Saturday’s snoozy session between Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers turned Old Trafford into a literal Theatre of Dreams. Even the linesman sailed off to the Land of Nod, for what other excuse could there be for deeming Rovers sub Nikola Kalinic offside when he banged in Edwin Van der Sar’s deflection off a Benni McCarthy strike for a goal?
While Rovers were wronged, United dominated this game. Big Sam thought small as he chose to have his charges play negative football despite Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand’s absence. A first half United barrage went for naught, and a predictable hush fell over the Old Trafford massive. A sublime Berba volley in the 55th minute roused the crowd, momentarily silencing his boobirds. In the 87th, Anderson made up for earlier butchery with a lovely ball that Rooney turned into a beaut of goal. Too much for a tentative Rovers side to overcome, but the four minutes of added time would have been a whole lot more interesting had Kalinic’s goal stood. At the death, lil Mikey Owen could have put an emphatic stamp on the win, but he couldn’t close on the acute angle he was given.
For United fans, the larger story was the Premier League debut of Gabriel Obertan, one of Sir Alex’s summer signings made in the wake of Ronaldo’s rebuffing of red for Real. Much is expected of the Frenchman whose bald dome belies his age. On first impression he appears fleet as a fox but as goofy as a gazelle. He promptly took his first touch for a fancy sprint out of touch. Late in the match, Valencia made an incisive run from the right, dropping the ball for Owen who in turn laid it on for Obertan on a silver platter. The open goal spread before him as wide as Big Sam’s slacks, but Obertan flicked harmlessly wide.
Obertan’s biggest contribution came in letting Anderson take control on the left to set up Rooney’s goal. An inauspicious start for a lad who United may have to rely on as Chelsea continue their rampage through the league. As United forms its offensive identity post C-Ron, they will have to rely on their depth as the season approaches ‘squeaky-bum’ time.