Coming into this game, most United fans will have been wary about the potential Bolton have to frustrate on any given day.
Saturday afternoon at Old Trafford proved to be just that. A tie that required United to grind out a result against a Bolton team that more than held their own and did not allow United to create the clear cut chances they are capable of. Indeed, at half time, one could not really decide who was the better team and a scoreless draw was a reflection of the football that had been played, a summation of which was shown with Rooney attempting to replicate his overhead antics as he did against Manchester City.
Bolton were composed on the ball and their own self assured team display pushed Sir Alex Ferguson into some half time changes, most notably, Hernandez being replaced by Berbatov. At half time one could argue that he was a little unfortunate to be taken off, but the logic behind the decision was justified late on, as Berbatov sent a timely reminder to Ferguson that he is not to be forgotten by scoring his first substitute goal in a United jersey to give United what could prove to be a crucial victory. Here are five things that could be taken from Saturday’s game.
1) The lack of defensive options has worsened
Coming into the game, United’s defensive situation was looking difficult, at best. With Vidic, Rafael Da Silva and John O’Shea all injured as well as United now facing the very real prospect that Rio Ferdinand will be out for the remainder of the season, the last thing United needed was another setback to add to the substantial list of concerns regarding the back four. Unfortunately, this seemed to be the case on an afternoon that looked to be bleak. Wes Brown was forced off at half time to be replaced by Fabio and the situation was made yet worse by Johnny Evans who was sent off for a reckless tackle on Holden.
In truth, there can be no complaint regarding the decision, with the rules as they are there was simply no getting away from the fact that it was dangerous, with studs showing and meaning that Holden had to be replaced. On a day that presented Evans with a chance to impress, this was one of the worst things to have done. Despite the belief it was a sending off, it did also highlight the fact that the lack of consistency between referees is also clear, as for a similar challenge on Nani, Jamie Carragher only received a yellow card.
Down to ten men, Michael Carrick dropped back to fill the gap in the back four and were able to hold steady when most United fans were thinking the possibility of a draw would be a good result.
2) The international break could not have come at a better time
With United’s mounting injury problems, the international break will certainly provide some respite in allowing a couple of weeks for some defenders to recover and be brought back into the side to help solidify the back four once again.
Although O’Shea is due to be missing for 5 weeks, the international break will provide some time for recovery without missing many more vital game at the business end of the season, with Rafael also due soon after the break finishes. Perhaps more importantly, Nemanja Vidic is set to return by this point, providing a timely boost at a time when he is most needed. It is also hoped that the claims about Ferdinand’s season being at an end prove to be inaccurate, although that remains to be seen.
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