A Festive Tale of Sunderland, of Tom, Cleverly Curling around the ‘keeper, Goals, Victory and Vases!
WINTER is in the air and the United collective sing in one voice, the festive chants return; Twelve Days of Cantons rang out of Old Trafford yesterday and ‘Walking in a Fergie Wonderland’ was back on the setlist as well. If Manchester United are going to make good on the song’s promise to be ‘back in May’ to take the Title away from Mancini and the Council House lot, United would need to build on the City win with three points against Sunderland AND victory with a few extra goals for wouldn’t hurt either. Sorry Sunderland, this may be the season to be jolly but when you’ve got a struggling side in opposition, you have to make them pay.
Luckily the team was reading from the same hymn sheet on Saturday. Straight from the off, United were mighty, inventive and attacking. Wayne Rooney looked lively and Robin Van Persie looked alert, Our moment of Match of the Day glory beckoned when Patrice Evra, in a forward position (I know) sent a shot into East Stand orbit and over our heads. One other player who has previously come into stick from many United fans, is enjoying a good run of form and is arguably showing what Ferguson saw in him, to some Ashley Young is still not good enough for Manchester United but it was thanks to him that we had a lead to build on. He held off Carlos Cuellar and crossed in for Robin Van Persie to smash the ball into the net after a nice unfortunate assist from former red John O’Shea.
The second goal was truly a thing of beauty with Tom Cleverley starting and ending the move brilliantly. He was involved in everything, he passes to Evra before setting off on a run outside of the Frenchmen, Cleverley then cuts inside for a pass to Michael Carrick, darts between two Sunderland players as the return pass is made into space, and curls a first time shot around the keeper.
Sunderland were offering nothing to suggest it was going to be anything other than a walk in the (Trafford) park, in truth the visiting side were lucky they were only two down; Wayne Rooney had a couple of good chances, a volley and a header from an Evra cross, he’d later hit the woodwork after an Antonio Valencia cross and Ashley Young could have and probably should have netted the rebound.
Elswhere, in news to once again disspoint those at Sky Sports, David de Gea had another good game; particularly in the second half when Sunderland decided to give it a go. He saved from Craig Gardner and then Sessegnon from close range and had to be alert when James McClean’s long shot took a deflection off Paul Scholes, it took David’s leg to keep the ball out on that occasion and on another he saved a Connor Wickham shot with his feet. He was as always visibly angry when United conceded the goal, an easy header from the unmarked former red Frazer Campbell. No clean sheet for David but nowhere near the bad day at the office John O’Shea had at the back against his former team.
Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney on the other hand are building a partnership to be proud of. Robin was alive to everything on Saturday, especially his goal but also the third he assisted for Rooney. Van Persie spread the ball to Ashley Young out wide then continued his run, got the ball back and danced between the hapless Titus Bramble and Carlos Cuellar (who had if you remember, lost an earlier battle of strength with Ashley in the run up to the opening goal… a stellar days work there from him). Van Persie puts the ball across the area and Rooney finishes easily despite having both John O’Shea and Jack Colback for company.
There was many a Christmas reason to be merry, even if we did take our foot off the gas somewhat when we had cruised far ahead. We could have put more distance between us and Sunderland earlier and we shouldn’t have switched off defensively but Nemanja is back in the first team after injury and he’ll sort that out, you can be sure of it. Tom Cleverley’s goal was gorgeous, and United are six points clear.
Normally that is where the fun ends, but a selection change on the Given to Score team sheet meant that Mike came along for the game and as a result of this, the adventure continued until sometime later Saturday evening. Football is half about the games you watch and half about the experiences you have while you are watching them and I can tell you now that being in a pub while Pete Boyle is standing on a table singing the verses to ‘Eric the King’ is a memory I’ll treasure.
The beer was flowing, many a can was raised into the air and weeeeeeeeeeeeee drank to Eric and sang about City. I tried to figure out how to get the huge Cantona print off the wall and home without being spotted and Mike watched as a couple of vases were placed on a table by bar staff.
Mike and I made it home in one piece but the vases, they were broken.