For Manchester United, their latest win as they run away with the Premier League, was about Rafael scoring a rare goal and Ryan Giggs with the finisher putting a solid and remarkable performance (at his age) in the middle of the field. For the rest of the league, only Robin van Persie being slightly injured seemed to be causing any interest.
Sometimes the title race is as dramatic as possible, with the decision being made only second before the final whistle. Sometimes, as United open a 15 point gap (temporary, or not) over Manchester City without causing any sort of excitement with anyone. Simply efficient, and keeping mistakes at a minimum. Even without Van Persie in any kind of impressive form, not to mention his hurt hip which took him off the pitch after only 41 minutes, QPR were never any sort of problem.
It begins with Michael Carrick. Not always the one recognized for United’s success, at 31, Carrick continues to be one of the more calming and clever influences in the middle of the park for United and in England, who’s lack of speed has no longer become a problem since United have picked up their point getting pace, while the defense has looked so much better recently. Carrick will never be mentioned as one of the best midfielder in the Premier League, needless to say the world, but his positioning and ability to dictate and change pace is something Tom Cleverley, a different kind of player who didn’t show up for the Loftus Road breezer, has plenty to learn from.
Alex Ferguson doesn’t change, even against the worst team in the Premier League, using deceit and trickery to change QPR’s pre-match preparations by hiding the fact that Wayne Rooney is fit enough to play. Not that Rooney is playing his best attacking football at the moment. With the league pretty much wrapped up and delivered for United, it’s all about keeping the right people fresh for the Champions League. Rooney has more of a tactical role in store for him against Real Madrid, and in general, he hasn’t been doing so well as a striker or something similar this season.
The winger formation hasn’t been working perfectly for Ferguson this season, but shifting back to it, as Nani and Ashley Young got their chance to shine, is a nice change of pace and decleration this team isn’t out to give up control of the match. When United are in the 4-4-1-1 or its variants, it means it’s not a match they plan to fall back to their own half and defend in. No need against the likes of QPR. Ashley Young played on the right to make it a tad easier for Rafael, because when Nani plays his wing the combined lack of defending is cause for concern.
Is Nani a new, changed man? Possibly. He hasn’t been doing anything brilliant, but at least he’s relatively restrained and tactically disciplined in recent chances given to him by Alex Ferguson.
Something learned? Not much, except that United are almost 100% with the championship in the bag. It’s going to take more than a Robin van Persie injury to take that away from them.