The most memorable moment of yet another dreadful first half at Old Trafford was when Jonny Evans passed the ball back to David de Gea from near the half way line in the 22nd minute. A wayward corner from Ashley Young ended up with Daley Blind on the opposite flank. He passed to Evans near the halfway line who in turn passed to de Gea. Evans had no choice, he couldn’t pass safely to another United played where he was so he did what any sensible centre half would do. The howls of disapproval, most notably from the K Stand, were the angriest I’ve heard Old Trafford since the anti Moyes banner flew around Old Trafford last April. Some people thought that the crowd were having a go at Evans, but I think it was more a case of a pissed off crowd who had seen far too many moves evaporate this season in this manner. That there was no outfield player available to Evans to pass to is more a problem for his team mates as a collective, than it is any culpability for Evans after an attacking position moments earlier fell apart. Not for the first time this season, United fans chanted attack, attack, attack-attack-attack, however to my ears, this was shouted with a bit more vigour than usual.
Possibly the most terrifying image I’ve ever seen used to advertise a football match. Incidentally, Thriller by Michael Jackson is still available in all good record shops (while good record shops last)
After a first half of such incompetent tedium, a very pissed off United following roared 4-4-2 and Attack, Attack, Attack-Attack-Attack from the upper tier of the School End at Loftus Road. This was a statement intended to ring in the ears of the United players as they walked off the pitch. Watching the first 45 minutes, it was difficult to see who exactly was in a perilous relegation battle and who had aspirations to play in the Champions League next season. It was a diabolical first half performance
Piccadilly rail station, 10.25 AM and it is deserted as the Euston bound trains were going out to Stoke for this game. I have never seen this arterial train station so quiet. Gradually some hungover reds turned up. They were saying variants of goodness gracious* as for the second time in a week, they’d had an early kick off imposed on them by the whims of live TV. However, compared to getting to Tottenham for a midday kick off, this was a doddle.
Ryan Shawcross losing Phil Jones in the 2nd minute. Seconds later, he put Stoke 1-0 in front
Just in case anybody was getting too carried away after last weeks performance and result, this will calm down all those who were suddenly expecting a charge and challenge for the league. Whatever improvements occur over the next few months, title challenging sides don’t blow a 3-1 lead when beating a feisty pub side like Leicester City, no matter how unlucky the circumstances.
How it came to all this can be dissected by all but ultimately, it’s Louis van Gaal who is trusted to sort this out. After a sublime first sixteen minutes United were cruising with momentum gained from last weeks win against QPR. 2-0 up with a header from Robin Van Persie on 13 minutes and a brilliant chip from Angel di Maria three minutes later, Leicester looked lost and United looked like running riot. A minute later and Leonardo Ulloa was allowed a free header from five yards out with Jonny Evans and Rafael stood either side of him. Things calmed down for the remaining two thirds of the first half.
Up to and including the match against City on the 2nd of November, there’s only one United match that is not being shown live on television. That is United’s next home match against West Ham in a couple of weeks. By then, United’s first six games will have been shown live on television. That is quite something for a side that finished 7th last season. No matter what is going on at Old Trafford, for good or bad, United are the biggest show in any town it happens to be.