15 points clear, another clean sheet, the title surely on it’s way, then why was the feeling more relief than contentment when leaving a rain soaked Old Trafford.
It would be foolish to label United’s win over Reading ‘vintage’ but the mast important thing was that the Reds got the three points.
Sir Alex chose a mix of first team players with a few fringe squad members thrown into the side, but there was no doubt that the eleven United started with should’ve been strong enough to win comfortably. So what didn’t we? Why was there an audible groan from the masses at Old Trafford when five minutes added time was announced? The rain didn’t help matters, nor did the fact Reading hardly had the real quality that can often make you fearful enough to have an urgency about your play, but let’s not sugar coat what was a decidedly mediocre performance from the Reds.
Here’s five things we learned from a wet showing at the Theatre of Dreams.
Anders Lindegaard can forget about the number one shirt.
Remember when Sir Alex seemed unsure of who his best goalkeeper was? It’s a distant memory now, ironically probably due to Lindegaard’s performance against Reading at Madejeski stadium. The fact even when the United boss rests players and it’s an easy tie, he will no longer give Lindegaard the chance shows the Scandinavian is no longer in the managers thinking as anything other than an understudy.
Robin Van Persie REALLY needs this two week break.
With no United games for a fortnight the due to the international break, it’s the Reds top scorer who may just feel the benefit of that more than anyone. Van Persie looks like a different player from the one who almost single-handedly destroyed sides several months ago and it’s now more than ever that the Dutchman needs a rest from the pressure of leading United’s title charge.
Rio for England could stop the double.
Rio Ferdinand produced one of the performances of the season, not only being masterful in defence but carrying the ball forward with aplomb for United’s goal. Should Rio upset his fitness by appearing for the national side, that could be the difference between United enjoying a great season and a truly awesome one.
Ashley Young deserves more time.
The former Aston Villa man may not be everyone’s cup of tea and he hardly set the world alight against Reading, but it would be ridiculous to make any judgement on his United career based on a pretty average showing in a match that suffered torrential rain for large parts of it. Young may well not be up to United standard or he could be exactly what the Reds need, but despite having been at Old Trafford for nearly two seasons, there’s still a case for either argument and it’s not yet time to make a decision. Yet.
Michael Carrick is undroppable.
As soon as the midfielder entered the fray on 74 minutes the Reds looked a far more assured side as Carrick immediately showed his class on the ball. There may only be nine league games left, but until the title has red ribbons on it, the former Spurs man shouldn’t miss any of them.