A cagey game saw Chelsea win 1-0, with a goal scored against the run of play from Eden Hazard in the 38th minute. Some say John Terry fouled Radamel Falcao in the run up to the goal, maybe he did but to be fair to the referee, it wasn’t blatant. It’s goals like this which show a team who’s going to win the league. Chelsea didn’t play well and were there for the taking should United had posed any decent threat upfront. After the Chelsea goal, I couldn’t envisage a Manchester United equaliser. John Terry and Gary Cahill, never looked seriously threatened by United’s forward line. Prior to that, United’s best chance came from a Luke Shaw cross, which fed Wayne Rooney sixteen yards from goal in the 3rd minute. Rooney calmly sidefooted the ball high into the stanchion of the side netting. The ripple of the net deceived the travelling reds in the Shed End and David de Gea, into thinking United had scored.
After the match against Arsenal on Monday, confidence amongst reds was on the floor. When talking amongst ourselves before today’s game, such was the sharp intake of breath about what could happen that when we breathed out thinking of Harry Kane, it caused a near hurricane down Talbot Road. Tottenham Hotspur are a good side, easily on paper, the best team United have played at Old Trafford in the league since the chimes of Auld Lang Syne faded out. Prior to today, they had won on their last two visits to Old Trafford, having previously gone twenty three years without winning here. We were left in no doubt that today was going to be a hard game against a side that like United, are in contention for a top four place.
United attack in the 2nd half (photo courtesy of Neil Meehan)
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
The run up to this game saw an unnecessary frenzy for United fans caused by Aston Villa over match tickets. Villa had put the tickets on open sale over the internet about five weeks ago, just like they’ve been doing for years, only this time, they rescinded the tickets bought by anybody they suspected of being a United fan. Through a friend who has lives in the middle of Liverpool, I’ve been getting tickets for Villa in this way for a while now and I have never seen any problem at Villa Park when United have been in the Villa part of the ground. I always thought Villa were grateful for the revenue visiting reds gave them, I was wrong. This time, Villa tried using the United game to sell half season tickets. You’re not famous anymore indeed!!
A photograph that magically captures the madness in the Witton Lane stand seconds after Falcao had equalised (photo courtesy of Neil Meehan)
While Villa had a cull of people buying tickets for the game, they didn’t fully succeed. There’s nowt more resourceful as a travelling United fan* (please see the bottom) getting into the match. When Radamel Falcao equalised in the 52nd minute, there was a slew of reds in the Villa section next to the segregation line, who started celebrating the goal. This wound up a nearby crew of stewards to such a degree that I am now convinced (having been there many times) that they are compulsorily prescribed amphetamines before United’s fixture at that ground. It’s either that or they’ve watched too many films about American soldiers in Vietnam. If they are sane then I know where there’s a house full of people like them. The lad who had his Steve Gerrard banner stopped at Old Trafford last week on Health & Safety grounds was told today to not pull it out under any circumstances. This was at exactly the same time that a huge banner was being unfurled across the Holte End in a forlorn attempt at rousing some passion out of Villa fans. Unlike last week though, the Gerrard banner was briefly seen on live television worldwide, seconds after Falcao’s goal.
In the 64th minute, Gabriel Agbonlahor was harshly sent off by Lee Mason for a challenge on Ashley Young that was in my opinion, a yellow card. The fact that it was a foul on Ashley Young which had resulted in the red card, caused an apoplectic reaction from the Villa fans. The local Police must’ve been relieved Ashley Young didn’t score the winner, even though that was what the more mischievous reds were praying for. I reckon they could have had a repeat of the Handsworth riots on their hands, just in time for the festive period.
Red wasn’t harsh at all. He should have been sent off for that Moustache. — John Ashton (@thedoveman1982) December 20, 2014
Actually, come to think of it, he has a point
At the full time whistle, we walked away with a 1-1 draw, probably a fair result. I now know that Louis van Gaal, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney have expressed disappointment that United didn’t win. I’m disappointed too, especially playing against ten men for nearly half an hour but United have had some good luck in recent weeks so I just go with it. We could be far worse off. Think of last season.
What this result will hopefully do is calm a few people down. Some of the garbage I’d read in the media after the Liverpool win was understandable in that they were doing their job. Winding up the more gullible amongst United fans. What has surprised me was how may people got wrapped up in that excitement. Sure beating Liverpool and Arsenal over a six game run are great results, it doesn’t meant that United are suddenly in serious contention for the title.
Thanks to Neil Meehan and Ciaran McMullan for their help in writing this
*full respect to those City fans in Moscow who nearly got into the ground that night, only to be grassed up by their own stewards
Got a text from a MCFC mate in Moscow: 7 got in the ground, 6 were ejected (by MCFC security). One watched wearing a photographer’s bib. — Andy Mitten (@AndyMitten) October 22, 2014
It was a nervous United side that had started the game but not only was it a nervous performance, the night as a whole had a feel of everybody going through the motions. In the 21st minute, from an Ander Herrera cross, Marouane Fellaini scored the type of goal he was renowned for at Everton, to give United the lead. The reception the goal garnered was nearly as rapturous as the injury time equaliser Robin van Persie scored against Chelsea five weeks ago. I wonder how many people who cheered that goal were ironically cheering Fellaini’s every touch in the pre season friendly against Valencia at Old Trafford and I also wonder if those same people can look at themselves in the mirror, come the morning.