By Rasheed Abu Bakar
On a week that saw Sir Alex Ferguson celebrate 26 years in charge at Manchester United, his team of superstars continued their worrying trend of coming back from behind to win games.
After the trio of Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Rio Ferdinand missed the Champions League tie in Turkey, Ferguson recalled them for the visit of Tony Fernandes’s Queens Park Rangers side that was winless and rooted to the bottom of the table.
On paper, many expected a clear victory by two or three goals, but United kept their latest fashion faux pas boots on and once again came from behind to seal the win.
In his post-match interview, Ferguson admitted that the habit of coming from behind was unhealthy and that United only sprung to life after conceding, and only “played for 10 minutes.”
I thought that was harsh on QPR. If United only played 10 minutes and still managed a 3-1 win, what would have been the score if United actually ‘played’ the full 90 minutes? Regardless of his views, Ferguson knows he cannot afford for this trend to continue.
Rooney and Van Persie looked jaded even after having the mid-week off and Ashley Young had one of his worst games in a United shirt. If I recall correctly, he managed the same number of passes as new-found goal-scoring centreback Johnny Evans. While Evans was lauded for his display alongside Ferdinand, Young was deemed ineffective and taken off early in the second half.
If it wasn’t for Ferguson sitting in the United dugout and standing proudly in brass outside the Sir Alex Ferguson stand, I felt United would have drew the game and blew the chance to capitalize on the bore draw at Stamford Bridge. The Scotsman simply has this knack of coming up with timely substitutions that can affect a game.
He knew Javier Hernandez had at least a goal in him, and Anderson was going to capitalize on any opportunity to impress in the first team. Like a perfectly-written script, both of them combined for United’s third goal, which ended all hopes for QPR. Picking up the ball from defense, a slimmer-looking Anderson galloped – yes, galloped – through the midfield and threaded a pass to Hernandez, who took one touch before sending Julio Cesar the wrong way.
It seems to me that United go into most games tranquillized and only wake up after conceding a goal. When the opponent scores, United players get a jolt to the system and drowsily wake up to realize their predicament.
This has happened nine times out of 13 games so far. We are not even halfway through the grueling season and have been relatively lucky with injuries (except Nemanja Vidic of course), but these comeback games do push the players to the limit.
They have to work extra hard in search of that equalizer or winning goal and also have to scamper back when the opposition counter attacks. It has been somewhat of a tradition for United to always do things the ‘hard way’, but I do hope that traditions don’t last forever as the new generation of United players beckon.
Rasheed's love for Manchester United started way back in the nineties after he watched a crazy old Scot named Sir Alex Ferguson run onto the sacred grass of Old Trafford, screaming and jumping for joy as Steve Bruce headed in the winner against Sheffield Wednesday in the 1992-93 season – easily one of the most influential games that spurred United to claim the the inaugural Premier League title. Since then, it has been Manchester United and nothing else.