After the trashing of Norwich, we were looking forward to United’s last two games at Old Trafford, and the optimism was high on Saturday morning. Everyone was smiling all the way to the ground, and when we saw the line-up for the Sunderland game we thought this could be a second win in a row for Giggs and his team.
Then the game started, and it was back to the ‘dark days’ of Moyes. It was hard to believe that the players could revert to playing so rubbish so quickly, and this game showed why David Moyes and his coaching staff weren’t the only problem at the club. After Larsson scored to put Sunderland ahead, we felt that this could be another setback, even though player for player United looked much better. When substitutions were made in the second half, it didn’t even fill us with hope, though seeing Van Persie coming on was something we cheered. Most of us had thought that one of Fletcher or Carrick would have been taken off as they both seemed out of sorts, but when Mata’s number came up we all shook our heads in disappointment. Who else was going to give much needed through-balls to Van Persie and the low on confidence Chicharito? When the final whistle went to give Sunderland a first win at Old Trafford since 1968, we walked out of Old Trafford with heads down, knowing that the changing of manager was just the start to the long road back from mid-table mediocrity. This will also have shown Ryan Giggs how BIG the job is, and he might after all realise that it’s better to take a step back before becoming a full-time manager of one of the world’s biggest club.
Ryan Giggs acted swiftly, as three days later a fresh-faced looking side took to the pitch to face Hull City. We were a bit weary to see James Wilson and Tom Lawrence given first team debuts, but knew United had nothing to lose so walked into Old Trafford in good voice. After a somewhat poor first half, in which the two highlights were Wilson’s debut goal and Vidic coming on for his last Old Trafford appearance, the second half was much better, especially when Januzaj started running past defenders down the wing. When the interim manager came on to replace Lawrence, our evening was nearly complete, and the last twenty minutes were one happy sing-song about Giggs, interspersed with shouts of ‘SHOOOOOOOOT’ every time he got the ball. Another Wilson goal and one by his replacement, Van Persie, gave United a decent 3-1 win. After the final whistle it got a bit emotional when Giggs did the end-of-season speech, and even more so when Vidic was saying his goodbyes, at which point he was drowned out by the ‘Nemanja’ chant.
In other games, Chelsea could only muster a 0-0 draw at home to Norwich to fall off the title trail; LOTS of people showed they do indeed have hearts of stone as they laughed when L’pool threw away a three goal lead in the last eleven minutes at Pulis’ Palace to draw 3-3; City won 3-2 at Everton, then beat Villa 4-0 to move two points ahead of L’pool with just one game to go; Tottenham lost at West Ham to keep the Europa League back door slightly ajar for United; Norwich, Fulham and Cardiff all had their relegations confirmed; and John Terry, Ashley Cole AND Luis Suarez all cried, making it a good week for many.
On the United front again, The club’s end-of-season awards were held this week, with David de Gea winning both the fans’ and the players’ player of the year awards. The highlights of the other awards went to James Wilson, who won the young player of the year trophy, and Ryan Giggs who got a lifetime achievement award.
It seems that Luis Van Gaal will eventually be announced as our next manager, which bodes well for us fans as we hope he’ll show some of the ‘stars’ in the team that they are NOT bigger than the club. It seems that was one of the reasons that Jose Mourinho wasn’t chosen as manager when Sir Alex called it a day, and the biggest opposer of such a move was Sir Bobby Charlton who thought that his attitude goes against United’s principles.
Meanwhile, the subject of the ‘singing section’ seems to have taken a backseat (hopefully not in J stand) as the club realise they should have done things differently. People that I spoke to while at the games this week, including ones who sit in ‘J stand’ seem very relieved that they might after all be able to stay in their seats, or move to the section adjacent to it. (that’s ironically being called ‘The Non-Singing Section’).
Our last game of the season is this Sunday, where United travel to Southampton for a 3pm kick-off (UK time). All other games will be played at the same time, and while interest will mostly be towards the City and L’pool games due to the ‘Race for the Title’, most of us will still be keen to see who might be playing for United for one last time before they move elsewhere (out of choice or through the new manager’s choice).
Here’s hoping we get another win in what will probably be Ryan Giggs’ last game as our manager for a while… COME ON UNITED!!!