Send us a message

Interested in being a part of the team? Get in touch with us today.

Buried in Leicester

 Posted by on September 21, 2014 at 7:54 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Global Football Today, Manchester United
Sep 212014

Leicester City 5-3 Manchester United
Q: What do Richard III and Manchester United have in common?
A: They both got buried in Leicester!

Wayne rooney 007 Buried in LeicesterOver the moon a week ago, Manchester United, formerly considered for the last rites and burial, hammered the living daylights out of Queen’s Park Rangers: One week ago! Unfortunately, the intoxication of winning seems to have created a euphoria so giddy that it bypassed joy and went straight to arrogant. Having been 2-0 up early on and 3-1 up with just 30 minutes to kill off, Manchester United conspired against themselves to concede five times on a day of gob-smacking humiliation where they were run ragged by a nasty little ham-and-egger named Jamie Vardy, who clearly must have caught the always-good-for-a nod-and-a-wink referee Mark Clattenburg doing something in flagrant delicti before the match because he got away with murder. Not that United didn’t deserve to lose so much as Clattenburg needn’t have rendered the whole circus into a state of absurdity.

In the realm of one of my favorite clichés, ‘What goes around comes around,’ I’m certain Clattenburg’s sins will all eventually come back to bite him in the long run. Clattenburg, like many others, seems to take sadistic joy in the Red Devils’ misfortune as part of a lifelong grudge against Sir Alex Ferguson. All well and good. Blaming United’s problems on a referee without any integrity is wide of the mark, however. United’s fundamental problem is not with its defensive line. They simply don’t have a defensive line!

By the time the fourth official signaled that there would be six minutes of added time, Wayne Rooney was standing at the penalty spot clearly ranting at his defenders, telling them–loud and clear–that their letting in any more goals would lead to him committing acts of grievous bodily harm against them, while, simultaneously Leicester City’s supporters were chanting– louder and clearer–“We want six!”

The £150m orgy of summer spending may have delivered a magnificent forward line, but the old Gafferessque gamble that an old-school porous defense was immaterial because you’d always score more than the opposition (well, maybe not against Real Madrid)was proven wrong. The three man back line that all the so-called Fleet Street experts blamed for the disaster is no less of a tactical culprit than the equally disastrous and more old-fashioned four man back line. With Evans injured again early in the match, his well-rested teammate Chris Smalling was pressed into service. Neither one is physically or mentally capable of executing even simple tactics at a Premier League level. Neither they, nor the equally poor Tyler Blackett, Marcus Rojo or Rafael Di Silva were up to the task of holding on to a two goal lead after their colleagues, Los Van Gaalácticos, had twice delivered it to them.

Completely disorganized at the back, United’s defense not only threw away their lead, they delivered to Leicester City as a gift. Indeed, United spent the last seven nerve-shredding minutes as ten men after Tyler Blackett yanked down Jamie Vardy in the penalty area just as he was about to score. Blackett, who has the body of an Adonis, clearly was also gifted with the mind of a canary. The perpetrator of at least three brilliant defensive plays, he botched up other opportunities twice as often. The team simply seems to have no natural defenders. Up stepped Leonardo Ulloa, who had already scored Leicester’s first, to make it five out of five games as he casually converted number five from the spot.

So… what happened? It’s impossible to know for us civilians, but clearly Wayne Rooney’s playing screaming skipper–although it satisfied me in the heart of the moment when it was clear that neither Giggs nor Van Gaal were about to rise from their seats to encourage their troops–did not work. Everything had seemed so simple going in.

Radamel Falcao, truly a class performer, created the first goal in such a sumptuous easy-going manner. The ex-United reserve, Ritchie De Laet, a bag of nerves against his old club, marked the Colombian way too tight. Falcao simply span off De Laet’s chest before sprinting clear and out to the left wing. Still unmarked, Falcao floated a gorgeous lob to Robin van Persie, whose hard header bounced off the arm of Liam Moore past Kasper Schmeichel into the net in the 13th minute.

