After the 1-0 victory last night, some thoughts. I am so delighted for Paul Scholes that he got the winner. He missed the 1999 final through suspension and it was a heart-breaker for him. To ensure that his team progress with such a classic strike is a just reward for his tireless service over many years. Wes Brown was my man of the match. He made tackle after tackle, especially on Messi, and each one was timed to perfection. His interceptions, reading of the game, and workrate were all absolutely top-class. Of course, Ferdinand was almost as good and Evra and Hargreaves did their bit too. But Brown stood out. Aside from Brown and the defence, Tevez was the star. He worked and worked for the ball and was always dangerous. Ronaldo did just so-so, but didn’t produce the extra bit of magic we’ve come to expect from the 38-goal a season player. He missed Rooney more than anybody else.
Nani was the poorest player on the pitch, closely followed by a bungling Carrick. Nani, surprisingly, had two good chances to score, once with a header in the first half, and once with a great run and shot in the second half, that he ballooned over the bar. But his overall contribution was abysmal. He lost the ball too easily. Carrick looked nervous and slow. He was too static for most of the game and seemed to take ages to make simple decisions. The solution to these problems will be provided when Rooney and Vidic return. That will free Hargreaves to come back into the midfield and for Tevez to be supported up front.
I was nerve-wracked for the final 20 minutes and could barely stand to watch it at all. Henry was a particular nuisance, since he has the class to win a game single-handedly. In the end, we did just enough to win 1-0 and secure our final berth. I’m personally hoping for Chelsea in the final. Liverpool would be too hard to bear.