[EXTENDED HIGHLIGHTS] B’pool 2 – 3 United: This Is What Champions are Made Of.
An abysmal first half for Manchester United and quite the opposite for the brilliantly hard working, passionate, dedicated Blackpool. The Tangerines walked off at half time to jubilant cheers from their home fans as their excellent performance featured two well deserved goals, one for former United player Cathcart, and DJ Campbell. Manchester United’s unbeaten record was in serious threat.
United were wearing the white strip that saw them lose their first game of the season against West Ham in the Carling Cup quarter finals, in which they lost 4 – 0. The way they were playing, there would be no surprise if a repeat of that scoreline was on the cards. The first half performance simply was not good enough, and reflected United’s away record this season. Questions of Sir Alex Ferguson’s formation were raised along with the dedication of United players, including Wayne Rooney – on around £250,000 a week, and not showing any of the quality expected. Overall, the United team, specifically the midfield, were an absolute shambles.
Everything was perfectly placed for a typical Manchester United comeback. The performance had to be one hundred times better if United were to complete it, and substitutions had to be used to shake some sense and really just a level balance in the midfield. Ryan Giggs was first on the menu therefore. He had been in this situation countless times in his wonderfully successful career with United, and if anyone could come on and instill the calmness and togetherness that he has experienced throughout his career, it was Giggs.
Berbatov, who had been non existent in the first half, began the almost inevitable breakthrough and comeback with a typical poachers tap-in. Wayne Rooney, who had another poor game, was brought off for the “Little Pea” Chicharito. The little predator duly equalised two minutes later with a slick finish, and, with all of the momentum on their side, Berbatov grabbed yet another goal to win the game, to take all three invaluable points back to Old Trafford while counting their lucky stars that the hosts crumbled under the second half pressure.
Conceding late goals has been an unwelcome feature for the Red Devils this season, and they had 10 minutes of stoppage time to concede a late one. Sir Alex didn’t prematurely persuade the fourth official (Mark Clattenburg) to add on a colossal amount for United to grab a winner just in case they hadn’t already though. Poor Rafael was hurt in a collision with Marlon Harewood, and was stretchered off with concussion. His concerned twin brother followed him through the tunnel, and to the hospital. Hopefully all is okay there for Rafael, who although he didn’t have the best of games, has had an excellent season so far.
Nevertheless, United held on to the end, and showed all of their title rivals just how to complete a comeback against such an inspirational, passionate and resilient side in Blackpool who played in the first half as if their lives depended on it. United once again played terribly at times and got away with it with a complete contrast performance in the second period. It is quite brilliant, but crushing for teams around them watching, as Manchester United move five points clear and still – yes still undefeated.
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