Manchester United produced a stunning second half comeback to secure a win at Blackpool last night and move five points clear at the head of the Premier League table. Coming from two behind to win with three second half goals, the seaside trip demonstrated the very best in United’s sheer determination to win.
Dimitar Berbatov scored twice and substitute Javier Hernández another in the final 18 minutes of a pulsating fixture. But three valuable points cannot obscure one of the most disorganised performances from the Reds this season in a disastrous first half at Bloomfield Road.
Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson is entitled to feel both proud and highly concerned about his side’s performance against the newly promoted Tangerines. Second best during the first 45, United could well have been out of the tie before referee Peter Walton blew for half-time.
Yet, with Wayne Rooney unceremoniously hauled off by Ferguson with 25 minutes to go United produced some thrilling football to take the points in a game that largely mirrored the Reds’ inconsistent season.
“I know the game’s never done in situations like today,” Ferguson told ESPN, who focused on the positives to come out of United’s performance.
“You know at some point we’re going to do something. You’ll get games like tonight. Maybe sometimes we won’t come back but we’ll always try to come back.
“In the first half we were battered. We couldn’t handle Charlie Adam. We were terrible. I don’t know the reason for the first half. We were all over the place. Maybe we were too confident.
“We changed at half-time, Ryan Giggs made a tremendous difference. We started to penetrate and I think we were deserved winners in the end.”
Over confidence perhaps but the United manager must surely take some blame for the disjointed nature of United’s performance during the first half. Deploying the recalled Darron Gibson, alongside Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher in a three-man midfield, proved a near disastrous selection. And with Rooney wide left, United struggled to defend with any shape, let alone attack with purpose.
For all United’s superstars it was want-away Scot Charlie Adam that dominated the opening period. The former Rangers midfielder was at the heart of a vibrant attacking performance from Ian Holloway’s side, which was ahead inside 15 minutes. Adam’s set-piece delivery allowed former Red Craig Cathcart to lose his marker and head past ‘keeper Edwin van der Sar.
Further goals nearly followed in quick succession, with captain Nemanja Vidic almost putting into his own net before Elliot Grandin fired over from 10 yards out. The midfielder should have done much better.
Then Van der Sar superbly saved David Vaughan’s shot just before the break only for DJ Campbell to head home Adam’s subsequent corner. The two goal lead was everything Blackpool deserved for a superb performance.
If United was lethargic, complacent and casual, the hosts were everthing that is good about Holloway’s management. Indeed, if Adam was the star, United could boast only Gibson, whose time at the club has brought little in the way of consistency save for regular mediocrity.
Yet if Ferguson was culpable for his side’s selection and tactics the manager also gained much credit for United’s turnaround. Swapping veteran Ryan Giggs for Gibson at half time brought at immediate sense of endeavor and urgency. Replacing the woeful Rooney with Hernández effectively won United the game.
United went close from Scholes and then Nani before two goals inside five second half minutes turned the game around in the Reds’ favour. First Berbatov turned in Fletcher’s centre from close range with 20 minutes to go, then with Blackpool barely regrouped Hernández superbly struck from Giggs’ through-ball. If the Mexican cannot gain a regular first team birth on this evidence it is an injustice.
If all the momentum was now with the visitors not once did Blackpool cave in, with Holloway’s side content to push men forward to very last. It proved the hosts’ undoing though as Berbatov scored the winner with two minutes to go. The Bulgarian lashed home past Richard Kingson from Scholes’ pass to earn a seemingly unlikely win.
Ferguson reserved praise for his goalscorers, although in the privacy of the dressing room United’s players must surely be in no doubt how close they came to a first defeat of the Premier League season.
“His [Hernández’] pace and timing of the runs is fantastic. He’s so good at that. He could have scored four goals. He’s made a tremendous impact.
“[Berbatov is] having a great season. He has great talent. The third goal, the composure, I was screaming for him to square it to Chicharito but, no, he has the confidence and ability to do what he did.”
