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Brilliant ‘Never Say Die’ United Win Thriller At Villa Park

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In a case of déjà vu, the sight of Javier Hernandez heading in a winner at Villa Park evoked memories of Ryan Giggs v Arsenal, or more vividly Federico Macheda scoring the winner against Villa, a 3-2 win reversing a losing position characterizes this Manchester United team.

Repeating my previous article about the Braga game, this was also a game of 3 halves, each about 30 minutes long.

In the first of these, United played possession football without ever really threatening the Villa goal. During this period the play fitted with the season in that we looked vulnerable to Villa attacks which were generally on the break, as our wingers left our fullbacks exposed and Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes defended badly.

During this period the tactic that upset us so much in early season was that long diagonal ball with a taller forward jumping against our short fullbacks and Villa used that to good effect. As a result Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling were pulled apart exposing the heart of our defence.

In fact our wingers failed up-field too with Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia both failing to press on, such that Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie were starved of balls into the box, causing Rooney to come deep, too far from Van Persie to be a threat or a link man. The shape was wrong despite being our favoured 4-4-2.

In a 4-4-2 shape there is huge reliance on the 2 central midfielders and in that first 30 minutes it became clear that Scholes is starting to slow clear signs of decline. Bad passes joined bad tackles and Carrick caught the disease as the game wore on.

In the second period Villa scored twice, halftime came and went, and Sir Alex Ferguson withdrew Young, who had suffered the abuse of his former crowd in a manner most undeserving for a player that made 150+ appearances for them and made them a shed load of money when he departed for a bigger club. But on this day it was hard to see how he deserved his promotion as his return to the first team at United precedes his return to form.

Once Young had gone, and Villa had taken control at 2-0, the 4-4-2 formation took control of the game and in the final 30 minutes we saw the best of Man United.

Valencia suddenly saw Javier Hernandez and Van Persie play closer together and that bigger target made the right side our major threat. Scholes started pinging passes to Valencia and he fired them across goal with Rooney picking up the over-hit balls on the left.

Chicarito might have scored 3 goals (yes i know the stats say 2) but Van Persie also should have had 2 as he rattled the bar twice. We blew Villa away in the manner most expected before kick off and Tom Cleverley for Scholes was a move that brought more energy to the midfield and will have the red headed maestro thinking about his future I suspect.

This might well be his last season as his performance had some echoes of that fateful Gary Neville finale at Stoke where flashes of greatness mingled with the effects of old man time.

Giggs in Braga also looked to have reached that same point, and nobody likes to see that great boxer end his career with a beating, or great players become average, or poor, by simply sticking around too long.

Once United equalized there was a dawning inevitability that Villa would join the ranks of clubs that are being beaten by this never say die United team, who just roll on and on.

In the end the excitement of yet another win, in a season where we just don’t know how to draw, takes us 4 points clear at the top as Christmas appears on the horizon.

There remains no doubt that this United team is great in attack and weak in defence, but the history of just going out and scoring more than we concede is the one that makes us Manchester United fans. For that we are never disappointed and always thankful.

Oh United we do, United we love you.

By Steve Burrows CBE @ifollowsteve

4 thoughts on “Brilliant ‘Never Say Die’ United Win Thriller At Villa Park”

  1. I think you'll find young got a hard time for his ridiculous cheating theatrical dive last season on his first appearance for his new employer against his old employer. When Rooney scored the ensuing penalty Young was the first to jump all over rooney . So youll excuse villas welcome back this time.Great win for utd which cannot be said for utds 'fans' who sang 'let him die' in reference to stilian Petrov s 1 minute of applause in the 19th minute and also disrupted the minute of rememberance. Sometimes there are more important things but you probably can't see the big picture.

  2. spot on Chris, young disrespected us with that dive and celebration, prior to that game he was welcomed back at VP

  3. I can understand Villa fans booing Young based on those reasons given. If there were any United fans who sung the chants that Chris has said then clearly they were a small minority of the travelling United support, whom after Munich 'n all I doubt would sing anything nasty towards Petrov who even before his illness was a fine role-model as a footballer.

    Villa now need to carry on their performance from this game for the rest of the season as with 3-4 additions in January you should finish comfortably in mid-table. Bannan in midfield was outstanding for you and whilst Weimann grabbed the headlines with his goals it was his work-rate that impressed. Let's hope for your sake Bent can get back and scoring goals as if he can get you 10-15 goals you're be OK this season.

  4. I read this morning that Bentekes form could mean Bent is on his way. How can that be? This guy scores wherever he goes and imagine how a Liverpool would covet such a goal machine.

    I also hear Huntelaar is on his way to Anfield in January, he is also a goal machine.

    Any news on these rumours?

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