Dreaming – Manchester 9th March 2015

’twas the 24th minute. A dreaming Angel di Maria was gazing admiringly at Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the ball. He was dreaming of his new flat in town, he might even have been dreaming of getting a decent corned beef butty in his local shop on Quay Street. What di Maria wasn’t doing was watching Arsenal left back Nacho Monreal, who he was supposed to be marking. Monreal strolled through on the left flank to beat David de Gea on his near post. Five minutes later, di Maria partially redeemed himself when he whipped in his first decent cross since walking to the other side of the road in Prestbury last December. Wayne Rooney scored with a free header from six yards, after Arsenal’s defence somehow surpassed United’s abysmal defending a few minutes prior.

David de Gea watching a United attack in the first half (Photo courtesy of Neil Meehan)

This was the best game I’ve seen at Old Trafford this season and played in the best atmosphere. The first half, United played with some speed and attacking verve. It was far from perfect but despite what the clueless believe, we don’t demand perfection at Old Trafford, we don’t object to it either but what we do demand is fast attacking football. Tonight was the first hint of that kind of football that we’ve seen this season. As for the final outcome, apart from the obvious disappointment, I have little argument. Arsenal came with a plan and apart for their dreadful defending on the equaliser, played it perfectly.

Hear hear

What may have been for old times sake, Antonio Valencia set Danny Welbeck up for Arsenal’s 61st minute winner. Welbeck celebrated heartily. I’ve no problem with that, in fact, I’m sick to the back teeth of seeing footballers score against their former teams and walk away as if they’ve just been to a funeral. There’s a difference between celebrating a goal like Welbeck did and rubbing noses in it, like Emmanuel Adebayor hilariously did at the Stade de Beswick in 2009 when playing for Manchester City against Arsenal. When Welbeck was substituted on 74 minutes, there were audible boos near me but I’m not quite sure why. What was Welbeck supposed to do? See himself with an empty net and think, fuck this, I can’t score against United? Having scored the goal, was he supposed to disregard both his team mates and the travelling support to show some phoney and corny gesture of respect? Are these people for real? Welbeck has done nothing, including tonight, which makes me regret United selling him. He’s never spoken or acted out of turn towards United, why be so mard about it?

Wayne Rooney lines up a free kick in front of the Stretford End (photo courtesy of Neil Meehan)

We had two instances of United players being booked for simulation tonight. I can’t be bothered talking about Adnan Januszaj, that was done to death last season, he’ll probably be gone in the summer. Angel di Maria was booked for going down a bit softly in the 76th minute. Next thing I know, I can hear the Arsenal fans cheering above me and seeing a red card flashed at the other end of the pitch. It transpires that di Maria had pulled the back of referee Michael Oliver’s shirt. Oliver, a referee who earlier this season had Joe Hart push his head into his face with no sanction during the Manchester derby, was not going to get caught out like this again. I’ve seen some stupid sendings off over the years at Old Trafford but this one is up there with the very best of them. I’m pretty sure that di Maria, like Januzaj, will also be gone in the summer. He’s looking more like a liability with every passing game.

United were up to this point desperately trying to get an equaliser against a (for once) well organised Arsenal defence, after that, it became more desperate and if anything, It was Arsenal who were more likely to score. In the final minute of injury time, Phil Jones, the footballing equivalent of Desperate Dan, had the ball to himself just over the halfway line. He beautifully summed everything up by launching the ball harmlessly for a goal kick. It epitomised both his and United’s lack of idea.

I’ve no problem with anybody selling this if they can find somebody daft enough to buy it. My question would be who in the name of Christ buys this stuff?

It’s all about top four now. Louis van Gaal admitted before the match that it was his priority, not that we needed telling anyway. Old school like myself who grew up in a time where winning the cup meant far more than finishing top four can lament the shifting of the priorities, but such is the way where being in the Champions League means more to clubs than winning a trophy, it’s just a sign of the times. As for not going to Wembley this year, ah well, who bleeding cares anyway? I’ve been there more times than I can remember and once the novelty wears off (which believe me, is very quick), you see it for the over priced and over rated shithole that it really is. As for Arsenal tonight, I’ve walked away from a few matches involving them with hard feelings, this is not one of them. They deserved it. Goodnight and good luck and by the way Danny Welbeck, thanks for your service at Old Trafford, you’ve done nothing out of order.


15 thoughts on “Dreaming – Manchester 9th March 2015”

  1. Tony, if you do get a yearning for Wembley Way, you’re more then welcome when the mighty Gills play in the league one final in may 😉

    1. I’ll see about that nearer the time. Should the “mighty gills” get to Wembley this year, hopefully they won’t blow a two goal lead in the last couple of minutes this time eh?

  2. I was happy enough with the overall performance in the first half but was completely baffled by the half time subs, Were they for injuries?

