After last week’s capitulation at Leicester, the West Ham game couldn’t come quick enough, and with United not being involved in midweek games, we had to wait a whole week before it did.
In a rare 3pm kick-off on a Saturday, we had a couple more debutants in the starting line-up (Luke Shaw and teenager Patrick McNair). As excited as we felt, many of us were still slightly disappointed to not see Mata starting, even after making a mistake that lead to a goal a week earlier (though he wasn’t the only one).
United started in a frenzy, and after five minutes Rooney put United ahead when he finished nicely from a very good run and cross by Rafael. Fifteen minutes later, things got even better as Van Persie scored his second goal in a week to double United’s lead. This time it was Falcao who assisted the Dutchman.
We were still not too comfortable, especially after THAT 5-3 defeat, and when Sakho pulled one back for West Ham before half-time, we knew it would be another ‘squeaky bum’ game. When our captain was sent off for a silly challenge with half an hour to go, things became a lot harder for United, with West Ham even having a goal disallowed for offside. Thankfully our ten men held on for a precious 2-1 win to push United up to seventh in the table, giving us a few smiles if only because we’re now ahead of last season’s ‘runners-up from 7th place’ L’pool.
Looking back at the game, the main talking point was obviously Rooney’s sending off. It was very avoidable, and nobody saw a good reason why he tackled Downing like that when he wasn’t even in a danger area. It was a pity as he had played very well in the first half, and could have continued doing so if he hadn’t been so rash in making such a decision. Something even less understandable was the fans applauding him and singing his name as he walked off. Were they trying to show him that no matter what he did, and however bad it was, they were on his side? Also, comparing him to the likes of Cantona, Keane and Vidic just because they were captains who got sent off as well is a bit petty. If Rooney was half the leader that those three were at United, such comparisons would make more sense. Here’s hoping that he takes such negative moments on board, and he ‘grows’ into being the leader that this side so badly needs.
As for the offside decision that made sure that United didn’t drop any more points, it was disheartening to see the likes of Sam Allardyce and Kevin Nolan calling the linesman out and making him out to be incompetent for actually getting the decision RIGHT.
On a positive note, it was great to see Shaw and Rafael bombing down the wings, though that meant the defence was put under more pressure when West Ham had the ball. After being told by Van Gaal in summer that he can leave, Rafael is definitely making it hard for our manager to leave him out, and if he keeps this form up, he could become a mainstay in our team for the next few years (watch him get injured again soon). Herrera was also very good until he got injured, and it will be a pity to see him out for a while. I thought all three were contenders for man of the match, but that ‘award’ goes to 19 year old McNair, who looked very composed at the centre of our shaky defence. That backwards header to clear from a West Ham cross showed he’s got a cool head on him, and we hope that he has a bright future in United’s first team. Kudos also to the fans at Old Trafford, who sounded much louder than they sometimes do (apart from that applauding a red-carded player moment).
Elsewhere in the league, Chelsea continued their steamrolling by beating Villa 3-0; Manchester City let a two goal lead slip at Hull, but then scored two more to win 4-2; the North London derby between Arsenal and Spurs ended in a 1-1 draw, same as the Merseyside derby after a last-minute Jagielka thundershot made sure that they were both overtaken in the table by United; Leicester got a sobering lesson from Neil Warnock’s Palace, who beat them 2-0; while QPR, Burnley and Newcastle all lost to stay in the bottom three.
Getting back to United, as already mentioned it’s frustrating to see another player join the injury-list. Herrera’s fractured rib will keep him out for about three weeks, which means Rooney’s three match suspension will be even harder to swallow with a few hard games coming up.
The club is still looking at possibly playing a few midweek friendlies to make up for lost revenues that come from not playing in Europe. This is something that was already mentioned in pre-season, and while financially it could be good, this might give injured players less time to recover, and I’m not sure Van Gaal would be happy with something like that.
Oh, and that banner flown behind a plane in Spain? Those involved (United Reel or something) are saying it was to show their love of Ronaldo. If so, why didn’t they write ‘we love you’ on it, rather than ‘come home’? Talk about throwing money down the drain.
This weekend United go back to playing on Sunday, mainly because next opponents Everton play in the Europa League on Thursday. Kick-off is at noon in the UK, and though the Toffeemen might be a hard nut to crack, we hope that United will have more than enough in attack to get another three points and keep climbing up the table.
So get your nerves in check for another ninety minutes of ‘fun’… COME ON UNITED!!!