Published: 22 Feb 2001
EAT MY WORDS
Eat My Words a RED11 REDitorial by Murray Easton - Glasgow Reds Well I have to say that I am currently being forced to eat my words, thanks to the magnificent displays currently being put in by Mikael Silvestre. I wasn't the only person to criticise Silvestre last season and initially I attempted to defend him, however after a while it became clear that there wasn't much of a case for his defence, or use for him in United's.
While Silvestre looked excellent coming forward, his positional sense, awareness of opposition players getting in behind him, and his annoying habit of getting in Stams way, meant that I joined the ever growing list of supporters getting on his back. He quite simply became a scapegoat. This season started in much the same fashion, I was particularly unhappy at his performance in the 3-3 game at home to Chelsea. Ferguson must have seen something in him that a lot of us didn't (that is why he is the best manager of all-time). Along with Keane, Beckham and Gary Neville he has made the most appearances in a United shirt this season, which is no mean feat.
The defence has been a little more consistent this season, with reasonably settled line-ups, and Silvestre playing left-back. In my opinion that is his best position, although in time he may mature into a centre half. He is certainly learning all the time from Stam and Barthez. Having Barthez behind you must help (no jokes please). A World Cup winner who has the big game experience and simply oozes confidence. Speaking the lingo must also help.
The turning point for me was the 3-1 game against Panathinaikos at home. His excellent run down the wing almost resulted in what would have been United's goal of the season, the end result was enough with Scholes sticking in the rebound. The guy sitting behind me in the Stretford had always supported Silvestre and patted me on the back saying 'told you so'. The reason it was a turning point was that some of the crowd actually started to chant his name.
The same chant briefly echoed round Tier 2 in the Stretford End last night after another in a series of excellent displays. Silvestre has always looked like a football player. By that I mean he looks comfortable with the ball at his feet. His pace and athleticism help. He can time tackles to perfection. His positional sense and awareness are improving and he seems to take on board what his colleagues say. That in itself deserves applause after some of the bollockings he has received off Roy Keane.
So all credit to Silvestre. He looks like he is coming good and is young enough to stay in United's team for a good number of years to come. I have to eat humble pie and admit that I have been proved wrong. Ferguson was right, he has stuck by the young Frenchman and been rewarded for his faith. However the credit has to lie with Silvestre for keeping his head down and working hard, ignoring the criticism and having confidence in himself.
© 2001 by Murray Easton. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without
permission of the author
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