Stoke 2 - 1 United
Smalling Evans(Rafael) Jones(Welbeck) Evra
Mata Carrick Cleverley Young
|Another assist from Mata in a pretty ordinary display.|
So last week's good performance turned out to be yet another false dawn as United slumped to their 8th PL defeat this season. Author Mark Twain once wrote that "when ill luck begins, it does not come in sprinkles, but in showers" and that's exactly what is happening to our side. Two of our central defenders succumbed to injury during the first half and we had to do with a makeshift defence. But that's not all! A completely needless freekick led to Stoke's first goal which got deflected to the back of the net by Micheal Carrick. Someone upstairs seems to be loving kicking our backside as, 5 minutes before the final whistle, Roo had a freekick miraculously saved by Stoke's goaler with the help of the post. That spells rotten luck to me. True, we didn't do anything extraordinary today but we deserved at the very least a draw.
Having said that, I'm a firm believer that you make up your own luck. We scored tens of goals in the dying seconds and that's all because we tried to and had the belief that we can win games at the death. So why didn't our players show a bit of urgency early on? Why weren't there any players waiting in the box when there were two or three excellent cut-backs into the danger area? We had some decent chances but failed to finish them even though we had 4 or 5 players who are predominantly attacking minded. While I always kept my Moyes criticism at a mild level, just because his football brain is probably 20,000 times the size of mine, I do wonder whether putting Welbeck on and not Darren Fletcher was a bit of a cock up from his part. Rooney cut a frustrating figure in the middle and his attacking instincts were missed dearly at the front. For all the hard work he puts in, Welbeck still lacks that special something that makes him a fearsome figure in the opposition's penalty box. In fact, I thought he was quite poor today.
Our recent run has been abysmal. We've only won 2 of our 6 recent PL games. That's quite shocking. In fact it's almost as shocking as Evra's defending. We will need to replace him this Summer! What else? Oh! Mata had an ordinary game. He did produce a fine assist for RVP's goal but he could have done better in some situations. Rooney wasn't his usual self while Young had a good game, in my opinion. Cleverley is not United standard and Carrick should have done better when he deflected the ball into his own net. Rafael bombed forward well and created some decent chances while Smalling was great on occasions and completely hopeless on others.
Anyway, the game's over now and we'll have to wait for the Liverpool result to see whether we'll be 9 points off the 4th place by tomorrow evening. I'm rather optimistic when it comes to United but I'm slowly accepting the fact that during this season, we won't manage to go on a decent winning streak and a CL spot will therefore not be attainable. So let's hope Pool drop some points tomorrow. I can't even believe it's February and I'm talking about 4th spot! As I said, we'll have to let Moyes build his own team. Problem is; if we don't qualify for the Champions League the players our manager wants might not be willing to come and that'll drag us even more backwards.
Plenty of room for improvement. I just want to see that extra effort from our players.