Shinji Kagawa scored in injury time of a dreadful first half to calm a nervous Old Trafford crowd. From where I was in the ground (B Stand/South Stand), there was a split second delay in reaction to the goal as we all thought it had hit the side netting. The reaction of the rest of the ground is what alerted us to the goal. It was one of relief as both teams had looked clueless up until then. Rarely has a final score of a match and the players who scored the goals in that match given such a misleading impression. A couple of minutes before Shinji Kagawa scored his and United’s second of the afternoon, Tom Cleverley came on for Anderson. The fella next to me was calling for Kagawa to be brought off as we saw Cleverley waiting on the sideline. There wasn’t much disagreement either from me or anybody near me to his wish. I have never seen a player score a hat trick and have such a poor game. When Kagawa completed his hat-trick on 87 minutes, we exchanged wry smiles at what we’d just witnessed. Wayne Rooney, who three minutes later scored the kind of goal that a team scores when winning by three goals, didn’t have a much better game himself. He did improve once a subdued Robin Van Persie was substituted for Danny Welbeck on 66 minutes but Rooney is due a showstopping game for United, this coming Tuesday is a good time to have it.
Norwich used to be known as a nice side, not something you could say about them nowadays. Robert Snodgrass threw himself in for some big tackles in the first half but to my eyes should have been sent off late in the first half for a diabolical challenge on Patrice Evra. For all Norwich’s aggresion, they generally played hard but fair. Grant Holt looked like a nightclub doorman yet he’s surprisingly mobile for such a big lad. He reminds me a bit of Duncan Ferguson although I think Ferguson was a better player, he’s a handful for sure and whilst I don’t exactly covet him to play for United, he’s a belting lad to have around for when it gets ugly. For all Holt’s menace, Nemanja Vidic took good care of him today, to the point that Holt was running ever deeper to try and get involved in the game. What I like about Holt is that he never went hiding and he was always looking to get involved.
Late in the game, I got a text from our kid who was watching the game on ESPN via an internet stream with commentary from Ian Darke. The sage-like Darke stated that he thought it was unfair that City had to constantly play after United with such a points gap to make up. This same Ian Darke is a commentator for one of the TV channels whom are responsible for all these City games being moved to an alternative day and kick off time. As for what Darke said, here was me thinking that City being fifteen points behind United (at the time of writing) was due to United winning games against opposition that City had drawn against but no, it’s down United’s games kicking off earlier than City’s. I remember José Mourinho saying something similar in the title run in for season 2006/2007, he was being mischievous and it was obvious to anybody with half a brain that this was his tactic. Ian Darke apparently actually believes this shit.
I’ve gotta give Norwich fans their due, they took up their entire allocation today for a journey that I know from personal experience to be a very long one. In regards to quantity, it put the abysmal traveling support of Stoke City, Wigan Athletic and Fulham to shame. As for the quality of support, they’re the same as the generic type of football fan we have nowadays visiting Old Trafford whom have the wit and imagination of a policeman. They take no shit this Norwich lot, with admirable militancy, they sang (to the tune of Sloop John B yet again) We’ll Stand If We Want followed by them all sitting down when they were told to do so by the stewards. This was actually quite helpful though as until then, in their mass of canary yellow shirts, it was difficult to tell them apart from the stewards in the L stand of Old Trafford. After a while it became easier to distinguish as the stewards didn’t have straw hanging out of their mouths.
After all the testimonials this week in anticipation of Ryan Giggs 1,000th first class match today, Sir Alex Ferguson wrong footed everybody by not even putting Giggs on the bench for this, the 22nd anniversary of his first team debut against Everton at Old Trafford. This week, it was announced that he’d signed on for another season at United and I for one, am delighted that we’ll have a player of his experience, intelligence and unflappable calm in the first team squad for another season. Hopefully Rio Ferdinand will soon follow suit, it might help some United fans forgive him for giving away rare as rocking horse shit Real Madrid tickets to West Ham fan Russell Brand.