Indeed, the Bulgarian claimed that his team was always confident of victory. Empty words perhaps but a sign that Ferguson’s drive is deeply ingrained even on the sometimes lethargic forward.
“We’re always confident that if we can score one we can score more and that was the case today. We fight like a team. In the second half we showed spirit and we won,” said the striker, who has now scored 19 times in an increasing fruitful season
”You come here, it’s not a friendly ground. The pitch is not as ours back home at Old Trafford. ‘Blackpool played a very good game and scored goals, they could easily have scored more in the first half.
”In the end it was the team spirit that won the game.”
The systemic problems in United’s squad aside, it is that same team spirit that may just bring a 19th Premier League title. But as so often this season, United surely must perform better than this when key matches come round in the Spring.
Blackpool – 433 – Kingson; Eardley, Evatt, Baptiste, Cathcart; Vaughan, Grandin, Adam; Taylor-Fletcher (Harewood 74), Varney (Phillips 68), Campbell.
United – 433 – Van der Sar; Rafael (Anderson 80), Smalling, Vidic, Evra; Scholes, Fletcher, Gibson (Giggs 46); Nani, Berbatov, Rooney (Hernandez 66).
Attendance – 15,574
Man of the Match – Berbatov
Possession: Blackpool 48% – 52% United
Attempts: 6 – 17
On Target: 2 – 4
Corners:6 – 8
Fouls: 11 – 10
23 thoughts on “Tangerine dream brings out best and worst in Reds”
I hate coming on here and criticizing our own players but it is unavoidable. Gibson is an honest player but just not good enough for us. You rightly said, Hernandez has to start. Rooney, while working hard and providing is just not the player he was. Hard to knock the spirit of the team mind you.
One final point is that I am disappointed that Sir Alex hasn’t gone and bought a midfielder. Unless Hargreaves is going to make another Lazarus like comeback.
Some how I just feel that Chicharito is still better of coming of the Bench ala OLE. I mean, when he comes as substitute he is Fresh and he has lot of speed to burn against the Tired Defenders, he also has composure to Finish things off. So I would say for now just give him that ROLE and KEEP the pressure on Rooney as Chichrito’s time will surely come.
“Unless Hargreaves is going to make another Lazarus like comeback.”…
When did he make the first one?
“Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”
Just those glorious 6 minutes of 2 misplaced passes and a torn hamstring
This is a bit leftfield but could we play Rooney in CM with Fletcher in 4-4-2? JH DB up top. Or is that just too attacking!!? Would at least like to see it. I do think Rooney’s future is as an attacking midfielder or in the hole, especially in his latter years.
I have been screaming for this for last couple of years now on veriuos blogs. I mean, I am always of the opinion that why the hell we are going out searching for the Scholes’s replacement when we have one players made for that Wayne Rooney. I mean, he can score we all know, he has a good shot in him, much improved header since last year, committement to defend when required and whats more he has eye to catch the pass and ability to complete the pass as well. I am sure that there are very few players in the game today who can pick a long ball, specially switching the wings ball like scholes does and Rooney is one of them. He is always on the charts of Assists as well. Then why not just try and go for another Number 9 and Make him the direct replacement for Paul Scholes instead of searching for CAM left, right and centre.
I must say that Giggs is an absoluetly fantastic athlete. He has got himself into tremendous nick this season & his spirit was terrific. What a difference passion makes. He really is a model for everyone at the club. Fraid to say that Neville, in particular & Scholes, unless the pace suits him, are another kettle of fish. SAF must see something in Gibson but what it is baffles me. Can someone out there please tell me what he offers (apart from long range shooting)? It would be better if he was shot at close range. Adam might be very slow must he is 10 times more effective than Gibson. SAF needs to decide pronto what he intends to do with Rooney this season. Is he a defensive winger? an out & out striker? a playmaker? He has been awful this year but he is not going to improve if he is messed about. And can someone please tell me why the greatest manager in the universe starts with three midfielders with no pace, four if you include Rooney,against a team who start every game like Wombats from hell?
