It’s Manchester United But Not As We Know Them!

Posted: September 21, 2016 in European Football, Football, Manchester United, Opinion
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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If Jose Mourinho’s quest while in charge of Manchester United is to continue with the style and selection so detested under Louis van Gaal, then he is going the right way about it. Unfortunately, his tenure will have a similar ending if he carries on in this vein.

With  Ibrahimovich on the bench, Pogba and Bailly rested, and Mhkitaryan injured this even had the look of a van Gaal team!

Against Northampton Rooney was restored to the centre forward role he has been so inept at playing for the last three years or so. In fact, within the first couple of minutes he managed to miss an open goal when he scuffed a shot wide from two yards.

Smalling was back in defence alongside the restored Daley Blind. Fosu-Mensah and Rojo were the wing backs with Carrick, Schneiderlin and Herrera in midfield. Depay was given yet another chance on the left wing, while Mr. Positivity himself, Ashley Young, was on the right. In goal. Romero replaced David De Gea.

United managed to take the lead after twenty minutes when awarded an indirect free-kick in the area. Showing all the imagination of a goldfish in blinkers, they proceeded to try and take the kick as though they were 25 yards out. A short pass to Rooney, who was only about 12 yards out, resulted in him blasting it, very predictably, into the wall. Fortunately for United it rebounded to the unmarked Carrick, which is where it should have been played in the first place and he scored with a well placed finish.

The game settled into a routine where United had lots of possession without ever threatening to do anything with it. This was until a Fosu-Mensah header hit the bar and came out to Rooney who headed it back into the net. Unfortunately, he had been far too slow in retreating into an onside position and so the goal was disallowed. That’s what age and a slow brain can do to you folks!

Northampton, as expected, did manage to equalise before half time when they were awarded a penalty thanks to a late tackle by Daley Blind. It was an easy decision for the referee and the only surprising aspect was that the penalty hadn’t been conceded by Chris Smalling.

Mourinho wouldn’t have been pleased at half time but he did pick the team when all is said and done.

Whatever he said, United came out for the second half with renewed purpose. Carrick was gaining a measure of control in midfield and played a couple of clever passes on which his pedestrian team mates were far too slow to capitalise.

Rooney continued to huff and puff giving strength to the latest rumour that he is being selected because of clauses in contracts between United and some of their sponsors. I prefer to think that he has donated a body organ to one of the Glazers as I can’t believe that even the sponsors think he is good enough to merit a place in the team!

After ten minutes of the second half Memphis Depay was replaced by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford replaced Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Neither of the two departing players had done anything particularly wrong, Mourinho just wanted more end product from the attacks United were continuously mounting. To be fair he could have replaced any one of the ten outfield players.

After 68 minutes United scored again. Rashford played a square ball back from the byline to Ander Herrera who smashed it in from just outside the area. This saved us from Maroune Fellaini, the arrival of whom was imminent just before the goal, as he retook his seat in the dugout.

The respite was only temporary though as he came on after 72 minutes to replace Schneiderlin. United would now be well equipped to deal with the aerial threat and attacking prowess of Northampton, which, in fairness, had been totally non-existent all game. Maybe José saw something we didn’t!

Shortly after the arrival of the Belgian battering-ram Herrera hit a long hopeful ball in the general direction of Rashford who, anticipating a mistake from the goalkeeper, carried on chasing it. As he expected, the goalkeeper took a swing at it, missed and fell over leaving Rashford with an open goal, which he didn’t miss.

There was still time for Rooney to mis-control a ball and put it straight out of play but that was about the last of the action.

It was all a far cry from the game I watched between these teams a few years ago. George Best scored six to mark his return from suspension and United won 8-2. It was a sunny day and the pitch was awful but that didn’t deter Best.

Tonight, under a clear sky and on a pitch like a Snooker table, Rooney, who is a million miles from the player that Best was, couldn’t even manage a decent game.

BUT THEY WON!

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