- Losing at Sunderland
- Shambles in Denmark
- Messi’s penalty trick
Here we are again, bemoaning the season United are having, where every time we get a few positive results and think we’ve turned a corner, two pitiful defeats come along and we realise we’re in a roundabout and just going around in circles.
Morale was quite high as the line-up for the early Saturday kick-off was announced with a lot of fans sounding cheerful that Fellaini wasn’t starting, and wasn’t even on the bench. The game started dreadfully for United as after just three minutes Wahbi Kazri put the home side ahead with a free-kick that eluded everyone before going in. From then on, it was an uphill struggle for the rest of the match, even if United got better as the first half wore on. A few chances were created, but nothing to trouble Sunderland’s rearguard until a Juan Mata shot was only parried onto the path of Martial by Vito Mannone, and the Frenchman neatly chipped the ball over the keeper to make it 1-1 about five minutes before half-time.
We were wrong in thinking that United would come out better in the second-half as Sunderland looked the less struggling side, and many thought if anyone would score it would be them, so it seemed inevitable when a corner went in after deflecting off De Gea’s back. At that point we knew the game was pretty much over as United looked uninspired, and with no leaders on the pitch there was nobody to get the team back up and fighting for the last ten minutes of the game. When the final whistle went, we were all left deflated after a seventh league defeat of the season, one that makes a top four finish slip away a little farther.
Hardly anyone deserves to get any credit from this game as the team looked uninspired and lacking determination. We must mention the debut of Scottish youngster Donald Love who looked unperturbed by coming on to replace the injured Darmian, and seemed comfortable even when joining in attack.
This game confirmed how much Bastian Schweinsteiger is missed. Of course he’s past his best, but he’s about the only player at the club at present that can lead and keep the others level-headed when needed. He’s also the one that helps the youngsters with an arm around their shoulder. Pity he’s injured as we really need to have Van Gaal’s ‘mouthpiece’ on the pitch.
For Captain Rooney to come out and say that United now have to try and win the Europa League sounds a bit desperate. If we can’t beat a struggling, relegation threatened Sunderland, what makes him think we can beat the likes of Fiorentina, Napoli, Seville, Athletic Bilbao, Bayer Leverkusen or Borussia Dortmund? Porto or Villarreal even? These are teams that are far better than a bottom-three club in the Premier League, and come from countries that actually take the Europa League seriously, unlike most English clubs. So while we’d like to see United lift a trophy this season, I doubt we have a chance in the Thursday night competition (though I’d be glad to be proved wrong).
That road started with a trip to Denmark to face Midtjylland on Thursday evening in a game where the headlines were made by the greed shown by the Danish club at charging United fans £71 for a ticket. And what a waste of money that was for the ones that forked out to go and follow ‘our heroes’ in Europe.
With Captain Rooney missing and De Gea injuring himself in the pre-match warm up, things looked quite glum, but United were facing a side that hadn’t played competitively in over two months, so no big problem, right? When Memphis scored just eight minutes before half-time, things seemed like they were looking up. But this is as incompetent a group of players as we have seen for a long time, so they let Midtjylland back in the game before half-time.
The second half was even worse, as many of the highly-paid ‘stars’ didn’t seem bothered at all, and when the Danish side scored again to go in the lead with fifteen minutes left, there was no way back for United as nobody on the pitch seemed to have the desire or will to fight for the cause.
The only people that come out with credit after this shambles were the fans who paid good money to go to Denmark and support the club, and were chanting as they always do. Who can blame them for singing about that dross in front of them? At least they kept going till the end, unlike most of the players who were meant to be performing for them.
Looking at other results from the Premier League, Arsenal beat ten-men Leicester 2-1 with an injury time winner by ‘our own’ Danny Welbeck; Tottenham stayed second by winning 2-1 at City, who seem to be competing with United for the title of ‘most uninspired looking side in Manchester’; West Ham fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Norwich; Southampton won their fifth game in six by beating Swansea 1-0; L’pool annihilated bottom club Villa 6-0; Watford won 2-1 at ‘Pardiola’s Palace’; Stoke won 3-1 at Bournemouth; Everton lost 1-0 at home to West Brom; and Champions Chelsea climbed up to twelfth by trashing Newcastle 5-1.
In other news, many are making a fuss about THAT Messi and Suarez penalty. I can’t see why people are calling it ‘unsportsmanlike’ when footballers like them are showing everyone that the sport we love so much is meant to be about having fun, not just about heat maps and statistics (Oh look, that counts as a penalty miss by Messi. Yeah, I bet he’s bothered about it). What next, berating Ronaldo for his own ‘Ronaldo Chop’ (apparently it has a name) against Roma before he scored in the Champions League?
We now look forward (or will we?) to United’s next two games, where on Monday they travel to Shrewsbury in the FA Cup (7:45pm UK time), and on Thursday they play host to Midtjylland in the return leg of the Europa League (8:05pm UK time). After the terrible week we’ve had, things can only get worse if United lose against the 19th placed team in the third tier of English football, and then get knocked out of the Europa League completely. Surely that won’t be happening? COME ON UNITED!!!