// Can someone out there please tell me what he offers //
Nowt. But then, Fergie adores O’Shea too. Maybe he just likes big Irish lads?
Dear Ed/Mod/Etc… why can we no longer login on the main site? Can’t be arsed with the forums…
Yeah I agree that everything about Giggs. But then I am of a opinion that He should be used sparingly and more as a Impact Sub may be for 30-45 minutes. He just cant play 90 minutes anymore and his performace level drops if he is played for full quota.
About Gibson.. He is JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH. And nether he is at the age where he can improve a lot. Just dont waste your time on him anymore…
Gibson is a one trick pony, he has a kick on him like a mule. Gibson cannot tackle, his passing is pathetic and his work-rate is poor. Definately not a United player.
You are right about Rooney. I hate to down this player but he is just not himself. I believe he really wants to play his best but something with him is holding him back. Has definately lost his killer instinct, is not goal hungry as he was before. SAF will need to place on the bench and and start Hernandez. Rooney coming on as a sub may just put some spark in his game and he may just regain his scoring touch. If he continues to play like this for the rest of the season, his future will be in doubt. Can’t pay him all this money as your main striker and he has no goals to show for the season. But otherwise, the team is in good position, so lets keep the faith.
mule or pony, make up your mind! For chrissake, his bollocks depend on your decision!
Rooney could well be set for some time on the bench. Surely Berba and Hernandez deserve a run in the team up front.
And please stop playing Rooney on the left – it does not work and is a defensive move.
When Valencia returns, Nani will be able to play left and add to the options
I was a bit disappointed that we conceded both our goals from set pieces in the exact same manner.
In the 1st half,Blackpool were quite easily exploiting the chinks in our defence.
But the introduction of Giggs changed it all.
To be fair to Rooney,he is continuously being played out of position so how can we expect him to hit top form?
Atleast last season he wasn’t changing roles that often and we all know the result don’t we?
He fucked a prostitute?
Hernandez will surely get his opportunity to start against Saints, if he scores and plays well, he’ll hopefuly start against Villa next week.
United improved a hell of a lot once they switched to 442, but it didnt stop Rooney giving the ball away. Could really do with him finding some form before the games get tougher in March.
Playing 351/433 is not working away from home (unless we’re playing for a draw e.g. City) because while Berba’s hold up play is good, he dosent run the channels and the midfield is not close enough to him or running beyond him. The pace of Tony V (if he still has it) may be important later in the season when he returns.
I have to agree that Gibson has had his chances this year and failed. However, given that it appears that six are already leaving the club this summer – he may get one more season before moving to one of the bottom 3.
Ando should have played. He’s not the new Scholes, but we look better when he’s on the pitch.
Oh for Fucks sake go throw yourself off a bridge and do the world a favour.
Yep Gibson has had more game time recently and you get the sense its his oppotunity to get a new contract. I’d say it would be more likely that he will end up getting sold. Feel Wes Brown should be getting more game time – he hardly gets a chance, but for me is still a very solid defender. I’d rather have him in the line up than Evans, O’Shea or Fabio.
I feel too that the players are believing in themselves that they can win the title. Their morale and confidence is high because they remain undefeated and are 5 points clear at the top. You should see their play improve as the season goes on. Yes there is talk of a lot of changes come this summer. It will be interesting.
I know the intensity in the EPL is much greater than in Spain, but Barca & Real play, more or less, the same team week in week out, & exactly the same system,even in the Mickey Mouse Kings Cup. I know that players like Smalling, Hernandez & Fabio (even Evans & Obertan) have to be given a chance,but I am old-fashioned enough to believe the more you play togerther the better you get. It’s a bloody tragedy that Rooney has not only lost his form, he has also lost his position.
I don’t believe in changing a winning team and the FA Cup competition is one that the players and fans look forward to winning just as much as the league title.
Play the kids