Manchester United’s woes continued after their midweek exit from the FA Cup, but this time although they did not lose, they however needed some luck on their side as they managed an away draw with Birmingham City, a team which has now stretched their unbeaten run to 12 games in a row, in some extreme weather condition which is prevailing all around UK. A win would have left them leaders of the league until Chelsea played their match with Hull, but unfortunately United failed to grasp the chance presented to them.
United started with a 4-5-1 formation which resembled like a 4-3-3 but not really one, with Rooney the only target man upfront, while Sir Alex reinforced his midfield with Scholes-Carrick-Fletcher, supported by Park and Valencia on either wing. United had most of the possession, but failed to even draw a save from Hart in Birmingham’s goal, and as the first period wore on, it was becoming rather frustrating to see United just passing around and exposing themselves to counter-attacks, but yet not having a shot on target to trouble the opposition. The chance came at the other end of the field instead, when Birmingham won their first corner, and following some defensive mix-up, the ball fell to Jerome after Evans failed to deal with it properly, and the former did not waste the opportunity gifted to him (39th min). 1-0 at half-time, it was the same scenario which took place at Old Trafford in midweek’s FA Cup match.
The second half started off brilliantly for Birmingham players as they could have doubled their lead in the early minutes, while in the meantime United’s defense looked to be so vulnerable that even a 10-year old kid could go past them anytime. Kuszczak made a couple of decisive saves to keep United in the game, and lady luck played a part as well on the 63rd minute, when Evra’s low powerful cross was met by the unfortunate Dann who converted into his own net. The Birmingham players however were contesting the goal as Dann was under pressure from Park, but in the end referee Clattenburg awarded the goal after consulting with his assistant.
United looked fired up to try get a win, but Birmingham were looking the most dangerous on their counters, and with around 6 minutes left, Darren Fletcher piled more misery on his team-mates as he was sent off for a second yellow card. Sir Alex usually complains about the lack of injury time awarded after the 90 minutes, but today he was treated to an additional 6 minutes, with the St.Andrews crowd chanting ‘Fergie time!’, but United managed to hold on for 1 point in the end. Also to be noted the first game of Mame Biram Diouf, a young Senegalese striker who United bought in August, but who was on loan to Molde, and who made his first start on 80 minutes today wearing the No.32 shirt left vacant by Tevez.
United’s defensive problems are yet to be solved, even with Rafael, Brown, Evans and Evra playing today, with the likes of Ferdinand, Vidic and O’Shea still out injured, while in attack, even with Owen on the bench, Rooney had to play most of the game alone upfront till the change to bring on Diouf, and the midfield still looks like it could do with one or two new players, as Fletcher & co failed to provide the necessary forward push. If United want to win their 19th Premier League title, Sir Alex’s better invest in some talents before the transfer window closes.
The only other game which took place before United kicked off today was Arsenal vs Everton, another which ended in a draw, 2-2, with Denilson and Rosicky scoring for the Gunners while Osman and Pienaar scored for the Toffees. All other matches which were to be held today were postponed to heavy snowfall around UK.