Two schools of thought in football: One says that results are all that matter, and it doesn’t matter how you win. The other says that ability, good or bad, in the long range, will eventually catch up with you. It’s easy to understand that after another bad game, decided after only 33 seconds, Alex Ferugson is hoping the first school of thought determines the fate of Manchester United.
This time there was no comeback needed. Robin van Persie conjured up a play from the book of Dennis Bergkamp, but his goal was “ruined” by James Collins, who lunged at the ball and created a loop too difficult for Jussi Jaaskelainen to handle. His 12th goal in 18 matches for Manchester United, who keep on winning despite all the criticism around them.
For once, Alex Ferguson didn’t have anything to say about his defense needing to play better. Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling did very well at centre back. Ferguson opted for his faster midfield, with Cleverley and Anderson, who weren’t really tested by West Ham counter attacking. Sam Allardyce’s teams don’t come flying through the middle and the flanks; they send long balls to Andy Carroll types in hope that one of them falls in the right place.
The rest of the match, which means more than 90 minutes including injury time, was United trying to find a way through the forest of elbows and trees and get a second goal before a usual rout begins. Not this time. West Ham were as disciplined as teams get, and losing 1-0 at the Old Trafford didn’t seem to make anyone on the Hammers bench budge in discomfort. There was no opening up the formation and allow United the kind of play they wanted to happen.
So Robin van Persie gets to be the hero. It was somewhat of a new generation thing, as Rio Ferdinand sat on the bench, watching Evans and Smalling do very well, unlike his own performances, which include one glaring mistake almost every match. Those offers from abroad and from the Premier League itself, including West Ham, look a lot more lucrative now that he might have lost his place in the lineup, although a spot in the first XI isn’t certain for anyone when this is Alex Ferguson’s team we’re talking about.
Anderson and Cleverley with Michael Carrick behind him instead of Paul Scholes, and the forgotten Ryan Giggs. Scholes is still someone Ferguson prefers over almost everyone, but his mistakes are beginning to outweigh his virtues on many a night. Giggs seems like on a fast course to retirement.
Wayne Rooney wants a goal, you can see it on every move and play he tries to build. Being the creator for others is nice, but Rooney, while not exactly being the classic striker type still loves to score goals. While Ferguson is very pleased with his no.10 and his performances as the attacking midfielder behind Chicharito and Van Persie, Rooney hasn’t scored in the Premier League in over a month, way too much for him, despite all the chances he seems to be getting and creating for himself.
Will the result be the important thing, or will United’s disappointing ability catch up with them at some point? For now they lead the Premier League table, something they’ve gotten used to by now, after so many years. With Robin van Persie in this kind of form, ability and quality isn’t that much of a necessity at this stage of the season.