On the face of it another shoeing at the hands of one of the Manc clubs shows again, if we didn’t know already, that despite the cracking season we’re having there’s a way to go. This defeat though was far from deserved. Perfect timing is a wonderful thing and it was indeed that quality in United’s opening goals as much as their execution that saw us off. Having had the better of the first half to go in one down was disappointing, to be two down after our response in the second was just taking the piss.
As usual in these fixtures the referee didn’t help but neither did some poor defensive play and some half hearted finishing. It’s only healthy to take these things philosophically, so let’s give it a go. On the back of a heavy defeat and with three big players missing this was far from a roll over and die performance. The Sandro Livermore combination, Assou-Ekotto and Lennon in particular all won their respective individual battles comfortably. With a bit of luck and, possibly, better refereeing we could’ve scored in each half and made them come at us more and leave gaps at the back. It didn’t happen though of course.
One lesson we definitely should learn is that of how to take free-kicks and corners, how much longer are we going to allow Modric to float donkey drops on to the penalty spot or Kaboul to take potshots when the defenders are already only 3 yards from him? Our corners especially are an embarrassment. Their first goal came after Sandro’s indiscretion (and subsequent random booking – similar punishments weren’t meted out later when Rooney and Evra committed far more deliberate and cynical fouls) allowed Young to put us under pressure from first a whipped in free-kick and then a corner, the quality of both being nothing out of the ordinary but apparently impossible for any of our players to replicate.
The last two results mean that anyone hoping for a Champions League place to be wrapped up by the time they’ve finished their Easter eggs is going to be disappointed. Our fate though, as the cliché goes, is still in our own hands and our run in, especially after the next two fixtures are out of the way gives us every chance of finishing third. It’s been an unpleasant eight days; any talk of a crisis though is wide of the mark.
Stevenage next and a good chance of getting back to winning ways.
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