We’re Man United, two wins in a row… Remember when United won six games in a row in November and mid-December? Since then, they hadn’t won two successive games until this week. On the other hand, United have only lost one in the seven games played since this year started, with four wins and two draws (three of the games were in the cup).
So, looking back at the past week, in which United played twice, it was excellent to see the team play like the United of old, if only in fits and bursts. First it was Leicester in the league, in only United’s second game at Old Trafford in 2015. Though they had beaten United in the first round, we knew that the Foxes should be no match for the Red Devils, and so it proved when United went three up in the first half with goals from Van Persie, Falcao, and our old and trusted friend, own-goal. It’s a slight pity that United didn’t press on in the second half, and instead took their foot off the pedal as they could have won by a cricket score if they had kept attacking. Thankfully Leicester had nothing to offer either, and though they pulled a goal back with ten minutes to go, the win never looked in doubt. The game finished 3-1 to United.
Quite a few players impressed in the team’s ninth home league win of the season, especially Daley Blind who showed his class by pulling the strings and keeping the game flowing from midfield.
On Tuesday evening it was the turn of League Two side Cambridge to play at Old Trafford, this time in the FA Cup 4th round replay. Once again Van Gaal opted for a strong line-up, proving that he wants to win this trophy as much as us supporters. After a very early scare when Cambridge hit the post, and a first fifteen minutes in which the United players seemed confused, they clicked into gear and went into the lead through Juan Mata. Fan favourite Marcos Rojo made the game safe after half an hour when he doubled United’s lead following a lovely pass from Van Persie. In the second half it was more of the same, and when substitutes Herrera and Wilson combined to make it 3-0, the game was well and truly over.
It was excellent to see the players gelling so well together and looking so confident, to the point where a few were even using back-heels to find each other. Of course, ‘it was only Cambridge’, but this was the same Cambridge that had held United to a 0-0 draw last week. The way the players were finding each other means they’re getting more used to the system, and maybe Van Gaal’s philoshophy is beginning to bear fruit. Though many deserve credit for a good performance, special mention has to go to youngster Paddy McNair, who showed that he can indeed become a future United legend. Considering he used to play as a number ten, he’s doing very well as a full-back, and the way he played will make it harder for the manager to leave him out of the starting line-up.
Credit must also go to the over 6,000 Cambridge fans who enjoyed their day trip to Old Trafford. We look forward to seeing most of them supporting ‘their local team’ when they play at home to Wycombe this Saturday, though we won’t hold our breath.
In other league games over the weekend, the big one between leaders Chelsea and 2nd placed Manchester City ended in a 1-1 draw, with the five point gap between them staying the same; flavour of the month Southampton lost 1-0 at home to Swansea, meaning United climb over them into third in the table, while Arsenal are now level with them on points after trashing a very poor Villa side 5-0; Tottenham won 3-0 at West Brom to stay in sixth place; L’pool beat West Ham 2-0 to go above the Hammers into seventh place; Looking at the relegation zone, the bottom six all lost to keep everything looking grim for them.
The best bit of news from the past week is that the transfer window has now shut, so hopefully the silly rumours will take a back seat for a few months, though we’re sure the media (and some ITKs) will still pretend they know stuff about players moving that the rest of us don’t. Looking at which clubs bought who, slightly worrying to see Chelsea and City, who are already stronger than the rest, spend over £50m between them to buy Cuadrado and Bony respectively.
Harry Redknapp has resigned as QPR manager due to ‘imminent knee replacing surgery’. Though probably true, quite a coincidence that he only mentioned it a day after the transfer window ended with him hardly getting anyone in, and after his boss Fernandes said that “given the right motivation, tactics and coaching we can achieve much more”.
Further afield, a Mauritian referee was suspended for six months by the Confederation of African football for poor officiating in the Tunisia-Equatorial Guinea game. I doubt he’ll mind much, especially if he’ll have been reimbursed by the host nation after giving them a very dubious penalty in injury-time.
Back to United news, the transfer window meant that a few squad players were moved along, the biggest two names being Darren Fletcher and Anderson. As mentioned last week, though Fletcher was not a great, you only have to see how the current stars thanked him for all he did with them to see how much he meant to the club; also worth noting that only four players remain that started THAT shambles of a game against the MK Dons, which shows that Van Gaal is definitely moving the club in the right direction.
The club’s next game is on Sunday the 8th of February (4:15pm UK time), two days after the 57th anniversary of the Munich air tragedy. Here’s hoping that the players will keep giving us a lot to cheer about while stepping up the gears to stay in the top three… COME ON UNITED!!!