Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Ginja Ninja

photo by Magnus Dvia PhotoRee

Seeing Pele and Cantona back on the pitch was almost enough in and of itself to make last night out of this world. If only they'd played, a truly special night would have been incredibly over the top. As it was, it was pretty damn good anyway, as the evening represented a fitting retrospective on Paul Scholes' United career.

Herewith some thoughts on the evening's festivities for one of the best in the business:

o United exposed the makeshift New York Cosmos team right from the start, with Nani and Berba both threatening goal to begin the action -- it was a vision of things to come.

o It was strange to see two number 18s on the pitch, with both the evening's honoree and new boy Ashley Young donning the famous number. Just one question: Couldn't United have asked Young to wear a different number, if ony for just for last night?

o Was Scholesy's goal to open the scoring a set up? At first I thought Brad Friedl may not have stretched quite as much as he might have, but when I saw the replay I realized what a well taken shot it was. The defenders may have backed off a bit when Scholes received the ball just outside the box, but his shot still had to be placed perfectly. The goal represented a perfect beginning to a perfect night.

o David De Gea must be getting bored in goal. He's had very little work to do against Barcelona and the Cosmos. Too bad the regular season won't be this easy.

o How did Cobi Jones get involved with the Cosmos? Cobi is one of the best examples of a guy who's made the absolute most of his career. Nothing special on the pitch, Cobi managed to play for the US National Team, become a television announcer, and is now an executive with the Cosmos. Not bad for a guy who had and continues to have very little talent in any one of his occupations.

o It was just like Paul Scholes to defer to Wayne Rooney on the penalty that made it 2-0. Never a guy who sought the limelight, Scholes was only too happy to let Roo step up to the spot and stretch the lead to two goals on 28 minutes.

o Anyone noticed that Anderson has become a more regular goal scorer of late? The Brazilian added to the lead last night, making it 3-nil, with some nice work both on and off the ball. As regular readers of this column may know, I'm not Anderson's biggest fan, but I'd be more than happy to swallow my words if he becomes a regular goal threat in the EPL.

o You heard it here first: Danny Welbeck is going to have a breakout season this year. The Englishman made the lead 4-nil, and I have a feeling he's going to stick around and do some more of that for the senior squad during the regular season, as well.

o It was nice as an American to see Brian McBride on the pitch. One of the few American soccer players to impose himself on the opposition, McBride is missed on the current national team. He was a threat in the air as well as on the ground, and the big man added a certain element to the US attack that seemed to be missing in the last World Cup.

o Why did Gary Neville come on as a member of the opposition? Bizzare, especially as it seems as if we just had his Old Trafford testimonial about three months ago.

o Cleverly to Welbeck to Diouf: 5-nil, and a vision of our future?

o Quick question: do you think Gary Neville was pissed that he had to face an in-season Juve for his testimonial -- and lose -- and Scholesy got to face a patsy NY Cosmos team? You figure it out.

o The hug that Federico Macheda gave Mame Biram Diouf when he scored his brace looked less than sincere. The competititon among the strikers has got to be fierce, and it's a zero-sum game as to who stays and who goes. All of the strikers, especially the youngsters, are looking to prove themselves to Sir Alex, and Diouf had to be ecstatic with his performance.

o It also had to be a thrill for 18 year old Paul Pogba to step on the pitch last evening.  That's the second time in a week the youngster has gotten the call up, so maybe good things are in store for the Frenchman this season.

This is farlieonfootie for August 6, saying goodebye and farewell to Paul Scholes, the Ginger Prince and Red-Headed Assassin.  He will be sorely missed.

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