Rovers v United - Dull Draw In A Meaningless Game
Sir Alex managed to shock me once again. After fielding Gibson against Bayern he went to the opposite extreme and opted for a Giggs-Scholes partnership in the centre of midfield at Blackburn. Which was a bold move to say the least.
Of course this is the time of the season for experiments: we are out of the Champions League and the FA Cup while the Premier League title race ended last Saturday. But usually these experiments involve young players yet to show their true potential, not old heads getting another run-out just to clock up appearances to look more impressive in the history books.
Still, United were good enough to peg Blackburn back albeit I suspect Rovers were set out to defend in numbers anyway: they were reluctant to apply pressing and were happy to let us pass the ball around in midfield. However, the static nature of our central midfield partnership and the lack of pace of the two full-backs (O'Shea and Neville) meant we weren't exactly inspiring in attack.
Berbatov and Macheda tried but the former seems unable to grasp his opportunity in Rooney's absence while the latter is way too raw to exert any influence on a Premier League game. He's supposed to be a huge talent but that wonder goal apart we haven't seen much evidence of that so far.
So it took a hurried goalkick from Robinson to give United a real chance: Berbatov outmuscled his defender (!) and threaded a beautiful pass into the path of Valencia who hit Robinson's leg... Best chance of the game gone and we never really had another one.
Early in the second half Blackburn seemed to realise we were there for the taking and they started to exert some pressure on the midfielders, with the result that we were quite unable to get out of our own half. Fergie, to his credit, reacted quickly enough, getting off Giggs and sending on Gibson. This restored order: United enjoyed the majority of possession without really doing anything with it while Ferdinand and Vidic comfortably dealt with the long balls launched towards them.
Nani and Valencia looked good but the lack of midfield support and the lousy positioning and movement of our strikers meant they could do little. And so the game passed. We should have had a penalty when Jones (?) got Valencia's arm in between his but Walton who were quite lenient with the hosts all afternoon waved play on. We had a few half-chances, Berbatov missing the biggest ones but after Valencia's sitter we never looked like winning.
It was, actually, a dull draw in a meaningless game. Nothing more, nothing less.