Boring International Week – Thoughts On The Past Month

There’s been a lot of football played over the past month but work has been hectic and I haven’t found a spare hour or so to just sit down and express my thoughts until now. We’re in the midst of the boring international week which I’m sure no one in the UK enjoys so now seems like a good time to catch up on recent games while there isn’t any meaningful football being played.

I Won Money Betting On The Cup Final 🙂

I said back in January that I’m not much of a gambler but I intended on placing a small bet on the EFL Cup final and that’s exactly what I did. I placed my bet online with SkyBet who I’ve used for various forms of online gambling over the years and I won just over £20 with a bet of around £30 on us to win.

Obviously, this is not life changing money and it’s only something I do once in a while just to add that extra something to the game. My next bet will be on the Europa League final, assuming we get there of course which is what I’m expecting. My previous bet was on the FA cup final last year. I don’t even remember my bet before that because there hasn’t been many special occasions over the past few seasons.

Other than that, I occasionally use Sky for their live roulette site which is a fun way to pass some time when I’m bored. I enjoy the occasional spin of roulette because it’s exciting, unpredictable and very easy to play once you know how. Like my bets on football, my roulette sessions are few and far between, 3 or 4 times a year perhaps. Anything more than that would be unhealthy. If we get to the final, I will be sure to let you know about my bet and how much I win or in the worst case scenario, lose.

Disappointing After The Final

The game after the final was the awful 1 – 1 draw at home to Bournemouth which was a terrible result. Zlatan was particularly poor not only because of the penalty he missed, but the chances he missed too. He’s had games in a United shirt where he’s been completely anonymous but this was definitely his worst game. His obvious elbow just just compounded a very bad day for him which we’re still suffering from now because of the needless ban. It’s easy to forgive him for this poor game though considering that he won the cup final for us the week before.

Then there was the loss at Chelsea which, let’s be honest, no one was really expecting to get anything from anyway. Chelsea have been our bogey team for years and even before Zlatan’s ban, we weren’t the favourites. The sending off for Herrera in the first half completely killed the game even if Rashford did have a great chance which he should’ve scored.

Either side of the Chelsea game, we had the games against Rostov which felt like a dead rubber. Both were incredibly boring and the overall feeling when the games ended was relief that they had finally finished. I’m expecting more of the same in the next games against Anderlecht.

Despite how boring all the games have been so far, I really want to see the team win the Europa League. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not what we should be aspiring for long term but seen as how we’re in it, we may as well make a really push for it and I was very disappointed last season when Van Gaal just gave up against Liverpool.

I would take the Europa League over a top 4 finish without hesitation and Mourinho said something similar last week. The EFL cup and Europa League would mark a prerry decent season, even though there have been several Van Gaalesque results such as the Bournmouth game, Burnley, Stoke and several others.

Everybody Hates The International Week

Like most fans of Premier League clubs, I hate the International break. Living in Scotland, I have friends who don’t follow the Premier League and enjoy watching Scotland play (even though we’re rubbish) but I’m not interested at all. For me, it’s two weeks of no football.

It’s worse at the start of the season when it seems that there’s an international break every few weeks which ruins the flow of the season. At least with this international break, as annoying as it is, it’s the first in a few months and there won’t be another before the end of the season. I wish they would just do away with the mid season international friendlies altogether.

Hard Run Until The End Of The Season

There are 11 games to go until the end of the season and the top 4 is still in our own hands, despite all the disappointing draws. The next 3 games could be described as “winnable” although when you are Manchester United almost every game should be described as winnable. The next 3 games are home to West Brom, Everton and then away at Sunderland.

The West Brom game should be an easy win but as we’ve seen multiple times this season, the home games against mid to lower table teams have been extremely frustrating and have largely ended in disappointment. While Everton are a good side, I’m actually expecting it to be an easier game than West Brom because they’ll actually try and play football and the game at Sunderland should be an easy win.

Following these games, things get more difficult with games away at Arsenal, Spurs and Man City to come, as well as the home game against Chelsea. If we’re to get in the top 4, we really need to be getting as many points as possible in the games leading up to our clashes against the top 4 rivals. There’s also the fact that around these crunch games with our rivals, there’ll be the Europa League games too. It’s certainly going to be an intense 8 weeks until the end of these season and I suspect that by the next time I post here, we’ll have a much clearer idea about which direction the season is heading in.

Disappointing Liverpool Game, Awful Stoke Game

A few months ago, I wrote after the game at Anfield and I described Liverpool as being “Mourinho’d” such was that we shut them out and frustrated them, just as Mourinho has done in the past. That was all well and good at the time, especially when you considering the poor form we were in and the fact that we were away from home.

Coming into last weekend’s game, my expectations were entirely different. Considering the winning run we’ve been on, the poor games that Liverpool have had recently and the fact that we were at home, I was expecting nothing but a win. I was very disappointed with how things unfolded. It was the most disappointing game since the City game, which was admittedly worse.

The whole team performance was bad with many individual mistakes, a few golden opportunities missed and no real rhythm or urgency to the game. Speaking of individual mistakes, Pogba was as guilty as anyone. For their penalty, he made himself look a dummy. You really have to see it again to appreciate how bad it is.

