Ajax 0 - 2 United
Jones Evans Rio Fabio
Nani Carrick Cleverley(Scholes) Young(Valencia(Welbeck))
So we started life in the Europa League with a good away win. The score does flatter our side a bit because, in my opinion, we didn't play particularly well today...especially during the first half. However, although we're in the Europa League, we need to keep in mind that the sides we'll be facing are still decent sides and playing away from home will, at the very least, be a difficult task. Playing a modest Wigan side away from home is a tough hurdle never mind playing a side like Ajax at their Arena. So the idea of running away with games in the Europa league should be ejected out of our brains.
Our worst performers today, Nani and Young, combined to unlock a resolute Ajax defence just after the break. While I have grown to understand Nani and his fluctuations in his performances, I'm still not entirely sure about Young's mental capabilities of playing for our side. He doesn't look like that player, brimming with confidence, we've seen year in year out playing for Villa. His niggling injuries obviously dampened his progress but he looked poor today. I cannot recall him dribbling past a defender, he put a couple of wayward passes and seems to have developed a side hobby, that of diving. Must improve.
A well worked goal created by Valencia, who was on the field for about 10 minutes, and finished by Chicharito, put United in a very comfortable position and I expect our boys to finish Ajax off at Old Trafford. The worrying thing about our second goal is that, after Chicharito put the ball at the back of the net, Valencia was immediately withdrawn. I don't think it was a precautionary move since Tony had been on the field for a few minutes. Therefore it must be an injury and let's hope it won't be a long one. Valencia has been our best player since the turn of the year and we cannot afford to lose him.
Our defenders had a very good game. Jones got in very good positions, especially during the first half, and defended efficiently as well. Evans and Rio were as calm as glass. Fabio put in a performance similar to what we usually see from his brother, excellent on most times but a tad silly on others. De Gea had a good game.
The return of Cleverley, Nani, Young, Fabio and Jones could be a huge boost for our final run in. Cleverly needs a couple of games to return to full fitness while I expect Nani and Young to put in some extra effort in the coming matches. On the other hand, I liked what I saw from Jones and Fabio. It's been a while since Fergie had a headache over who he should play in midfield and defence but thankfully the recovery of these players should give him that problem...which is a very much welcomed problem.
No games this weekend and then United welcome Ajax at OT. Should be a good game that. I never felt this relaxed, when United play, during identical stages in the Champions League. My heart must be screaming "God bless the Europa League!"