So here we are again, running away from the light we saw at the end of the tunnel last week because a train was coming the other way.
It all started hunky-dory as Van Persie turned a lovely Falcao cross into the net, then Di Maria scored what can be described as a beauty after only fifteen minutes into the game. Not even when Leicester pulled one back a minute later did we worry, as we knew United could easily score more. That happened when Herrera made it 3-1 with a back-heel after an hour.
But then, disaster struck. Due to much incompetence from referee Clattenburg, where he made two glaring mistakes in a few seconds, Leicester got a penalty that brought them back into the game, then went on to score three more in twenty minutes that saw them emerge as 5-3 winners from a game that United seemed to be in control of.
What started the collapse was the lead-up to Leicester’s first penalty as everyone but the referee could see it should have been a foul to United. Having said that, the players should have been much more professional than they were after that goal, and things might have worked out differently if they had kept their heads and kept playing as they had been up to that point. Instead they were all over the place, making sure Leicester looked like world beaters in the process.
Apart from Di Maria and to a certain extent Herrera, I doubt any players came out of this game with any credit, and some were being blamed more than others. Unfortunately it seems that we’re not supposed to point out if players weren’t at their best, but if not, are we meant to pretend that all was good? Cause it certainly wasn’t.
Starting from Wayne Rooney (because he’s the captain). Not that it should matter much on who wears the armband, but players usually look to whoever is for leadership, especially the younger ones. Shouting your head off when mistakes are made, without then doing your best to fix things doesn’t make for good leadership. Yes, of course United had captains who shouted at others at times (Roy Keane comes to mind), but not to cover their own mistakes, and they were good enough to lift the team up when it was mostly needed.
Having said that, a lot of the players on the pitch are experienced ones, and you’d expect them to come to the fore when needed. This is a team game after all, and we’re Manchester United, a side that was full of leadership material just a few seasons ago. Some of the players on Sunday seemed to have given up and weren’t up for the fight, instead expecting others to do it for them, and nobody was.
Robin Van Persie was another that looked out of sorts. He’s a lot better than he has been lately, and apart from the goal he seemed like he had other things on his mind. We need him back to his best, a bit like he was at the World Cup only three months ago.
Others were in the same boat, and it all looked rudderless. Here’s hoping that things will be fixed sooner rather than later, or we might be looking at another terrible season (though I still don’t believe we will). So far, with just one victory in five ‘winnable’ games, things don’t look too bright, but at least they don’t look boring either.
Thankfully, looking elsewhere in the league, only Arsenal won at the weekend, beating a high-flying Aston Villa 3-0; L’pool lost again, this time 3-1 at West Ham; City and Chelsea cancelled each other out in a 1-1 draw, with Frank Lampard scoring City’s equaliser; even Tottenham and Everton lost, both at home to West Brom and Crystal Palace respectively. That means that as dreary as things seem, we are only five points off Southampton, who are in second , and four points off fourth place.
In other club news, Johnny Evans is having a scan to see how serious the injury he picked against Leicester is. Hopefully it won’t be too bad as the defenders really struggled when he limped off (who’d have thought, eh?); The class of ’92 are selling half their shares in Salford City FC to Peter Lim, who was once involved with the Red Knights (remember them?) and will also soon be owner of Valencia in Spain.
We now look ahead to the visits of West Ham and Everton, who come to Old Trafford for the next two league games. We look forward to both games with optimism, and hope that United can get back on track with a second and third wins of the season.
United play Sam Allardyce’s Hammers first, in a rare 3pm kick-off on Saturday. I think that we can, and will, beat most teams at Old Trafford, but we might need to fasten our seat-belts as this could prove to be another roller-coaster ride of a game that will fit in well with the rest of the season.
As hard as it might be right now, let’s keep our heads up, unlike some of the players did against Leicester, and keep shouting it out with all our might… COME ON UNITED!!!