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United Stroll Past Sunderland And Go Clear At The Top

Yesterday was not a pretty sight. Not from Reds’ legend Roy Keane’s perspective that is. His side were simply no match for United’s superiority. It was so easy that it was cruel. I’ve seen Korean sides on our far-east pre-season tours show more resistance. After yesterday, you’d have to feel for Roy Keane and his side; and hope, for his sake, that he manages to keep them up.

Our sympathies for Keano aside, it was a superb performance from a United side that had quite a few changes to the composition of its starting XI.

I’ve stopped attempting to predict the starting XI these days because, with the rotation that the Christmas period demands, anyone could be rested. And that was the case yesterday as well.

Carrick partnered Fletcher at the centre of the park, Saha started ahead of Tevez, Rio returned alongside Vidic, Nani played instead of Giggs on the left, and Evra was rested with O’Shea getting a start.

I did have some fear about the starting XI when I saw it first. Would so much tinkering affect the balance? Would Carrick and Fletcher show the drive and steel that Anderson and Hargreaves so expertly did this season? I knew it was only Sunderland, but stranger things have happened.

My fears were soon put to rest once the game got going. As I had already mentioned, Sunderland were poor, extremely poor, and we were just too good.

The Positives:

Plenty actually, but I will touch upon some of them here.

  • It was great to see Rooney get among the goals. On past evidence, he tends to go on scoring runs. His finish yesterday was cool and composed, and was the result of a nice flowing move. Although, it must be said that some lax defensive organisation made Wazza’s job easier. Anyway, it’s good to see Rooney score; here’s hoping he shits goals from now on.
  • Saha’s brace was another thing to feel happy about. In fact, his general movement was really good yesterday. It looks like the ‘nurturing back to full-fitness’ regime seems to have finally borne fruit. I hope he lasts for the rest of the season. I know, I am asking a lot of him by saying this, but he owes us, doesn’t he?
  • Ronaldo’s free-kick was classy. We’ve been used to his kicks frequently hitting the wall and, when we least expect it, the occasional scorcher that swerves in mid-air. Yesterday’s kick, on the other hand, was curled in over the wall. A picture perfect sight, that. It shows he’s been working on his kicks more vigorously. Does it have anything to do with Hargreaves’ kick in the Bolton game? One would never know.
  • Park’s return was a major positive. I love the lad. He’s an excellent squad player, runs tirelessly for ninety minutes, can play across the forward line, and can be an ideal impact player. His sub appearance wasn’t too bad, given he’s been out for a year. There was a good pass to Nani, and he always looked to want the ball.
  • The overall play was also extremely encouraging. We’ve seen how tinkering can affect even the best of sides. The ‘dippers are a shining example. While it could be argued that Sunderland were poor and we had Ronaldo and Rooney in our ranks, there still was a job to be done in midfield and we did it without breaking a sweat.
  • And finally, most importantly, we move one point clear of the Gunners. A point is not necessarily a big deal in terms of our title chances — all it takes to squander it would be one poor game — but it represents a psychological shift, providing we hold on to the lead unto New Year. The roles are reversed, the leader now becomes part of the chasing pack and we now lead the table.

Bring on the Hammers. And Birmingham. Here we come!



  1. julio

    27 December 2007 at 15:09

    I was shiting myself when i saw the
    line up for the sunderland game.But i
    saw for the first time good
    performances across the park.We
    outplayed them in every single sense
    of the word.Rooney looked fooking
    brilliant,ronaldo looked bright,
    fletcher was impressive.Good work lads
    that’s all i can say.G.G.M.U

  2. The Chunni

    27 December 2007 at 15:25

    I thought fletch and carrick played decently, although I do hope
    that Carrick returns to his form of last season. Rooney back on
    the scoreboard, He’s been working really hard. good to see him
    score. Our backline wasn’t troubled too much . We’ll probably be
    ahead by 4 points come new years day ,Lets hope everton do something Here’s to United Dominance

  3. Grognard

    27 December 2007 at 16:48

    Spot on!

