Wayne Rooney's hat-trick papers over Manchester United's cracks

04 April 2011 12:26
An apology from Wayne Rooney, but no apology from Manchester United for some of their defending. It was a good job they were only playing West Ham.

Nemanja Vidic was being considered as a potential Footballer of the Year last week. He had better hope journalists can be forgetful and overlook his performance here. At least it's only Fernando Torres next.

Vidic, you will remember, doesn't always enjoy great comfort when playing against Torres, but that was when the Spanish striker was a free-scoring Liverpool forward. 

Struggling: Nemanja Vidic (right) had a tough afternoon against West Ham's Demba Ba

The Serb will be hoping Torres brings his current Chelsea form into Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final.

Alongside Vidic will be Chris Smalling, a talented young man who is still learning his art but is enjoying his chance to shine.

'Chelsea in the Champions League is another massive stage for me,' said Smalling.

'To be able to play in these latter stages of the Champions League is what most players in the world dream to be a part of and I can't wait to play my part.'

United's stunning second-half comeback at Upton Park papered over the cracks. West Ham scored two penalties and, even though the visitors were far superior, even at 2-0 down, they were rocking at the back, with Vidic and Patrice Evra unusually exposed.

Hoping for the best: Chris Smalling (right) is relishing United's Champions League clash with Chelsea

Vidic and Smalling's inability to cope with Carlton Cole and Demba Ba will have interested Chelsea's spies, who could offer up Didier Drogba and Anelka instead of Torres.

It will be the biggest game of Smalling's career, but he will need help. 'Rio Ferdinand has guided me all the way through,' admitted Smalling after Saturday's win. But in the absence of Ferdinand, Vidic must take on that mantle.

Edwin van der Sar is expected to recover from a groin injury in time for the crunch clash.

The Dutchman missed Saturday's match after picking up the injury in training last Wednesday, but Sir Alex Ferguson is confident his veteran goalkeeper will be fit for the visit to Stamford Bridge. 'Edwin nicked his groin and it's a big game against Chelsea, so we felt it wasn't worth including him at West Ham,' said Ferguson.

 FA must take the hard line with Rooney and ban him for three games. But they won't.Rooney set to escape ban as FA investigate foul-mouthed celebration against West HamRooney ready for title run-in after United move step closer to becoming championsAll the latest Manchester United news, features and opinion

 Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Nemanja Vidic, Didier Drogba, Carlton Cole, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Fernando Torres, Edwin Van Der Sar Places: Liverpool

Source: Daily_Mail