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After a busy week at Old Trafford that saw David Moyes contentious reign ended and stalwart Ryan Giggs take over as interim manager, Norwich City were the visitors for a game that many hoped would bring a feel good factor back to the club.
Giggs’ team selection wouldn’t have looked out of place if it had been Moyes picking the team but after a slow start, the team were comfortable 4-0 winners and could have scored more. The only bone of contention for fans would have been the inclusion of Tom Cleverley and omission of Juan Mata. Mata would make a second half impact however and his two goals along with a Rooney double were just reward for a positive performance.
Norwich are now looking down the barrel of relegation with Chelsea and Arsenal their remaining games. Judging by their performance at Old Trafford it would be very surprising to see them getting anything out of those games.
Here we take a look at some the main talking points and invite comment/debate from all fans.
Class Of 92 In Session
The roar was possibly the biggest of the season as a suited and booted Ryan Giggs made his way to the dugout. Giggs looked every inch the manager of Manchester United and his first trot down the steps to remonstrate with the referee was greeted with glee by the masses. With Scholes, Butt and Phil Neville alongside him, this was a moment that may be a permanent fixture in the years to come. The selections of Kagawa and Welbeck were explained with the logic of both having been successful in previous games against Norwich. The team itself started slowly and seemed to take time to shake the cobwebs from attacking freedom that had been locked away under Moyes.
The second half was more like the United of old with freedom to move and the introduction of Juan Mata brought another level of creativity to the attacking play. In the bigger picture however there was nothing in the team selection here that we hadn’t seen under David Moyes, it was more about the confidence, belief and freedom instilled in the players that made a difference.
Norwich were woeful and it would have taken a performance of biblically poor proportions for them to get something here so it’s important not to get caught up in any hysteria with Giggs in charge. It would be folly to suggest Giggs has done anything here to suggest he deserves the job full time. A more practical solution would for Giggs and the other class of 92 players to operate as part of the coaching staff under an experienced manager like a Louis Van Gaal before being considered for the management role further down the line.
At least the smiles were back however.
Rooney Stifling Those Around Him
Two goals from Rooney disguised what was another ‘so-so’ performance and his impact on those players around him is starting to become an issue. It might seem absurd to be critical of a player who has scored and created plenty this season but do we get the best out of Kagawa, Mata and Januzaj when Rooney is involved?
With his new contract it seems extremely unlikely that Rooney would be going anywhere but if Van Gaal comes in as suggested, what sort of role can we expect for him? It seems very unlikely that he would be selected over Van Persie for the striking role and is Rooney a better creative number 10 than Mata? If the team were to shape up in a 4-3-3 style or with just one central striker then Rooney may be moved wide to accommodate this.
Either way it’s a conundrum that the new boss will have to figure out quickly as it’s very hard to see how Rooney, Mata and Van Persie would fit into one team.
Tom Cleverley In His United End Game It Would Seem
Cleverley was a surprise on Giggs’ teamsheet yesterday and try as he might, it seemed nothing would come off for the lad on the field. The cheers as he left the pitch were nasty and uncalled for when a player is trying his hardest, even if it isn’t coming off for him.
Cleverley gives the impression of a man who is defeated at Manchester United, whatever he now tries or however we support him it just isn’t going to happen. It’s a huge shame for a kid who had worked so hard to get where he is and made such a positive impact to start with. Injuries and an over reliance on Tom in a midfield where he was never going to be a player who should be selected every week exposed his weaknesses. The negative fan reaction to his poor performances didn’t help matters but it just never seemed to improve and sporadic, poor performances when selected this season have left Cleverley as a man who doesn’t appear to know when he will next catch a break.
It seems inevitable that Cleverley will leave in the summer with Everton already registering an interest it seems. If he does move on then we can only hope he rediscovers that belief and performances which had fans excited about what he can do.
Since his arrival Mata hasn’t set the world alight but he has settled in and quietly gone about his business well. His demotion to the bench yesterday was seen as the right call as many in the media but it was his impact that made the game comfortable for United. We saw more marauding runs from Mata here with several lovely balls through to release team mates. One pass with the outside of his left foot was just perfection in its weight and direction.
As United look to rediscover the attacking zeal of old in the last few games it seems the likeliest source will be our little Spaniard. He now looks settled and we can only hope yesterdays exciting cameo is a sign of the future for him.
It’s very hard not to love him.
It was a game we should have won even with Fred the Red in charge but it was pleasing to see United try and attack a team for a change. If we can have more football like the second half for the rest of the season then Giggsy will have done ok.
The debate over Giggs getting the role full time is far too early to start however it’s got to be a more experienced manager for me at this moment. Once we have a better base to work off then Giggs’ time will come.
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