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For Man United, A Flat Victory at Inflated Prices
Independent, August 27th, 2007 4PM

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Manchester United might have notched its first win of the season this weekend, but The Independent's James Lawton says the Red Devils look a shadow of their former selves. Of course the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo (suspended) and Wayne Rooney (injured), who combined for nearly 50 goals last season, doesn't help, but it would seem that neither does the appearance of the $34 million Nani or the $40 million Carlos Tevez. Sure, Nani's deflected shot off Tevez secured the three points for United on Sunday, but aside from that little bit of luck, Independent says United seldom looked dangerous over the course of 90 minutes.

The 19-year-old Portuguese has been heralded as the "New Ronaldo" (not that there's a need for a new one yet), but judging from his first four performances, the youngster is "in urgent need of a hard and inventive edge." He doesn't seem to possess the eye-popping talent that was so obvious in his predecessor, who arrived at Old Trafford for the bargain price of just 12 million pounds in 2003. Rather, Nani appears "another scampering indicator of football inflation." Michael Carrick, who cost United 18 million pounds in 2006, has proved to be another worryingly indifferent acquisition. He has a nice range of passing, but he lacks the bite or a Roy Keane or the attacking quality of a Paul Scholes.

Not only was Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov the best player of the game, he's already proved to be the best value for the money. The 11 million pound ($23 million) Bulgarian should have been granted one of his two penalty appeals; he also came desperately close from 20 yards after producing the game's best move.

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