MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 21: Tom Cleverley of Team GB poses during a portrait session on July 21, 2012 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Manchester United have had four players competing for Olympic gold. Three of them have already returned home. Yet little Rafael is set to play South Korea in the semi finals of the competition on Wednesday night for Brazil.
First off, I want to admit something. I have hardly watched any of the football in the Olympics. Football is my number one sport, boxing second. But with the Olympics, you get to take in and enjoy a whole load of other sports that never get any exposure. For instance I have particularly been enjoying a little hockey. The pace of the game can be ridiculous. And I was also watching Big Ben Ainslie capture his 4th gold. (Strange sport sailing. Never understood it, and never understood what makes a good sailor. Something about stealing someones wind....). Anyway, what im trying to say is that most of these opinions will not be my own.
Accounted for two of Manchester United's representatives in Ryan Giggs, who captained the side, and young English midfielder Tom Cleverley. The side drew their opening game against Senegal, beat U.A.E 3-1, and defeated a strong Uruguay side 1-0 to qualify for the QF's. Predictably, they went out on penalties to South Korea after drawing 1-1.
Here is a paragraph from the fan post that jdw.karasu posted last week on the U.A.E. game, in which Tom Cleverley put in a sterling performance, and Giggsy scored the opening goal. Click on the link to read the full piece
I thought Cleverley was easily Man of the Match. Consistently active both in possession and out of possession. Quick, short passing distributing the ball and avoiding UAE's pressure. Rarely tried to do too much. The Giggs goal summed up his day: very nice run by Ryan where Tom made himself available for the pass, then not wasting anytime swinging it to Bellamy while Ryan makes a good run to the back door. I'm sure if anyone else in GB's MF would have made the pass the way they were playing yesterday. The pass to Sturridge was terrific. The play where he hit the post was excellent as well: very nice pass to Bellamy, then at a time when no one else seemingly wanting to support Bellamy's run, Tom bolted down the pitch and was ready to receive the cutback. Too bad that didn't go in.
The speed of his decision making and accuracy of his passes is probably on a different level from any other young English midfielder (Save Jack Wilshire (When fit)). If he can continue to play well from a deeper role, he will be a valuable asset this year, and for many years to come. This experience will only have helped him mature in a better player. He is also set to be awarded with an England call up for next wednesday's international against Italy. (Bloody stupid time for an international. Could swear we say that every year....)
Giggs showed some flashes of brilliance (Of course he would, he is Giggs). He scored the header where he nipped in at the back post against UAE, but nothing else that comes out and grabs you by the balls. I know Fergie said recently that Giggs could play into his forties, yet I just don't see it im afraid. Enjoy whatever you can of Giggsy this year. (Paul Scholes too)
Rafael has enjoyed a decent Olympics by all accounts. He scored his first international goal (don't tell him it was for the U23 side) against Egypt. Decent goal it was too, bursting into the box and finishing well with his left foot. Brazil have scored three goals in each of their games so far, and I would be shocked if they don't win the competition with the players they have at their disposal. Again this experience will only help Rafael in his development. Look for him to cement himself as United's RB next season and beyond. Just cut out the Bilbao mistakes.....
United target (Or is he..... Believe me, I have no idea. One minute we have signed him, the next he has no intention of ever moving from his current club) Lucas Moura has only started one game, and made two further appearances from the bench. This is largely due to Hulk being in the squad
Spain didn't win a game. They didn't score a goal even! When was the last time you could say that? David De Gea obviously didn't enjoy the tournament as much as he would have hoped or expected, given Spain's level of dominance in the footballing world since 2008.
Anyway, Japan's goal was soft at best. The defending was woeful, but De Gea came for it, backpedaled and the save he attempted was..... flimsy, due to him being off balance by his indecision. He needs to cut these silly error's out of his game if he is to become one of the best in the world. I then remind myself that he is only a baby in GK terms, and that he will cut these errors out.
I expect De Gea to start as number 1 again this season. Yet I also expect him to be dropped too at some point. I just hope that any errors he does make do not cost us in a big way.
How have you enjoyed the Olympics so far? Football as well as all the other sports. Usain Bolt is ridiculous. Man is a phenomenom. And a United supporter.