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Evans Inspires United In Nervy Win Over Braga

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SC Braga arrived at Old Trafford last night undefeated in their 5 previous European clashes with English clubs, so everybody knew an under-strength Manchester United were in for a tough test against their Portuguese Champions League rivals.

However I doubt anybody expected the Red Devils to be 2-0 down within 20 minutes!

Sir Alex Ferguson took a real risk by resting Rio Ferdinand, choosing instead to replace the veteran centre-half with midfielder Michael Carrick, and early on it seemed United would pay for this decision. United have really been hit by injuries to the back four this season and Carrick never really looked comfortable in defence and at times this coupled with Alexander Buttner’s inexperience seemed to cause poor Johnny Evans some real frustration. 

Despite the leaky defence and a little bit of class from Braga Captain Alan seeing United concede two goals so early, the home side showed real heart to come back from two behind for the win. Javier ‘Chichartio’ Hernandez was on top form and will surely give Sir Alex a selection headache after pretty much single-handedly rescuing United from the jaws of defeat. He was definitely the stand out forward for me and was realistically the only attacking threat United had, with Robin van Persie throwing away far too many efforts and Rooney being almost anonymous. 

Some praise has to go to Nani who really seemed to change the dynamic of the game after his introduction after the break. Shinji Kagawa played OK but was bullied by the Portuguese side at times and the introduction of the want-away winger and really added some width and flair to the United attack. However, I’m sure the hairdryer treatment from Sir Alex during half time definitely played its part!

The defence were a real problem for me but a special mention has to be given for Evans not only for his goal but his leadership at the back. Evans was constantly talking to the defenders and made some vital clearances and has really come into his own over the last few seasons.

I have written previously that he was reaching a make or break period in his career at United and thankfully he seems to have flourished whilst filling in for injuries to Rio and Nemanja Vidic over the last few seasons. He has definitely got a strong future ahead of him at Old Trafford.

I hate to do this, as everyone seems to pounce upon his smallest error and blow it out of proportion, but I am still not totally sold on David De Gea. I know he is still young (well 21 is extremely young for a goalkeeper) but he never seems totally confident or secure between the sticks and I find my heart entering my mouth at times when the ball nears him.

He made some really dodgy decisions in the last 10 minutes that could have allowed Braga back in to snatch a point. Anders Lindergaard really impressed me last season and I think perhaps it’s time Sir Alex gave him another run in the first team to prove his worth, once he returns from injury.  

A very hit and miss performance from United in my opinion but an interesting game nonetheless. United are now sure to qualify from the Group stages but can they realistically challenge the best in the world for the Champions League? I’m not so sure. 

By James Baylis @ImBongoChrist

1 thought on “Evans Inspires United In Nervy Win Over Braga”

  1. A very balanced piece I thought. Especially about Rooney who was poor in possession and yet again went thru a game without an effort on goal worth the name, he is awful and a long way from the player we have seen as his best. I'd drop him.

    Kagawa was also poor apart from one cross and seems to be lost in the winger less formation.

    Fletcher tried hard but didn't influence much.

    This was not United at our best ( I hope)

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