All footballers have bad games and this was Pogba’s worst in a United shirt. He’s had a few poor performances but his showing against Liverpool was by far the worst. It wasn’t just the penalty he gave away either. Prior to that, he was one on one with the goalkeeper and he had a very tame effort which he put well wide with very little power.

Of course there was the penalty, then there was another occasion where he was dilly daddling on the ball in our own half, lost the ball and Liverpool nearly scored. I’ve noticed that he has a habit of holding on to the ball in midfield more than necessary. Many times, he will keep the ball for 4 or 5 seconds before moving it forward and you’re left thinking that the ball could’ve been moved on in 2 or 3 seconds instead.

More annoyingly than that though, he seems to have some kind of allergy to doing the simple thing. When he picks the ball up in midfield, he wants to dribble someone. He wants to out muscle someone. He wants to do a step over. He doesn’t want to just pass and move. If he is to become a player the justifies the tag of world’s most expensive player, he needs to learn when to hold the ball, when to dribble and when to move it quickly.

Garbage Again At Stoke – I don’t know if the stereotypical view of “cold Tuesday at Stoke” plays on the players’ minds  because we never do well their. Rooney scoring the fabulous equaliser made the headlines for obvious reasons, but it’s another performance that I was very disappointed with.

Some fans would say that I’m insane. They’d point to the amount of chances we created and the lack of chances that Stoke created. I would counter that by saying that this is not a one off. We now have the most draws in the Premier League and it’s because of the team consistently missing easy chances. We’ve seen it time and time again this season.

Looking To The Future – A Day At Wembley? – Last night, Liverpool managed to have another dreadful game and get themselves knocked out of the League Cup, putting Southampton in the final. Unless there’s a real debacle tonight, we will be there too seen as how we have a 2-0 advantage over Hull moving into tonight’s game.

Let’s have it right, the League Cup is a “Mikey Mouse” cup but it’s a cup nonetheless. A remember growing up, Fergie never used to field a strong team and we never went very far in it, but his attitude seemed to change in his last 10 years and we had numerous final appearances.

Now I’m not much of a gambler, but if we go through tonight, which I fully expect us to, I will place a small bet on us winning the cup. I did this last year in FA cup final and I find it adds that extra dimension of excitement and tension to the game. I will be sure to post about it when the time’s right. I also intend on doing a piece dedicated to our record goal scorer, Wayne Rooney. I touched on it higher up, but the achievement is deserving of its own piece, hopefully with a few YouTube videos showing every goals he’s scored which nobody seems to have uploaded yet.

Liverpool Get Mourinho’d, Again!

Last night’s game at Anfield was a fantastic display and result. Forget what you read in the media about 35% possession, no identity and negative; it was a good result. Leading up to the game, Liverpool were the heavy favourites and they were well and truly brought back down to earth by a very well drilled and disciplined United team and we should have won had it not been for the awful miss from Zlatan.

I really liked Mourinho’s comments after the game about Liverpool “not being the last wonder of the world” which is a snipe at the media who have been hyping them up for the past week. Mourinho used the same tactics he’s used against Liverpool in the past and Anfield was the quietest it’s ever been. You could hear their bench shouting instructions throughout the game it was so quiet. The game plan was to slow the temp down, frustrate Liverpool, stop them pressing in the midfield, win the duals in the air via the long ball and hit them with a sucker punch. It would’ve gone to plan had Zlatan not messed up his header in the second half.

My Summary Of The Game

Zlatan was dreadful – He was slow all night, his hold up play left a lot to be desired and he gave the ball away several times. To top it off he had that awful miss where he should have at least hit the target but he instead put it across the face of goal. It’s hard to know whether or not he was actually going for goal or putting it back across for someone else which seems like a strange thing to do seen as how there was no one within 15 yards of him and he would surely have known that. Whatever his intentions where, he made a right old mess of it and he was our worst player on the night.

Herrera stepping up – I’ve never really taken to Herrera like most other fans have but he was well deserving of his man of the match last night. If he can put in more performances like that, his place in the starting 11 will finally be nailed on.

Rashford is not a winger – I’m getting a bit tired of seeing Rashford starting on the wing. Either play him up front or don’t bother. His close control is nowhere near as good as Martial’s because he just boots the ball a mile ahead of himself and tries to run on to it. Every game he gives possession away either by hitting the ball too far ahead of himself or by running it out of play. Incidentally, I’m becoming very concerned about Martial who is clearly more talented than Rashford and I am probably going to do a post about this in a couple of weeks if things don’t change.

De Gea being De Gea – I see some Liverpool fans online saying that United only got the draw because of two great saves by De Gea. My response to that is simple. He’s the best goalkeeper in the world and this is just what he does. He’s part of the Manchester United team and he did the job that all United fans have come to expect from him. There’s nothing to see here.

While a win is better than a draw, there’s no doubt in my mind that the result last night was better for United than for Liverpool and our fans will certainly be happier both with the result and the performance. With another tough trip to Chelsea coming this weekend, it was important to avoid going there on the back of a loss and that’s exactly what we’ve done.