Let’s all just pause for a moment and say well done to David Moyes. Giving the extreme pressure he was under on Wednesday night, and on the back of intensifying speculation that his position at the club was quickly becoming untenable, this was the most aptly entitled “must win game”. In a season of set backs Moyes has taken the brunt of abuse, conversely however, he deserves praise when things go right. Last night, things when right! While the acid test will be his ability to see out the remainder of the season with similar performances and results, it is with genuine heartfelt happiness that I salute him. As he strode down the line towards the Stretford End to rapturous applause, no one could dare take away that smile from his face. You can bet for the first time in a long time, Moyes slept soundly.
The game itself was as intense as it was exciting. It wasn’t vintage United, it got tetchy at the end, but with the disastrous display that unfolded on Saturday, fight and pride was all we asked for, and fight and pride is what we got – in abundance…. as well as a clean sheet and the three goals that was enough to see is through.
While Van Persie will receive the plaudits for his hat-trick, De Gea will be praised for his double save and Rooney will be lauded for his tireless endeavour, for me, the night belonged to two others . Two players who couldn’t be at more contrasting periods in their careers, but together give us faith for the future through the forgone.
Ryan Giggs The Sublime and The Home Truth
Ryan Giggs…. Peter Pan, Benjamin Button (yes that is a compliment) or the “Freak”, as he was described by Moyes in his post-match press conference, was in sublime form, rolling back the years to provide equal measures of guile and graft. Purring like a vintage Rolls Royce, the Welshman supplied a consistent level of creativity that has been devoid all season. It was his lofted pass to Van Persie that led to the penalty and subsequent opener, whilst Giggs was also instrumental in the second, as he once again hit a pinpoint long ball – this time Rooney was the acceptor and his cross found the on rushing Van Persie to net. Prior to this however, Giggs was yielding rewards from his wand of a left foot as he set up great chances for Welbcek, with a fantastic first time ball around the corner, and Rooney who seen his header agonisingly hit the post.
Giggs’ performance only serves to strengthen the unanimous belief that an offensive midfielder, above all else, is not just needed, but required to rejuvenate this faltering side. The incisive nature upon which defence was turned into attack last night, seen United for the first time this season actually play the united way and exhibit the quick, counter attacking football associated with the club under Ferguson.
Last night’s game also saw Giggs make his 140th appearance in the Champions League, taking him to within two appearances of current record holder Raul. If anything, it is imperative that we progress to the semis, even if it’s just to give the most decorated player in the history of English football one final record to celebrate.
Danny Welbeck Manchester Born and Bread
Keeping in line with the tactical difference Giggs made, Welbeck’s performance can be construed as just as instrumental. Contrary to popular belief, Welbeck did not play as a conventional left-winger, but instead had a somewhat free role confined to the left side of the pitch, almost playing, dare I say the famous Ronaldo role of Europe. By staying forward and pinning their right-back back his devastating pace ensured their back four retreated deeper, afraid he’d get in behind them.
Welbeck provided United with the attacking outlet of pace and power that is synonymous with United of the past, but has ultimately been devoid under Moyes. He was instrumental in the first half with one moment of absolute magic standing out, when he skillfully spun away from three players with a great touch and turn. One thing you will always get from Welbeck is fight and desire. As a Manchester born lad who grew up supporting United, he too, just like the fans must feel the pain of such degenerating digression. The immediacy of modern football does not lend itself well to the development and fostering of a local kid who harboured hopes of representing his favourite team, into reality. United, known for having an almost revolving door of talent and providing opportunity, have too admittedly seen a decrease in the amount of local academy graduates making the grade- Welbeck being the antithesis.
Having local lads in your team ensures there is an extra sense of pride and spirit. In a game fuelled by money hungry mercenaries, players of the ilk of Welbeck are hard to come by. We will never see the likes of the “Class of 92” again as such we must cherish every chance we get to celebrate a local lad who has “made it”. From a fans perspective there’s not much better than watching an academy graduate, who has come through the ranks, prosper at Old Trafford on a famous Champions League night. It has an aura of football romanticism that cannot be matched.
As we once again, got to witness Giggs “tear them apart”, for what could have been his last ever appearance in the Champions League, we too saw the type of performance from another lifelong United fan that suggests we have reason to be positive and it’s not all doom and gloom in M16.