Unfortunately for the lads, the Manchester United players weren’t suffering from any Christmas hangovers. I don’t think any Sunderland fan really believed we’d get anything from United today and there were to be no shocks at the end of the day. What did come as a shock though was Roy Keane’s selection and formation. Opting for 4-4-2 against one of the best attacking teams in the country raised a few eyebrows, but the big surprise was to come. Keane brought 17-year-old Martyn Waghorn straight into the team and upfront with Kenwyne Jones. Kieran Richardson was back after a lengthy lay off, with a back injury, and on the bench.
Again Keane persisted with Dwight Yorke in the middle of the park and it is quite remarkable that he’s lasted so long in the team this season. Yorke has never been a central midfielder in his career, so what makes Keane believe the veteran can play in this position in the Premier League is unbelievable and to pair him with Dickson Etuhu, who, to be honest is woeful at best, is a shocking move.
Manchester United’s class was clear from the beginning and the whole game had a training session feel to it. United were spreading the ball all over the park with ease, their players couldn’t have looked any more relaxed if they tried. Our midfield was none existent and gave the already woeful defence no cover; the team weren’t helped by Etuhu’s persistent attempts at giving free kicks away around the edge of the box. United took the lead on the 20th minute and never looked back. Horrid defending left Rooney one on one with Gordon and there was only going to be one outcome.
Ten minutes later they were two up, Rooney was allowed far too much space down their left and was able to pick out Saha who comfortably slotted the ball past Gordon from close range. The only chances we got were efforts from 25-30 yards out and never looked like troubling their ‘keeper. Man Utd got their third on the stroke of half time, a fantastic free kick from Ronaldo from 25 yards out, leaving Gordon with no chance.
Half time: 0-3
Grant Leadbitter was brought on at half time for Ross Wallace, switching young Waghorn to the left wing, and changing to a 4-5-1 formation. The second half was slightly better than the first, we had some good passages of play but we never really created any chances. It was easy for United today, far too easy, of course there is a massive gap in class but we should at the very least be battling and trying to stop them playing. We lacked fight and character which are two things we’re going to need if we are to stay in this division and not do a typical Sunderland.
We were 4-0 down on the 86th minute after Man Utd were awarded a penalty for a trip on Nani from Danny Collins, Saha smashed the ball past Gordon. Craig Gordon has had a lot of unnecessary criticism this season from some sections of the crowd, today he showed his potential with some brilliant stops and stopped the game ending in a cricket score.
Full time: 0-4
One of the positives from today was the fans, who were terrific in the second half despite witnessing an inept performance in front of them. Though I can’t understand why some would cheer the fact that Wigan won today as they are a team we really needed to get beat.
A lot needs to happen in January if we are to stay up this season, there is no doubt that what was brought in during the summer is simply not good enough. Hopefully lessons have been learnt and we will bring in the necessary quality to keep our place in the Premier League.
MOTM – Dean Whitehead, the only player to show any real fight for the team.