Anthony Pilkington’s header on the hour mark gave Norwich another big scalp at Carrow Road, how should Ferguson’s Manchester United side react to the defeat?
Here are a few points for supporters consider...
Comeback kings dethroned: It was a testament to just how impressive United have been in coming from behind to win games this season that the Norwich goal was viewed by many as simply the signal for them to start scoring. However this constant Houdini act is hard to keep up, and Manchester United need to start converting their dominance into scoring the first goal in matches, as no matter how good they are in the last twenty minutes of games, they will drop plenty more points if they keep going behind. Teams now start matches against United believing they can score, and that a good defence may bring them three points, United need to recover an air of invulnerability again.
Wayne Rooney: With the fantastic performances of Javier Hernandez off the bench, and van Persie’s prolific start at his new club, there were suggestions the England man may drop out of the starting line-up at some stage. Injury kept him out of the match yesterday, and the loss showed why Rooney is required in this United side. Without his inventive play behind the striker, United looked one dimensional, tearing down the flanks where Valencia and Young were met consistently by a buttress of defenders, before swinging over crosses that Norwich were well set to deal with.
Ryan Giggs: The Welshman shouldn’t have started this match, at least not in the centre of the park. United may not have one outstanding central midfielder to call on, but both Anderson and Cleverley have performed well in recent games and should have been put in ahead of Giggs.
Rafael: The Brazilian was a bright spot for United’s attacking play, raiding down the right with more confidence and flair than Valencia in front of him. His attacking play has been superb all season, but it should be noted the Norwich goal came from an unchallenged cross from the Norwich left back Garrido, and Rafael’s (and indeed Evra’s) offensive instincts are part of the reason for United’s defensive fragilities.
Move on: This was an unwelcome blip for United, with their neighbours battering Aston Villa to go above them in the league, but they have three highly winnable games coming up; at home to QPR and West Ham, before going away to Reading. They need to collect maximum points and also settle their side, particularly in the centre of midfield. The game after those three is away to Manchester City, United will need a resiliency at the back, as well as their dynamic array of attackers, to come out of that game triumphant.
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