Manchester United could do with more points, at least to avoid the annoying, if true, suggestion that it’s going the same way as it did under Moyes. Thing is, even with all that’s happened, United are a lot more fun to watch — and to think, talk and write about — this season, an opinion that admittedly will be tested a couple of times as the whole thing drags on.
As for now, though, look around: there’s a new manager, one we all probably like and love, an assistant we definitely like and love, and players that don’t leave us wondering whether it’s worth sacking the whole thing off. We like Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind and love Ander Herrera and Angel di Maria. [Now fully aware that ‘we’ doesn’t include everyone …] We certainly like the quality of football more, believing there’s something to come from this team, and enjoy when it does: as we did when Blind scored an equaliser in the 87th minute at West Brom or Robin van Persie in the 94th against Chelsea.
Being equalisers, there’s generally a limit to how much we can savour them, but it’s a decent indication of a team with the right mentality for the ride ahead. These are things you’d want to build on and, looking around once more, there seems plenty to work with. Marouane Fellaini’s recent, improved form can even be a symbol of something better; or, more obviously, the presence of Angel di Maria, always involved and always integral to whatever’s happening. The Argentine midfielder is so brilliant that even his more wasteful side can be productive, as demonstrated against Everton where he followed up a fine opening goal with an ugly shot that had to be converted by Radamel Falcao (you love him, right?) That was Di Maria’s third assist of the sort, whose mastering of the mishit possibly evidence that a curse is lifting over Old Trafford. Or maybe not, but we’d like to believe it, our faith reinforced by David de Gea’s late heroics in that game.
It’s clearly far from perfect, otherwise United would have emerged with nine points instead of five from October. Indeed, the West Brom clash could have done without the bad defending and instead with better finishing. Same goes for Chelsea. Juan Mata and Van Persie have to find some form, too. There is a lot for the Reds to correct this campaign — but we’re all excited to see them do it.
An explanation: This was a lot shorter than usual, and perhaps could be a lot more specific. A lack of time was initially to blame, but now it’s a keyboard where the spacebar button doesn’t work. There’s been a lot of embarrassing ctrl+v’ing of an empty space happening over here. Bring me out of my misery.
There was nowhere to discuss it in depth above, and there isn’t much here: the Chelsea game was mostly good, and the late goal an unbelievable relief. Got nothing else, really. Not when there’s no spacebar.
Player of the month: David de Gea’s man-of-the-match display against Everton becomes even more important with a month’s hindsight, and we certainly will take three points where we can get them.
Elsewhere: As written here in August and September’s reviews, Chelsea are going to win the league. They will drop points along the way, of course, but they’re clever in that they choose not to drop as many as everyone else. Meanwhile, Southampton are doing very well in second place: that’s fine, it’s always good to compete with teams you’re familiar with. Question is, will the Saints get revenge a season after United pipped them to seventh?
Ten years ago: October 2004 (’04/05): This month saw one of the more famous games in Premier League history. On the 24th, Arsenal’s unbeaten run came to a hilarious end: a Van Nistelrooy penalty — incredibly soft, but, such was the rivalry, and such was the time, that it could be enjoyed — and a last-minute Wayne Rooney strike did for the champions. The drama didn’t end there apparently, as it emerged Cesc Fabregas lobbed a pizza in the direction of Alex Ferguson. What kind of pizza was thrown, perhaps for the best, has yet to be confirmed. (October 2004 started with draws to Middlesbrough and Birmingham, and ended with a 2-0 defeat to Portsmouth. It’s not worth going over, to be honest.)
Reasons to be cheerful: There are FOUR games in November.