MANCHESTER UNITED 3
Berbatov 33, Fletcher 41, Giggs 85
NEWCASTLE UNITED 0
As Chelsea started the 2010/11 Premier League season in much the same vein they finished the previous one, so did Manchester United in Monday evening’s game against Newcastle United.
A sluggish opening period saw plenty of ball-retention, a solid back-line performance and a slightly off-colour Wayne Rooney up top. As with Chelsea’s game on Saturday, last night’s first half was brought to life by two goals, with the home side benefiting from some errors in their opponent’s play.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were indeed a little fortunate to find themselves up against the team from Tyneside, not just for the mistakes presented them, but as a stronger side may have punished some of his players’ sloppy work too. Nani’s first half failed trick on the outside of his own box, quickly followed by Darren Fletcher gifting the ball to Newcastle with a man advantage on the break, were two fantastic opportunities a side with an experienced, attack-minded individual would have made the most of.
As it was, the chances were not taken, most significantly between the first and second Manchester United goals. Paul Scholes again made a telling contribution, with several passes through and over the Newcastle defence, but only one was capitalised on in the first half through Dimitar Berbatov’s sharp finish on 33. With the goal, Newcastle switched off, missed the chances United gifted them, and an untracked Patrice Evra run resulted in the second goal, effectively ending Chris Hughton’s side’s chances.
The second half was played out under Scholes’ supervision, with any number of passes proving the difference between United playing keep-ball and actually looking to add to the score. His involvement in the third goal was again another example of his vision and ability on the ball.
It is too early to single out players who performed badly, with pre-season shuffled up by the World Cup, and literally only a week ago. However, by Scholes’ example, the more experienced players look set to make another significant contribution, and one can only wonder what Ryan Giggs would have done with the number of crossing opportunities a surprisingly heavily right-footed Nani wasted, particularly with the No 11’s cameo in the final quarter of an hour.
Ultimately, Manchester United benefited from coming up against a team that not only provided them with enough opportunities to win through their errors, but were also unable to punish the mistakes the Red Devils made themselves.
1 van der Sar
22 O’Shea – 23 J. Evans – 15 Vidic – 3 Evra
25 Valencia – 24 Fletcher – 18 Scholes – 17 Nani
10 Rooney – 9 Berbatov
63 – 14 Hernandez on for 10 Rooney
71 – 11 Giggs on for 17 Nani
87 – R. da Silva on for 3 Evra