- Luke Shaw Injury
- Defeat in the Champions League
- Building for the future
We can’t start this week’s post with any other news but Luke Shaw’s injury. Talk about bringing us down to Earth with a bang eh? We were all smiles and happiness with the lead-up to United’s comeback in club football’s biggest competition, especially when the theme tune was played, only to be left feeling like it didn’t matter after just fifteen minutes when Luke Shaw was hacked down by PSV’s Moreno. It looked bad straight away, though Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli saw nothing wrong with it and the Mexican defender went unpunished. After that, the game seemed to go past in a daze for the United players and fans, even after Memphis had put them into the lead five minutes before half-time. To rub salt into the wound, the same Moreno equalised in the time added on because of his own horrid tackle.
The second half was more United possession, but they couldn’t find another goal, and it was PSV’s Narsingh who scored with just over half an hour to go to give the Dutch champions a somewhat surprising victory. United huffed and puffed after that, but showed how they are missing a proper striker as the few clear chances they created went begging.
The defeat seemed meaningless for most of us, and all we could think of was Luke Shaw’s injury. Not just because he was having an excellent season up to now, but here’s a twenty year old trying to reach the top of his profession, only to be stopped in his tracks by such a terrible injury.
Of course there will be those saying that Moreno won the ball, but defenders like him are clever enough to do that while still following through to scythe down opposing players, and no matter what is said, going in with both feet off the ground and doing a ‘scissor tackle’ should warrant a straight red card.
Here’s hoping that Luke Shaw recovers well from the operation that he’s already had done while still in Holland.
Our weekend had started with the excellent news that David de Gea had signed a new four year deal to stay at United, making sure we all went into Saturday’s game against L’pool with a spring in our step. Even when we heard that Rooney wouldn’t be playing we didn’t mind too much as he hardly ever plays well against our biggest rivals. We did worry a little though when it was announced that Fellaini was starting in the centre-forward role as we thought that the others would just hoof the ball up to him and hope for the best (Fellaini is much better than being a bushy-headed chest-controller of the ball).
When the game started, far from lumping the ball high to our striker, United played the possession game, and were the better side, though that was also down to how rubbish L’pool were. At half-time, with the game still goalless and not one single shot on goal by either side, Van Gaal brought on Ashley Young for Memphis, and the pace of the game changed straight away. It was from a good move by Young that United won a free-kick that lead to the first goal, when Mata cleverly found Blind on the edge of the box who finished with aplomb to put United ahead. Things got even better twenty minutes later when Herrera won a penalty, then got up to smash the ball into the top of the net, giving Mignolet no chance to save it. 2-0, and Old Trafford was bouncing. Until Benteke put his name down on the list for goal of the season contender with a neat bicycle kick. That made for a ‘butt clenching’ last five minutes. Or so we thought, as debutant ‘waste of money’ Anthony Martial, with ball at feet went past Clyne and Skrtel before coolly placing it into the corner to make it 3-1 to United. It was one of those moments that you instantly knew will always be remembered. How will anyone forget about the teenager who scored an excellent goal at the Stretford End against L’pool on his debut?
Martial went on to perform well on his European debut for United, and though the game against PSV ended in defeat, he showed a lot of promise and skill, something that’s unfortunately lacking up front at the club at present.
A couple of observations from these two games – the win against L’pool was very welcome even if that was one of the worst L’pool sides we’ve ever seen at Old Trafford. Some very good football was played, and not counting Carrick and Schweinsteiger (who had his best game for United so far), the oldest in the starting eleven was Juan Mata, who’s 27. This hopefully shows that Van Gaal is indeed building for the future, and whoever becomes United’s manager after him will have a solid bedrock to build on.
As for the PSV defeat, of course it’s ok to have a moan when our team loses, but nobody can blame the players for seeming affected by the Luke Shaw injury, and with five games still to go in the group stage, United should be good enough to make it through (probably finishing top as well).
Looking quickly at other games in the Premier League, Manchester City continued their relentless run towards winning the title by Christmas when they won 1-0 at Pardew’s Palace, then showed how much harder European football is by losing 2-1 at home to Juventus; Jose Mourinho became a little less happy as his Chelsea side lost again, this time 3-1 at Everton; Arsenal kept up with United in the table as they beat Stoke 2-0; Tottenham got their first league win of the season when they beat winless Sunderland 1-0; Watford won by the same score line against Southampton; Norwich won the battle of the promoted teams when they beat Bournemouth 3-1; West Ham beat Newcastle 2-0 with a Payet double, and Ranieri’s Leicester climbed up to second when they beat Sherwood’s Villa 3-2 after being two goals down.
United now play twice again in the next week. On Sunday they play at Luke Shaw’s former club Southampton (4pm UK time). Pity he won’t be able to grace his old hunting ground. Then on Wednesday the 23rd they play at home to Ipswich in the 3rd round of the League Cup (8pm UK time). We well be hoping that by the time the next article is written, we will be much happier than we feel right now (though just thinking about beating L’pool does bring a smile to the face)… COME ON UNITED!!!