By Rasheed Abu Bakar
After Manchester City’s last-gasp winner against Reading, United had to beat Swansea to go into Christmas six points clear at the top of the league.
Having beaten Arsenal at the Emirates recently, Swansea continued their good record against the Premiership big boys as they forced United into their first draw of the season.
The battle of the Premiership top-scorers was on show at the Liberty Stadium and unfortunately for United, Michu’s tap-in meant that the former Rayo Vallecano attacking midfielder edged a goal clear of Robin van Persie in the goalscoring charts, and also limited United to just one point.
The way I saw it, there were only two positives from the game: 90 minutes for Nemanja Vidic – a bonus, given United’s hectic New Year schedule – and another excellent performance from Michael Carrick again.
It still baffles me how the England manager overlooks the former Tottenham man. In my opinion, he is easily the best player in his position and one of United’s most consistent players.
Carrick has been in really good form this season and was bossing the midfield against Swansea. A delicious through ball to Ashley Young, who shot straight at Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm, was another example of his ability to not only spot running teammates but also to put the ball on a plate for them.
He almost sealed a win for United in the second half, but Vorm tipped his header onto the bar. At 31, Carrick still has a few years in him and his experience will be vital for the younger players in the squad.
While Wayne Rooney and Van Persie will rue their missed chances, they should have no complaints about the service from the middle of the park; I just hope the failure them away won’t come back to haunt Ferguson again in May.
Young did not have an excellent game but he was way better than the man on the opposite wing, Antonio Valencia. For some unfathomable reason, the Ecuadorian has become less offensive and the winger didn’t really trouble Swansea left-back Ben Davies.
Many United fans I know share the same sentiment about Valencia. Since swopping squad numbers this season, the 27-year-old looks somewhat less confident in taking defenders on. While the diamond formation showed promise in some games, United’s tradition has always been to have tricky wingers who beat defenders and cross the ball.
The draw at Swansea is not entirely a bad one as United still has a four point lead at the top but the chances that were missed by the front men will worry Ferguson. But knowing the Scot, he will make sure United return back to form for the visit of Newcastle, who will be another tricky opponent.