Three minutes on, United were two up. David Nugent was stripped of the ball by Herrera who passed it to Di Maria. A fantastic run by the skinny Argentine took him careening into the Leicester half, where he passed to Rooney. Just getting started, Di María picked up his pace,charged into the box and scooped up Rooney’s perfectly weighted return pass. Then, as Schmeichel charged forward to block off his sight-line, Di Maria executed a supremely cute chip to make it 2-0.

In retrospect, this was the key moment of the match. Leicester looked devastated while United looked forward, very relaxed and ready for a familiar kind of romp. It didn’t seem to be threatening at all when De Laet fired a long spinning ball down the right channel. United’s left-back, World Cup sensation Marcos Rojo, like a drunken husband on a Friday night, staggering home to find his wife in bed with another woman, got it all completely wrong. Rojo tried to spin around while somehow missing the peripheral vision of Jamie Vardy careening in his direction. Vardy hastily charged in front of Rojo, grinning cheekily as the Argentine winced. Vardy then cleverly brought the ball down and was off to the races again as he clung to the byline. With Rojo in pursuit, Vardy definitely looked to be totally out of play when he squared the ball to a completely unmarked Leonardo Ulloa. Watched by a static Jonny Evans, Ulloa launched himself into the air and fired a bullet off his forehead from only a dozen yards out to make it 2-1 in the 17th minute.

That looked to be that but Leicester collectively woke up. Resuscitated by the goal, Leicester hung in there for for the rest of the first half. Twelve minutes after the restart. however, United grabbed a third against the run of play. Noticing the huge amounts of space in Leicester’s penalty box, the nippy Falcao was in there from midfield. His clever volley sailed over Schmeichel’s head and bounced off a reverberating crossbar. Van Persie then dished a short pass to Di Maria, who missed once and tried again. Well saved by the giant Dane, the ball ricocheted and Ander Herrera was there to scored with a lovely flick off his back heel in the 57th minute,

That moment, against all odds, was the beginning of the end our Manchester United. There’s no doubt that the first of these goals never should have happened or been counted, but that’s football. The thuggish Vardy, was not even trying to win the ball as he ferreted about in the inside left channel. A blatant barge into Rafael Da Silva was ignored by a grinning Mark Clattenburg. Waving play on, the smile on his face a clear provocation to the little Brazilian, Clattenburg watched as Da Silva, verbally taunted by Vardy, charged at the Mohican-coiffed City striker. Vardy then tumbled to the ground. It was a ridiculously soft ‘foul’ but Clattenburg is a ridiculous man and he exhibited that same Cheshire Cat-grin while pointing to the spot. And up stepped David Nugent, who fired his penalty home right down the middle in the 62nd minute.

Suddenly United completely came undone. Chaos reigned. Smalling and Roja were still occupied in a screaming match two minutes later as Leicester tied it up. Two minutes later, Dean Hammond’s pass found the ever-present Vardy. Thus, Esteban Cambiasso, who Leicester picked up on a free transfer from Interrnatzionale Milano at the close of the transfer window, making his first Premier League start, hit a pile-driver home from 14 yards.

The rest was inevitable, as, 79 minutes in, De Laet stripped United’s just arrived substitute Juan Mata of the ball. An unmarked De Laet casually sent Vardy clear and, too slowly approached by De Gea, Vardy calmly slotted home to make it 4-3. Finally, with everybody but Rooney having visibly quit, a snarling Blackett deliberately executed a thuggish foul on the relentlessly fresh-mouthed Vardy. This got Blackett a red card and a calm,cool, collected Leonardo the chance to make it five from the spot.

Who knows what to expect a week from now. One thing is for sure, United got in the driver’s seat dreaming of a top four place. Yet they looked in the mirror and familiar objects were much closer than they had seemed.

Ivor Irwin

 Leave a Reply



Refresh Image


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>