So among other things, Wayne Rooney should have stayed on his feet amid a 6 foot 4 and 17 stone keeper recklessly steaming out of his area, rather than take the necessary evasive action. A new law-book outlining a new offside solely for United players was created in the aftermath of Ander Herrera’s equaliser. Marouane Fellaini assaulted his marker before putting United in front. One defeat in nineteen is an accident and United would be fighting relegation were it not for David De Gea. The enjoyment of Falcao’s struggles, leaving fans completely oblivious to their own teams’ happenings. The desperate search for the most innocuous, manufactured statistics to conjure up comparisons to Moyes, despite being completely unfounded. The writing off of United as supposed fallen giants. The determination of a successful season is seeing United miss out on top 4 football and crash out of the FA Cup. The bewilderment and horror at your side being below these supposed rank amateurs who have no right to be where they are.
Welcome to the poisonous life of the ABU.
Typified by the wretched football mouthpiece of the BBC, Gary Lineker. He will tell you otherwise, with his misplaced saintly facade on screen, but he has always had an agenda with United. A lot of that will be to do with the infamous long-standing Ferguson boycott, but it seems the contagious ‘Anyone but United’ curse has spread to so-called personalities. Making Rooney the ultimate villain for doing the natural thing and avoiding a shattered ankle, vehemently protesting that Herrera’s goal should have been chalked off, claiming that Fellaini’s hand on the back warranted a free-kick- he was pulling out all the stops in his quest to continue his United beef.
The funny thing is he was the very epitome of your average football fan: When you support a lesser club, and you are watching silverware predominantly only going to one destination, plain jealously is bound to kick in and, in turn, that manifests itself into pure hatred.
Even though I am part of the younger breed of United fan, who has experienced nothing but unparalleled success, I am screwed on enough to ascertain that our club has needed thick skin to overcome the droves of petty, undignified hatred coming from all angles. That siege mentality is a vital ingredient in our make-up and I bloody love it. ‘To hell with the rest’ to quote Gaz Nev in his autobiography.
That character and grit have proved to be hugely important components on numerous occasions this season, and will probably continue to be so as the race for fourth is only going to hot up further. A lacklustre first half-> a shot in the arm with the opposition taking the lead-> resolve and guts needed -> gaining a positive result to rescue the game. It is a far from idealistic formula that Van Gaal is testing to the limits but even though it’s far from pretty, it’s mightily effective at the minute and a darn sight better than the caving in that was all too familiar last season.
I completely understand that there is and should be a balance, you want to win by playing attractive, total football. This brand of football is a different flavour to previous United vintages, but this season is all about a means to an end ultimately. Are you going to care one bit if we get top 4 and get to Wembley playing in this fashion? Like hell you are. That end goal will act as the springboard to restoring the good times. Playing nice football only gains so many plaudits, it will not matter how we get back to where we belong, just as long as we do.
We got what we have been craving to see last night. It was a case of ‘Hello stranger!’ as Ander Herrera returned from the shadows into the heart of our midfield, and the man occupying his berth Wayne Rooney was restored up top. What a difference it eventually made. Rooney occupied the last defender, playing on the shoulder and offering a lot more movement and guile than his partner on the night. He looked like he had that boyish enthusiasm and verve back in his game, which is not so evident in that deeper role. With the Falcao/RvP experiment not yielding maximum productivity, Rooney’s showing back up front was a timely reminder to LVG that is where he still belongs. The improvement with RvP’s absence and after Falcao’s miserable withdrawal was tellingly marked and is the way forward.
Mancunia collectively banged the Herrera drum loud enough for the noise to be deafening. His situation was akin to that of Twitter’s favourite son Shinji Kagawa, if only he justified the amount of ungodly hashtags with performances to match. There is a big difference in their situations though. Unlike Kagawa, who you could just tell was not comfortable with the rough and tumble of Premier League life, Herrera’s bustling, dynamic approach to midfield play is tailor made for not only our play, but English life. It is clear when he plays, he looks the part- always having more time than others, he moves the ball a second quicker, he is a goal threat. Hell, we have not had a creative midfielder who knows where the back of the net is since the ginger prince.
There have been all sort of rumblings around Herrera’s omission- time keeping, the match-fixing hoo-ha, a Moyes signing- at the end of the day we are not privy to that. It would have been telling, given how disappointing our midfield had been, had Herrera been named among the subs again. You could have inferred from that from LVG did not fancy him, despite doing no wrong thus far- a sketchy half blighted by injury at West Brom aside.
Thankfully he played and performed well again. The bemoaned lack of balance from the manager has and will be fixed by the Spaniard as long as he is given the time on the pitch to perform. He transforms our midfield, it’s a real shame he isn’t a guaranteed starter, hopefully he keeps his place at Swansea.
Falcao’s United career nosedived to a new low last night. The ease at which he was shackled by a League 1 defence emphasised just what a pale imitation of his former devastating, deadly self we are having to endure. I previously backed him to the hilt, I love his graft and endeavour, but as much as that is endearing, you expect a hell of a lot more for a guy on £265,000 per week. His movement is still top notch, but he is a yard short- you’d expect that from a cruciate ligament injury. Sadly, with each week, it’s looking more and more remote that we will shell out the frankly ludicrous £43M touted, he is struggling to look even half that player. That t*** Keown was a bit dramatic suggesting that would be his last ever action with United, but time is definitely running out.
Jorge Mendes has not got to his current standing in the game by fluke. He knows his field and how to sell even the most dwindling of assets. However, his statement that Falcao will be playing for one of the top teams regardless next season looks increasingly optimistic. He will need all his Aces in the pack for someone renowned to gamble on the Colombian’s finances and fitness.
Even though we are all now dreaming of Wembley, we need to stay focused and we are back to the bread and butter on Saturday as we visit Swansea, who put us to the sword on the opening day.
It will be quite a tough question to answer for many, would you rather win the FA Cup and miss out on Champions League, or fall foul to this cup hoodoo again if it meant getting back among Europe’s elite?
We have been spoilt down the years with silverware filling up the cabinets at Old Trafford. The modern-day diet has been the consistent winning of trophies and, of course, we all want those days back.
However, at the start of the campaign, the ultimate goal set by the powers that be and agreed universally by our fans was that we needed Champions League football as a matter of priority. With the suspected outlay expected to replicate last summer’s, we can ill afford too many seasons without the glitz and reward that Europe’s elite competition provides. No matter how many noodle or spirit companies Woody manages to entice to Manchester’s bright lights, the windfall from Champions League is a massive fillip to fans, players and suits alike.
Three points at Swansea will go some way to giving us all the belief and confidence that we can safeguard our position in the top 4. It’s time to go on another run.
See you next week.