With United not being in Europe, we can sit back and watch what happens with a detached amusement at what sometimes goes on around us. At City on Wednesday, they lost to CSKA Moscow but they weren’t happy at their treatment by UEFA. They were so incensed in fact that not only did some fans not turn up to the game in protest, one of their number even decided to paint up a protest banner which pointed away from the pitch and in a true display of mancunian rebellion (this time against Grammar) they wrongly spelt two words out of the ten on the banner
You had one job Bramhall Paul …… And you spelt it wrong and held it the wrong way around … you fucking clown. pic.twitter.com/H7phlXxY3J
— Bertie Magoo (@BertieMagooMCFC) November 5, 2014
Crystal Palace have made a reasonable start to the season. Nobody was taking a win against them today for granted. There’s a different vibe around Old Trafford nowadays. One that’s not been felt on a regular basis since the early 1990’s. There’s not the same confidence pre match that this fixture would’ve enticed before Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
Relieved United players celebrate Juan Mata’s winner in front of the F Stand (photo courtesy of Neil Meehan)
United had a lot of possession in this game. I believe that this is the first game when Louis van Gaal’s philoshophy was actually implemented and United played with a confidence on the ball that I hadn’t previously seen this season. In the 27th minute, Luke Shaw showed for the first time showed us why United splashed out so much money on him in the summer. Shaw ran half the length of the pitch before forcing Palace keeper Julián Speroni into a save on his right hand post. Former United centre forward Fraizer Campbell missed a great chance for Palace in front of a shocked Stretford End on forty minutes. United were lucky but United have been due a bit of luck in that manner anyway. For all the possession, it was a frustrating match and it became apparent at half time that this was going to be a tight game.
Juan Mata replaced the subdued Adnan Janizaj in the 64th minute. There was a feeling around me that Mata needed to impose himself on this game and turn on the bit of magic we all know he has. He took three minutes to do that, scoring what turned out to be the winner into the Stretford End on 67 minutes with a shot from twenty yards that went into Spironi’s near left hand post.
United needed a win today. No two ways about it. Chelsea and City are over the horizon. Southampton have set an impressive pace but come next May, one and two will be Chelsea and City (in that order). Looking around after them is a coldbed of mediocrity. Put it this way, United have to finish in the top four this season bearing in mind that Liverpool are now in a similar freefall comparable to the last time they had a decent title challenge (in 2009). Arsenal are as good a side as ever, capable of giving giving anybody a game, but that’s all they are, as per usual. Good, nothing outstanding.
Whilst I may say that Chelsea are over the horizon, hope springs eternal for some of my red brethren. Just before the match kicked off, the lad next to me said in sombre tones that Chelsea had won at Anfield. When I asked him as to why he was so upset about this (he sounded like his dog had just been put down), he said that “a Chelsea win doesn’t do United’s title hopes any good”. I do love the eternal optimist. While that feeling of the loss of our main rivals to Chelsea wasn’t generally shared around the ground, I have to potentially jeopardise any top red (sic) credentials I may have and pay some due credit to Liverpool fans. In the video below, you will see them giving a bit of gentle abuse to Paul Scholes in the Bernabeu stadium on Tuesday night. Scholes responded to this by waving at the scousers up in the gods. Their reaction to this wave amazed me and fair play to them for it. Traditional hostilities with the scousers will resume again tomorrow morning, soon after we’ve commemorated the armistice at 11AM.