As stoppage time winds down at the Stadium of Light, I feel an uneasy sense of calm descending upon me as United head into a now-familiar limp defeat against a team worse than them by a mile and a half. The Chelsea draw last week was frustrating, given that we played well but had to leave ‘only’ with a draw. This defeat is not half as frustrating, because we were back to being the lifeless, demotivated, uncohesive team that we were in the Norwich game, or the Southampton game, or any game before Chelsea in December. This one we wholly deserved to lose, and of course, there are no longer any games where we “were poor, and didn’t really deserve to win, but that’s what champions do…”. We’re not Champions anymore. And we will not be for a while.
The frustrating part though, is that the manager will say this was all predestined over the week already and at game time, his only job is to write ‘who made the assist for Blind’. Because of course, a million computers generating stastics on player’s average positions, total distance run, tackles won, tackles lost, shirts tugged, nose blown on to turf is not insightful enough to tell someone what to do with the team. No sir, it is the one entry in the little black notebook which says “76′ Goal: Blind, Assist: Lingard” which will entirely change how we play the next game. Which makes me think then, that the intern at Sky Sports who enters that data to show up on our screen, while he’s compiling all the other statistics above, and live-tweeting about the game while posting on Instagram his picture with Wayne Rooney when he came into the office, should be qualified to manage about 4 Premier League teams. I mean, it IS that simple right?
With West Ham’s form really not tapering off, United looks odds on to finish exactly where we finished under the Moyesy disaster-reign, but after about £100M more in spend. To be fair, that amount does include what is increasingly lookings like a very smart buy in Martial, but is also more than offset by the entire waste of seating space on the team bus which is Depay. Now, I’m not blaming him for draw at Chelsea… no actually, I am. If he had played in Schneiderlin right at the end, we would have got our insurance goal and a precious three points that would have kept us in the Europa League (joy!). Or, if he had even run it into the corner, the rest of the play might have developed differently. But he had to give it straight back to Chelsea, who had to come straight back at us, and of course, the inevitable followed.
What Who is Love?
How are we into our U-21s right back and left back already? I understand we’ve had injuries but to be spread so thin at the back, just smacks of poor… um… management. To be fair, I’m not exactly sure who our first choice center-back alongside Lionel Smalldini is anymore. Is it Jones? Is it Rojo? And beyond those two are we then down to Dalye Blind who’s cleearly an inadequate centerback, never mind if he’s clever about it or not. At some point, clever is not going to make up for 20 more inches of vertical leap or 10 yards of extra pace. He does have a pretty solid left foot, leading to us being the only team in the league with a centerback taking corners. If no one else is doing it, there must be a reason Louis…
But let’s come back to the initial question – and not touch on Phil Jones here, because,Phil Jones. Luke Shaw is just unbelievably unfortunate, because it just looked like he was getting ready for the kind of breakout season that would let him kick on to legend status, just like Patrice Evra 10 seasons ago. Valencia’s been gone a while, so is Ashley Young apparently. Then we lost Rojo, and just as he was potentially getting ready to come back, someone thought it was a great idea to put him in the stands at Anfield and bump his dislocated shoulder into a 100 other jumping, inebriated fans. We won’t say it, but I’m sure he re-dislocated his shoulder that day. Darmian seems to really need very little to break, and it might do him good to spend some time in the Rooney household, rough-housing with the boys a bit. I’m not sure where Paddy McNair was today. And Guillermo Varela got injured apparently playing for the U-21s. Well, I guess that does leave us all the way down at Love then. Oh how we could use Evans, or Rafael / Fabio right now.
Where do we go from here?
To a very unfamiliar place, and I don’t just mean to places 6-7-8 in the league table. That’s very familiar now, thanks to Moyesy. We’re off to Denmark (yay!) to play in the Last 32 of the Europa League (so pumped!) where will lose to a team because they use slightly more than a little black notebook of statistics to drive their decision making. That would do us a world of good, to just end this whole European misadventure misery as early as possible. We should have never been in there this season to begin with, and we shouldn’t be there at least for the next two or three given our state of affairs. Let’s just focus on coming up ‘doing our utmost best’ to get past Shrewsbury and putting together a decent run in the cup.
Does that sound like a plan Louis?