February Review & Stats: Rooney’s Scissor Kick & 29-Match Unbeaten Run Ended
With the remembrance of Munich Air Disaster, February is always a month that is humbling for Manchester United, but there were a couple of instances that heightened those feelings. Not only did United see their 29-match unbeaten streak in the Barclays Premier League come to a screeching halt, but the supporters witnessed one of the most passionate Reds, Gary Neville, called curtains on his Old Trafford career.
There were most certainly some shaky moments for the Reds on the field during February, but United has maintained their top spot in the Premier League table, advanced to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup and have the advantage in the Round of 16 UEFA Champions League tie. United ended the month with a very respectable five wins, including a very narrow win in the FA Cup, from their seven matches, but the lone loss, and the goalless draw in the Champions League will
Of course, it would have been nice to see United go the season undefeated, but maintaining that streak was always going to be a challenge with the bulls-eye that came with it, losing that could very well be a blessing in disguise, because it was becoming more and more of a distraction.
During the month, United has scored 11 goals and 10 of those goals were assisted – the only goal that an assist was not collected was Wayne Rooney’s well-executed overhead kick, because Nani’s cross took a telling deflection. It was good to see that, statistically, Rooney has reignited his season by scoring four goals and adding two assists during February, which takes his season totals to six and 11, respectively.
On top of the two goals he scored, Nani, who should be in the running for the Player of the Year in the Premier League, added two more assists to increase his league-leading total to 14 – three more than his closest competitors.
Even though Rooney and Nani had very good months, offensively, it was a defender that was United’s best player in February. Like he has been all season long, Nemanja Vidic was immense, and backed up his words that he wanted to set his own example for being the Reds’ captain, and did he ever do that.
On of top of his superb defending, and with United nervously clinging to a single goal lead against Villa, Vidic put his foot through the ball and scored an amazing goal that most center forwards would have been proud of. Even though the big Serbian has been without partner, Rio Ferdinand, for the last four games, Vidic and Chris Smalling two of the major reasons that the Reds’ defense have currently boast a scoreless streak against of 295 minutes.
In their first three games of the month though, United were not as sound defensively and conceded four goals.
United kicked off the month by hosting Aston Villa at Old Trafford, and the Reds stormed out of the gates and scored a 3-1 victory. Rooney scored two first half goals, one in the first 50 seconds, to give United a commanding lead, however, the lead was halved by Darren Bent’s simple tap in, only for an absolute screamer from Vidic to secure maximum points for the Reds.
Next up for United, was a trip to the Midlands where they have stuttered all season long, and the Reds finally suffered their first loss with 2-1 loss to Wolverhampton. Nani gave the Reds the best of starts with an early goal, however, poor defending on two set-piece goals allowed George Elokobi and Kevin Doyle to give Wolves the unlikeliest of wins to Premier League’s worst team.
Most clubs would have had their confidence buckled, but seven days later, United earned a fully-deserved 2-1 victory over City in the Manchester Derby. Nani opened the scoring near the end of the first half, but his fine effort was canceled out by a deflected City goal, which will be awarded to David Silva for his telling touch off his back side. However, the brilliant bicycle kick from Rooney showed the class that still separates the two Manchester clubs and the Reds retained bragging rights for another season.
Some of the inexperienced United players were introduced to the magic of the FA Cup as the Reds narrowly defeated Crawley Town 1-0 in the Fifth Round. On that day, the 93 places that separate the two Red Devils in the English football standings was not definitely apparent, and full credit needs to be given for the brave effort put forth by the Blue Square Premier League side. Wes Brown was handed a rare start and the captain’s armband, and he repaid that faith by heading in his first-ever and the defender’s goal was enough to see United advance to the Sixth Round of the FA Cup.
The Reds’ Champions League campaign restarted with a trip to the Stade Vélodrome to take on Olympique de Marseille, and it ended in a stalemate. The goalless draw was a fair result, because much of the game was played in the midfield, and neither team took too many risks, so the two-legged tie will be decided at Old Trafford in the middle of March.
To close out February, United had a short trip to the DW Stadium, and the Reds continued their hex over Wigan with a 4-0 victory, which, to date, is their biggest away win of the season. ManUtd.com’s January Player of the Month, Javier Hernandez, scored two goals of the highest quality, and Wayne Rooney and Fabio, who scored his first-ever senior goal for the Reds, added the other goals for good measure for United.
In all, February was your typical month for the Reds, but with a lot of vital games, including two huge away fixtures in the first six days, during March, Manchester United will more than likely face a stern challenge to keep their season’s aspirations alive.
01 – Aston Villa (BPL) – Old Trafford – W, 3-1 (W. Rooney 2, N. Vidic)
05 – Wolverhampton (BPL) – Molineux – L, 1-2 (Nani)
12 – Manchester City (BPL) – Old Trafford – W, 2-1 (Nani, W. Rooney)
19 – Crawley Town (FAC) – Old Trafford – W, 1-0 (W. Brown)
23 – Olympique de Marseille (UCL) – Stade Vélodrome – D, 0-0
26 – Wigan Athletic (BPL) – DW Stadium – W, 4-0 (J. Hernandez 2, W. Rooney, Fabio)
GP 6 W 4 D 1 L 1 GF 11 GA 4 GD +7
W. Rooney – 4
J. Hernandez – 2
Nani – 2
W. Brown – 1
Fabio – 1
N. Vidic – 1
D. Fletcher – 2
Nani – 2
W. Rooney – 2
D. Berbatov – 1
D. Gibson – 1
R. Giggs – 1
E. van der Sar – 1