Monday, August 16, 2010

The great divide

Man Utd 3-0 Newcastle Utd

Remind me why we wanted to be promoted again?

To be honest, tonight was always really going to be about the positives. So let's start with those.

1. Bigger Lad, on his own up front, gave Jonny Evans and arguably the Premier League's best central defender Nemanja Vidic plenty to think about, proving himself to be both an aerial threat and deceptively skillful on the deck. His movement from an early corner completely bamboozled the Serbian, though he should have done better than plant his free header wide. He'd also forced Edwin Van der Sar into action with a shot before our hosts drew first blood.

2. Mike Williamson looked conspicuously assured and at times even elegant at the back (fleeting reminiscences of Jonathan Woodgate even came to mind), though perhaps more prominent than his composure was his commitment in the tackle, most notably when played into trouble by a stray square ball from partner Fabricio Coloccini.

3. Wayne Routledge and Spidermag were both lively - though that liveliness was confined to separate 20 minute spells, the former's from kick-off and the latter's shortly before being substituted.

But...

1. While Championship opponents are often accidentally charitable when presented with opportunities, we were reminded - as if a reminder was really necessary - that in this division defensive errors are nearly always punished. Spidermag was caught in possession and Jose Enrique out of position for the first goal, the latter's attempted interception only diverting the ball more comfortably into Dimitar Berbatov's path; Routledge was daydreaming and Begbie too easily beaten for Darren Fletcher's second; and Enrique's overplaying on our bye-line eventually cost us the third. 11 of the 13 players we used have featured in the Premier League before - 10 of them for us during our relegation campaign - so there's no excuse for naivety.

2. Alan Smith offered all the protection to our defence of a chocolate fireguard, while Kevin Nolan might as well have been Coleen Nolan for all the use he was in marking Paul Scholes. The 35-year-old midfielder - whom, lest we forget, was written off by the Journal seven long years ago as not fit to lace Kieron Dyer's boots and went on to score a hat-trick - again claimed the man-of-the-match award, revelling in the time and space afforded to him.

3. Our sole debutant James Perch looked like a liability at right back. Booked relatively early, he never had the measure of the tricksy Nani. With Sol Campbell not yet match-fit and Steven Taylor, Danny Simpson and Tamas Kadar all out injured, Chris Hughton's defensive options are seriously limited.

Still, we're safely ensconced in 17th, one place above the relegation zone, courtesy of our alphabetical superiority over West Ham, so let's hope the FA declare the season over tomorrow. Failing that, we can console ourselves with the fact that the campaign starts on Sunday with the visit of Villa.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian
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4 Comments:

Blogger Bob Mueser said...

I've been meaning to ask, how much of a difference there is between the cost of fielding Man U's starting XI and our own?

1:03 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:57 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

OK Bob - based on the starting line-ups: Harper - free, Perch - say £1m, Coloccini - £10.5m, Williamson - £2m, Enrique - £6m, Nolan - £4m, Begbie - £5.8m, Smith - £6m, Routledge - £1.5m, Spidermag - £9.5m, Bigger Lad - free = £46.3m. Berbatov and Rooney alone cost £55m...

Still, it wasn't a particularly good showing from what must be close to our most expensively assembled XI.

5:58 pm  
Blogger Bob Mueser said...

I keep forgetting that we (Americans and Brits) think very differently when it comes to the "cost" of a player. You think of the transfer fee. We think more of the annual salary of the player (mostly for Salary cap reasons).

For example you said that Sol Campbell is getting 35k/Week. To me a veteran back making 1.8M is a good deal. Even Rooney's 90k/wk or 4.6M/yr doesn't seem all that much for a super start player considering:
Sidney Crosby (Hockey) would get 110k/wk or 5.5M/yr
Peyton Manning (US Football) would get 194k/wk or 10.1M/yr

I guess my question is more what's the difference in the upkeep of the teams?

8:08 pm  

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