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Dec 012014

Manchester United 3-0 Hull City
79395393 smallinggoal2pa Robin Roars!Manchester United finally look like a team that is beginning to gel. Although the injury curse struck again—we’re now up to 43 and maybe 44 with Angel Di Maria yanking a hamstring and possibly Wayne Rooney suffering from bad bruising after taking a fall in the last minute of the match—United definitely put in their best collective shift thus far. With the Red Devils managing to control the ball for 77 percent of a decidedly one-sided, albeit entertaining, spectacle, it’s an easy one to shrug and write off. Hull, however, although not a great side are an obsessively tenacious ensemble with a number of useful young players. Truth be told they were overcome by both Louis Van Gaal’s tactics and United’s collective energy.

With the swirling quorum of Michael Carrick, Angel Di María, Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini already well in charge of the game, nothing much changed after Dí María pulled a hamstring and limped off in the 14th minute and was more than adequately replaced by Ander Herrera. With Wayne Rooney periodically making connections, the Yorkshire Tigers, pulled all over the midfield, simply couldn’t cope. Scoring was just a matter of time. The first one coming in the 16th minute as a deft Valencia ran down the right flank, feeding one into the box which led to a goalmouth scramble. As the ball ricocheted around the box, technology confirmed that Hull’s goalkeeper Allan McGregor had accidentally prodded Chris Smalling’s weak shot over the goal line.

Rooney all but secured the three points after 42 minutes when Van Persie teed him up to bend a low shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards. The rest of the half seemed to be an exercise in easing the goalscoring anxieties of striker Robin Van Persie. With even Louis Van Gaal confirming to the press that the big Dutchman was suffering a lack of confidence, ratcheting up the pressure, his nervous state was illustrated in a crystal-clear manner when, put through by a superb Ashley Young effort, Van Persie narrowly avoided the offside trap and closed in on McGregor’s goal. Unfortunately, instead of firing home a lob, he sidefooted the ball straight at the goalie.

79392931 smallinggoalpa Robin Roars!Nevertheless, Van Persie kept seeing a lot of the ball and it was his deft footwork that set up United’s second in the 42nd minute after Juan Mata had fired a neat diagonal ball to Herrera. The little Basque midfielder nodded the ball down. shifted infield to the Dutchman and watched with a smile as his lay-off was put ruthlessly beyond McGregor by a rampant Rooney.

Atypically, United started the second half cold and slow. When Hull’s Andy Robertson sprinted casually driving through United’s sleepy defense before having his shot easily saved by David De Gea, it put a familiar scare into United’s rickety back line. The pressure was on now, however. Hull’s center backs Michael Dawson and James Chester simply couldn’t cope with Van Persie. Just after Dawson received a yellow card for one foul too many on the Dutch striker, Van Persie finally came through as Herrera intercepted a Robertson pass, squared the ball off to Van Persie and, watched, amazed just like everybody else as he fired a vicious left-footed masterpiece past a stranded McGregor in the 66th minute.

Having watched happily as Van Persie got the third goal, the Iron Tulip promptly pulled him and brought on the long injured Radomel Falcao. And although the Colombian missed a sitter from close up in the last minute, it proved to be a happy day for all and sundry in the United camp.79392755 waynerooneygetty Robin Roars!

Confidence should be high for Tuesday’s game against Stoke City. Better to go into combat with the biggest bunch of Hard Men in the Premier League at Old Trafford than away in Staffordshire. Expecting to escape the situation Potteries without getting some bruises isn’t realistic, is it? Nevertheless, I’m praying for no more injuries and will be crossing my chewed bloody fingertips throughout the match.
79205412 wayneroomeygetty Robin Roars!

Ivor Irwin

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