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Plane Stupid!

 Posted by on March 31, 2014 at 5:54 pm  Aston Villa, Blogs/Media, England, Manchester United
Mar 312014

Manchester United 4-1 Aston Villa
Manchester Uniteds Juan M 009 Plane Stupid!A topsy-turvy day of the first order for United’s under-fire manager David Moyes. Savvy enough to appear out of the tunnel early, ahead of his team and the ’protest plane’ rented by a group of fans to publicly attack his tenure as manager, the dour Scot’s decision to jump the gun on his now openly revealed opposition paid massive dividends. United’s fans, although many of them may indeed be disgruntled over Moyes’ ability to get the job done, clearly showed that they are just as irritated by the naked display of in-house dysfunction as they are with the manager himself. Unlike fans at most of the current top six clubs, United fans fill the stadium week in-week out and are old-fashioned enough not to boo and harass their manager in the dirty-washing-in-public manner of others. Indeed, with the season almost over, any notion of changing horses in the middle of a stream seems pointless when your ride is already chewing at the grass on the other side. At any rate, Moyes was greeted by a significant amount of applause from all four sides of the stadium. Indeed, the plane carrying an anti-Moyes banner was booed by some home fans as it flew over Old Trafford in the second minute. The aerial message organized by disgruntled United fans read “Wrong One – Moyes Out!”, but it was not well received.

Once the actual match began, a tentative United seemed very reticent to move the ball up beyond their halfway line. Indeed, the boisterous backing of the loud, noisy crowd might have easily wavered when Villa’s busy midfield talisman, Ashley Westwood fired an exquisite curver beyond De Gea’s reach by less than an inch in the 13th minute after the award of a free kick for a petty foul on the edge of the box by Jones. Once again, if our defensive wall does not move when a dead ball kick is taken, what is the point of having a wall at all? It was a silly, weak goal to give up, but the fans did not waver.

Yet the goal turned out to be a good-luck potion for the Red Devils. Both Kagawa and Rooney began eating up the turf with their little runs and Villa’s sluggish defense didn’t keep up with them. After a neat little pass from Mata found Kagawa, whose brilliantly hit cross was met an unmarked Rooney, the England striker had plenty of time to nod the ball onto the ground hard past Villa’s goalie, Brad Guzan

From then on, with Villa’s extremely toothless forward line reliant upon Cristian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor, United’s confidence slowly grew and grew into their old bold counterattacking. Thus with Juan Mata way too tricky for Fabian Delph and Leandro Bacuna to handle, he was repeatedly able to draw fouls which led to a number of threatening free kicks. Indeed, Villa had almost made it to half-time only a goal down when Carrick found Mata with a long probing pass and a frustrated Bacuna wrestled him to the ground inside the box in the first minute of injury time. Rooney’s penalty, hit with venom, gave Friedel no chance whatsoever. and United were 2-1 up when they entered their dressing room

73898027 73898025 1 Plane Stupid!When the second half began again, Villa pressed forward but, again, they didn’t take their chances, with Benteke mis-kicking in front of goal from Westwood’s cross and then heading over from a Marc Albrighton delivery. Their staid mixture of passivity and bad luck did them no good at all and those sad missees were punished just before the hour as Marouane Fellaini awkwardly steered the ball into Mata’s path inside the box. The Spanish playmaker had a bit of a problem, double-clutching and having too twist his body around before firing home his first goal since United invested £37m in him in the January transfer window.

Even with a two-goal-cushion United remained disturbingly lax in defense, leaving Benteke plenty of space in and around the Villa area, and Benteke should have done so much better when he avoided the offside trap on the way to meet Ciaran Clark’s spinning ball and push it into the net, but somehow he mistimed his effort and missed the ball completely.

Most encouraging for United was their 4th goal, scored on the cusp of the referee’s whistle blowing for full-time. Substitute winger Adnan Januzaj’s miraculous run down the left flank turned into something extraordinary as he lost to the ball to a quick tackling Leandro Bacuna before leaping, stealing the ball away with his toe, landing on cat feet then dribbling his way onto the byline by the goal before firing off a perfect pass for Javíer Hernandez to slide in on and fire home to make it 4-1.

Rooney’s brace against Aston Villa was his first at Old Trafford since he found the net in a 3-2 win over Stoke on 26 October, ending a run of 11 home games in all competitions without scoring. The two goals also moved Manchester’s single most popular Scouse into fourth place in the all-time Premier League goalscorers list, with 171, behind Alan Shearer (260), Andy Cole (187) and Thierry Henry (175).

Of course, it’s self-evident that even if Bayern Munich, who visit Old Trafford in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, have a bad night, they are unlikely to be as wasteful as the Villans were. With so few matches left, United’s seasonal abundance of defensive lapses, many of which were made by players who have already mentally made their departure from the club, must not be allowed to disrupt the unity of the whole unit on Tuesday. The mocking siren call of the naysayers insists we cannot beat the current European champions, but in a pair of home and away cup-ties, anything is possible.
Manchester United v Aston Villa Wayne Rooney 3110287 Plane Stupid!

Ivor Irwin

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