Arrogant is probably the right word for how Manchester United and Alex Ferguson treated their opponents, with Robin van Persie left on the bench and the way Alex Ferguson continues to talk to and about Rafa Benitez. Even the return of Wayne Rooney or the usual Chicharito poaching couldn’t stop his team from owing David de Gea a big thank you, denying another cup exit against Chelsea.
It looked over after 11 minutes, with Wayne Rooney enchanting the Old Trafford fans with the 2-0, following Javier Hernandez’ weird looking header, which up until now I’m not sure was intentional or not. It didn’t matter. A matter of confidence looked like the only thing that mattered through the first 25 minutes, as United pushed forward, acting like their opponents have no quality to attempt a comeback. They forgot, probably, that they’ve already dropped a 2-0 lead against Chelsea this season, only to be rescued by terrible refereeing decisions.
And as it always happens, United couldn’t dominate a home match for more than 20-30 minutes. For all their consistency this season, it’s rarely been a long stretch of quality performances. Even against the likes of Reading and Southampton, United seem to wither away if they get the early lead, sometimes for an entire half; earlier this season it was about not showing up for the first half. In any case, those claiming this is a weak United side in comparison with past seasons, won’t be so off the mark. The Premier League has just gotten weaker in recent seasons, while Ferguson himself keeps his team in better mental shape than the rest.
Something has turned off in Nani, sometimes last season. The man talked about the most this week, besides Wayne Rooney, is rumored to be one of the more electrifying wingers in the world, but it’s been almost a year since anyone has seen that kind of form from him in a United uniform. For every Javier Hernandez goal he comes up with two more difficult to miss chances that he actually misses. Wayne Rooney worked hard and scored, but wasn’t very influential for very long.
A one man team? Robin van Persie has been out of sync for over a month, and his entrance was too little, too late. United lost momentum, and you usually don’t shift it by changing strikers, when your team is on its backheels, fighting to keep a lead. David de Gea could have done more in the second goal, but by then, Chelsea were carving the defenders in front of him every opportunity they got, as the midfield completely collapsed, and Jonny Evans felt like it was the first part of the season, when he seemed to be defending alone against counter attacks.
And again, all the criticism against De Gea disappeared with a brilliant save in the final moments after Juan Mata ran rampant in the United box. Alex Ferguson blamed fatigue, but no team has been more busy than Chelsea this season. Ferguson applies rotations as well, just like the manager he loves to criticize, but for once, he was outclassed on his home pitch both tactically and the following behavior, with no referee to blame for the goals conceded this time.