So Manchester United came back, impressively it has to be written, from a 2 goal deficit to defeat a determined Blackpool squad at Bloomfield Road.
This is what ESPN columnist Richard Jolly saw at the match:
“When in full flight, they are a magnificent spectacle. Breaking at pace, passing with penetration and ambition, spreading play swiftly to both flanks and running at defenders, they can seem the masters of attacking with intensity. A seemingly inevitable momentum carries them to a victory that is all the more glorious because it had appeared improbable.”
Through celluloid American eyes thousands of miles away, it looked slightly different. I equate Manchester United with the New York Yankees–franchises whose accomplishments, cultural significance and championship legacies have earned them a certain leeway while facilitating the construction of a mystique capable of provoking inspired poetic flights of fancy in the minds of sportswriters determined to depict their grandeur in the most mythical and florid ways possible. The first half of this match saw Blackpool the far superior side. United show no signs of “passing with penetration and ambition” and were blatantly outfought and beaten to the punch on both Blackpool goals, which were the result of corners. This Blackpool side, in my view, is a team simultaneously realizing without a doubt it belongs in the Premier league, while struggling to learn how to win matches like this one on a consistent basis. United’s experience in countless matches like this on every conceivable stage is yet another resource and advantage that a side like Blackpool just cannot draw upon. Hopefully, a prolonged stay in the top-flight will allow Blackpool the opportunity to accumulate experience in these types of matches that will serve them better going forward.
Jolly gives Sir Alex Ferguson well deserved credit for his timely substitution of Wayne Rooney for Javier Hernandez, likening Hernandez’s introduction to that of an “electric shock to a slumbering side.” This is one point on which our eyes are in definite agreement. Hernandez seemed faster and sharper than everyone else on the pitch and he finished beautifully to equalize for United. He has consistently scored hugely important goals for this side. I’m also in agreement with Jolly in his assessment that Hernandez is “emerging as a realistic alternative to United’s best paid player.” But where Jolly sees United’s invincibility with inevitable comebacks like this “imprinted in their DNA,” the match commentators saw Blackpool defenders making poor decisions in their marking which allowed Dimitar Berbatov to slide into open space and continue his torrid goalscoring pace. The veil of tradition, cultural supremacy and past triumphs often can obscure simple things like botched marking by a side still learning how to grind out wins. United deserves credit for this victory. No doubt about it. I also think that Blackpool faltered a little under the weight of the moment. Maybe United’s mystique did have something to do with that. It’s just striking the type of patina a team’s legacy bestows upon certain victories a significance that’s hard to perceive with the naked, untrained eye.
EPL Result: Blackpool v. Manchester United 2-3
I didn’t get to watch the 2nd leg of Arsenal’s Carling Cup tie with Ipswich Town yesterday. But when I saw the highlights this morning, I was extremely impressed with how well Nicklas Bendtner played. I wrote some negative things about him in a previous post and I have to admit: I was wrong. Bendtner, once again, provided excellent service to van Persie in the first half of the match and his soft touch and classy finish gave the Gunners their all-important first goal of the tie. His movement with the ball was deft and deceptive for a player of his size. Arsenal rode the momentum of Bendtner’s strike to a decisive 3-0 victory that puts them into the Carling Cup finals.