 yards to round off a delightful passing move.
Rooney’s close-range header, after Jermaine Defoe had blasted against the post at the other end – then added a bit of polish to the scoreline, with Giggs, sent on as a late substitute, providing the assist with a pinpoint cross from the edge of the area. It was almost as if Ryan was proving there’s still room for experience amongst this exciting new crop of talent. For now, though, the youngsters deserve all the plaudits.
You are next Gunners!
Get set for some GLORIFIED THRASHING next Sunday
Glory Glory ManUnited!
Neva Say Die!
Neva Give Up!