Manchester United have a habit of scoring late, late goals, a habit that brings them back from the brink of redemption all too often. This uncanny knack is an innate quality of a team that is dubbed to have a never-die attitude.
United snatched a draw against Russian side CSKA Moscow which further validate United’s inveterate habit of late, vital goals. Indeed, it was Antonio Valencia’s 91st minute deflected strike that earned the Reds a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The point of my blog tonight is to question the motives of playing under-strength sides. Against CSKA, United gave a Champions League debut to Federico Macheda, handed a second start to Fabio da Silva and rested a number of first time regulars.
The culmination of a rookie United side resulted in what one newsreader called “play-time at Old Trafford” for the Muscovites, a clear nod to the newly born Kai Wayne Rooney. Indeed, his father Wayne Rooney cut a brooding presence on the substitute’s bench, as CSKA set about exposing a flapping United defence. The late fightback spared United’s blushes, but cannot act as a carapace for a slow-witted performance.
Now, let me firstly say that I regard Sir Alex Ferguson in somewhat heroic light, but secondly add that some of his decisions leave me scratching my head at times.
His decision to constantly change his side may be apt considering the array of talent he has at his disposal, but personally I feel it adds to create inconsistency. Ferguson, in particular, has struggled to strike upon a trusted combination in midfield this season, with a string of combinations being used. The likes of Carrick, Anderson, Fletcher, Scholes, Nani, Valencia, Park, Giggs, Obertan and Tosic have all been played at some point this season.
United’s lack of stability of presence in midfield has seen the Red Devils stuttering for form, something that continued with the raft of changes that resulted in a draw against CSKA. One of last year’s key performers, Michael Carrick has looked under-confident after being benched early in the season, and I feel sure that players like Scholes, who are in and out like yoyo must struggle for consistency, as must the team.
I guess it will always be the nature of being a football fan to not understand manager’s decisions, and let’s face it, we wouldn’t have much to yarn about if our manager’s made the decisions that we wanted all the time.
But, one thing is for sure. When superstar players like Wayne Rooney are left out sides, they will inevitably be needed at some point. So why not play them from the start, let a lead develop and then haul them off. It just makes more sense to me, but I am just a football fan, what do I know.