Rooney's Brilliance Is Overshadowed By Injuries
When I saw the starting line-up last night, my heart skipped a beat. Scholes and Gibson in central midfield? Gary Neville again? Brown in the starting line-up, Ferdinand nowhere? Anderson ON THE LEFT? It was, quite simply, shocking.
And I have to say, United were not impressive for half an hour. Predictably, Scholes and Gibson could not put West Ham under any pressure and therefore our football was disrupted again, we could not really get into our stride. Anderson had to come off early with a knee injury which was another blow as possession football is much more difficult to play with Park than with Anderson.
Never mind that, though, as long as we have Rooney and Valencia - and Berbatov who had quite a good game in his understated fashion. The three of them combined to put together a majestic first goal on 38 minutes, Rooney applying the finishing touch and early in the second half Park should have doubled the lead when another perfect Valencia cross found him but he whacked the ball against the crossbar.
Still, with Vidic back we were really solid at the back and that was more than enough against this West Ham side which looked devoid of inspiration even though they nearly scored in the first half when Foster almost dropped in a deflected shot, a la Carroll.
But in the second half they did not really threaten and on 55 minutes United sealed the points: predictably, it was a Valencia cross after a Berbatov pass which Rooney headed home. The England striker was very, very effective anyway, passing the ball around, winning aerial challenges and 50-50 balls. He looked determined to put Saturday's horror show behind him.
United created a few more chances, Scholes really grew into the game, passing with majestic grace and even Gibson pulled himself together after a torrid first 30 minutes. Eventually, it was substitute Michael Owen who put the icing on the cake, lifting the ball over the advancing Green after a neat pass from Scholes. The Ginger Ninja should have scored himself in the dying seconds as he beat two men to burst into the box but then fired wildly over the bar from a great position.
Not much to conclude, at all. The injuries of Ferdinand and Anderson are by far and away the most important developments of the night as the game itself was thoroughly forgettable. It was a routine 3-0 win, a nice one at that, but nothing spectacular.