In United’s final game of 2011, Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers visited Old Trafford on what was Sir Alex’s 70th birthday and seemingly a perfect opportunity for the reds to end the year on a high against a side languishing at the foot of the table. A plethora of injuries have ravaged United’s squad the past few weeks, and with big games versus Newcastle and City on the horizon, an unusual team containing Park Ji Sung and Rafael as central midfielders were handed the task of granting the boss his ideal birthday present, 3 points.
Having scored 12 unanswered goals previously, United were hot favourites to continue against a Blackburn side lacking confidence, yet began the game in cautious fashion, failing to build the tempo which had brought success in recent weeks. United’s disjointed performance did little to alleviate the flat feeling around Old Trafford, and the mood quickly worsened when on 13 minutes Dimitar Berbatov brought down Chris Samba in the penalty area handing the visitors a penalty. Up stepped in form Yakubu to dispatch the spot kick past De Gea, giving the away side a rare moment to savour, and leave United with it all to do. Naturally, having acquire the lead, Blackburn were happy to sit back and absorb what United had to offer for the remainder of the half, yet the reds failed to build anything meaningful, with only Nani managing to threaten the goal in any way. A lack of creativity in the middle and a lack of movement up front combined towards a turgid half of football from United, who found themselves a goal behind and at the mercy of a Ferguson hairdryer treatment at half time. (More …)