Shooting Fish In A Barrel – Manchester 28th of September 2013

Today was one final blast of decent weather for this year before the light draws in and the departing masses leaving Old Trafford, begin to resemble a Lowry painting for six months. After last Sundays thrashing at City and the midweek joy of beating Liverpool, there was a lot of confidence going into Old Trafford today. Despite that defeat last week and the armageddon-esque rhetoric of forthcoming doom from some reds, United went into todays fixture trailing the league leaders by five points having now played Liverpool and City away as well as Chelsea at home. The widely agreed difficult start was out of the way and United were only five points off the pace and we all know, at this stage of the season, that’s nothing. There was only one problem with that assertion, West Brom hadn’t read the script.

In the first half, there was plenty of United possession and whilst West Brom defended well, it felt like it was only a matter of time before United scored. On 24 minutes, a free header for Wayne Rooney went straight onto the grateful hands of West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill and Javier Hernandez went agonisingly close from a Nani cross. At half time, David Moyes replaced Shinji Kagawa with the promising Adnan Januzaj but while there was only one change in personnel, he might as well have changed the entire side at half time such was the lack of confidence in them in the second half. With West Brom winning at Old Trafford today for the first time since the Christmas period of 1978 and being good value for it too, todays performance will be remembered as being disastrous or ‘fuckin’ shit’ as most people around me were muttering at the full time whistle. United played alright in the first half but were run ragged by in the second half by an enboldened West Brom side who were relieved to have gone into half time at 0-0. There was no apparent danger on 54 minutes when Morgan Amalfitano took possesion in his own half and ran in the general direction of the United goal. Seconds later to the disbelief of everybody in the ground, he was ono-on-one with David De Gea having strolled through half the pitch without a single fucking challenge being made on him (the Ferdinand nutmeg don’t count!!). His finish, dummying a stranded De Gea before dinking the ball over the commited and blameless United keeper was exquisite.

If there was bright thing to emerge from that goal, it was the confidence that United would now wake up, stop pissing about and grab the game by the scruff of the neck. Three minutes later, Wayne Rooney equalised with a free kick that was a carbon copy of the goal he scored against Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter final last March. There was an expectancy that United would now take control of the game and win. The belief was that West Brom would sit back and forlornly attempt to absorb an onslaught with United being comfortable winners. Bollocks to that, West Brom carried on playing with more balls than I’ve ever seen from their side before. Prior to their deserved winner ten minutes after Rooney’s equaliser, Jonas Olsson hit the bar with a downward bouncing header and Morgan Amalfitano forced a fantastic save from De Gea, almost immediately before Saido Berahino hit a brilliant winner, low to the left of a mostly blinded United keeper. United looked flattened after that goal. Marouane Fellaini came on and replaced Anderson immediately after the West Brom winner. Fair play to Anderson, he lasted eight minutes longer than he normally does, he had an improved game compared to his last appearance and did hit the bar in the first half with a header (even if he was offside). Fellaini gave a bit of bite to a toothless United but it was too little too late. On 86 minutes, to the relief of the anguished home crowd who’d not walked out of the ground, Fellaini had the ball in the back of the Stretford End net. To the howling horror of United fans, referee Michael Oliver disallowed the for offside. A decision that having seen later on the television, was a correct one. The possesion stats and attempts on goal all point to an unlucky defeat for United. Not a bit of it, this was a disciplined, gutsy and well deserved win for West Brom.

The knives are already sharpening for David Moyes but I believe he should be cut a lot more slack from United fans, especially reds over the age of 35 who will remember the awful football that was on show in the late 1980’s (barring the regular wins over a brilliant Liverpool team). David Moyes has inherited a title winning side that was obviously in decline. It was a side who won the title last season against everbody’s expectations in the summer of 2012, marshalled brilliantly one last time by his predecessor. There’s a lot of deadwood at Old Trafford and in this summer transfer window, United only signed Marouane Fellaini. You can’t employ a manager to replace a man like Sir Alex Ferguson and expect a seamless transition. Knee jerk sackings of managers happen at other clubs, not at United. If the United board reacted to the hysteria of the terraces in the winter of 1989 after THREE YEARS incumbent, Ferguson would’ve been sacked that Christmas. Moyes hasn’t even been in-situ for three months!

