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RVP and Hernandez lay down United’s New Year’s resolution

1Manchester United hit the ground running in 2013 with a comprehensive 4-0 win at Wigan, to maintain their seven-point lead at the top of the table as they picked up their third win in four matches over the festive period.

Unlike the majority of us that spent the last few days committing to New Year’s resolutions likely to come unstuck within less than a month, Sir Alex Ferguson had been plotting his since last summer when he signed Robin Van Persie. The move has paid enormous dividends so far as the Dutchman produced yet another sublime performance.

Having picked up only their fourth clean sheet of the campaign against West Bromwich on Saturday, United rang five changes for their trip to the DW Stadium. Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Javier Hernandez and Robin Van Persie started in place of Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic, Antonio Valencia, Shinji Kagawa and Danny Welbeck as United returned to a more familiar 4-4-2.

Footballers can no longer indulge in festive mood on New Year’s Eve but nevertheless United looked sluggish and disjointed in the first half an hour, perhaps unconsciously wary of the threat posed by a seemingly routine fixture at this time of the year, for they were beaten at home by Blackburn 12 months ago.

Having lost 14 of their last 15 league encounters against United, Wigan were looking for consecutive wins against their neighbours and controlled much of the possession in the early exchanges as United struggled to control the tempo of the game, with Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley not their usual brilliant selves.

As it’s often the case against a side like United, capitalising when on top is of pivotal importance. Wigan, however, failed to conjure any concrete opportunities and were punished after 36 minutes when Javier Hernandez netted a trademark poacher goal to put United ahead.

Jonny Evans’ cross from the left flank found Patrice Evra’s unmarked in the Wigan box, the French scuffed his first attempt but had a second bite of the cherry, forcing a good save from Al-Habsi who could parry the ball in the path of Javier Hernandez. The Mexican, who had had a goal previously ruled out for off-side, made no mistake, slotting the ball in the back of the net.

2Seven minutes later, Robin Van Persie produced the sort of goal that will draw yet more comparison between him and Eric Cantona for the flair, poise and panache with which the Dutchman brought down Hernandez’s pass, shifted the ball onto his left foot before dancing back to his right and unleashing a superb side footed effort that curled in the far corner were reminiscent of many a goal Cantona scored in his career at Old Trafford.

It’s increasingly evident that the Dutchman’s contribution will be pivotal to United’s chances of regaining the title. Van Persie is more Cantona and Bergkamp rolled into one than Ronaldo, but he has brought a fear factor the club had lacked since the Portuguese departed for Madrid.

United started the second half in cruise control, enjoying large spell of possession but almost came unstuck in the 58th minute as Kone pounced on Di Santo’s cross, planting the ball past David De Gea but was correctly judged to have strayed marginally offside. Less than two minutes later Hernandez came close to add a second goal to his tally as he pounced on a superb delivery by Ashley Young but saw his effort flying over the bar.

The Mexican, however, was not to be denied three minutes later as he was the quickest to react after Van Persie had struck the wall with a free-kick. The ball roll back towards Hernandez who drilled it past Al-Habsi with an excellent first-touch finish to score his eight league goal of the season.

With the game done and dusted, there was time for the traveling fans to go through their repertoire of songs, serenading virtually every former player, from George Best to Eric Cantona and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. There was also a chance for Sir Alex to refresh his squad, Shinji Kagawa and Chris Smalling replacing Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand before Danny Welbeck was introduced for Ashley Young.

And it was Welbeck who, with less than three minutes to go, pounced of another defensive mistake to square the ball back to Van Persie who made no mistake from close range to seal a 4-0 win, a world away from the disjointed performance United produced in the same fixture back in April, where a 1-0 defeat derailed their league campaign.

Ten points in four games and two consecutive clean sheets made it a Christmas to remember and an even better start to 2013. That New Year’s resolution made back in August looks increasingly like a masterstroke.


Dan (@MUFC_dan87)



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  2. The_Philosopher

    1 January 2013 at 22:08

    Good game.

    4 more for the goal difference.
    3 points
    2 goals a piece for van Persie and Chicharito
    1 United

    • Redrich

      2 January 2013 at 02:14

      @The_Philosopher: …. and most importantly,
      0 goals allowed!! 😉

  3. Redrich

    2 January 2013 at 01:56

    If anyone was wondering who might be the odd one out if Lewandowski is brought in, you might want to consider that RVP and Hernandez will not one of them. Not on this showing anyway.
    Rooney certainly needs to fight for his starting position when he gets fit, and with Hernandez and RVP banging them in regularly he may have more of a winter-break then he bargained for.
    Not to say that Rooney might be on his way out of the club but if another striker is to be considered, a third choice player would be lucky to survive the Ferguson dog-house at best!!

