Saturday, 16 October 2010

Manchester United 2 West Brom 2: Substitute Wayne Rooney can't foil inspired Baggies comeback



Lack of inspiration: Substitute Wayne Rooney failed to prevent Manchester United from conceding a two-goal lead at Old Trafford

It took 55 minutes but then came the first murmurs of defiance from Old Trafford. As ever, the chant started as a low-pitched groan from the Stretford End and grew into a guttural roar.

‘Rooney, Rooney,’ they chanted. On the bench, the man exhorted so loudly from the stands affected indifference, as he did minutes later, when he was charging up and down the touchline to warm up, while being roundly abused by opposition fans.
Good or bad, on the pitch or off it, Wayne Rooney is invariably the centre of attention.

Yesterday, though, it was a blunder by a man who has been United’s Mr Dependable that deprived Old Trafford of the chance to celebrate a victory gained despite Rooney being confined to the substitutes’ bench until the 71st minute.

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar’s error, nervously fumbling a hooked cross by Chris Brunt, gave Cameroon’s Somen Tchoyi, making his first start in the Premier League, the opportunity to earn West Bromwich a point.

Sir Alex Ferguson looked less than amused. Afterwards, United’s manager reflected: ‘He’s kept goal for 25 years and I don’t think he’s made a mistake like that since primary school.’

Rooney, one can confidently conclude, will not have had such a sympathetic report from the headmaster after challenging Ferguson’s authority in the manner that he did last week.

Yesterday, Rooney found himself confined to the comfy chairs occupied by the substitutes, while his team-mates engaged in the serious business. Even when Ryan Giggs walked off with a recurrence of his hamstring injury on 42 minutes, Sir Alex would not relent. On came Darron Gibson, a loyal and unquestioning servant.

Clanger: Edwin van der Sar fumbles to hand West Brom an equaliser

And yet it seems United cannot do without Rooney. Old Trafford would never rise in revolt against the manager. Time and again his judgment on these issues has proved correct and no player would ever be allowed to dictate terms in Sir Alex’s teams.

But having surrendered a two-goal lead to West Bromwich Albion in abject fashion, the call went out for the main man. With points being cast asunder by United in this opening quarter of the season — this was their fifth draw and they have recorded just one league win since August — United can ill afford to field weakened teams at present. More than ever, they need Rooney fit, happy and scoring.

For they look anything but champions elect. Ferguson was correct when he insisted that this result was not ‘defining’ but his team surrendered leads at Fulham and Everton, they have yet to win away from home and yesterday brought that same stuttering form and casual defending to Old Trafford.

If looks could kill: Van der Sar's team-mates cannot believe what they've seen after the keeper¿s blunder allows West Brom's Somen Tchoyi to snatch a point

Having raced into a two-goal lead, United spurned chances to add to that tally; Dimitar Berbatov woefully so on 22 minutes, Nemanja Vidic unluckily so, heading against a post.

‘It’s inexplicable,’ moaned Ferguson.

‘Some of the play in the first half was outstanding but we didn’t finish them off and that’s an area we have to be concerned about. We can’t keep doing that. If we were a mid-table side, I would say we were undefeated. But for Manchester United, it’s not enough.’

Not that Rooney’s introduction, which came on 71 minutes, made much difference; a strike from the edge of the area blocked on the line by Gabriel Tamas was his most significant contribution. By then, United had lost shape and purpose, with Albion’s midfield enforcers, Youssouff Mulumbu and Paul Scharner, exposing alarming gaps. Indeed, more incisive passing and better finishing

might have brought them as famous a win as the one they recorded at Arsenal three weeks ago.

‘We didn’t settle for 2-2 but if United had scored the third, it would have been game over,’ conceded their manager Roberto Di Matteo.

Fighting spirit: West Bromwich Albion's Jonas Olsson (centre) celebrates after an Patrice Evra (not pictures) scores in his own net

Normally there is no way back for teams at Old Trafford who make two abysmal defensive errors in the opening 25 minutes.

Goalkeeper Scott Carson was the first culprit. Nani’s free-kick from 20 yards on five minutes was fierce but Carson simply patted it back to Javier Hernandez, handing the Mexican youngster the simplest of opportunities from four yards to score his first Old Trafford goal.

No chance: Nani (right) beats Baggies keeper Scott Carson to give United a 2-0 lead

Worse was to come. Nicky Shorey slipped and Nani, irrepressible in the first half, nicked the ball, darted goalwards and exchanged a one-two with Berbatov to add the second.

‘It was an afternoon of gifts,’ said Di Matteo. ‘I keep telling them that they shouldn’t need to keep coming back. But it shows the team spirit and their positive attitude. They never give up.’

This boy's a bit special: Javier Hernandez gave Manchester United the lead after just five minutes at Old Trafford

Awarded a free-kick on 50 minutes from a tight angle, Chris Brunt drove a cross in and saw it deflect off Patrice Evra, under pressure from Tchoyi, and in at the near post.

Within five more minutes, United had capitulated again. Brunt’s hooked cross was plainly hit more in hope than expectation yet it was enough to unnerve Van der Sar.

Unchallenged, the Dutchman fumbled the ball to the feet of Tchoyi, a summer signing from Red Bull Salzburg, and he promptly equalised from a range of three yards to cap his own memorable introduction to the English game.

source :dailymail


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