Norwich visited Old Trafford on Saturday. Certainly it was a game that most United fans were looking past as we all know they take on Real Madrid on Tuesday for the second leg of their Champions League clash. Well, I thought we all knew about the match, but did Ferguson?
When I first saw Saturday’s line-up I was shocked to see the names of Van Persie, Rooney, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, and Valencia all slated to start the match. I then thought about which three I thought would be subbed off early to ensure top stamina for the Madrid match. While whichever three that was, I still began to panic a little knowing that the other three would be playing the full 90 today and then will have to be in top form for Tuesday.
Despite United owning most of the possession in the first half it looked like they were going into the locker room scoreless. That is until Kagawa scored his first of the match in first half extra time. I was very relieved to have the 1-up and thought we would be seeing some new faces for the second half, hoping to God that likely the exit of RVP and Rooney, or surely at least one of them, would be in the cards.
The Devils returned to the pitch for the second half, and to my shock once again, there weren’t any subsitutions. I began to get a little more antsy with Ferguson’s decision – I mean we have the likes of Welbeck, Hernandez, Nani, Young and Cleverly. What is going on???
The 60 minute mark had the ball going out of bounds but still no substitution signs! Now I’m yelling at Ferguson through my television set, begging for a substitution, feverishly abusing my voodoo doll. Finally in the 66th minute, he took out RVP. I’m still grumbling because its Rooney that I felt needed to be substitutuded most due to his constant running on the pitch. Also, we must note that Rooney played as a midfielder in leg one at Madrid and had to be substituded in the 84th minute.
The 70 minute mark came and went, as I continued my feverish pacing, yelling at Ferguson to take Rooney off. Finally, 74th minute the substitution sign pops up, but to my dismay it’s Anderson comming off!!! WHAT!?!? I was seriously tripping nuts, but to eaze a little stress Kagawa netted again from a nifty set-up by Rooney himself.
Ok, its the 76th minute and we’re up two goals, and still owning the ball. Can we PLEASEEEE take Rooney off the field?? NO! 87th minute rolled by and it was Rooney again setting up Kagawa for the hat trick goal. So now we’re up 3-0 in the 87th minute. I know subbing Rooney that late might not do much for Tuesday’s fatigue level, but what about avoiding an injury??
At the 90 minute mark, Rooney was still chasing down players, running after the ball like a mad man. He scored a brilliant 20-yard strike over the keepers head. It was nice to see Wayne score a brilliant goal, but too many people are caught up in the show. Even knowing he scored, I’d much rather have him subbed off as early as possible and ensure his fitness for Tuesday’s match.
The game ended 4-0 for United. Ferguson didn’t even use his 3rd substitution, something I strongly disagree with.
Real Madrid played Barcelona on Saturday in a match that didn’t mean much according to standings, but when these two teams clash it’s always business! Well, usually… However Mourinho being well aware that he had to face United on Tuesday elected to start his stars Ronaldo, Ozil and Khedira on the bench. Ronaldo and Khedira ended up comming on the pitch for a half hour at the end to prepare for Tuesday.
We must all remember that if tied 1-1 this match goes to extra halves, putting the United stars at a further disadvantage. I feel Mourinho just showed smarter tactics then Ferguson before the match even started, and despite United being at home, Madrid may be 1-up already on the match.
If you take Rooney off the field before 90 minutes i will be angry! And if this match goes into extra halves I will be verrrrry angry!!! You sir have Jack`d me off!
photo credit: nasmac via photopin cc