  4. Tomas

    27 December 2007 at 17:37

    First time ever that Ronaldo actually tried to curl a freekick in stead of his usual blast. Not that it was powerless, because the kick was really hard, and unstoppable for a good keeper such as Sunderland’s. If this is Ronaldo’s new style freekick, this boy really has got it all doesn’t he? 2 good feet, a good header of the ball, pace, excellent skills, good passing, great off-ball movement, calm and collected under pressure… what more can you ask of the best player in the world.

    Good to see Rio back, and he showed just how important he is to our defense.

    Nani had some good moments and got us the penalty with his explosive pace. He also had a good effort with his left foot in the first half and participated well in the passing game, which btw was superb yesterday. It’s great that we can rest Giggs and have a replacement with Nani’s ability – we’ve really lacked that in previous seasons.

    I’d advice people to keep Rooney in your Fantasy teams, because he’s back at his best, and with Saha also looking very good, we couldn’t go into January looking any better.

  5. Vikas

    27 December 2007 at 18:26

    finally the match report 🙂

    well i thought for the first 15-20 minutes fletcher was awful, lost possession countless number of times, also got booked(unlucky) but after that had decent game and controlled the midfield along with carrick.
    Rooney was the best player on the pitch yesterday along with ronnie, saha had good game and got much needed goals (for himself)……..
    nani was good for some parts but lost possession for umpteen number of times. He actually reminds me of joe cole, who just tries to beat the defenders without any success but have good finishing.
    Park was lively and i believe at the moment is better option than nani to come off the bench.
    And lastly the free kick by Rocket Ronaldo………if he can get the consistency, than he will be unstoppable…….. 🙂

  6. Abu

    27 December 2007 at 18:40

    I know we are all festive and whatnot but um… Rooney’s finish?! Although it went in that goal strike highlights Rooney’s flaw. He shot into the narrowest of holes between Gordon and goal. I would have preferred he went across the keeper to the opposite side. That’s how he missed against Liverpool from Ronnie’s slide rule cross, going for the wrong side of goal rather than across. Sir Fergie’s gotta teach him that and other striking nuances, Otherwise SUPER PLAYER of course!!

  7. Tomas

    27 December 2007 at 20:27

    Abu – I absolutely disagree. That finish was calm and composed, which is what you should be looking for in a striker. He simply made sure, the keeper wouldn’t be able to get to it, and it was a clear sign of him getting his confidence back.

    The finish against Liverpool can’t be compared to this one, since it was his footwork that let him down on that occasion… he simply didn’t get the timing right for Ronaldo’s cross. With this one he had time to run with the ball and look at the keeper, because he kept his cool.

  8. Conor

    27 December 2007 at 20:53

    Yeah Abu I disagree as well, I thpught he did the kepper with his eyes, and then picked his spot perfectly, he may not be a brilliant finisher but he does the job 🙂 the fact is with his movement off the ball and his surprising pace he is likely to get a one-on-one once every 2 matches at least, so even if he misses one it’s likely he’ll score another soon enough. A great player, even if he’s not a great out and out striker.

  9. sarip

    28 December 2007 at 02:37

    I thought someone wonder about Rooney’s finishing,I think his work rate
    is top of all players.Team come first and besides Rooney’s ability is
    not just scoring,he is in class of it own.In Rooney we trust!!
    Glory! Glory! Glory! United!!

  10. ttotade

    28 December 2007 at 06:09

    RR, lol abt the Korean sides, but yeah, I felt too bad for Keano, but to be honest, his decision to leave Cole on the bench and start with 17-year old Wachorn was surprising. The tyke showed decent control on the ball but couldn’t create anything, to be fair to him, he did not really have the best service. Arsenal would have a tough game at Everton, as would we at Upton Park, every chance of both the games ending in draws, but I just hope that we are able to get the monkey of our backs this time and thump the hammers!

  11. Conor

    28 December 2007 at 13:48

    No need to write in capitals mick.

  12. Red Ranter

    28 December 2007 at 15:09

    Yup, just saw that. Had to delete it.

    Mick, have a look at our comments policy. Caps are not ok in the way you wrote it, i.e; your entire comment was in caps. Occasionally using it for emphasis is ok. Otherwise I’ll have to clamp down on them.

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