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Cold, silence and vintage Giggsy – it’s second time lucky against the Hammers

Giggs v WHU FA Cup Jan 2013Ryan Giggs rolled back the years and produced a vintage performance as United moved into the fourth round of the FA Cup after an insipid 1-0 win against West Ham at Old Trafford. The Welshman was one of the few positives of a game in which United never really got going and risked more than they would have liked.

With a trip to White Hart Lane looming large on the horizon, the return from injury of Nani, Wayne Rooney and Anderson meant that despite ringing 10 changes from Sunday’s win against Liverpool, Sir Alex Ferguson could still afford the luxury of fielding a strong-looking team.

Rafael was the only survivor from the weekend, with Smalling, Jones and Buttner completing the back four in front of Lindegaard, Giggs, Anderson, Valencia and Nani in midfield with Rooney and Hernandez up-front.

United were ahead with the first chance of the game, as Anderson marked his return with a superb through ball for Hernandez that split West Ham’s defence wide open, allowing the Mexican to roll the back into Wayne Rooney’s path who dutifully obliged by scoring of the easiest goals of his career.

It was the 66th consecutive time United had scored at Old Trafford against an English opposition, but it was also the almost only highlight of an incredibly dull first half, in which the visitors were too timid to cause any troubles to the home side, while United were totally out rhythm. Nani, in particular, looked well short of match-fitness, perhaps unsurprisingly due to his spell on the sideline, but the Portuguese doesn’t look the player he was last season.

Nor, for that matters, does Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian seems to have lost the spark that had made him arguably the best winger in the league and United will need their wingers to deliver the goods if they’re to be successful this season.

Just before halftime Rooney tried to add to his tally, but Jaaskelainen did well to keep out the United striker’s shot as the game lingered on with both teams and fans seemingly slumbering into a cold-induced trance on and off the pitch. The state of United support at home these days is, to describe it with mild words, a sorry mess and it was embarrassingly bad at times tonight.

The match somewhat improved after the break, mainly thanks to West Ham persistence as they looked for an equaliser. Unfortunately for them, they did so more through sheer will than through an organised effort.

United, though, could have buried the game with the second half barely three minutes old but Hernandez missed a glorious chance one-on-one with Jaaskelainen, after Diarra’s calamitous defending had freed the Mexican in the box. Chicarito was denied by Jaaskelainen fifteen minutes later as he couldn’t muster a strong enough shot to beat the Finnish keeper after another great run from Rafael.

The Brazilian, along with fellow full-back Buttner, delivered another excellent performance, that included a goal-line clearance and a stroke of luck as referee Phil Dowd turned down a penalty appeal against Rafael who had seemingly handballed the ball in the box.

Carrick and Scholes replaced Anderson and Nani, and it was United that found themselves on the right end of a penalty decision twelve minutes from time, when Ryan Giggs produced another fantastic run before his cross brushed against Spence’s outstretched arm.

Wayne Rooney, though, could not convert, as he ballooned his effort over the bar, not the first time his penalty taking has been found wanting in his United career.

The outcome of the games was ultimately not affected by Rooney’s miss as United saw off West Ham’s late efforts to book themselves a date with Fulham in the fourth round. And those that had decided to spend their Wednesday night at Old Trafford – singing or not – were finally put out of their cold misery.


Dan (@MUFC_dan87)




  1. JMan43

    January 16, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    The referee was Dowd not Halsey and if the Rafael handball was no penalty then neither was the one that was given against Spence, but then again it was at Old Trafford, so probably the reason why we didn’t get any of the decisions tonight. I also notice you didn’t mention Scholes’ truly awful tackle that should have had him sent off.

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    • Ian

      January 16, 2013 at 11:07 pm

      Halsey? What are you on about?

      What Scholesy tackle? I didn’t see one.

      • Opti

        January 17, 2013 at 1:30 am

        @Ian: Scholes slid in late to topple over a West Ham player… 88th minute or something like that. Scholes trailing leg knocked him over but it was not a red card… not even close.

  3. Redrich

    January 17, 2013 at 4:52 am

    The big question is; is Giggs getting better or is the rest of the team getting worse??

    Giggs was clearly the MOM, again, and not by a an eyelash.

    I was hoping that Anderson could at least take control with his speed and his aggression, but no. We see now that the most important asset on the pitch is “intellect”. Not god-given-gifts, nor the ability to control the ball or the ever abundant reserve of energy.

    I’m going on record right now to say that Rooney is the most mentally challenged Striker on earth.
    His decision making, on and off the pitch, is completely abysmal. It’s not just a little marginal, the fucking guy is dealing with a short deck, I tell you.
    Paid the very best, and apparently because he is the best, he is now risking his whole career by not living up to his potential.
    Maybe that potential was a fallacy and that his contract was just a good bit of business by his agent. Maybe, perhaps and, as we now see, more than likely.

    He has turned into a shrinking violet that wilts when pressure gets to him.
    World Cup, Euro Cup, Leading the United Line – it all takes it’s toll on his libido. Surrounded by syncopaths and Ferguson’s kind words, he has become deluded about his own abilities and that has effected his play.

    To me, Rooney is at the most crucial point in his career. If he overcomes his delusions he might regain the vital-ness that defined his earlier years. However if he continues on his road to stardom, he will be absorbed by the periphery, and his usefulness to the game of Football will be compromised – almost daily.

  4. AndyCR7

    January 17, 2013 at 5:26 am

    It’s about time we assign RvP as our penalty taker. Rooney has missed 5 of his last 9.

    • The_Philosopher

      January 17, 2013 at 7:12 am

      @AndyCR7: Yeah Rooney has earned his banishment from taking penalties.

      Any one can take them just not Rooney.

      Oh I know why don’t we let our other super striker who not only has ice running through his veins but is also our top scorer! He has scored about 20 goals this season. I think he knows a thing or two about put balls away.

      Chicha should also get a chance when he’s on the pitch.

      • AndyCR7

        January 17, 2013 at 7:25 am

        @The_Philosopher: RvP used to take them for Arsenal and if I’m not wrong chicha take them for mexico. So we should give others chance apart from Rooney and Nani.

  5. The_Philosopher

    January 17, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Our squad really is great. And Ferguson knows how to use it.

    I’m happy Guardiola has gone off to Bayern. It means we get to enjoy Sir Alex for a few more years and we get to see how good Guardiola realy is.

    The only 2 things I can ask for with regard to our squad is a younger deputy for Carrick. Anderson and Cleverley are not Michael Carricks. And a left footed left wing. Nani is the closest thing we have to that and he prefers playing on the right.

    Anderson’s pass to Chicha for our only goal was great. Chicha’s first touch and subsequent low cross were superb. What a player Hernandez is! I am so excited by this kid!

    People say that “van Persie is gonna win us the title this year,” I say, “Hold your horses there little britches. Chicharito has won us a couple key games himself!”

    The combination of van Persie, Chicharito and Rooney in our striking line up is the decisive factor win our title charge.

    Smalling and Jones put in a good shift according to Sir Alex. Thats great to see them coming along so nicely. Its good to have solid back up for Vida and Ferdinand.

    Yes Dan our wingers do need to deliver the goods if we’re to be successful. So Nani needs to find his form but we also need to find a winger who has as much natural talent as Nani has. Valencia depends too much on hustle and speed. And and as he starts aging his edge that you say is missing will start to slip away permanently.

    Wilfred Zaha is the man of the moment right now. I don’t know about his quality but I’m eager to get someone in. My faith in Young is lost. And Valencia is a waning star.

    Ferguson knows how to use his squad. What a great manager he is.

    Good win.

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