Rodrigo and Rafael handed debuts, Campbell makes first start
Posted by nickogs20 on August 18, 2008
With the first-team squad depleted by a combination of injuries, suspension and Olympic duty, Brazilian youngsters Rodrigo Possebon and Rafael da Silva made their competitive debuts for United against Newcastle on Sunday, while Fraizer Campbell made his first start for the Reds.
Campbell started upfront alongside the well-again Wayne Rooney after Carlos Tévez recieved news of a family bereavement on the eve of the season-opener and returned to his native Argentina, and the 21 year-old was unfortunate not to open his United account midway through the first half when he saw Magpies’ keeper Shay Given repel his header with an unintentional header of his own.
Another header from a sublime Rooney cross was comfortably fielded by Given, but the Irish international stopper was tested far more sternly later on when Fraizer dummied and turned Coloccini before firing a left-foot shot towards the bottom corner, Given just managing to get down and tip it around the post. An awkward landing seemed to cause the striker some discomfort in the second half, and despite trying to run the injury off as United desperately sought a winning goal, he was eventually replaced by Rafael for the final ten minutes.
Possebon had entered the fray a quarter of an hour earlier as a replacement for the injured Ryan Giggs and impressed with his typically top-class ball retention. The biggest compliment you can probably pay a youngster stepping up to the senior ranks is that they look like they’ve been playing at that level for years, and that could definitely be said about Rodrigo’s performance in front of an expectant Old Trafford crowd. Rafael looked similarly unfazed when he was brought on, and despite not seeing much of the ball during his short stint on the field, he so nearly combined with Rodrigo to win a penalty in the last minute of injury-time. Alas, a free-kick inches outside the box was the (correct) decision and Wayne Rooney put the set-piece harmlessly wide, meaning the two Brazilian youngsters first taste of Premier League action would end in disappointment.
While the Brazilian duo would have been unlikely to feature had Sir Alex Ferguson had more senior players at his disposal, the fact they did – and ahead of other fringe/reserve players – says a lot about their progress since joining United and how highly-rated they are by the coaching staff. The merits of the new seven-man bench rule were clear to see at the weekend, and none of the three youngsters stepping up did their causes any harm whatsoever. Rodrigo especially will have made a compelling case for future inclusion should the current injury crisis take time to subside.