A banner displayed in the J Stand of Old Trafford prior to the home defeat by Crystal Palace in December 1989

At the time of writing, Manchester City are 9/4 favourites with the bookies to win the title. That’s the same City side who blitzed United last weekend but have also lost at Cardiff City and Aston Villa, not places that title winning teams should be losing at in a short space of time, especially so early in the season. This seasons title race is probably the most open since the mid 1980’s. Predicting the title winners is like shooting fish in a barrel. A lot of reds are already writing United off for the title but United are eight points behind the leaders and we’re not in October yet. United have recovered far bigger deficits than this at a later stage of the season, just ask any Geordie over the age of twenty five if you can get him to put his kleenex down long enough to answer you about that one.

Eric Cantona scoring the winner at St James Park in March 1996 and causing the banks of the River Tyne to burst due to locals crying in reaction

18 thoughts on “Shooting Fish In A Barrel – Manchester 28th of September 2013”

  1. Looks like the make do and mend policy of Fergie isn’t working for Moyes. That doesn’t make him a bad manager, it just tells us that Fergie could make a silk purse out of sows ear. This defeat, unlike last weeks, was at the hands of a team with no real title aspirations. Though well worthy of their victory, the first place to look should be at the woeful transfer policy, or lack of. Time and time again, the midfield has been patched up with decent players but not the quality, good enough to change the game. Qualifying for Champions League football with this current squad, on this form, will not be straight forward and would cost long term, more than world class midfield investment. Finishing fourth, would KO lucrative pre season tours. I, a relatively simple soul, can figure this out, why can’t the men in expensive grey suits get it? The demise of ‘ Uni’ed,’ ( Thats’ for us JR) is to quote Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated. The shirts are too professional to buckle completely. That’s where we come in. The support in the last two matches. Is a good place to start. Let’s do our bit. Let them focus on getting it right on the pitch. We are after all UNT’ED.

    1. Well said Joe Leonard. Someone said on twitter, Moyes has basically been shafted by the board and now it’s becoming evident on the pitch. I think that about sums it up.

      Furthermore I agree than uni’ed should be written so. Small U and spelled phonetically in the local dialect – and we’ll have no more whinging about disrespecting CITY or its (majority) local fanbase. None of whom come from Stockport.

  2. Unbelievable, are you sad bastards still going about winning the title in 1996 against a Toon team that was both both entertaining, loved and deserved champions that season? Yes I know Man U ended up winning the title but ask anybody else who really won it? You cheating stuffy bastards will be long forgotten and deep down, you know it too. Toon for life!!

    1. I’ve kept really quiet but I’ll tell you something, you went down in my estimations when you said that. I have not resorted to that. I can tell you now, we’re still fighting for this title and I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. Love it!!!

      1. Hey Dennis,
        I’ve just seen the turnout of New’astle fans in the Lower Bullens Stand at Goodison Park for the Monday night match. Have the Toon Army come in fleet of taxi’s? Do you still songs about what great fans you all are? That crowd of Geordies is nearly as bad as the piss poor Liverpool away support at Ewood Park a couple of seasons ago. You should chant Toon Platoon instead of Toon Army, it even rhymes. No need to thank me

    2. Newcastle United (at the heart of the “hotbed of football” that is the North-East) averaged just over 14,000 in the League in 1990 They’d been in the second tier of football (nowadays the Championship) for 2 seasons and i think they finished in the top half of that division in both seasons. Sunderland averaged around 11,000 and Middlesbrough 8,000 in that same season. Within a short time and a little success their averages were all quadruple those of that season. Jokers!

