I missed the game because my flight coincided with the kick off but, based on the highlights, we were bloody unlucky. And had Reid started ahead of Tomkins, I suspect we would have won!
Cole looked like a man who has come home. His crosses for the goals were superb. Mind you, had his namesake been on the end of them, no goals would have resulted.The finishes applied by Collins were brilliant demonstrating total conviction - something utterly lacking in Carlton's game when he is in the box.
Carlton remains a total head case and so infuriating. Outside the box he is superb and, I would hazard to say, a key member of the team, holding the ball up superbly and occupying both centre backs with his movement and physical presence. Inside the box, he is a disaster. He should have scored twice in this game, but indecision and uncertainty were like lead balls chained to his ankles, so he remained rooted to the spot rather than predicting, gambling and netting twice from inside the six yard box. God knows what Allardyce says to him when they get back to the dressing room!
From a threadbare squad, we suddenly look pretty decent again, the absence of a Premiership class left back apart. It was great to see Diarra making a start, whilst Collison continues to impress.With Vaz Te, JC and Jarvis competing for two berths in midfield, Cole offering an alternative to Nolan, and Noble, Diame (when fit), Collison and Diame fighting for two slots in the centre, the midfield suddenly looks more than decent. And we still have Taylor to make up the numbers!
Can Chamakh lead the line alone? I doubt he will offer what Cole does outside the box, but surely he must be better inside the penalty area. Will we keep Carroll for the remainder of the season? If we do and he comes back fully fit, that area of the pitch looks decent too. And now there's strong talk of Paulista joining. And of course, we still have Maiga.
Some will jump on Tomkins for that equaliser but that would be very unfair. Yes Reid's speed might have saved us, but the pass from Giggs was inch perfect and the control and movement by Van Persie were sublime. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say, great goal, and this is one of those occasions - and Cleverly's wasn't bad either!
So, we played a strong Manchester United team whilst resting Noble, O'Brien and Reid, with a semi fit Joe Cole in the team and with Chamakh not ready and Carroll unfit, and we not only competed, we looked just about their equals. That has to be promising. Full marks to the owners and Allardyce, this is a huge turn around from the shambles left behind by the previous regime - and I suspect the relegation helped!