Although there was no domestic games at the weekend due to international football, a lot still happened regarding United and the club’s players.
The main talking point during last week and after the transfer window closed remained the De Gea non-move to Real Madrid. While the Spanish club insisted that the blame was all United’s, it was clear to see that they felt wounded as their usual bully-boy tactics didn’t work as they had planned. As we mentioned in the last post, it’s great for us fans that De Gea is still a United keeper as he’s by far the best we’ve got. If he does leave on a free next year he’ll have given us an extra season that we didn’t expect, and this should give the club enough time to find an adequate replacement rather than have Sergio Romero as our number one. While the Argentine keeper is good, we’d need someone of a higher standard when (if) De Gea does go to Spain.
While away on international duty, De Gea was on the bench for Spain’s 2-0 win at home to Slovakia, but played the whole game and kept a clean sheet in their 1-0 win in Macedonia. Juan Mata played against Macedonia as well, and actually scored the winner with a peach of a goal, though it seemed like he was trying to cross the ball.
Our captain Wayne Rooney played in both England games. He scored a penalty against San Marino to equal Sir Bobby Charlton’s tally before being taken off with half an hour to go, then scored another penalty in a 2-0 win over Switzerland to become England’s all-time highest goal scorer. Now, we can all have a go at him whenever he doesn’t perform well for United (and we certainly do), but nobody can knock him for such an achievement. It’s quite ridiculous to see a few (mainly non-United supporters) trying to make such a record look unimportant because of how or when he scored his fifty international goals. FIFTY! If Sir Bobby’s record was easy to break, I wonder why it wasn’t broken earlier (though Gary Lineker did get very close to it more than twenty years ago). The best thing about it? The record is still held by a Manchester United player, and THAT’S something to be proud of.
Rooney’s club mates Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling were also involved for England. While Shaw played the whole ninety minutes in both games, Smalling sat the first game out, but played the full match against the Swiss. Both came out with rave reviews, hopefully they can continue with their good form at United. The only negative coming from the England camp was that Michael Carrick withdrew with a calf problem which could mean he won’t be available for United at the weekend.
Others that represented their country in the past week were Blind and Memphis, who had a terrible few days as Holland lost 1-0 to Iceland before Turkey beat them 3-0 to make qualifying to Euro 2016 seem an improbability at this stage; Bastian Schweinsteiger captained Germany in their two wins (3-1 against Poland and 3-2 in Scotland); Matteo Darmian played for Italy in both 1-0 wins against Malta and Bulgaria.
Others were involved in friendly matches, where Marcos Rojo played 70 minutes in Argentina’s 2-2 draw with Mexico and Antonio Valencia played the whole game in Ecuador’s 2-0 win against Honduras; Morgan Schneiderlin came on at half-time in France’s 1-0 win at Portugal, then played the full match in their 2-1 win against Serbia. United’s latest signing Anthony Martial came on for the last fifteen minutes of both matches to get the first two caps of hopefully many while a United player (though that would mean the club forking out more money to Monaco).
Talking about Martial, many seem to have already deemed him a failure because of how much he cost. Of course he cost a LOT of money, but to say he’s a waste of money when he hasn’t even made as much as an appearance for United? The club paid similar to what City did for Raheem Sterling, a player of similar age with the same amount of honours under his belt. Here’s hoping that Martial does what De Gea did after all the criticism he used to get from the media and make them ‘eat’ their own words as he starts to show he is worth that kind of money (though it might take a bit of time).
News is also coming out of senior players confronting Van Gaal at training. Apart from the fact that it’s something that happened weeks ago and it’s odd that the media kept it till now, just before United play against their biggest rivals in England, isn’t it normal that players with authority like Rooney and Carrick speak to the boss if there’s any concerns from their team-mates? They are the captain and vice-captain after all.
We also heard that James Wilson is going out on loan, which can only be good for him if he starts getting playing time elsewhere; as he should then be ready if United need to recall him back throughout the season. Another United youngster in the news is Ashley Fletcher, who scored a hat-trick in United’s 3-2 win over Rochdale in the Lancashire Senior Cup.
It was also very sad to hear about the death of United’s former player Ralph Milne. While we didn’t see the best of him at Old Trafford in the two seasons he spent at the club, he’ll always be remembered as Sir Alex’s self-confessed ‘worst signing’ for the club (though he did admit that it’s because he gets condemned for it). May he rest in peace.
We now look ahead to one of United’s biggest games of the season, where they play L’pool at Old Trafford on Saturday (5:30pm UK time). We will be hoping that after breaking England’s goal scoring record, Rooney will perform well, something he rarely does against the eighteen times league winners. The others will have to be at their best too as this won’t be easy. But if all goes well, it will make for an excellent weekend for us… COME ON UNITED!!!