With Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea all dropping points earlier today, the pressure was on us ahead of our trip to Villa Park. It was a great opportunity for us to claw some points back on our rivals, with a win seeing us six points behind with a game in hand.
But it wasn’t to be…
United just didn’t show up today, in a performance that was going to see us struggle to get three points against most opposition, let alone one as organised as Aston Villa. Martin O’Neill has done a good job with his team and whilst we didn’t see much of what earned them a win at the Emirates last weekend, they hassled us on the ball and did enough to stop us from scoring… not that they needed too much help in that department.
Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez had their worst performance in some time. Carlos Tevez had two strikes go out for a throw-in, failing to test the keeper before he was subbed off, where he had the nerve to shake his head. I only hope it was with his own disappointment, rather than with the manager’s decision to take him off.
Rooney had a great chance to put us in front during the second half, but booted the ball miles over from a few yards out under pressure. Where is the Wayne Rooney of October, who would have buried that ball in to the roof of Friedel’s net with ease?
We had 63% possession, happily passing the ball around in our own half and pushing it in to theirs, yet Villa easily harried us off the ball time and again when we got closer to the goal. Park Ji-Sung gave a good account of himself, getting in to great positions on occasion, whilst Nemanja Vidic made a couple of crucial tackles at the back, but other than that we were left wanting for a performance from our players.
Cristiano Ronaldo huffed and puffed today, but never really got going. He reverted to his straight-into-the-wall technique for his freekick and whilst Villa’s tactics certainly included kicking the crap out of him, his dramatics every time he was fouled are becoming infuriating. Get a fucking grip, Ronnie.
“We all agree United are better than England!” boomed our away fans, in response to the pathetic booing of Rooney and Rio from the home crowd. “You scouse bastard!” was the chorus that greeted Gareth Barry whenever he fucked up, a tad more creative than the bitter jeers Ronaldo received every time he was fouled or lost the ball.
Whilst today was certainly another missed opportunity, it is also another tough game out of the way, with a result that wasn’t the worst. We’ve played most of our hardest games now, meaning if we win our game in hand, we’re certainly in a good position.
It’s only November so I’m not massively concerned about points, but I do worry about performances. So far this season, I can’t think of a match where we’ve been on top of our game for a full 90 minutes, and I certainly can’t name two great performances in a row. This needs to change and fast!