  4. Jay wire

    2 January 2013 at 08:29

    I have to say,Christmas week is always United week, but this has been a beautiful week.10 out of 12. 19 goals better. 2 clean sheets.The return of Kagawa and Rafael. Carrick and Cleverly. RVP. Evans probably best defender in the league so far.Contained rotation. 3 good performances from Giggs from the left.Chicharito the goal machine.Super sub my foot.The guy is a goal getter,period.De Gea will gain confidence from the run.But my biggest congrats goes to Ferguson.Particularly for smart rotation.De Gea,Evans,Evra,Carrick,RVP,Giggs,have played consecutively,with Chicharito and Welbeck heavily involved as opposed to the heavy rotation policy.Im thrilled by the decision to give Carrick and Cleverly a good run,which has paid dividends.With Kagawa back,Im also a little concerned.Rooney was not even missed and with Kagawas good cameos,the victim will probably be Chicharito.He deserves to play ahead of all our forwards except RVP,but Rooney is undroppable in form or not.What do u think?

    • Opti

      2 January 2013 at 16:38

      @Jay wire: I think Rooney will start on bench to reward Chicharito’s efforts. Rooney may be undroppable, but he still needs motivation and this is how Fergie will do it, I think.

    • Redrich

      2 January 2013 at 22:35

      @Jay wire: I thought Rooney was quite awful against Swansea. He didn’t seem at all interested in the game and by the look on Ferguson’s face he was facing a rollicking at least.
      I do think he’s still one of our best players, but “un-droppable”, no. He’s burned a few bridges over the last couple of seasons and it will take a concerted effort by him to win his starting place.

  5. The_Philosopher

    2 January 2013 at 09:28

    Robin van Persie is an outstanding player.

    Chicharito is an outstanding player. Because of his professionalism. I am told he is the model professional on the training pitch. And I love the way he sets himself aside for the team, always prepared to sit on the bench when asked to but fighting hungrily to be ready when he is given a chance.

    He is an absolute dream for Ferguson to have in his squad.

    I don’t know about Ashley Young. He isn’t in hot form right now. There’s just a big question mark over his head for me.

    Ferguson makes good signings generally. And occasionally he will make not so good signings. Bebe comes to mind.

    Ashley Young when he started at United came in with a lot of energy, a good right foot and good crossing ability. He also scored a few good goals when coming in from the left flank. But that initial form has fizzled now and I’m not sure he will regain it.

    So we need to sign a quality winger because I don’t know that I’m patient enough to wait for him to come right.

    Wilfred Zaha? Is he up to it?

    Another solution for me would be to get Fabio back and play him at right back and play Rafael at right wing.

    Fabio is a more level headed player and might be better at defending than Rafael.

    Fabio has a right foot and is going no where at left back so lets end his misery.

    Frank Lampard could be available at the end of the season. I would take him in a second. Giggs and Scholes would have to go however.

    Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole would be the perfect senior signings for the summer window.

    They could take over the senior statesman positions vacated by Giggs and Scholes.

    I would also be keen on Lewandowsk

  6. Ismail N

    2 January 2013 at 11:12

    Funny boy Hernandez. I thought outside the penalty box, he’s useless. Giving away the ball cheaply. Yet inside the box, you wish the ball will fall into his feet. RVP is brilliant yet again.

  7. Warzycha

    2 January 2013 at 13:45

    Lewandowski? Please! Stop reproducing what the tabloids are selling.
    Kagawa, Rooney, Chicha, RvP, Welbeck are exceptional choices for the two forward positions, either we play with a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1.
    NANI, Giggs, Valencia, Young are the wingers. Nice here. We need somebody to replace Giggs, but that’s next year’s case. The remaining 3 should train harder and produce better football.
    Cleverley, Fletcher, Scholes, Carrick, Anderson as CMs. Scholes, Carrick and Fletcher are very slow. Cleverley and Anderson (+Scholes) are not strong enough. We DO need a number 6.
    Vidic, Rio, Evans, Jones, Smalling, Rafael, Evra, Buttner are our 8 defenders. Evans is overrated, Smalling is not a right back. Evra is not as good as he was, not a top level player, although he put some good performances lately. So, maybe we need to offload a CB, give Smalling more time as a CB, he is great there, and buy a more serious right back, cause Rafael is not good when tackling or marking.

