Five Things We Learned – Manchester City FA Cup Semi Final
3) Paul Scholes should not be made a scapegoat
When tasked with picking out five aspects of a game that can be learned, it is very easy to forget all other games prior to the one being reviewed, and using the opportunity to slate anyone that set a foot wrong during the match. For example, a short sighted argument would be to declare Michael Carrick a true great for his performance midweek against Chelsea, and then label him “transfer listed” in an apoplectic rant after the next game that saw a less than average showing, simply based on trying to take something away from the game. Of course, this is not what I am claiming, although Carrick was not at his best, but I am merely picking an example on which to illustrate the point.
Based on this, the logic could be applied to Paul Scholes. Now, we take Scholes for what he is, a superb attacking midfielder that, along with Ryan Giggs, has provided performances that defy his age, reminding us of one of the greatest midfielders the Premier League has ever seen, but one who’s tackling ability is an obvious flaw. It would be easy then, to make a scapegoat out of him after Saturday’s performance, if one were to forget the many contributions he has made throughout the season. Indeed, his challenge on Zabaleta was reckless, and warranted a red card for dangerous play.
However, with City controlling the game as they were, it looked as if the one goal was going to be the deciding one. From this, it would be far to easy to say how he is now “too slow” and it is time to retire on what was a bad day, but the fact remains that this aspect of his game has been apparent throughout his career, and that regardless of his he is rightly lauded as a true great at United.
4) Dimitar Berbatov – Faltered on the big occasion
After a clear indication that Javier Hernandez was the preferred strike partner to Wayne Rooney, Saturday’s FA Cup tie provided the perfect opportunity for Berbatov to give fans a reminder of what he is capable of, and that he is not to be forgotten. A starting role should have provided a chance on the big stage to impress Ferguson at a time when other options seem to be taking priority.
However, he failed to live up expectations, emphasised by two clear chances to give United the edge in the tie. The first being a one-on-one situation after a slick through ball that put him through on goal, only to be denied by a good stop from Joe Hart. Shortly after, however, there was little excuse when from two yards out and an open net, he slid in to make contact with a ball across that ended up over the bar. The rest of the game remained largely anonymous for the Bulgarian on a day where he surely will have felt he could have done better.
On the subject of Hernandez, he was brought on to help rescue the game after going a goal behind, but with being down to ten men, such opportunities were rare, despite the little Mexican trying to provide a threat in carving out a half chance for himself late on. Valencia seemed to go quiet before being replaced and Park, though hard working, simply could not provide the same effect that had been so positive in the Champion’s League midweek.
5) The winning goal was avoidable
Despite City being the better team, United will be left to contemplate what might have been had they not made such errors that allowed Toure in on goal to slot home the winning effort. Van Der Sar showed he was human after all with a poor clearance that then saw Michael Carrick give the ball away trying to play a pass. Such wasteful play in their own half with a City team looking to pressurise meant presenting them with a clear chance and take the lead that proved to be decisive in sending Manchester City through to the final, and giving them their first chance at Silverware in 35 years.
All in all, a disappointing day for Manchester United. The chance at the treble is now beyond them, and Sir Alex will no doubt be looking to pick up his mean in time for the game against Newcastle on Tuesday. Despite no longer contesting the FA Cup, United will be looking to get back to business in securing the Premier League as well as preparing to take on Schalke in the Champion’s League, hoping to ensure another trip to Wembley, this time with a more memorable outcome.
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