  3. De Gea should have been MOM again, you better hope he isn’t lured away in the summer. I thought United played well; some great, incisive passing moves using width and pace. It was a great game and they should have capitalised more- Szczesny was a bag of nerves, a goal waiting to happen. If they’d have hit the target more they would have scored more, as Giggsy said there’s no science in that.

    1. I have a strong belief that de Gea will be going in the summer. He has always wanted to ultimately spend the bulk of his career in Spain, his girlfriend lives over in Madrid and he’s coming to the last year of his contract. If he doesn’t sign a new one in the summer, and I’ll be amazed if he does, United will have to sell or risk losing him on a free twelve months later. United will effectively be in the same position as Liverpool were with Michael Owen in the summer of 2004.

  4. Good read Murph as always. Great game to watch despite the score and sending off.
    One question for you: what was the logic behind the double substitution at half time? Phil Jones seemed to bring nothing to play.

    PS-Beat The radar Playing this Saturday at The Castle, on at 8pm 😉

    1. I have no idea Jon. As I said above, I don’t think Shaw or Herrera were carrying an injury, van Gaal didn’t say anything amounting to that in his post match press conference anyway.

  5. No mention of the baffling substitutions that cost us the game, Murph? First half was our best and most exciting of the season thus far, with Herrera, Rooney, Fellaini and Young running the show. Obviously far too attacking and far too exciting for our Aloysius, who I am absolutely convinced told them all to pack it in at half time and revert to his risk-averse, possession-based ‘philosophy’. Subbing the dynamic Herrera to leave two defensive midfielders sat infront of the back four in a cup game where we were soon 2-1 down is absolutely ludicrous.

    Looking at the bigger picture, I don’t want the manager sacked. Ferguson left an unprecedented rebuilding job to be done and Van Gaal deserves a fair crack at implementing his own way of doing things with his own system and his own players, especially, and I hate to go on about it, considering his track record. I refuse to believe the man is an idiot, but he’s certainly doing his best impression of it at the moment.

    1. I didn’t and still don’t know enough about those substitutions to comment on them and I won’t talk about what I know nothing of. They were certainly baffling. To look at the bigger picture like you, I’m seeing a manager who will play Fellaini while leaving Mata on the bench and take off Herrera at half time. He’s not the first manager to baffle us with his team selection or substitutions, Ferguson did that enough times too, I’m just hoping there’s a method in the madness. I can’t see it at the moment though.

  6. Good report Murph, there’s little I disagree with and much I applaud. Danny Welbeck did a good job for us and good luck to him. Like all the the other comments on here the half time substitutions had me a little baffled. Shaw was struggling against a packed attack but Herrera looked good. The second half seemed to take any pace we had out of the team. Di Maria drives me bonkers, I’d expect with that fee to come with certain criteria e.g. trap a ball, pass to same shirt colour, and maximum effort. All of which he failed miserably with one obvious exception. Valencia was vilified for his back pass but yet again calamity Jones was involved just hoof that one lad. Interesting the pace we played at in the first half was created mainly by quick passing because Herrera, Blind, Shaw and Fellaini would lose at most parent day 100 metre races.
    Deep sigh.

  7. Finishing top four being more important than winning the Cup? Sad but true, mate. They should give that 4th place spot in the Champions League to the FA Cup winners but that would probably break some UEFA rule or something. Brilliant bit of writing there, Tony, you should do it for a living!

  8. Well we got what we asked for, then we got what we asked for. Two, three if you count our goal, came blunders. Maybe now we know why van Gaal plays the way he does. David de Gea apart, he has little faith in our defenders.

    He’s in the points collecting game, so we must get behind him and the shirts. Arsenal will not benefit from such wretched defending again. So lads ‘n’ lasses, chins up, there is still all to play for.

  9. As has been commented, the subs destroyed the game, unsettled the defence and the midfield and we never looked the same. Valencia always has a mistake in him at full back, but so does Rafael. Jones was solid there in Munich, but injury prone. McNair?

    Ruined my week this has. I’d rather win the Carling Cup (or whatever it is called) than finish fourth and I got the impression that no one really gave a shit in the second half. Not once can I remember this season a second half onslaught at the Stretford End, very un-united like from recent times.

    A mate, let’s call him ‘PG’, text me long into the night after the game, asking ‘do you think Bebe would weaken this team, really? That is why it is so wrong. I’d take defeats every day if the players were individually shit. But these aren’t.’ He then referenced a midfield of Gibson and Anderson destroying Shalke a few years back.

    Sound a right miserable twat but I don’t care about Sunday now. Arsenal will have momentum and I fear ours will be gone (if we had any). I’m just hoping Liverpool don’t win the cup, not arsed after that. I’ll take 6th and Europa. At least there’s a new UWS out on Sunday!

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