    It’s not the attack we need to stregthen but the defense. We have produced 50 goals, more than any other team in the PL, bud we have conceded so many goals at the back. That’s because our defenders (backs and midfielders) are very slow or they tend to leave huge gaps (I’m talking about Rafael and Evra)

    • Redrich

      4 January 2013 at 02:20


      It’s not the attack we need to stregthen but the defense

      But the more you attack the less you have to defend, right? Would you prefer a more balanced approach that gives you over 50% of possession and a negative attacking philosophy that keeps the ball away from your opponent?
      Goals win games, and the more you score the harder it is for you to get beat. If I were to load a team with skill players, it would be up front, where they can cause the most damage!

  8. Racs

    3 January 2013 at 14:09

    Take a look at this lads! hahaha Balotelli’s bust up with Mancini this morning!!

    Could the pressure be getting to them? Perhaps….Is Balotelli a liability in their pursuit of knocking us off top spot? Most definitely!! Hes a raw talent with bags of ability but his just a problem player with his attitude and shenanigans!

    Hopefully this bust up will permeate throughout the whole city squad!!!


  9. Warzycha

    4 January 2013 at 11:24


    I’m crystal clear. I don’t want players that would be less attacking or be lesser players. I want players that are able to attack PLUS defend better than Rafael. Smalling is a good defender but he is no good up front. As I mentioned in the previous comment, he is not a full back.
    I want a right full-back that can defend. Do you remember the good Evra? The one that would leave no gaps? That’s what I want for a full-back. Fully supporting both attack and defense. No worse attacker than Rafael or Evra are, but better defenders.
    As for our holding midfielders, it’s very important for a team to own a speedy-strong-explosive player who can pass acurately. Carrick is a playmaker and he defends because of game-reading. But if we are to challenge for the champion’s league title, we are going to need a faster defensive midfielder.

    • Redrich

      4 January 2013 at 21:32

      @Warzycha: I completely agree, but another attacker will only provide better results.
      The CM has not taken shape yet and, if and when, Anderson returns we could see Cleverly play that holding role that you talk about.
      This is not a complete team by a long shot and I’m doubtful that we have enough components to win the CL this year. However with the way we are scoring, you never know.

  10. Jay wire

    5 January 2013 at 10:30

    @Warzycha-You want a faster midfielder than Carrick,a better fullback than Rafael etc.Go to the market of Utopia where only perfect players found.Evans overrated?What does that even mean?Over the past season and a half he has been one of the best CBs in the league.Problem is people always assume the grass is greener elsewhere.Fyi,Carrick so far has been the best CM in the league this season,according to the EPL Index performance indicator,ahead of Y Toure and Arteta.But yes,still not good enough.Dani Alves,Lahm etc where not born perfect fullbacks.Why not give the ever improving Rafael a chance?Thats how great players become great.Zidane,Deco,Iniesta,CRonaldo got to their levels because someone trusted their talents even during years of inconsistencies.Nani,is one of the best players in his position in the world,but he is not good enough to some besides matching what Di Maria,Robben,Ribery,Nasri etc have produced last 3 years ito goals,assists,chances created and surpassing all in defensive figures.

    • Stephen

      5 January 2013 at 12:37

      @Jay wire: I agree there is a vogue of opinion that Evans is useless, when he has been superb and Carrick is also poor. For me he has been the most consistent midfield player in the league for the past 18 months.
      Also this Jones is our worst player nonsense, I am looking forward to seeing him prove everyone wrong as he will be superb.

    • Warzycha

      6 January 2013 at 12:22

      @Jay wire:

      I’m talking about the UEFA Champions League level. If we are to compete for the trophy we need a more focused and quick defense.
      As for the EPL, I believe we will win the trophy.

      Rafael; I agree with you. We must keep this player and give him a chance. But at least one of our full backs should defend better. Everyone says that Evra is back to good performances. I just disagree.
      Carrick; For me, Carrick, Rooney, Evra and Vidic were the keys to success during the Ronaldo era and after him. When these players got injured or tired, the team was not the same. At this moment, Carrick is a top EPL midfielder and of course I love watching him. We just need a powerful-explosive No. 6 in our squad.

      I’m talking about our disadvantages, I’m not saying that Carrick is crap or Evans is useless and we should force them out of the team. For fck sake we are MANCHESTER UNITED!!! I’m just saying that they are not complete players, or sometimes Carrick looks tired, and if there are better players, available and in an affordable price, we should bring them in the squad and then, maybe we should offload somebody … or give Scholes a big THANK YOU MASTER!!! In the other hand, Scholes is a great example for the young players and surely important in the dressing rooms.

      I’m not the coach, neither are you… it’s just my opinion and I’m not that guy who would say GRAB HIM , BUY HIM etc… I didn’t even say it for Wesley Sneijder.

      Oh, I forgot something : I adore Nani!

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