The first international break of the season has been and gone, and while many of us watched a few of the games on show with some interest, most of us couldn’t wait for this week to roll on so we can get back to watching domestic football, especially as United’s next game is against ‘the noisy neighbours’. But more of that later, so let’s have a look at the United players that represented their countries in the past week…
Our captain Wayne Rooney played for England in Slovakia and did what he’s been doing for United so far this season, which isn’t much. Sam Allardyce’s men did get a late goal to win 1-0 in what was Rooney’s 116th appearance for his country, making him the most capped outfield player for England. Chris Smalling was on the bench for that game.
Mickey T came off in the 1st half of Armenia’s friendly against Czech Republic due to a thigh strain and went back to Manchester for treatment.
David de Gea played in both Spain games, a 2-0 friendly win against Belgium and an 8-0 trashing of Leichenstein in a WC2018 qualifier. It was nice to see him keep two clean sheets.
Anthony Martial played the first half of his country’s friendly 3-1 win against Italy, but not before scoring France’s first goal. Paul Pogba assisted two of the goals in that game. They both then played in the 0-0 draw in Belarus, though Martial was replaced by West Ham’s Payet in the last ten minutes.
Daley Blind played both games for Holland, a 2-1 friendly defeat against Greece and a 1-1 draw in Sweden in their first WC2018 qualifier.
Eric Bailly featured in the Ivory Coast’s game against Sierra Leone, a 1-1 draw that sees them qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in January 2017. Looking at it selfishly that’s a pity as he will probably be missed while away for about a month in winter.
Antonio Valencia didn’t play in Ecuador’s 3-0 defeat against Brazil, but then played the whole game against Peru, which they lost 2-1.
Sergio Romero played both Argentina’s qualifiers, a 1-0 win against Uruguay and a 2-2 draw in Venezuela. His compatriot and United team-mate Marcos Rojo didn’t feature in the first game but played for the entire game against Venezuela.
The highlight of the week for us was young Marcus Rashford playing for England’s U21’s against Norway, in which he made the headlines by scoring a hat-trick to show that while still a teenager, he’s way above that level. Long may he continue to bang them in, mainly for United.
In other football news, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have had their transfer ban appeals rejected by FIFA, meaning they should be banned from buying any players for the next two transfer windows. That could be good news for us United fans as it would mean that even if Real Madrid’s fax machines work properly over the next year, they will still not be able to pry David de Gea out of our club’s hands.
There’s also news coming out that El Salvador players are claiming that a Honduran business man tried to bribe them before their game against Canada, and offered them money depending on what result they got so Honduras could progress further in their 2018 World Cup qualifiers. FIFA will probably have to investigate this one, and even if proven untrue, this will open another can of worms as we’re sure these things happen all around the world.
Back to United, we look ahead to two games in the next week. First and foremost, it’s the Manchester derby on Saturday (12:45 pm UK time), where the stakes have been at their highest since Sir Alex retired. Who doesn’t want to see Guardiola vs Mourinho; Zlatan vs Stones; Nolito(?) vs Bailly; Pogba vs the entire City midfield? It’s all building up for an early season cracker, though knowing these kind of games it might just be a damp squib.
With no Aguero for City, United might be seen as favourites by many, but you can’t just disregard a side managed by Guardiola because their star striker is missing. They’ll still have enough strength to get something out of this game, but hopefully Mourinho’s United will carry on with their positive start.
Then on Thursday it’s the first match in this season’s Europa League campaign, an away game at Feyenoord (6pm UK time). United fans are not happy at being given just 1,400 tickets, with Feyenoord’s excuse being that they’ll only be using half the 52,000 capacity due to a suspended punishment by UEFA for previous crowd trouble.
Though it’s still early in the season and none of these games will decide anything, we will be hoping for another couple of positive results so we can keep smiling in the faces of ABUs, who thought Aguero only got banned to help United, irrespective of how bad his elbow challenge against West Ham was… COME ON UNITED!!!