When Manchester United won in March, there were goal cushions, of two and three, and there were clean sheets. The football was acceptable, and sometimes better than that. Good, then! But wait. When they lost, oh god, when they lost. Bad! Really, really bad.
This has been a terrible season. It has piled up on United, something other fans will see as overdue, such that every month that goes by appears to have been much worse than the last. It kinda makes sense. A relegated team (this is where we currently are with point of references) might rue a difficult April where they manage four points out of 12 more than a long, winless run in Autumn. So, despite just two defeats, March might be a candidate for the most horrible of them all. It might not have been like September where United lost three times, or January four (or five, if a penalty shoot-out defeat helps the agenda), and yet it feels like an ugly combination of the two. It’s a snowball. Except there’s no fun to be had here.
Of course, so much of what made March a tragic month were the two teams that pulled United’s trousers down and urged everyone else to have a look. Defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City aren’t ever enjoyable, less so when it’s at Old Trafford and they score three without reply. Hey, fair enough, United’s commitment to seeing just how low they can go is pretty admirable at this point. Good effort, lads.
People are angry: they’re shouting as loud as they can, they’re typing furiously, they’re punching the walls, and they’re spunking £840 on an aeroplane. The latter is without doubt the wrong course of action, but you can understand the frustration, because who doesn’t feel it themselves? (As ever, the fans are the only ones who deserve credit)? David Moyes’ Manchester United have constantly looked like a team without an identity. They’re not even consistent at persistently crossing the ball, or hoofing it from defence.
We’re not done with you, March. Liverpool and City, as it happens, have seemed to nudged ahead of the least-unbearable of the potential champions, Chelsea, just to add to the misery. United’s players, a collection of title-winners, Adnan Januzaj and the endearing-but-unpredictable/limited Marouane Fellaini have to wonder how it’s got this bad.
Are there any positives? Sure! Just the three league victories with nine goals scored (including this year’s Wayne Rooney Goal of the Season contender) and one conceded. West Brom, West Ham and Aston Villa were all well-beaten. It’s a shame, though the reason why is so obvious, that United can’t do it against a stronger team. They did, to be fair, have one big success: beating Olympiakos thanks to a hat-trick from suddenly-maligned (and now cruelly injured) Robin van Persie, progressing to the last eight of the Champions League, though that doesn’t feel as impressive now as it did on the night.
Could April be any better? Well, there is Bayern Munich twice. They’re kind of like Bayer Leverkusen, right?