Valencia, to Mata, to Rooney, to Van Persie, to Young… to Van Persie, to Rooney, to Mata, to Valencia. Over and over. That was pretty much the bulk of United’s game against West Brom on Saturday.
After two defeats in a row, this was the game where many, including Van Gaal and the players, thought that United could get back on track and make sure that the fight to finish in the top four won’t drag until the very end of the season.
Things didn’t start badly, and United were on the front foot straight from the kick-off, although it’s worth noting that the main thing that happened early on is when after five minutes, we all stood up applauding and singing Rio Ferdinand’s name as a show of respect to the tragic loss of his wife Rebecca earlier that morning. May she rest in peace.
For all the possession United were having, they weren’t creating much, and apart from a few Van Persie chances, they didn’t get close to scoring. Rooney was spraying the ball around quite well, and Mata’s ball control was a sight to behold in the first half. Goalless at half-time, but we weren’t unduly worried as United were the better side.
When the second half started, a few question marks were raised as Fellaini was moved up front, with Van Persie pushed back in midfield. United passed, passed, passed, but couldn’t find a way forward as West Brom just stood in a line knowing United couldn’t score if they just kept passing the ball sideways. And then Pulis’ side got a free-kick just outside United’s area. A wicked deflection meant that De Gea was wrong-footed and all of a sudden, United were behind. A lot more passing and crossing ensued, to no avail. When United got a penalty we thought this must be it, but when Myhill saved the spot-kick from Van Persie, we had a sinking feeling that it wasn’t to be. When the final whistle went, you could cut the disappointment at Old Trafford with a knife.
There was a nice touch when Darren Fletcher went to all four sides of the pitch clapping the United fans, with everyone still there giving him a standing ovation to show our gratitude for all the years he spent at our club.
As rubbish as this result was, in hindsight United weren’t even bad, but very frustrating as for all the 80% possession that they had, they weren’t very incisive with it. This confirmed how much Carrick was missed, as surely he would have taken a few risks by trying to open West Brom’s defence up with his passing.
It was also somewhat disheartening to see Di Maria give so many wrong passes once he came on, though he might have been better off if he had come on at half-time, and there was hardly anyone in the West Brom box he could pass to (apart from Fellaini). United took 26 shots, and on any other day they would probably have scored a few. What makes this defeat look so bad is that it was United’s third in a row, all without scoring a single goal.
In a somewhat perverse way, it was good to see De Gea getting frustrated as the game neared its end, and he seemed to be getting angrier with every chance missed by his team-mates. Maybe it was just me, but that made me think that he does indeed love United and he will want to stay at the club beyond this summer.
In other games, City won 1-0 at Tottenham to get back to second in the table; Arsenal put a show on in beating Hull 3-1 to secure Champions League football for another season; L’pool huffed and puffed to beat QPR 2-1 and give themselves a chance of still finishing fourth; Newcastle’s implosion continued as they lost their eight game in a row, this time 3-0 at relegation rivals Leicester, after which John Carver became the latest manager to have a post-match meltdown; and Sunderland stay in the bottom three even after winning 2-1 against Southampton.
On Sunday, ‘boring’ Chelsea beat Pardew’s Palace 1-0 to secure the league title and anger purists who think they’re not worthy champions. Considering they walked it, and are THIRTEEN points ahead of the closest teams to them, I’d say they more than deserve it, and personally I’d rather be boring and win the league, than be boring and end up empty-handed.
In other news, a German TV crew were arrested and held in Qatar while filming a documentary about conditions regarding migrants working in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. They had their equipment confiscated, and all recorded material deleted before getting it back from Qatari authorities, on the premise that they didn’t have the necessary permits to film in Qatar. Surely this arises more suspicions that they’re trying to hide something, or why else would they not want the recordings to be shown if there was nothing wrong? It’s ok though, I’m sure FIFA will carry their own investigations into this, then say everything seems to be ok while they count their blessings (and bulging accounts).
Forbes has released their latest list of football’s richest clubs, with Real Madrid staying on top for a third year in a row. Valued at £2.13 billion, they’re just ahead of their Spanish rivals Barcelona (£2.07b), and United who with a value of £2.03b, confirms why The Glazers have stuck with the club that made them a lot richer than they already were.
While on United news, the club have opened talks with Ashley Young to extend his contract, and why not? He’s shown how good he can be since Van Gaal became manager, and he always plays with heart, which is definitely better than a few of his team-mates; and the U21s beat Southampton 1-0 to stay top of their league, just two points ahead of L’pool’s youngsters.
We now look forward (or maybe not) to United’s next game on Saturday the 9th of May (5:30pm UK time), this time at Crystal Palace, a team that just like United have lost their last three games without scoring a goal. So we’ll be watching with a ‘twitchy a*se’, while as always shouting COME ON UNITED!!!