Me used to be a angry young man
Me hiding me head in the sand
You gave me the word, I finally heard
I’m doing the best that I can
- Nani and Berba a la Lennon (John, not Aaron) and McCartney
Nani and Berba are simply like that Beatles song… Getting Better.
- Wiper, Canadian football pundit. And unwitting source of opening quote
After Chelsea unexpectedly decimated Villa and Arsenal expectedly drew at Birmingham, the onus was right back on United going into Saturday’s away fixture at Bolton, one of the trickier ones in the run-in, and the first in a three-game week involving them, Bayern and Chelsea. And the second two fixtures in that list convinced Fergie to leave Rooney and Ferdinand back home for this trip, to ensure they didn’t aggravate their respective knee or back problems. Which left us with the slight problem – who is going to score our goals? We needn’t have bothered. There was always one player we never leave home- our very own (well not literally), very prolific and very irresistible Own Goals.
As Samuel slotted home beautifully from the inch-perfect Ryan Giggs pass, questions naturally arose over how United can get so many own goals this season – goals which have had a profound impact on the eay the table is looking right now. In this particular case, it is well possible that Samuel fulfilled a long-standing childhood dream of getting on to the end of a Ryan Giggs cross to finish perfectly in the bottom left corner. Nothing wrong with making your dreams come true, ’tis the stuff that Shakespeare talked of. However, he would’ve now realized that there is no ‘I’ in team, not in Bolton, nor in Owen Coyle. Nor in Lofty, Bolton’s mascot.
Speaking of, very premature of that mascot fella to leap in the air as Muamba’s well-placed shot seemed headed straight for a textbook-perfect top right corner finish before VDS went Mr. Fantastic on its ass. The 4 camera angles that the producer kept replaying couldn’t figure out how he had managed to stretch himself so much while already in the air, but one of the cameras did catch Lofty lofting himself into the air just at the precise moment VDS tipped the ball around the post. Seems to me like Samuel is not the only one with loyalty issues in the team.
Owen Coyle may have promised that Bolton will play football from now on, confirming everyone else’s fears that what they’d been playing all along was a mutant version of the game with one goalkeeper and 10 bouncers. However, old habits die hard, and as Bruce Willis said in that movie, Bolton were mostly ‘Yipee ka yay, Mother f**ker’. Judging by the number of clearance headers that Nemanja had to put in, the aerial ball still is quite a significant part of Bolton’s game plan. The other parts of the plan included a good dose of Elmander making a nuisance of himself across the back four and a generous helping of sugar, spice and everything nice. Unfortunately for them, their opponent was not Mojo Jojo.
Which brings us all very nicely to Nani and Berba. After a quite first hald in which they had created enough doubts about their abilities to replace CR7 and Wazza respectively, they turned on the style just past the hour mark. While Berba score our 2nd and 3rd, Nani made the 3rd and 4th, leaving both of them feeling very good about the whole thing in the end. The best goal in the bunch, unsurprisingly, was the one where both were involved – our 3rd. As Nani powered down the left leaving the non-existent defence of Ricketts for dead, he looked up to see only Berba sauntering into the box. Unfazed, he beat a few more people for fun, then squared the ball once he decided Berba would’ve finally made it by then. He had, but it still was too much effort to turn the body and sidefoot it into the net. And so in a wonderful show of effort optimisation, Berba pushes it into the goal with the outside of his foot. Cue, another “this is why United bought him” moment.
Gibson completed the scoring from another Nani-leaves-Ricketts-for-dead move and United completed their move back to the top of the table. The Chelsea mauling had been depressing to watch, and I had switched off from the Arsenal game before the end to go watch CSK get mauled instead. On the back of those, the Bolton game was a very good antidote indeed. But now starts the month which will surely decide which titles are going where in Europe, and this time it’s harder than ever before to call. That’s good though. Competition always is. Especially when they lose.