It ended 5-0, it should have been closer to 10-0; however, the fans at Old Trafford were not only given a great display of attacking football, but also witnessed a live competition for miss of the season.
Where to begin, really? Who edges it? Berbatov flashing an effort across goal when clean through? Rooney somehow managing to put a header wide when practically over the goal-line himself? Nani would normally take the prize, just for sheer wastefulness and the fury he managed to inspire in his fans and teammates, before finally deciding to take one of his many, many chances.
But, unfortunately for Keith Fahey, the Miss of the Match goes to him: the game was dead anyway, but it really was easier to score from there.
Alex Ferguson’s men laid down the gauntlet to their title rivals today; Arsenal responded well, yet Manchester City and Tottenham faltered. Chelsea face a big test at Bolton on Monday. This was one of those rare occasions when United played well and looked interested for the entire game… well almost, anyway. If they play like this more often, they’ll win the league comfortably.
In contrast, Birmingham obviously had one eye on their Carling Cup game against West Ham next week, and Alex McLeish cannot have expected anything other than defeat, although he certainly would have hoped for a better display than this. Yet, having lost Scott Dann to injury, resting Cameron Jerome and Craig Gardner effectively removed the spine of his team; McLeish branded the performance “amateur”, but with those absentees and playing Matt Derbyshire as a lone striker, what did he expect?
Manchester United Player Ratings:
Edwin Van der Sar: 7. Nothing to do, but had a hand in Berbatov’s hat-trick!
John O’Shea: 7. Assist for the opener, composed throughout.
Chris Smalling: 7. Solid.
Nemanja Vidic: 8. Played to his usual high standard.
Patrice Evra: 7. Played well until his substitution.
Nani: 7. Wasteful and greedy, yet dangerous and scored. In a word: Nani.
Michael Carrick: 6. Ineffective, replaced by Gibson, who was even more ineffective.
Anderson: 8. Drive and energy, controlled the midfield.
Ryan Giggs: 8. Never seems to age, another stand-out display.
Wayne Rooney: 8. Link play with Berbatov was superb, worked tirelessly.
Dimitar Berbatov: 10. Fought, tackled, ran, and his third hat-trick of the season. MOTM.
Darron Gibson: 6. Ineffective at best.
Michael Owen: 7. Looked in surprisingly good condition, worked hard.
Birmingham City Player Ratings:
Ben Foster: 5. Wayward kicking, but was not at fault for any of the goals.
Stephen Carr: 4. Run ragged by Giggs.
Liam Ridgewell: 4. Not Scott Dann, and couldn’t deal with United’s movement.
Roger Johnson: 4. Lost without his usual counterpart.
David Murphy: 3. Just a bad display.
David Bentley: 4. A few runs, but offered nothing.
Barry Ferguson: 5. Birmingham’s best player by miles today, yet he couldn’t do it all on his own.
Jordon Mutch: 4. Anonymous.
Keith Fahey: 3. Just how did he miss it?
Alexander Hleb: 3. Equally anonymous.
Matt Derbyshire: 3. Quite simply give no chance by his team’s display, his manager’s tactics or the United defence.
Cameron Jerome: 4. Should have started.
Craig Gardner: 4. Should have started.
Sebastian Larsson: 3. Booed by his own fans.