Sunday, 15th of May, 2016: What started as a day full of hope that United could still finish fourth with a Champions League place still at stake, ended with frustration, anger, disappointment and in farcical mode, which was par for the course for the whole season. The difference was that all this happened without United even playing.
Less than an half an hour before the game against Bournemouth was due to start, fans were evacuated from the North Stand as rumours started gathering of something not being right. As thousands were moved to the car parks outside Old Trafford, they were told that the game was being delayed by forty-five minutes. Soon after, it was abandoned on police advice as a possible bomb had been found in one of the toilets and the bomb disposal experts were called in to carry out a controlled explosion. We were all left feeling sorry for the thousands that had made the trip to Manchester for one last time this season, especially those who had travelled from afar and spent good money on flights and overnight stays. As more of the story kept emerging throughout the evening, the disappointment soon turned to anger as it was found out that the device had been accidentally left behind by a private security firm after a training exercise.
This showed a high level of incompetence by the firm as someone employed by them had actually signed the device out when it obviously hadn’t been. Here’s hoping that they’ll made to pay for it especially because of the undue stress they caused to the thousands of people that had to be evacuated because of such a fiasco.
United themselves have to be applauded for how they acted once the device was found, and while it’s easy to say they could have called the company to confirm that it was just a training device, once a ‘code red’ is called it’s out of the club’s hands and certain procedures have to be followed. Credit also to the club for refunding everyone (though that’s a given as people had paid to watch something that hadn’t happened), and also let everyone in for free when the game was being played on Tuesday evening.
When the match was eventually played, half of Old Trafford seemed empty as many couldn’t make it for the rescheduled fixture (though a lot more would have probably made the effort if there was still something to play for). Van Gaal opted to play a strong side even with the FA Cup final just five days away, probably because first team players hadn’t been in action since the defeat at West Ham a week earlier.
The first half was similar to most games involving United this season; turgid, boring and played at a snail’s pace. Thankfully the one decent move in the whole of the first half came just before half-time, and it resulted in Captain Rooney finishing a chance he had started to score his 100th goal at Old Trafford.
United were much better in the second half, and while that was mainly due to Bournemouth already being on holiday (they would have been if the game had been played on Sunday), it was still a joy to watch the players actually trying and going for goal. In the first fifteen minutes alone, they created more chances than they had in the whole of the West Ham game, and it was a pleasure to see the team attacking rather than just passing the ball sideways and having lots of possession for nothing.
Even Michael Carrick hit a shot from outside the area that rattled the crossbar, and when Rashford made it 2-0 from a Valencia assist the win was in the bag. There was still time for substitute Ashley Young to add another after an excellent pass from Captain Rooney. Unfortunately ‘Mike’ Smalling scored an own goal in the last minute that meant that David de Gea missed out on winning The Golden Glove. Although it’s not something of much importance, it summed up United’s season as one last thing went wrong when everything was looking ‘rosy’.
In the other games from the Premier League’s last day of this season, Champions Leicester drew 1-1 at Chelsea; Spurs continued doing a Spurs by capitulating and losing 5-1 at relegated Newcastle; Arsenal beat Championship side Aston Villa 4-0 to finish second and make sure their fans celebrated like they had actually won something; City drew 1-1 at Swansea, making United’s result against Bournemouth irrelevant; Southampton won 4-1 against Crystal Palace to finish sixth and make it to the Europa League; West Ham were beaten 2-1 at Stoke; L’pool drew 1-1 at West Brom to finish eight in the league (viva the Klopp-olution); A Martinez-less Everton beat Norwich 3-0; and in Sanches Flores’ last game as Watford manager, they drew 2-2 at home to Sunderland.
Looking at other news involving United, France and Spain have called up their EURO 2016 squads, with Schneiderlin and Mata being left behind. Many jumped onto social media blaming Louis van Gaal and his boring football for this happening. Should we then give him credit for the likes of Fellaini, Martial and Rashford being called up by their countries? Twists and turnabouts eh?
Also, stewards were seen banishing banners that condemned The Glazers’ tenure at Old Trafford on Tuesday. While you can’t criticise them for trying to safeguard their own jobs, it’s silly taking such banners away when we already know how bad the Glazers have been for the club. If anything, they made sure those banners made headlines they otherwise probably wouldn’t have.
In a season where it all seems like it’s one big hoax, we can still look forward to one last game this season, and it’s an important one as it’s the FA Cup final against Pardew’s Palace (Saturday, 5:30pm UK time). Here’s hoping that United bring the trophy back to Manchester so if Van Gaal leaves he can do so with his head held high. Well, sort of. WEM-BE-LEY, WEM-BE-LEY, WE’RE THE FAMOUS MAN.UNITED AND WE’RE GOING TO WEM-BE-LEY… COME ON UNITED!!!