Mediocre, boring and dull are all words that would be perfect to describe the performance Manchester United gave as they inched closer to securing yet another Premier League title, as Wayne Rooney provided the only worthy strike to give them a win while their bizarre and slightly lucky streak of not conceding continues.
Bizarre, because the United from earlier this season began matches almost two goals down, serving as a target to chase until the end of the match, and suddenly they might finish with the best record in the league. Lucky, because as usual, penalties aren’t whistled against United (in the EPL) when they play at Old Trafford, and Nemanja Vidic, in a season he’d like to forget (maybe his last for the team), actually fouled Adrian Mariappa, but Lee Mason was probably in Old Trafford mode and forgot to notice the call, despite it happening before his very eyes.
When it comes to football, there wasn’t much left to talk about. United are still carrying subtle depression from their “unjust” exit (depending on who you ask) from the Champions League and luckily for them, the man who was forgotten on the bench that day until it was a little bit too late, Wayne Rooney, is in pretty good form, at least scoring-wise, showing to everyone that Alex Ferguson can blame more than just the Turkish referee for another early exit from the to competition in Europe.
The stutters of the midfield were more evident than ever, as not having Michael Carrick on the pitch was a bit too much to overcome. The combination of Ryan Giggs and Anderson with a helping Wayne Rooney didn’t really give United the kind of attacking verve they needed to create chances in front of Stuart Taylor’s goal, and Reading at some point understood that United, as always, do not have the ability and quality in the middle of the park to dominate a match for more than 25-30 minutes, even when playing at home.
It’s hard to tell by only 16 minutes, but United were a much better team when Carrick came onto the pitch instead of Anderson, who’ll probably be playing somewhere else next season, as the amount of chances to give him to show some sort of exceptional or even above average ability are running out. One impressive assist in one season isn’t a reason to keep him on a team that is desperate for more quality in the middle of the park.
Rio Ferdinand is back in the England squad, and although it’s arguable if he actually deserves to be playing for the national team, his performance against a weak Reading side was good enough. If it wasn’t for his deep run, maybe Wayne Rooney doesn’t score his goal. It really doesn’t matter, as the amount of intrigue left in United matches in the league has run its course this season about a month ago.
Robin van Persie continues his terrible form, scoring only one goal in the last 10 matches in all competitions. While it is hurting the way United look and impress, it does serve as a arguing point for Alex Ferguson, if anyone ever tries to tell him his side is a one-man team.