      1. Toon Platoon, oh you comedian…not, and you Rennie are just like any other Man U fan going on about history. I remember Man U dtruggling to get a decent crowd when you were shit when Fergie just arrived, nobody ever mentions that nowadays in the London Man U loving newspapers. Stay in London you cockney bastards and leave the football to us, I know you will be disappearing soon as your horrible team turns to shit, which it will this season. Your days are over cockney’s get use to it bastards

        1. Oh Dennis, it’s not for me to divulge Mr Rennie’s footballing allegiance’s but I think he will forgive me for telling you that he’s not actually a United fan (that’s the real United by the way). He’s a fan of another football club who occasionally post an informed and intelligent comment on here, (whether I agree with him or not)
          As for the London press and the pro ‘Man U’ bias in there, I’ve always struggled to notice the pro United (the real United) bias coming out from such people like Martin Samuel, Jeff Winter and Oliver Holt (complete with his alice band), please enlighten me, oh loyal magpie.

          1. Dennis, bearing in mind that this blog is about the United (the real United) match against Wist Brummidge at the weekend just passed, I could ask you the same question as you’ve just asked Mr Rennie, so why are you posting on here?

          2. Because you started taking the piss out my club in this shit blog, that’s why I commented. I can’t wait for the Man U match when we batter you all again outside the Milburn Stand.

          3. I mentioned New’astle Uneetid en passant in the closing paragraph to reference a title chasing collapse which we still laugh about in Manchester, London and Singapore. City nearly did the same in season 201/2012 but unfortunately, they had more bottle than New’astle both on and off the pitch alas.
            I’ve also noticed a lot of scatalogical references in your replies, is there some Freudian fascination that you posses about bodily discharge that you’re surpressing?
            As for it being a shit blog, oh come on Dennis, I have feelings you know 😉

          4. Dennis, which bit of my post was “rubbish”? As you know (otherwise you would obviously have said otherwise) the little i did mention in that post was 100% factual. Toon Army? You’re a living joke mate. I’ve got a feeling you’re not from Newcastle even though i could quite easily be wrong (i hope i am, actually). Hope you haven’t got any kids who read this because if my Dad was threatening to “batter” other fans i would be desperately ashamed of him.

  3. I can understand Hughton, hootin’ on about that title victory by United. When f@#k all else has happen to your club, apart from being totally out classed in the ’99 final, it’s gotta hurt.How would you like it Murph, if people were to get enjoyment out of every little set back, suffered by our very popular club. wouldn’t like it would ya. No.Little Dennis needs to protected from the likes of you. It’s not his fault that his team is shite. And are supported by a bunch of bare chested nitwits, and think they are universally welcome, where ever they go, because the BBC and others patronise them. Now stop it.

  4. Dennis, you say we. Are you inciting other fatties, that support your club, to start a fight ? If so be careful. The days of total anonymity are gone. And if you’re really up for it, why don’t you try it outside Old Trafford. You would be amply accommodated. Or are you another blow hard, hiding behind a shield of words. And stays in the bedroom, getting other fans, decent fans in trouble not of their making. If Murph hadn’t mentioned your total collapse, back then, nobody would ever give it another thought. So in a way, you should be thanking him, for reminding you of better times. Not jumping up and down in your bedroom, ripping your shirt off like a petulant Zebra, Remember now, 7th of December. Great read Murph.

    1. I wonder if Dennis is one of them New’astle fans whom after the 1-1 draw a couple of seasons ago, started walking down Warwick Road making all kinds of gloating noises. Some United fans walking out of the match took exception to this and the next thing I remember was about twenty of them previously boisterous Geordies, desperately huddled around a startled copper on the corner of Warwick Road and Railway Road. His face was a picture as he realised that his cushy bit of overtime had just been destroyed by these gobshites.

      1. last season at St James’ Park (sorry the Sports Direct Arena) I distinctly remember a baying mob of faithful geordies waiting for us as we left the ground. Foaming at the mouth, giving it “we support our local team” etc. One of their lot who actually managed to get through the police barricade got his nose bust open and a lovely tirade of blood turned his beloved Newcastle replica shirt a deep shade of red. Meanwhile, on the way home, some 30 or so miles outside of Newcastle I queued up with the same “local fans” for a Maccy Ds. Oh the irony. Stupid fucking dicks!

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