Sunday, 24 October 2010

It cost £50m to hang on to Wayne Rooney, but for a Manchester United win it took... two pea!



Two pea: Javier Hernandez scored a double to hand Manchester United victory at the Britannia Stadium

A remarkable week in the life of Manchester United ended in totally predictable fashion with a win at Stoke City.

United always beat Stoke. Prior to yesterday’s game, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team had a goal record of 12-0 against the team from North Staffordshire over the two and a bit seasons the hosts have resided in the Barclays Premier League.

At least Stoke now have a goal, but they still have no points. Nor did they deserve any as United finally discovered something of their true selves away from home.

Wayne Rooney may have been resting his sore ankle and counting the noughts on the end of his new salary on his 25th birthday while his team-mates put in a hard shift in sight of an old Potteries coalfield, but they didn’t need him.

It is perhaps for the better that Rooney is not around at the moment.
His absence from the squad — he is not expected to be back for a fortnight — has allowed United to return to the business of winning matches without any of the fuss that has engulfed them over recent days.

And it was pertinent that one of the young players in whom Ferguson so eloquently declared his faith last week should earn United their first league away win of the season.

For Javier Hernandez — the Little Pea — this was a landmark day.
With Chelsea having won on Saturday and United’s upstart neighbours City initially making an early case to be considered the champions’ main rivals this season, it was a game that really had to be won.

How did he do that? Hernandez scored his first goal by nodding the ball in with the back of his head

It was, as expected, a relatively hard-fought affair.

United should arguably have lost Gary Neville to a second yellow card before half-time and they were also denied a clear-cut penalty for a push by Rory Delap on Patrice Evra. Suffice to say, referee Andre Marriner didn’t have his best afternoon.

Ultimately, the day will be remembered for the impudence and opportunism of Hernandez, 22.

Lucky boy: Gary Neville was spared a red card but substituted soon after

Certainly, the Mexican is a different type of player from Rooney. Not as bullish, aggressive or energetic. He is, though, a natural finisher and his first goal yesterday will long be remembered.

Quite how he found himself facing the wrong way as Nemanja Vidic headed a Nani cross in his direction is something maybe even he will never know.

But how he managed to find the strength and power to essentially back-head the ball past Thomas Sorensen and high into the net is something else completely.
‘I don’t know if I have ever done that before,’ said Hernandez.

‘Perhaps I have done it on the training ground. But for me it was just important that we won this game.’

United did indeed need to win.

Having drawn five away games already this season, their problems on the road had threatened to derail their title challenge long before Rooney muscled his way back into the headlines over that £200,000-a-week five-year contract.

Briefly, it did look as though things might fall apart for them again.
For all their possession and the threat they carry at set-pieces and throw-ins, Stoke had struggled to create a genuine opening.

Such is United’s luck this season, though, that the first time Stoke did manage a shot on goal it went in.

Paul Scholes gave the ball away inexplicably and eventually it was moved wide to substitute Tuncay. The Turk advanced into the penalty area, stepped inside Evra and swung a superb left-foot shot across Edwin van der Sar and into the top corner.

Rare occurrence: Paul Scholes gave the ball away which allowed Stoke to equalise

For a team who have suffered several hammer blows away from home this season, United must have felt this one like a wrecking ball.

With eight minutes left, however, there was time for a fightback and on this occasion they managed to find an answer.

Once again it was Hernandez who scored, but this time it was the intelligence of his forward partner Dimitar Berbatov that stood out.

Equaliser: Tuncay Sanli curled the ball past Edwin van der Sar

Three times in the build-up, the Bulgarian made himself available for possession as United carried the ball left to right across the penalty area.

And when his neat cross was headed on by Scholes, Evra was able to hook a shot across goal that Hernandez turned in from seven yards.

It was the decisive moment of the game and it may yet prove to be a critical goal in terms of United’s whole season.

For a team who have been looking for a spark for some time, it is possible that they have just found one. Earlier in the game everything had been a little scrappy.

Undoubtedly Marriner’s decision not to dismiss Neville was important. Booked early on for a foul on Matthew Etherington, the 35-year-old followed that with a dreadfully mistimed lunge on the same player.

At half-time Ferguson berated Marriner for failing to penalise a Delap foul on Nani but deep down he must have known his team had got away with it and were fortunate not to be down to 10 men.

And he made sure Neville, playing his 600th game for United, avoided a second yellow by replacing him just before the second half kicked off.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis was understandably bemused. Incidents like this do give credence to suggestions that the more successful teams get the rub of the green when it comes to key decisions.

For United, it no longer matters. There was a feeling at full time that this may prove to be the day that their season began in earnest.

It is worth noting that they have not actually lost a competitive game since April 3. That is a run of 20 games.

In the fuss of the last week, statistics like that have gone unnoticed.

source :dailymail

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