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Condition Red!

 Posted by on August 25, 2014 at 12:09 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Manchester United, Sunderland
Aug 252014

Sunderland 1-1 Manchester United
77148995 sunmanaction getty Condition Red! I’m resigned already to the fact that it’s going to take a while. Unfortunately, others aren’t. Having won only a single point, United’s blogs are animated with rage against Louis Van Gaal after just a couple of games and the bumbling ditherer known to many as Woody WoodWood. Had Sunderland been really aggressive beyond the neanderthal commitment of Lee Cattermole, Manchester United would surely have already dropped six points. There is, to be sure, some blame to go around for everybody, but more or less the same problems that the club have failed to address properly since the 2008-09 season are still around, only older.

It would be really easy to rant on about Cleverley and Fletcher, but a waste of energy. There’s that old clichéd chestnut that says, “It’s not the dog in the fight, but the fight in the dog!” Nevertheless, neither one is worthy of wearing the kit any longer, especially when it comes to facing up to a bright, shining mediocrity like Lee Cattermole. But it’s a true condition red in midfield with no one else for the club to call upon with both Fellaini and Anderson injured. It’s just plain embarrassing, but in this case you really can’t blame the manager or his coaches when they’re stuck with players who no longer own any heart.

A slightly more interesting case in point is the doomed Ashley Young. I have to admit that I’ve found his desperate struggle to hang on to a place in the squad to be quite moving. A deeply selfish, old school winger, having recognized the sweet bird of youth passing him by, Young—who clearly loves being a Manchester United player and the concomitant benefits it offers—has tried very hard to adapt his game to fit Coach Van Gaal’s need for unselfish, hard-pressing wing backs. Playing against his own nature and altogether inspired and exciting during United’s American tour, Young surely resurrected his career and, indeed, may have given himself another or three or four seasons in the MLS or the Championship. Unfortunately, having returned to England and the savage Darwinian reality of the Premier League, Young’s desire has just not been enough. Hard work and determination just aren’t enough when a wing-back can’t cross consistently or take a corner. And all the bantam-cock aggression in the world simply mean nothing when the chickens of a selfish career come home to roost as the referee writes you off as a diver. It may not be fair. It’s not all Ashley Young’s fault, but his time at Manchester United is clearly done. The rest, as with Charles I, is putting your head on the block and waiting for the whisper of the axe.

Now we must wait for the new players we’ve bought to work their way into the team, while Surgeon Van Gaal does the necessary triage and uses his scalpel to to cut away the crap. One thing I think we know already for sure is that the Dutchman will bring up youth players in a way that Moyes and even the older Ferguson never would. indeed, if anyone has succeeded in the first two games it is young Tyler Blackett.77149485 sunmanaction2 getty Condition Red!

The first half seemed like a continuation of the Swansea match. With Cleverley, Fletcher and a terribly intimidated Juan Mata unwilling to man up against either a thuggish Lee Clattermole or a hard running Rodwell the center never gelled. Sadly, Cattermole, whom the referee Martin Atkinson never admonished once for a series of of late tackles, got away with everything. There was evidence indeed that Van Gaal’s pre-match press conference statement that United’s self-belief had been “smashed” by the defeat to Swansea City the previous weekend. Lacking any ability to move the ball around, it was hard to observe Van Gaal and Giggs watch as Wayne Rooney had to run back to collect the ball and then send long ball after long ball toward a lonely Tony Valencia.

Just a minute in, Young gave the ball away in his own half and was fortunate Sunderland’s Conor Wicham did not score. Atypically, Chris Smalling zipped forward out of defense and screamed and waved his long arms at his whole down-in-the-dumps midfield out of sheer exasperation as no teammate came to be of assistance. There were a couple of bad calls by the referee as Santiago Vergini fouled Van Persie in the box and Young went flying after a Wes Brown challenge. Young was clearly in the right, but has becomes the boy who cried wolf to, it seems, all EPL refs.

77149221 sunmanmanagers getty Condition Red!Whether way too fast or too painfully slow, United belabored everything and they were extremely lucky to score in the 17th minute as Mata stroked home after a neat counter-attack led to a fine run and cutback from Tony Valencia. It was a nice moment, way against the run of play, but United simply never got it going again until Danny Welbeck came on as a substitute. Only the Manc striker, along with the stolid competence of Tyler Blackett gave United any drive during the games’s ’s final minutes, when Sunderland looked exhausted.

When Young received a yellow card for trying to con the referee, Martin Atkinson, into awarding a second-half penalty, it just seemed to be one more thing going wrong for a hapless United. Sunderland were not even close to being as slick as Swansea, but got lots of encouragement via an endless series of Red Devils’ mistakes. Chaotic at set-pieces, no one seemed to be marking anyone in particular as Sebastian Larsson’s corner was headed home by Jack Rodwell in the 30th minute.
77149487 sunmanwickham getty Condition Red!

Ivor Irwin

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