Manchester United Analysis – Hernandez the shining light once again as late strike sends United through

Bebe 56, Ji-Sung Park 71, Hernandez 90

Elokobi 60, Foley 76

Javier Hernandez was once again Manchester United’s savior as the young Mexican came off the bench to fire Sir Alex Ferguson’s side into the Quarter Final of the League Cup. However, little else will have pleased the United manager on the night.

In the short time in which Hernandez was on the pitch he again illustrated why he is fast becoming so highly rated. He showed continual movement off the ball and when in possession demonstrated the kind of verve, energy and quality which was exactly the tonic United needed to put a tired Wolves defence to bed. In truth the Mexican looked a class above the rest of Ferguson’s men. His performance must be taken in context however. The away side was tiring badly when he was introduced which rightly gave him an extra yard immediately to exploit his blistering pace. It was inevitable he would cause problems, though it was his touch and confidence which so set him apart from the rest of the United players.

Arguably both Bebe and Gabriel Obertan showed the ability to inspire but often when in dangerous positions both lacked the final quality. Bebe grew in confidence and stature following his deflected opener and the same can be said of Obertan once United were playing with the freedom of a lead. However, when Wolves were clawing their way back into the match both players began to shrink and at times were anonymous. Perhaps the most striking contrast with Hernandez was Federico Macheda. The Italian was making his second start in a week but again did little to show he should be involved with the first team in the Premier League. In this match and against Bursaspor, Macheda looked off the pace, sullen and without any spark. This is in stark contrast to the 17-year-old who burst onto the scene with that stunning goal against Aston Villa. Kiko may not be blessed with pace in abundance but it is his quick feet and ability to twist and turn defenders that has seen him so successful in the reserves. There was no evidence of this against Wolves as he appeared laboured when in possession of the ball and slow to react to his teammates. Following a long lay-off last season it appears the 19-year-old is going backwards.

The most worrying performances on the night were those from Jonny Evans and Michael Carrick. Evans is clearly struggling following some high profile mistakes made earlier in the season and looked completely out of sorts. At 22 Evans has made 73 appearances for United, and is extremely highly rated. He is a fantastic reader of the game and has progressed tremendously in the last two seasons; however, all this seems to have deserted him. For United youth player Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Steven Fletcher gave Evans a torrid time in a match where he was expected to marshal the defence, and his performance was worryingly below par. The same can be said of Carrick. The England man was wasteful in possession and failed to stamp his mark on the game and dictate the pace and flow. Being the most experienced player on the pitch in a match where both teams rung the changes, Carrick should have made the midfield his own – something which he simply seems unable to do on current evidence.

Most of these players will be involved when United next turn out in this competition, but other than Hernandez it may be doubtful how much Premier League action will be seen before then.

40 Amos

6 Brown – 23 Evans – 12 Smalling – 20 Fabio

33 Bebe – 16 Carrick – 28 Gibson – 13 Park

27 Macheda – 26 Obertan

74 – 2 Neville on for 20 Fabio da Silva
81 – 14 Hernandez on for 33 Bebe
95 – 49 Morrison on for 13 Park

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