Disappointed are we? Don’t be too disheartened, through defeat we find positives and here I am, new to Red Rants to throw some out there for you.
Surely starting with the impressive Scott Wootton is the only way to get this going? Given his chance after his continued progress in the U21’s side the centre-half effortlessly fitted in alongside Chris Smalling.
Smalling, who looked shaky at times throughout was continuously helped out by 21 year old Wootton who to me looked as comfortable and composed as possible. I recall only once that he made a mistake, selling Buttner short on a pass but without hesitation rushed back to make a glorious last ditch tackle on Sougou, who certainly was going to give De Gea a test.
Jonny Evans began his growth in to the first team around the same age as Wootton currently is and we are all now seeing how well Evans has progressed from the back end of last season to the full of this campaign so far. Have we got another Jonny Evans case in Wootton here? It’s certainly something to think about. For me, Scott was quite clearly man of the match.
Focusing on the game itself, it felt like Carrow Road all over again. Stuck in first gear with no real attempt to push on until the final ten or so minutes. Not to say we didn’t create any chances though.
Cluj made it tough. Without the ball they dropped to a back five with another four providing an extra shield. As Norwich did they worked hard to win the ball back quickly, always pressing the holder of the ball and were quite happy to let us send the ball out to the wings. Jones had numerous attempts from the right but failed to find a United head.
Jones, still on his comeback from injury did well throughout though and deserves a mention. Neat foot work from start to finish and a desire to power forward will always please the fans and his link-up play with Rooney was also attractive on the eye.
Cleverley’s injury was unfortunate but still showed what he is capable of. Like Jones, he had the quick feet to manoeuvre himself past and away from opposition players and looked a threat. His neat pass to set Hernandez through was precise and the only occasion in which we managed to get through the Cluj defence.
Impressive as Nick Powell has been, I feel tonight he tried too hard to impress although unlucky not to score. A deflected effort in the first half could easily have flown in to the net. His passing was hit and miss (a tad harsh perhaps) but at 18 he’ll always have a lot to learn.
With Paul Scholes beside him for an hour tonight he’s easily in the best hands to get his head down and absorb the clear genius that the ‘ginger prince’ still has.
Beyond the praise of our players a mention must go to Cluj goalkeeper Mario Felgueiras. Solid from first whistle to the last. If he hadn’t mentioned to keep out Welbeck’s first half header with an unorthodox save the result may have been different. He was also very decisive in coming out to claw the ball at first from Hernandez’ feet and then later with time running out, also at the feet of Macheda.
I’m sure at the age of 25. We may see a lot more of him.
The goal cannot be picked at unless to be extremely pedantic and feel that Smalling should’ve run towards him to block. That said, even I (Smalling alike I suppose) didn’t think that Luis Alberto would try his luck from that distance. It was a goal I’m sure any United player on the field tonight would’ve been proud to score.
Even at full time, Wayne Rooney gave acknowledgement to the goal scorer.
What does this mean for Sunday? Nothing from where I’m sitting. A completely different game, atmosphere and mentality. I’m excited for the game and quietly confident. I mean, what a way to stop our defensive critics with a clean sheet and three points, eh?
Asking for too much I suppose but we’ll see. For now, that’s all from me.