I blame Howard Webb
Okay, so this is going to be depressing.
There was a point in the game when I actually thought to myself we were competing really well and there was little difference between us and Utd other than perhaps just that little bit more zing in their play. Opening ten minutes, we kept possession well (just not as slick with the passing and movement as we can be) but United found their players with more intent in going forward and as the game progressed we retained that the same level of composure but didn't improve where it mattered. Meaning, when United stepped it up, they created and when they create then tend to score. Which they did. 1-0 would have been okay. 2-0 hurt. 3-0 was just taking the p*ss. We were hardly outclassed in the game in terms of start to finish, just outclassed when it mattered.
That despondent shrug we do so well. It made a flipping cameo. Which is hardly of surprise considering the location.
Whilst United are decisive up top, we dithered far too many times. Fairly limp, illustrating the necessity to announce and play our new forward (Adebayor) because any new forward will completely change the dynamics of how we play our football when charging forward. I know that is such a cliché to drop in a match review but I think we've been stale for too long upfront and players like JD will find themselves galvanised by having to compete for their place rather than settle into it when selected.
But just so that I'm not buried by some of you, I'm only stating what we all knew for practically the whole of last season. My 'bring in the new blood' war cry is just a continuation of that rather than singling out Defoe and using him as a scapegoat.
Our wingers still need to produce the goods in terms of finding the forward(s) but again, I wouldn't go mental on nit-picking the lack of productivity. It's just one game, 90 minutes, and the side was just not good enough in the end to contain and punish United.
Defoe, (I'm not picking on him here, honestly I'm not, just an observation on his performance) was unintelligent when in possession in and around the box. Just too eager to either lash the ball (not very well) or hold onto it for too long. Unlucky with the woodwork though.
The midfield worked hard. Impressed with Livermore simply because he did not appear to be overhauled although he was nothing more than a bog standard no fireworks Jenas, tidying up in midfield and fulfilling Harry's instructions. He grafted, unspectacular but it warms me to see a yoof player in Lilywhite and working his socks off. Niko is no Luka. And regardless of the reasons for his (Modric) absence it was telling. The team simply doesn't function in the same way.
We played football without any genuine impetuous and in the end all it took was for United to change gear. Sure, we had moments of attacking purpose but tbh I'd rather lose to a Howard Webb assist than lose this way. Midfield was simply not strong enough or industrious enough and certainly not capable of dictating tempo and pace. No fault of the players selected. You almost wish we were nearer full strength because < insert scenario that would have played out to our advantage in a parallel universe >.
Substitutions confused me, but then something was needed. Just felt the midfield was weaker for it. Fact of the matter is, there was no authority in the middle and no apparent influence. Harry citing characters in his post-match interview and the need for them. Diarra a character? What's that? Did someone just say Barton?
So, there we were living with United quite well. Used the space pretty well too when running into it but not quite using it as we should have when looking to play a final killer ball. Conceded one then came the dizzy spell then it was over.
I don't know, first game of the season at a notoriously impossible away venue where we get nothing season in season out. Should we really analyse this to bits or just wait for us to lose to City first?
Joking. Expect a more accomplished performance at the Lane. We'll probably dick 'em.
Some other footnotes:
Brad in goal, not sure I understand this. It's almost like saying 'we don't trust Gomes'. He played well though, no denying that. I guess Harry prefers him. For the moment, there is no doubting the selection. Defending for the goals conceded, not exactly oozing confidence and awareness. But then I guess that's why they scored. No grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck, collectively. You got that impression when United pushed forward (the scruffing of necks).
So convincing win for the home side, not so convinced of the need to knee-jerk. We have to fashion a working midfield in time for the next league game. The Lane has to be rocking when City come to town.
All in all, disappointing night but hardly end of days. Was actually confident pre-match and for a hefty chunk of the game you'd not have disagreed with me. But alas, it's out of our system. We never pick up points at Old Trafford. This hoodoo is not for breaking. Not yet. United, nothing special or amazing and you can see how they could get beaten by sterner opposition. Just that, there is very little stern opposition about these days so Fergie will be more than content his side will compete once more.
Anyways, someone let me know when it's safe to hit the forums again. Twitter is already a massive mess this late evening.
Honestly, hand on heart, no drugs, still think a top 4 challenge is well within our ability. Just call me a loon. We'll make those signings and we'll push on. Certain of it. Just a downer it ended 3 nothing in the end.
This weeks podcast should be a joy to record.
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