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Valencia and Young but it’s the same old United

Late goals from Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young fired Manchester United to a 2-0 win at Ewood Park, opening a 5-point gap at the top of the table.

Blackburn had held United at bay for 80 minutes when Antonio Valencia struck a ferocious right footed strike into the far corner of Paul Robinson’s goal, sending the United fans that had packed the Darwen end berserk.

It was a moment reminiscent of Steve Bruce’s header against Sheffield Wednesday 19 years ago – a moment that could decide the outcome of the title race.

Despite being frustrated for long spells of the game United kept prodding along, like a batsman settling for singles while waiting for the big shots.

And when the big shots did arrive, it was a familiar tale of stubborn and utter belief being rewarded for a team, a manager and – tonight – 7000 odd fans that simply refuse to give up their quest for yet more glory.

Following City’s slip up at home on Saturday, United were keen to seize the opportunity of opening a significant gap at the top of the table while delivering a potentially devastating blow to their neighbours.

Blackburn had caused a shock back on new year’s eve as they outmuscled United at Old Trafford, winning 3-2.

Ferguson chose Jones alongside Carrick and Scholes in midfield to match Blackburn’s physicality, with Rooney and Valencia out wide and an unchanged back five, with Rafael, Evra, Ferdinand and Evans protecting DeGea.

United started with purpose, Hernandez forcing an excellent save from Robinson, but were unable to make the most of the possession.

Blackburn stuck to their strengths, trying to cause United troubles on the break through Yakubu and Hoilett.

With United seemingly unwilling to shoot, Blackburn twice went close to take the lead just before halftime.

That both times they were denied by David DeGea – the man heavily criticised when the two sides met early in the season – went some way to illustrate United slow but relentless progress this year.

First the Spaniard produced a stunning save from a Martin Olsson’s volley.
Then, on the following corner, he tipped Grant Hanley’s header over the bar to preserve United unbeaten record when playing on a Monday night – 8 wins out of 8 and 0 goals conceded.

United started the second half with verve – Rooney forcing a good save from Robinson from a freekick before Rafael called the Blackburn stopper into action again – but were made to wait for a goal.

After DeGea had parried a Pedersen’s freekick, Blackburn had a goal ruled out when Pedersen drilled the ball into the bottom corner, as the ball had crossed the byline before N’Zonzi’s cross.

Ferguson replaced Hernandez with Welbeck, Jones with Giggs in a bid to unlock Rovers’defence.

Ferdinand’s last ditch tackle on Yakubu prevented the home side from going ahead and United kept piling on the pressure, supported by their magnificent fans who didn’t stop chanting and encouraging their team for a minute, despite the deadlock lasting well into the last third of the game.

What a difference from those fans that left the Etihad on Saturday with City 3-1 down. In United’s case, the fans as well the players that have been in this situation before, and did not panic.

With Blackburn sitting increasingly deep, it was a case of when rather than if United would get a goal.

The answer was provided by Antonio Valencia nine minutes from time, as he received a pass on the right, cut in and unleashed a vicious shot that swerved past Robinson into the back of the net.

United had the game wrapped four minutes later when the immense Valencia – baffling how he can still be considered a normal player when, in reality, he’s probably one of the top two wingers in the world – found Young whose effort ended up in the net to spark yet more pandemonium in the Darwen end.

Five points clear with seven games left and with three of the next four at home is a fantastic position to be in, particularly for a team that has won the last seven games and won 10 out of the last 11.

In a few years, Antonio Valencia and Steve Bruce might be mentioned in the same sentence.

Daniele (mufc_dan87)

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Ian

    2 April 2012 at 23:25

    In a few years, Antonio Valencia and Steve Bruce might be mentioned in the same sentence.

    They already have πŸ˜‰

  2. colver

    3 April 2012 at 00:19

    Valencia is a legend. The guy comes back from injury as fresh as a daisy and for my money his return from injury was just as important as Paul Scholes coming out of retirement in getting us ahead of City

    Luis Nani who?

    But yeah whatever you wanna say about our pathetic European adventures domestically we definitely have the mark of champions pulling this sort of win out of the bag when we seemed headed for a bore draw.

    What makes it even more satisfying is our incredible domestic league run of form coincides with Liverpool having one of the worst runs of form in their entire history under that dreadful man Kenny Dalglish.

