Cathcart 15, Campbell 43
MANCHESTER UNITED 3
Berbatov 72, Hernandez 74, Berbatov 88
Manchester United put in a stunning comeback to come from two goals down at Bloomfield Road and extend their lead to five points at the top of the Premier League.
Sir Alex Ferguson was able to use his substitutes’ bench to devastating effect by introducing Ryan Giggs at half-time and Javier Hernandez midway through the second-half. Both had an immediate impact. Giggs brought some stability to a United midfield which was continually bypassed in the first-half. The Welshman’s touch enabled his team to get a foothold in the match, bringing some class to what was a laboured United performance before the break. His control to bring the ball down on a difficult pitch before lofting an inch perfect through ball for Hernandez showed both skill and a fantastic awareness of others around him.
The introduction of Hernandez was a bold move by Ferguson, as removing Wayne Rooney at 2-0 down could easily have backfired, showing the manager’s supreme confidence in his young Mexican striker. Chicharito did not disappoint. Immediately he looked a threat, constantly wanting to exploit his pace behind the high line of Blackpool defenders and the way he trapped the ball for his goal without breaking his stride showed what a top striker he has the potential to become. Whenever he makes a run his immediate thought is getting into a goalscoring position and if he can continue in the current form he may well have a big say in what trophies end up at Old Trafford this season. Mention must also go to Dimitar Berbatov who put in a master class of playing back to goal and took both of his goals with his customary aplomb.
It was a fantastic display from United in the second-half but the first-half showing was up there with the worst of the season. Ferguson got his team selection wrong by starting with a midfield containing both Darron Gibson and Paul Scholes. Returning from injury, Scholes looked off the pace in the opening stages and question marks were certainly being asked about his fitness. The 36-year-old did prove his fitness and again showed his value to this side with his second-half showing. Gibson was below par throughout the first 45, giving the ball away cheaply and contributing to a midfield which was too flat and was continually overrun by a Blackpool side showing far more desire than their United counterparts. United were also very poor at the back before half time with Chris Smalling looking all at sea and Nemanja Vidic struggling without his usual partner Ferdinand. To concede two goals from set pieces showed a lack of concentration which will worry the manager.
United may have again showed the battling qualities steeped in the history of the club but if they put in more performances similar to that of the first-half they may struggle to improve what is a poor away record.
1 van der Sar
21 Rafael – 12 Smalling – 15 Vidic – 3 Evra
24 Fletcher – 18 Scholes – 28 Gibson
17 Nani – 9 Berbatov – 10 Rooney
46 – 11 Giggs on for 28 Gibson
66 – 14 Hernandez on for 10 Rooney
80 – 8 Anderson on for 21 Rafael