…The fourth place trophy. It was a weekend of great relief for us, as first United limped their way to a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace, and a day later Gerrard’s Brigade limped their way to a 1-1 draw at Chelsea, meaning that barring a catastrophic collapse, United will finish the season in the top four, which will open the door to next season’s Champions League competition.
We were slightly worried when in the days leading to the game Van Gaal said that Carrick wouldn’t feature in the last three games of the season, as we were reminded how important he can be to the team in the past month.
After less than twenty minutes United won a penalty, at which point we all crossed our fingers that it wouldn’t be missed again. Personally I was worried that whoever took it would have extra pressure on him after Van Gaal had already taken Van Persie off penalty duties due to his miss a week earlier. Mata made sure those worries were unfounded as he placed the ball neatly into Speroni’s right corner to put United ahead.
The second half was somewhat different, as United reverted to ‘form’ and were all over the place. That gave Palace the opportunity to equalise from a free-kick, though if Blind had as much as gone onto his tip-toes, the ball would have probably been deflected off his wavy hair elsewhere, rather than into De Gea’s goal. Soon after, De Gea kept United on level terms with one of his superb ‘strong-handed’ saves off Glenn Murray. Thankfully Palace didn’t take advantage of their dominance and went behind instead when with less than fifteen minutes to go Young’s cross was turned into the net by Fellaini’s bushy head. Towards the end, De Gea made another brillaint save off Murray again to make sure that United went home with the three points.
When the final whistle went, we could breathe again as United won for the first time in nearly a month, and stopped the rot after three defeats in a row. Once again, United had the majority of possession (63%) that wasn’t turned into much, though at least we got a much-needed win this time.
A day later, champions Chelsea were given a guard-of-honour by L’pool before they played each other in a game that couldn’t really be bigged up as much as TV companies would have liked to. It was nice to see Gerrard and his team-mates clapping Chelsea onto the pitch though, if only to wonder what he’ll have been thinking as he never got that done to him in the league. L’pool needed a win to have any chance to still finish in the top four, and even though half the Chelsea team seemed to be hungover, they were still good enough to stay undefeated in the league at Stamford Bridge this season. The 1-1 draw was cheered by us United fans, probably more because it means L’pool won’t be playing in the Champions league next season, than because United might (I know, we should be ashamed and all that).
In other games, Manchester City made mince-meat of QPR by beating them 6-0 to send them back into the Championship after just one season. QPR will now probably face a fine by the Football League for breaching FFP rules last season. I doubt this will worry their owner Tony Fernandes much as he will be getting more than £60m in parachute payments over the next three seasons. Seems like he’s running the club as he used to run his own F1 team, and that ended well, didn’t it?
On Monday evening, Arsenal huffed and puffed at home to Swansea, but lost 1-0 to a late goal by Gomis, prompting Arsene Wenger to bemoan the fact that Gary Monk’s side refused to play football. He probably forgot that his side did similar in their 2-0 win at City last January. This leaves the 3rd place door ajar for United, and though it probably won’t happen, it’s wonderful to see some of their fans crapping their pants knowing that it’s a possibility.
Lower down the table, Burnley’s relegation was confirmed even though they won 1-0 at Hull, leaving Bruce’s side in real danger of joining them; Leicester made it six wins from seven games when they beat ‘contender for manager of the season’ Koeman’s side 2-0; Sunderland won 2-0 at Everton to leap-frog their North-East rivals Newcastle, who themselves drew 1-1 against West Brom to get their first point in nine games; while Aston Villa beat West Ham 1-0 to move further away from the last dreaded relegation position.
In other news, this week marks ten years since the Glazers bought United and loading the club with massive debts (though now reduced hugely, still at over £300m at present). A lot has been written by others about them, most of which are very good articles. Some for, many against, so I won’t go into detail about them here. But for those who mention the trophies United won in the past ten years, the club won even more in the ten years BEFORE the Glazers took over, so think about that the next time anyone says they should be thanked!
Tickets for L’pool’s game against Crystal Palace this Saturday are selling for more than £1,500 as demand is high for Gerrard’s last game at Anfield. I suppose some will use the money from their ‘get Gerrard to Wembley’ fund to be able to afford such ridiculous prices for the chance to salute their Captain fantastic with his own guard-of-honour.
Back to United news, the club’s latest signing Memphis Depay (Aah, so good typing that), will miss PSV’s last game of the season this weekend as the Dutch club don’t want to risk him getting injured before his £25m move to United; and the U21s trashed their City rivals 4-0 on Tuesday, and now need only a point against the same City to assure themselves of winning their league.
United’s next game is at home to Arsenal on Sunday the 17th of May (4pm UK time), where while we hope that United win to give themselves a slight chance to finish third, we’d be happy enough if Arsene Wenger hands us that fourth place trophy that he’s won SIX times in the past ten seasons… COME ON UNITED!!!