    • Opti

      3 April 2012 at 00:23

      @colver: I think that is harsh against Nani. Nani is one of our best players… at his best, he is phenomenal. Unfortunately, he gets a lot of stick from fans because of his fluctuating form throughout the season (unlike Mr. Consistent Carrick and Valencia)

    • Onkar

      3 April 2012 at 14:54

      @colver: I wish he had half descent left foot. If he would have had it he would have been fighting for the WPOTY every year… 😈 😈 😈

  3. tonymontanna4united

    3 April 2012 at 14:48

    “Man Utd had the 6th best PL pass completion between Aug & Scholes’ return (84%), but are top in the period since then (87%)”. 😯

    Have to say, i was extremely critical of the decision to bring scholesy back. Still am to an extent as it confirmed what a poor situation we had been left in by fergies refusal to buy 6 months earlier.
    However you have to say, scholes has been top class since his return, and carrick seems to excel playing next to him.
    Despite all of scholesys class though, he is 37, but makes you think, if a old retiree can come in and make such a difference, how big a boost would it be to bring in a younger, hungry world class midfielder.
    I reckon we’d have absolutely walked the league and had it wrapped up even earlier had we spent the money and brought in a world class midfielder in the summer (modric, martinez etc).

    • Opti

      3 April 2012 at 19:41

      @tonymontanna4united: statistically, 84% and 87% are pretty close and just from watching all the games, no one would notice such a small difference. #loveNumbers

  4. Owen

    3 April 2012 at 16:20

    United has highest number of LEGENDS playing at the moment.
    Giggs,Scholes,Rio,Rooney,vidic and Valencia…

    • Opti

      3 April 2012 at 16:28

      @Owen: Rooney and Valencia are quality but not legends…

      • Stephen

        3 April 2012 at 16:33

        @Opti: Rooney not a legend?

        • Opti

          3 April 2012 at 16:46

          @Stephen: Not for me. If he stays at United until after his prime, I will aggree with you!

        • Opti

          3 April 2012 at 16:50

          @Stephen: Same reason I struggle to say that Ronaldo is a (walking) United Legend. He left too early in my opinion. He was fantastic and won us many trophies, but being a legend is part performance and part loyalty.

          Cantona only played with us for 5 years but his performance was legendary and he did not go to any other (meaningful) club after United / retiring.

        • Stephen

          3 April 2012 at 16:55

          @Opti: I agree with Ronaldo, he term legend is always a tricky subject. Best, Violet, Law, Charlton, Edwards, Giggs, Scholes, Cantona, Neville, Keane will all be in peoples “legend list”. There area always debatable ones, Ronaldo, Hughes, Rooney, Rio and Vida.
          What is a legend? This is a tricky subject, to some people everyone is a legend. For others very few, I suppose I would say a player who has given the club long or distinctive service, putting United before himself and any other club.

        • Opti

          3 April 2012 at 17:10

          @Stephen: Let’s see with Rooney. That October Blip left a black mark on his United legacy… only long distinctive service and loyalty will place him back in my legend list.

          Scholes, Giggs, Best, Law, Charlton, Cantona, Neville are DEFINITE legends for any united fan, I think.

          I would add Schmeichel, Bruce, and Pallister too πŸ™‚ [I am soft on the 90s players].

          Keane can be debated with his mutinous rant on MUTV. Performance vs. Loyalty is a personally metric. History will probably award him legendary status… If it hasn’t already πŸ™‚

          Hughes, Ince, Rooney, Ronaldo, Rio all had their loyalty issues despite legendary performances.

          Vida is on his way to legendary status and I cannot see how (if he stay with United a couple years and maintains his performance level), he is anything but a Legend.

        • Stephen

          3 April 2012 at 17:17

          @Opti: You could throw Denis Irwin into the mix then.

        • Ian

          3 April 2012 at 19:12

          Norman Whiteside should NEVER be left out of any Legend list either

        • Opti

          3 April 2012 at 19:40

          @Ian: yes, but I weren’t writing a treatise on Legends of United, so forgive my exclusions πŸ˜‰

        • Ian

          3 April 2012 at 20:06

          Forgiven πŸ™‚

        • Mountfort

          4 April 2012 at 01:18

          @Stephen: Beckham, for me, belongs in this list.

        • Owen

          3 April 2012 at 17:10

          @Opti: Schmeichel and Beckham are not Legends then?

        • Opti

          3 April 2012 at 17:13

          @Owen: Schmeichel easy yes. His stint at City, Villa, and Portugal was beyond his prime, so it is forgiven. He did not have the greatest year in 1999 with back problems, but over 8 years, he was MASSIVE!…. he is also my favorite United player too πŸ˜‰

          Beckham can be debated … loyalty vs. performance. Ignoring the cut above his eye, did he leave United for money, fame? Why did he leave United?

        • Stephen

          3 April 2012 at 17:16

          @Opti: Money, fame and a beastly wife..

        • Stephen

          3 April 2012 at 17:15

          @Owen: Schmeichel I would say yes and arguably EVDS, but Beckham no way. He is probably a footballing icon. He has played for too many other sides in my opinion and he put his “brand” before United.

