We knew the joys of four straight wins couldn’t last, especially after what we had to go through in the past three seasons, and we were duly brought back down to Earth with two defeats in the past week that showed Mourinho still has some way to go before we can start properly challenging the top teams again…
Most of us were looking forward to the Manchester derby, and while all the media could talk about were Mourinho and Guardiola, we couldn’t wait to see the likes of Pogba and Ibrahimovic measuring themselves against the league favourites.
It was surprising to see Jesse Lingard starting ahead of Martial (even though the Frenchman isn’t firing on all cylinders), but we thought that might have been for the ‘local passion’ that he brings. Once the game began, we could see straight away that City were more prepared for it, and it only took them fifteen minutes to go ahead and quieten the Old Trafford crowd. It was one of the players Mourinho had binned while at Chelsea that did the damage as Kevin de Bruyne finished coolly after going past a statuesque Daley Blind to put the ‘noisy neighbours’ ahead. Just after the half hour mark, Iheanacho was left all on his own in the area and had the easiest of tap-ins after De Bruyne had hit the post to double City’s lead. Thankfully Bravo let a Rooney long free-kick slip out of his hands just before half-time and Ibrahimovic made sure he didn’t miss to bring United back into the game.
When Herrera and Rashford came on in place of the ineffective Mickey T and Lingard at half-time, you could instantly see United’s improvement as they were the better side for the first part of the second half. Unfortunately they couldn’t find a way past the errant Claudio Bravo, and when they did Ibrahimovic was in an offside position. Towards the end City started playing well again, and could have scored more. When the final whistle went, we were left disappointed with having lost our first game of the season against our neighbours.
We can’t complain about the result as City deserved the three points, but it was disheartening to see a player like Daley Blind seemingly out of his depth at the back, especially as he had been playing quite well next to Eric Bailly (though that wasn’t exactly against top class opponents).
On Thursday, United were playing against Feyenoord in Rotterdam in their first Europa League game of the season. Changes were made from Sunday as many that had not been featuring up to now were starting in this game. It didn’t make much difference as United put in another disappointing performance and bar a few half chances didn’t create much. After a lacklustre hour of play, Mourinho brought on Ibrahimovic, Young and Memphis, and while United looked more threatening up front, they were hardly dangerous. Things got worse when Vilhena put the Dutch side ahead with just over ten minutes to play, and though the goal should have been disallowed for offside, Feyenoord were hardly stealing anything. Ibrahimovic could have equalised towards the end, but it wasn’t to be and the game finished with another defeat for United, their fourth away loss in a row in Europe.
Once again, it was disappointing to see that United’s back-up players weren’t up to scratch, and though players like Captain Rooney isn’t playing that well, Mourinho has a tough job to find a decent enough replacement for him.
Looking at the Premier League, Chelsea could only muster a 2-2 draw at Swansea, meaning that City are the only team with maximum points; Champions L’pool beat Champions Leicester 4-1; Arsenal won 2-1 thanks to an injury-time penalty at home to Southampton; Tottenham trashed Stoke 4-0 at the Bet365 stadium; Pardew’s Palace got their first win of the season when they won 2-1 at Middelsboro; Bournemouth got their first win too as they beat West Brom 1-0; Watford won 4-2 at West Ham’s new London Stadium; Burnley and Hull shared the points after they drew 1-1; and Koeman’s Everton won 3-0 at Moyes’ Sunderland with Romelu Lukaku getting a hat-trick.
In other football news, UEFA have a new president in Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin, who is already saying that his organisation needs to show the big clubs who’s in charge. As good as that sounds, we doubt the big clubs will be quaking in their boots and they’ll probably start talking about a European Super League once again until he pipes down and tows the line like the others before him.
Crystal Palace’s defender Papa Souare will be out for about six months after getting injured in a car crash. We hope that he gets well soon and be able to play football again once fully recovered.
Back to United news, the club have paid Van Gaal and his coaching team over £8m as compensation for letting them go. Not bad for three seasons of mostly below average football eh? At least we did win the FA Cup before they left, so we’ll always have that to look upon when thinking about Van Gaal’s philoshophy. Not to worry though, it was announced this week that United are the first British club to record revenues of over £500m for the 2016 financial year (yes, that’s FIVE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS).
And Phil Jones, who was meant to start against Feyenoord, missed out as he is injured again. Nothing new there then.
Looking ahead, United play twice again in the next week. First up is a trip to Watford on Sunday (12pm UK time), where we will be hoping the Premier League campaign gets back on track even though Mazzarri’s side are playing well; then another away trip to Northampton for a League Cup tie on Wednesday (7:45pm UK time), where whoever plays should be good enough to make it through to the next round… COME ON UNITED!!!