After last week’s derby defeat, it was imperative that United beat Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, otherwise we’d have gone into the international break not having won in the past four games.
United were once again ‘down to the bare bones’ at the back, as apart from all the injuries, Chris Smalling was suspended after being sent off against Manchester City. We were still not too worried as after a good start to the season, Warnock’s Palace were struggling just above the relegation zone and had lost three of their last four games.For all the possession though, United were making it harder than it should have been, and though Palace hardly created anything, they could have gone ahead when former United player Frazier Campbell went one-on-one with De Gea, but luckily for us he lobbed both keeper and target.
In the second-half, United put more pressure on, and when Mata replaced Januzaj an hour into the game, we hoped he’d calm things down and make United’s chances count. That he duly did just four minutes after coming on with an excellent finish that he himself described as “an explosion of joy”. It was to prove the only goal of the game, maybe confirming how important Juan Mata can be to this team. Many seem to think that he blew his chance when Rooney was suspended and he didn’t play too well, but I keep thinking that they complement each other, and both play better when on the pitch together.
While the 1-0 score line was important to push United up the table and closer to the top four, it also meant that David de Gea has now kept 50 clean sheets for the club from 144 appearances. Not bad for a ‘dodgy keeper’ with an unsteady defence in front of him eh?
It’s worth mentioning that both Paddy McNair and Luke Shaw played very well in a makeshift back-four, and though this was one of the easier games they’ll face this season, we can clearly see that they’re two players that should have a very bright future at the club. Daley Blind did his job well too, as did Fellaini. With him having such a torrid season after he joined, it seems like he needs to do a lot more to change supporters’ minds, as many have already thrown him on the scrapheap. If he does keep improving and plays as he used to for Everton, he’s a player that United do need in midfield. Slightly weird how Van Gaal is giving him a chance in his favoured position, when Moyes (and Round?), who knew him much better, played him further back last season.
In other games in the Premier League, Chelsea beat another mid-table team, this time deservedly winning 2-1 at L’pool. Brendan Rodgers seemed to think that they should have got a point though, and even after a third defeat in a row, insisted that all is going well at his club apart from results. I bet their fans will be happy at hearing that; City struggled to get a 2-2 draw at QPR, and could have even lost if not for an obscure rule that saved Joe Hart’s blushes; Arsenal were being themselves by throwing a lead and losing 2-1 at Swansea; Spurs lost at home again, this time to Mark Hughes’ Stoke; Newcastle won their fourth game in a row to climb into the top half of the table, above both L’pool and Tottenham; and the three promoted clubs now prop up the table by being the bottom three in the whole league.
Looking at other United related news from the past week, former manager David Moyes has been appointed as manager of La Liga side Real Sociedad. We can laugh till the cows come home, but I think (and hope) that he can do a decent job in Spain. We all know that he’s a lot better than he was at United, who unfortunately proved too big a club for him. He does have to be his own man though, as I still believe that he listened to those around him too much at United, and he might have been better off without a few of them.
The ‘class of ‘92’ have been approved by the FA to take over at Salford City. New Valencia owner Peter Lim is joining them as a partner of the club from Greater Manchester.
Wayne Rooney should be getting his 100th cap when he wears the armband for England against Slovenia at the weekend. However anyone looks at it, representing your country for a hundred games (and counting) is an achievement to be lauded. Hopefully this will give him the impetus to kick on his season at United, and start playing better than he has been so far since being made permanent captain of the club.
Meanwhile, our ‘midfield magician’ Anderson might have found an escape route out of the club as chances are that he’ll join Brazilian club Gremio on a free-transfer.
We now sit back and relax while international football is being played, and keep our fingers crossed that United’s injury list doesn’t grow when the players return from their journeys with their countries. And though United don’t play at Old Trafford until the end of this month, the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ will be hosting a luxury friendly on Tuesday the 18th when Messi’s Argentina play Ronaldo’s Portugal there. At least Di Maria will still be at home if he plays for Argentina.
Enjoy the weekend, for once we don’t have to hide behind our sofas… COME ON UNITED!!!