The Week That Was
Drawing a Blank before Clubbing Brugges…
• Newcastle Stalemate
• Entertaining in Brugges
• Champions League and League Cup Draws
• Other Premier League Results
After the win against Brugge, we were all looking forward to United’s next home game, this time in the league against Newcastle. When we saw that Bastian Schweinsteiger was making his first competitive start for the club, the excitement around Old Trafford (and on social media) grew.
United started on the front foot, and created chances from the off. Wayne Rooney had a goal disallowed for offside (seemed like a wrong decision by the linesman), but we thought with just five minutes gone, there was still plenty of time to score, especially if United kept the early pace up. After about twenty minutes though, Newcastle started closing down better and creating their own chances from counter-attacks, even hitting the crossbar from a Mitrovic header mid-way through the half.
The second half started as the first had finished, with Newcastle defending well, and United huffing and puffing without creating much. The last twenty minutes were similar to the first, where attack after attack was launched (sort of as it was lots of passing, but not too much penetrating). Chicharito had an excellent chance to score the winner with ten minutes to go, but shot at Krul when one-on-one with the Newcastle keeper. Smalling hit the post, Valencia had a shot blocked, and Carrick went close when his shot was deflected into a corner. Having done all that, they could still have lost the game when Newcastle broke in injury-time and nearly scored. Thankfully they didn’t, and though they deserved a point for the way they defended, United wouldn’t have stolen anything if one of their twenty attempts at goal had gone in and proved to be the winning goal.
The final whistle brought deflation as United dropped the first points of the season, and it felt a little like a defeat to not be able to beat a team that seemed to be there for the taking. Though United played a lot better than many seemed to imply, this game confirmed that we need a proper striker to at least help Rooney up front. As shown a few days later, our captain is far from a spent force and can still mix it with the best of them…
That happened in midweek, when United travelled to Belgium to face Club Bruges in the second leg of the Champions League qualifier. In what was to be United’s best performance of the season so far, they blew the Belgians out of the water, with Captain Wayne Rooney getting a hat-trick and Ander Herrera adding another for a convincing 4-0 win. There was a lot of fluidity in the team’s play, and after Rooney put United ahead from a lovely Memphis assist, Bruges couldn’t find a way past Sergio Romero in the rare times that they infiltrated United’s back four. Deutscher Fussball Meister Bastian replaced Januzaj at half-time, and United got even better as the German and Ander Herrera started running the show from midfield. Rooney got two more goals for his hat-trick, and Herrera put the icing on the cake from a wonderful pass by Schweinsteiger. It could have been even better if Chicharito hadn’t done a John Terry by slipping when taking a penalty and the same Chicharito missed an even bigger chance when from inside the six yard box he managed to balloon the ball over the bar. It didn’t matter though (apart from feeling sorry for Hernandez and his missing smile), as United were back where they belong, THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE! Bring it on.
Some quick notes from these two games. It’s easy to say that Rooney needs better service to get the goals, as we saw from the European game, but it’s a lot easier for players like Herrera, Memphis and Mata to give better service to Rooney if he’s up front where he should be, rather than running back to try and win the ball off the opposition. As for Chicharito, he needs to get his smile back and relax. Hopefully once he does that the goals will start rolling in again, something United will need especially if no strikers are bought in the next few days. Also, well done once again to the back four as they do seem to be very solid this season, meaning we’ve hardly missed De Gea so far (SO FAR).
Looking at other games in The Premier League, Manchester City remain the only team with maximum points from three games after winning 2-0 at Everton; Chelsea got their first win of the season by beating Pulis’ West Brom 3-2 in a game where their captain John Terry got sent off, making sure ‘The Happy One’ didn’t look so happy afterwards; Arsenal and L’pool played out a goalless draw, though it wasn’t for the want of trying as chances went begging for both sides; Ranieri’s Leicester continued their impressive start by coming from behind to draw 1-1 against Tottenham, the same score line as the Norwich-Stoke and Sunderland-Swansea games; Bournemouth got their first ever win in the top division when they won 4-3 at West Ham, and Watford got a point in a 0-0 draw at home to Southampton.
In other United news, the draws for the Champions’ League group stages and the third round of the League Cup have been made. In Europe, United will be playing against Dutch champions PSV, German runners-up Wolfsburg, and CSKA Moscow from Russia for a chance to qualify to the last sixteen stage… Bring it on indeed. In the Capital One Cup United will face Ipswich at home. Here’s hoping this won’t be an embarrassing affair like it was last season when we lost 4-0 at MK Dons (though a lot of the players that played that day have been weeded out of the club);
We now look forward to the team travelling to Wales for the next league game against Swansea (Sunday 30th of August, 4pm UK time) before the first international break of the season. If the team continues to improve as they have over the past week, there will hopefully be a lot more to smile about, maybe from Chicharito as well… COME ON UNITED!!!