MANCHESTER UNITED (1) v (0) READING RATINGS
David De gea (6) – in truth, he had very little to do, Reading sparing him the sort of aerial bombardment Anders Lindegaard was subjected to at the Madejski back in November. 5th clean sheet in the league as well.
Chris Smalling (6) – coming in after playing for the u-21s v West Brom, this wasn’t so much a chance to impress as it was to build match fitness. Steady at what he did, sensible in possession but hardly showed any sort of initiative on the attacking front. Was also shown up for pace a few times by Jason Mcanuff but more than held his own.
Rio Ferdinand (8) – Called up to the England squad, it is a vindication of the player’s unshakeable belief in his own ability as well as a backtracking on the part of Roy Hodgson. He was magnificent here, his interception, the run that followed embroidered by a clever trick to evade his marker before setting up Rooney for the matchwinner. Also picked out a superb pass for Ashley Young in the first half. Incidentally, he was the highest passer on the pitch and man with best completion.
Nemanja Vidic (7) – it is no accident that this current run of clean sheets has coincided with our captain’s return to regular first team football. A brilliant organiser, he provides the brute to Ferdie’s silk, making a massive 18 clearances all game. Perhaps was lucky to not concede a penalty in the 2nd half after a shove on Mariappa in the box.
Alexander Buttner (6.5) – understudy to Evra, he put in a ‘competent display’, deigning to show his considerable skills on the offensive front as he grappled with the skillful Robson-Kanu. Arguably matched him better than Evra did at the Madejski, completing 4 tackles, the most on our side. He did have one moment of quality, surging into the box after receiving a cute ashley young pass but it ultimately came to nothing. Is showing signs of improvement though.
Anderson (6.0) – It is odd to see two left-footed central midfielders line up but United did that. Anderson made a welcome return to the starting XI after playing with the u-21s, trying to drive on the team with his energetic and purposeful play. However, that Manchester United was unable to gain control of the game is something the midfield should take responsibility for and Ando, along with Giggs, did not have the best of games in this respect.
Giggs (6.5) – Marginally better than Anderson, he illustrated that there is still sprightly energy in those nigh-on 40 year old legs of his, going on a couple of interesting runs, particularly down the wings. However, with Anderson, he failed to truly seize control of the midfield.
Welbeck (6.5) – It’s the same story for Danny. Lovely approach play, neat passing spoiled by erratic finishing or a miscued cross. Not his best game, not that anybody had theirs, but worked hard and showed off his impressive pace and dribbling of the ball on a few occasions.
Young (6.0) – He has not scored in 20 games now. And counting. Admittedly, his season has been disrupted by injury but he has hardly shown the form of Aston Villa. Once compared to Messi and Ronaldo (patently hyperbole), his night was summed up by being substituted after picking up a knock. He did play a nice pass to Buttner from which the Dutchman had a chance but apart from that, was quiet once again.
Van Persie (6.0) – It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what has gone awry with Van Persie in the last few weeks. His last goal was against Everton, a game in which he could and should have scored more. Tired? He had a chance to score after being played in but dallied on the ball, wanting to switch to his stronger left foot. A confident Van persie would have buried that with either foot. Did have a couple of good strikes, one from a freekick, but the drought continues.
Wayne Rooney (6.5) – 9 goals in his last 11 games should not obscure the fact that this was hardly stellar Rooney. His deflected strike won the points and he should take credit but apart from that, it was a generally listless display from him summed up by attempted lob late on in the second half.