The Andy Gray Column: One Wayne Rooney pass for Robin van Persie to score doesn’t make a partnership

By Mancunian Matters staff ambassador Andy Gray was talking exclusively to Mancunian Matters…

Wayne Rooney may have set Robin van Persie up for his two goals against Cluj but although the signs are promising I wouldn’t say their partnership at Manchester United has fully gelled yet.

I didn’t think they looked like they were combining beautifully for most of the game or that there was a telepathic understanding between them.

But Wayne provided two assists for Van Persie, one a free kick and the other a beautiful pass it has to be said, and United got a very hard-fought win.

If you don’t score early in Europe then you can be in for a tough time whoever you’re playing and the same goes for when you concede early on.

If you go about it and you manage to get an early goal or you don’t concede you can normally have a fairly comfortable evening as Barcelona showed against Benfica – they scored in the first six minutes and all of a sudden it became a much easier game.

That’s what you have to do and if you don’t you have to work really hard – and United had to do that against Cluj.

But I was glad Sir Alex Ferguson picked a strong team and they went in with things to prove, with determination to get another win.

Now they have back-to-back games against Braga that in all honesty they should win, and that would put them through – twelve points and they’ll win their group.

Sir Alex will be pleased they’ve won, that’s for sure, but there is much more work to be done at United.

It was important they bounced back from the 3-2 defeat to Spurs too, and gained some momentum heading into the weekend against Newcastle.

St James’ Park for the majority of the time I remember has always been a pretty happy hunting ground for United.

But last year they got turned over 3-0 – that was one of the few bad experiences they’ve had there.

It’s a lot more difficult to go to Newcastle now than it was in the past. They’re made of sterner stuff than in recent years and they’re a very different prospect now, particularly on their own patch.

Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba are always a threat, Yohan Cabaye pulls the strings, Hatem Ben Arfa makes things happen and Cheick Tiote goes about winning the ball back – they’ve got a good collection of footballers at Newcastle who on any given day can beat anybody.

It’s not going to be easy – United would find it hard even if they had Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand playing together at centre-back.

They’re going to find it harder now when they’ve got Ferdinand and who knows who else with Jonny Evans coming off against Cluj.

To keep up to date on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Articles