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Captain caps comeback

"There are many things you could question about United’s performance but strength of character is not one of them. How many other teams would have the sheer willpower, cussedness and belief to come back from 2-0 down with time running out?"

- Stewart Gardner, MUTV

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15/11/2010 20:45, Report by Stewart Gardner, MUTV
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What a turnaround

Now, be honest... with ten minutes to go at Villa Park on Saturday, if someone had said to you that United would end the weekend gaining ground on Chelsea, would you have believed them? Of course not!


At that time, the Reds were getting a real chasing – trailing 2-0 when the score could have conceivably been 4-0 or 5-0 to Aston Villa. With Chelsea facing a home game with Sunderland, United were staring at a seven-point gap opening up in favour of the champions. And yet, a weekend of incredible drama means Sir Alex's men are now just three points behind Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

There are many things you could question about United’s performance on Saturday but strength of character is not one of them. How many other teams would have the sheer willpower, cussedness and belief to come back from 2-0 down with time running out?

Even more remarkably, a situation of certain defeat was turned into one where United were the only team who looked like winning. The key to this was the manager’s brave substitutions. Taking off Berbatov and Chicharito and sending on Macheda and Obertan was pivotal. The subs added much more energy and threat to United. Kiko produced a stunning goal to give United hope and then a captain’s goal from Nemanja Vidic completed the comeback.

At that point, Villa had gone. They were out on their feet, totally dumbfounded by the turnaround. And with Chris Smalling sent on as a makeshift striker, United ended the game on the front foot.

I’ve rarely seen the manager quite so angry after a game. He told me he could have taken off 10 players and admitted United should have been dead and buried before getting back into the game.

Seven draws is far too many but that was very much a point gained. And the result looked an awful lot better after the amazing turn of events at Stamford Bridge. How good was Danny Welbeck against Chelsea? That was a real coming of age performance. Well done too to the ex-Reds in Sunderland's ranks - Bardsley, Richardson and of course, the boss Steve Bruce.

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