1. There are some games where a defeat is forgivable, even if they are the games you least want to lose, but you can appreciate that we have no right to win them. Losing away to Liverpool and City were two painful results, but results Sir Alex Ferguson regularly suffered, so we had to get over it. Losing at home against West Brom was one of the more unforgivable results though, despite allowing any team and manager to have the odd fuck up. To leave today’s game without the three points is yet another result that David Moyes really couldn’t afford and whilst I won’t be calling for his head, or anything like that, the pressure is really on him. We should have won today and it’s not good enough that we didn’t.
2. The most disappointing performance of the day was Wayne Rooney’s, who just couldn’t keep hold of the ball, despite genuinely looking as though he was trying. This was the player that couldn’t get in our starting line-up in the second half of last season. The first goal came after he missed the opportunity to bury the ball himself, he hit the woodwork when he should have scored and strayed offside when Robin van Persie played the ball through to him when he was one on one with the keeper. It felt as though every time he received the ball he gave it away, and with us still looking to wrap up the three points, this became increasingly irritating. Tiredness from International duty? Who knows. But after being arguably our best performer this season, it was disappointing to see him play so badly.
3. The defence had a good game, with Phil Jones and Jonny Evans deserving of their starting spots ahead of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. They will have been desperately disappointed not to be rewarded with a clean sheet for their efforts and Jones had a fit when the final whistle blew. I’d stick with that back four though, they did a good job. You do wonder what impact pushing Jones in to midfield and bringing on Smalling to play in defence had on the result. It seems strange to disrupt the defence in such a way when clinging on to a 1-0 win.
4. Ahead of the game, it was announced over the PA that Adnan Januzaj had signed a new five-year-deal, much to the appreciation of the crowd. The player responded with a thumbs up to the fans. He continued his great form and played a crucial role in the goal, playing through a fantastic pass to Rooney. He showed off his passing ability all afternoon, spraying the ball accurately 40 yards across field. He had a couple of great efforts and will be frustrated he missed the ball entirely when trying to smash it in during injury time. We’ve got a great player on our hands here and it’s hard to believe he’s just 18-years-old. I’m delighted we’ve got years of him playing for us still. Can you remember the last time we had someone so young playing at this level? I’m pretty sure even Ronaldo wasn’t this good in his first season.
5. Another big disappointment was the lacklustre display from Marouane Fellaini. I wasn’t anticipating we’d brought in a player capable of defence splitting passes, but I was under the impression this lad was meant to be nails. It’s getting a bit boring watching players steam past him unchallenged and see his sloppy passes intercepted. I don’t think he’s entirely to blame. We should have signed him at the start of the summer and given him a pre-season with his new team mates to make his introduction easier. He looks a mile off the pace at the moment though and he needs to get much sharper, quickly. It’s too early to write him off and anyone walking around saying “Fellaini is shit” is a mug. He may well turn out not to be good enough for United but it’s far too early to be making those sort of judgements yet. There were cheers from the home crowd when he was subbed off though, suggesting he needs to get better pronto.
6. Having already touched on one substitution, the other subs were fairly confusing too, and it’s hard to see how we were going to be better as a result from them. Nani was one of our more creative players in the game, delivering a few dangerous crosses and creating more chances than anyone else on our team. He doesn’t offer a lot defensively though, so if Moyes was looking to tighten up at the back, you’d imagine Antonio Valencia would be a safe bet. But Ryan Giggs? What could he offer us that Nani didn’t? Danny Welbeck was given a great opportunity to prove himself when coming on for Fellaini, who really did deserve to be subbed off, but didn’t make the most of it. He was clean through on goal but held on to the ball too long and was tackled, when Rooney was in a good position next to him. Still, all this shifting around, with Jones moving in to midfield, Giggs playing on the left, then the right, seemed fairly unnecessary. Why not bring on Kagawa or Chicharito for Rooney? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but the subs did absolutely nothing for us today.
7. Another disappointing day for United as Moyes is starting to work out his best XI. The team he started today is close to it at the moment, so whilst I don’t think he changed the game the way he needed to, he can’t take the full responsibility for that result. He was let down by too many players putting in mediocre performances. I’m not panicking but today’s result, more than any other really, has worried me. We can’t afford to be dropping points like this. The gap between us and the top isn’t insurmountable at this stage but if things don’t change, it soon will be.
8. I’ll leave you with something I saw as I walked to my seat today in the Sir Alex Ferguson stand.
The RoM Manchester United 2021-22 season preview is now available for just £6. It includes articles from the country's best football writers about our expectations for the season ahead and our brightest talents, as well as proposed transfer business and which youth players to keep an eye out for. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.