Thursday, 2 October 2014

BELATED POST WEST HAM NOTES AND A LOOK AHEAD TO EVERTON

In the end, United were able to pick up their second win of the season with a 2-1 home victory over West Ham. What happened in between though, is a story of extremes. For starters, Wayne Rooney scored a brilliant opener for us relatively early to kill the tension about the match, but was later forced to take the walk of shame when Lee Mason adjudged his kick on Stewart Downing as violent conduct. This blog is not the kind that will make a fuss of something because Wayne is involved, so that bit about him ends there.

United were so brilliant in the first half that going into the break at 2-1 flattered Sam Allardyce's boys. I blogged here last week that this Manchester United side needs to learn, above all else so far, how to deal with taking 2-0 or 3-0 leads in the first half and finding a way of killing off the remaining minutes on the clock in a manner that will not allow a collapse of the kind we saw at Leicester.
So you can imagine my resignation whe  Rooney got himself sent off at 2-1 after comfortably leading 2-0. That we held on for the win was therefore the biggest triumph on the night. Since QPR, some of our attacking moves have boardered sensational or mercurial. It goes without saying therefore that we are a complete attack with a sub standard defence. That is nothing new.

The question though is if we can keep our heads decisively enough to maintain the leads we shall undoubtedly build in games, or at least maintain the concentration in periods after we score. At Leicester, our first 2 goal lead lasted all of 8 seconds. West Ham were also quick to halve the deficit as soon as they went 2-0 down. It's a no brainer that you are most vulnerable just after you score. That vulnerability is usually offset by great leadership or good defences. At the moment we lack in both.

Anyhow, we still managed to get the three points that have set us up nicely ahead of the game on Sunday against Everton at home. Given that we've not won away from home yet, it should be comforting that this fixture will be played at the scene of our only 2 wins so far this season. Except that this game comes with new pressure. Seven games into the season without back to back wins will reflect badly on our consistency if we do not win on Sunday. The league is always about consistency of results. Winning just once every fortnight will therefore only set us up for another midtable finish. The new pressure should therefore be about putting 2s and 3s and then 5 wins on the bounce.

The big caveat to all that is how United have treated us to both extremes in the space of matches, let alone weeks. You could argue we played our best football so far this season in that first half at the King Power stadium but look how it finished; or that after half an hour last week, West Ham were going to be on the end of a hiding, and yet by full time, the corner flag turned out to be the holy grail. Such are the joys and trials of being a Manchester United fan these days.

Still, I find it every bit more exciting than what we were treated to last season if only because of the guarantee that every side that we come up against shall, by close of business, have felt the full force of Manchester United's attacking prowess. It means every week we shall now play to our strengths as opposed to our obvious weaknesses.

Wayne Rooney misses out on Sunday, but I feel we shall miss Ander Herrera more. You will notice that talk about United's midfield has died down a little since he pitched up camp in our midfield. Pundits would rather talk about our defence now because Ander has pluged 8 out of the 10 holes in our midfield. That he ranks high in tackles, assists and, by our midfielders' standards, goals tells you about what we shall have to do without.

All that notwithstanding, we should still beat an Everton side that have just returned from a game in Russia on Thursday night. And for once, in  awhile, it would be great to finish a game with 11 men. It helps, or so I've heard.

Cheers.

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