Disappointing, frustrating, annoyingly inevitable. Following the high of the Villa result why did our next game be against Manchester United?
Martinez can only tweak his starting eleven to freshen it up, to try and keep the energy levels there, Ferguson on the other hand is able to make whole sale changes from one game to the next and still field a side that is capable of blowing away anyone, and so it proved.
For the first 30 minutes of the game the Latics were in charge, bossing the midfield, playing some lovely football, not creating much mind you, but still very much the team dictating the pattern of play. The final quarter of the half though was a different story
The Latics began to get pushed back as United came more into the game and a five minute spell of almost incessant pressure led to the opening goal. A corner was swung over from the right, Latics cleared the ball but it was put straight back into the area, Evra took an air swing, missing the ball completely, but he had time to steady himself and shoot again, this time he caught it well and true, Al Habsi parried but Hernandez reacted quickest on the edge of the six yard box to smash home. 0-1
The goal came on 35 minutes and the question was, could we hold out without conceding for the next ten minutes before the half-time break, the answer was unfortunately no.
With just two minutes to go before the break the Latics won a throw-in near to the United box, Di Santo hurriedly took it, we lost possession, the break was on down our right, McArthur and Figueroa both attempted to tackle Hernandez and only succeeded in taking each other out of the game, the Mexico international raced clear, he picked out van Persie with a delightful cross and the Dutchman showed his clinical prowess with a great curling finish. 0-2
No changes at half-time as the Latics looked to get back in the game, for a moment it appeared that we`d given ourselves a chance when Kone slotted home a Di Santo cross at the far post, the celebrations were short lived though when the assistant raised his flag for offside, a decision that was the correct one, but only just
A misplaced pass on the edge of the United box by McCarthy gave Rafael the chance to sprint clear with the ball, cries of bring him down from the stands weren`t heeded and the Brazilian marauded into the Latics half, as he approached the Latics penalty area Caldwell took him out, about 50 yards too late, and earned himself a booking. The resultant free kick was knocked into the box by van Persie, the ball bobbled around the 12 yard spot, Hernandez blasted home. 0-3
Gomez and Stam were sent on for Caldwell and Di Santo and it must be said that both injected some pace and direction into the flagging Latics, Gomez in particular looked good
It was United though that got the final goal of the game, a comedy of errors in the Latics defence left van Persie unmarked six yards out. 0-4
A tough game for the Latics, they were out of steam by 30 minutes, a big month now looms and with Kone away on international duty someone needs to step up to the plate
Latics – Al Habsi, Ramis, Caldwell (Stam 70), Figueroa, Boyce, Beausejour, McArthur, McCarthy, Maloney (McManaman 86), Di Santo (Gomez 70), Kone
Subs not used – Pollitt, Golobart, Boselli, Jones
Manchester United – De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand (Smalling 68), Evans, Evra, Cleverley, Giggs, Carrick (Kagawa 68), Young (Welbeck 78), Hernandez, van Persie
Subs not used – Lindegaard, Vidic, Valencia, Scholes