Post-mortem: Back to the future and we would all have taken a point

Let's get one thing out of the way to begin with; a point at home against Manchester United is a result most teams would be happy with and we are most definitely in that group that should be happy with it.

I don't think anyone is actually unhappy with the result and when I say most teams would be happy, I include the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool in that, but at the same time, there would be a few teams that would be unhappy with the performance if that was their team playing last night.

So, a result we would have all accepted this time yesterday and we have it, so nothing, result wise, to be disappointed about. Now to the football; that wasn't very promising was it, but can you say, hand on heart, that you are surprised?

What the Papers Say

Kevin McCarra,
There are games that gleam in the memory of champions. Should Manchester United take the title for a fourth consecutive season, they will relive this result with relish. A draw is not normally a cause of jubilation for them but they had been reduced to 10 men against Aston Villa by the dismissal of Nani when more than hour of the game remained.
Sam Wallace, Independent
It is a simple principle of Sir Alex Ferguson's and it holds true at this stage of the season more than any other: his teams always believe they can win no matter how unpromising the circumstances. As his players tried to force the issue so their manager sent on Antonio Valencia and then Dimitar Berbatov, so United very nearly did it.

The Manager

Martin O'Neill, Club Site
When they had the man sent off, I was hoping we'd be able to take the initiative. But in the second half, we didn't create enough really and didn't make enough use of the extra man.

The Players and Some Stats

Brad Friedel, Luke Young, Ricardo Dunne, Carlos Cuellar, James Collins, Stewart Downing, Webcam Young, James Milner, Fabian Delph (John Carew, 59), Stiliyan Petrov (Steve Sidwell, 65) and Gabby Agbonlahor.

Apart from the goal, we had one shot on target in ninety minutes but our passing number went up a bit. We had a total of 351 with only 55 failures. Manchester United on the other hand had 408 passes with 68 failures. When a team with ten men, any team, pass it around more than you and create more chances, you have to start to ask why and you have to start trying to fix it.

Man of the Match

It goes to Carlos Cuellar and he deserves it. He is getting played at right back, putting in man of the match performances week in week out and he got a great goal. It wasn't a great goal created by us, it was an opportunity from a lucky break, but the header was sublime and I am please he got it.

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Final Analysis

It was nice to see Delph start. Not nice to see him go off when I thought he did better than one or two others on the pitch. I think Milner needs a little rest or we play with another man in the middle on a more regular basis and Gabby, despite his one shot on target getting saved, also looked good spreading the traffic wide. If we could create more chances, I fancy he can put more away.

However, we failed to beat ten men. We beat eleven men back in December and I think if United had had eleven for ninety minutes we might have had a better chance - if only because they might have taken more risks and committed more players and we would have been able to play our more direct, counter attacking style.

As it turned out, United still pushed forward but they lacked the extra man to make it count and we couldn't make our advantage count.

But and I am going to stress this until the cows come home, we would have all taken a point. We got it. I'm not going to dwell on the reasons, I think we all know them now. This summer is going to be hugely important, if we do not finish in the top four.