  5. Owen

    3 April 2012 at 17:17

    Goals : 175
    Seasons : 9
    Premier League : 4 (will be 5 soon)
    Champions League : 1 and infinite finals.

    As good record as any other United Legends.

    Rooney is Red and is a LEGEND.

    • Stephen

      3 April 2012 at 17:26

      @Owen: I still think he has making up to do with some supporters.
      He isn’t far off though.

      • Owen

        3 April 2012 at 17:30

        @Stephen: Even Messi rates Rooney as top 3 player πŸ˜†

        • Moscow

          3 April 2012 at 18:18

          @Owen: His first touch certainly isn’t top 3 πŸ˜†

        • Ian

          3 April 2012 at 19:18

          His first touch wouldn’t be top 3 if he trained with my Under 14s on Sunday morning

        • Owen

          3 April 2012 at 19:39

          @Moscow: Ask Jenny Thompson..She has different views.

        • Opti

          3 April 2012 at 19:39

          @Owen: Is Messi a United fan? 😑

        • Owen

          3 April 2012 at 19:44

          @Opti: Yes,he is πŸ˜†

    • Ian

      3 April 2012 at 19:16

      Agent-led attempts at leaving the club for a bucket full of gold at the expense of Manchester United: 1 (2010)

      Never be a legend in my eyes…..no matter what he does on the field.

      • Opti

        3 April 2012 at 19:38

        @Ian: I can see that. However, if he stays at United and we stay or become more successful with him as an integral part of club history, the argument for Legend status improves dramatically.

        In his defense, it was just a one-off event, so enough success on the field and improved attitude could sway many. Hypothetically, if he was in the United team which won United’s 4th, 5th, and 6th European Cup (> liverpool’s 5) would you change your mind??? [yes, it’s a bit dreamy, but it’s a good measure of how much your are against Rooney as a legend].

        Do you consider Beckham or Rio as Legends? My guess, based on your Rooney-stance would be no. I can understand that.

        • Ian

          3 April 2012 at 20:05

          Beckham No. Tried to win a personal battle via the media against a man who is No1 or No2 legend of all-time (SAF). Similar in a way is what Rooney did, both of them disrespected a man old enough to be their Grandparent who’s done nothing but good for both their football career and their personal life, then they turn around and do that, shocking decisions from both, the only difference is Beckham did it in a time when United had the most valuable asset in World football (himself) and the club was a wash with available funds, Rooney on the other hand, although an asset of high value, could not be sold for anywhere near enough money to warrant flogging him as United now don’t have the transfer kitty to trouble Norwich let alone other major market players. I still find it hard to believe that SAF let him win (although the longer Rooney stays and the more we win…..the more egg he gets on his face anyway imo).

          As for Rio, the man’s a machine and probably the greatest central defender the club’s ever had imo. In a similar way to how Messi makes attacking look easy Rio makes defending look equally simple (barring a blip this season), I wish he played pre 2000, to see him in one of the teams from the 90s would be special. Alongside Stam? WOW, what a partnership that would be! BUT…….the whole holding the club to ransom over what now looks a pitiful Β£120k p/week will always mean I can’t see him as a United legend.

          The question I always ask someone who thinks a certain person/player is a United legend is ‘Will he be cast in Bronze and live forever in the shadow of Old Trafford alongside Charlton, Best and Law?’ Rooney, no, Beckham, No, Rio, No. Solksjaer Yes. Cantona Yes. Giggs Yes. Scholes Yes.

        • Owen

          3 April 2012 at 20:39

          @Ian: Red Nev ? Yes.

        • Ian

          3 April 2012 at 20:56

          Without question Yes. Robson Yes although that ambassador stunt he pulled last season has really made me question his status too, which really saddens me as he was/is my favourite footballer of all-time.

          The toughest one I reckon is Schmeichel. Personally, the fact he left to play for City makes it a No for me, never understood his thinking going there, he could’ve gone anywhere even at that stage of his career and he chooses there. Funny how him and Andy Cole both opted to send their kids there too, makes me question their affection/affiliation with the club tbh.

      • Daniele

        5 April 2012 at 10:20

        @Ian: true. Same reason why Paul Ince will never be a legend in my opinion. Captain Marvel, Big Norm, Eric, Bobby-Denis-Georgie, Scholesy, Giggsy and Red Nev the real legends. And i’d add Schmeichel and Ole as well.

  6. Yang

    3 April 2012 at 19:47

    It was very lucky break, lengthy period of constant pressure made things happen I guess, Why this Blackburn team play so well against United? outside kick with almost impossible angle ha, I hope our forward make things happen in this bumpy period.

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