Madness at the MadejskiBy: Ian | December 2nd, 2012
Please forgive this report for being somewhat limited in the time frame it considers. Against West Ham last week, the goal came in the first minutes and I was confined to writing about chances and no more thereafter. After yesterday’s away match against Reading, I will be forced to do exactly the same thing, although I will extened the focus to just beyond the half hour mark. The reason for this? Seven goals in that time. Those looking for comments praising rock-solid defensive structures should look away now.
In two thirds of league games this season, Utd have gone behind first (10/15). So let’s revive that old favourite sentence from the clipboard: Utd started badly and went behind first. It took just eight minutes, for seven minutes we were on for a clean sheet – and that was close to the record. It’s getting ridiculous now. In an example of things to come, Evans’ clearing header didn’t clear the ball anywhere but to the feet of Robson-Kanu, who volleyed sweetly across the box and past Lindegaard. Could the keeper have done more? Possibly, but it was a sign of little confidence that Utd displayed throughout.
It wasn’t long before the comeback switch was flicked (for those interested – it’s on the arm of Sir Alex’s seat in the dugout, and usually kept fully charged). Utd moved swiftly forward only five minutes after the Reading goal, with RVP and Anderson interchanging to find Young, who released the ever-improving Anderson. The Brazilian took it instantly, perhaps surprising the keeper, for it shaved the inside of the post as it flew in. Parity restored on 13 minutes.
Young then found himself wide and it took a great sliding block to prevent a dangerous cross. The corner was taken and the ball found its way towards Evans, who despite moving away from goal, was subject to a very stupid barge from Tabb. As obvious a penalty as you can get, and it was calmly dispatched by Rooney. 2-1, and this is just 16 minutes in. I hope no one was late arriving.
Everything seemed to be going the right way, but a wire shorted out under the comeback switch with the Utd bench staring at it in horror as its light went out. Looking up, they saw scenes of absolute havoc, as Utd completely forgot how to defend. Nicky Shorey marked up two quick assists as on 19 minutes, Le Fondre headed home, and then on 23 minutes, Morrison did the same. It was now 3-2 and the technicians were desperately working on that switch, for the consequences of its breakdown were hideous to watch. The defence were shambolic, reaching and winning nothing, so one wondered how many more goals were coming. From both sides mind, because Reading’s defence didn’t have the best of days either.
Smalling replaced Rafael, who looked pretty cross, but this was not the game for him at all. On the half hour, just seven minutes after the last goal, Evra and Young did a great one-two featuring a great flick from Young. Evra kept the ball low, so Rooney found himself with an easy tap-in finish, which he duly completed for 3-3. THREE minutes later (might as well be talking in seconds here), Rooney’s subtle touch found Van Persie clean-through and onside. A right-footed strike took the ball around Federici for 4-3. What on earth next?
The fans were complaining about the lack of drama, so into the mix was through a goal-line technology debate moment. After a bit of scrambling in the box, Van Persie just smashed it into the goal only for the ball to come out again off a defender. Replays showed the ball well over the line, and would it have taken that long to just check the TV? It wasn’t even close to being a controversial decision. It should have been five, but four it remained.
Anderson suffered an injury just before half time, out for a few weeks now apparently, and that brought a topsy-turvy half to a close.
I’ll kept the second half report brief. It was a far slower affair, with Utd probably having the upper hand. The finishing went awry a bit after the break, with even Van Persie skying his effort after robbing Federici in possession. Morrison had a final header turned over, but the scoreline was to remain as it was.
Overall view on the game? Utter madness. Four goals scored and only 1 better off in terms of goal difference. The defence in the first half was as bad as its been, in a pretty bad season for them so far and Sir Alex said as such in the post-match discussion. Vidic is back in training and may feature in mid-week, but he’ll need some time to get back up to speed. It’s Man City next week and if we defend like that, the 6-1 defeat will start to look quite appealing. The neutrals would have loved the game, but for me, the game showed the very best of Utd’s attacking flair and the very worst of the back four.
Thoughts on this crazy match below please, there is sure to be some.