In the spirit of the great American holiday known as Thanksgiving, here are five things I’m thankful for from our win over Rangers:
1) Rangers’ lack of serious bite.
The home side did have some chances, but in part to injury issues that rival ours, didn’t test our back line as I expected they would, especially in the second half. All the better, since it allowed us to show our own intent early and often without putting ourselves at serious risk like we have often this season.
2) Fergie’s lineup selection at the back.
It was important to have the trio of Smalling, Evans, and Fabio all in the starting XI together so that they can build that chemistry with one another, and they did what was asked of them. For them to get that experience, to go into a hostile environment in a key situation and hold their own, will pay big dividends in the near future.
3) That we kept pushing for the win and duly got what we deserved.
Yes, we could have and should have been ahead earlier, and not just because of the clear penalty that wasn’t given early on. But even though the situation would be the same win or draw, we didn’t sit back late and just play out the stalemate.
Instead we kept coming forward, and it was rewarded, thanks to Fabio’s face being in the wrong place at the right time. And we could have added to that lead as well.
4) That Rooney got on the scoresheet.
Who else was going to take that penalty? His performance merited a goal, and when it came time to deliver in a pressure situation, he did so calmly and coolly. (np) Sure, he’s still looking for his first goal from open play this season, and there’s still rust. But we saw more of what we need to see from him, exuberant celebration included.
It’s too early to say he’s back and that he’s redeemed himself, but it all certainly qualifies a step in the right direction for both.
5) What ode to Thanksgiving would be complete without giving thanks to good health (oh, the irony…)? Or slightly improved, at least.
We’re still dealing with injury issues, but our depth is gradually getting a boost, and when that huge stretch comes in a few weeks, we should be in an even better position.
It’s big for Rooney to go the full 90 in his second appearance back, Giggsy was back in the starting lineup after an extended absence, and having Fabio fit and available is significant as well, especially with Patrice Evra having his ups and downs this season…not to mention an eye on a move, apparently. Not to say the youngster will displace him as first choice anytime soon, but it’ll make it easier to give him a regular rest when there’s a quality backup option to turn to.
Now, if only someone could find where Dimitar Berbatov left his scoring boots and his confidence, we’d really be set.