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United Survive Rooney’s Red Mist

 Posted by on September 28, 2014 at 11:07 am  Blogs/Media
Sep 282014

Manchester United 2-1 West Ham United
77863481 rooney red getty United Survive Rooneys Red MistThe exasperated look on the face of Ryan Giggs said it all. The same burdensome cynicism seemed to be etched into the faces of the United faithful everywhere, actually. Like the spoiled brat, George Amberson Minafer in the movie The Magnificent Ambersons, who gets his comeuppance by the ten-thousand-fold in the 1944 classic, we are all staring to recognize, as with Paul Gacoigne before him, that in spite of owning a great football gift, Wayne Rooney is so self-absorbed and hubris-befuddled that the bestowed gifts of neither responsibility nor vilification can help him see beyond the red mist of self-absorption which threatens to sabotage his career and natural life.

On what started as a day perfect Wazza brilliantly executed an exquisite coup-de-grace of a goal just five minutes in. Then somehow, inexplicably, the only World-class English player of his generation, having begged, moaned and cajoled his way to the captaincy of both club and country, somehow conspired against himself and threw the toys our of his perambulator one more time (or one time too many for some). All because of a handball ignored by the referee Lee Mason in a previous play, according to the team manager, Louis Van Gaal. But, really, what could he say?

Nevertheless, absolutely in spite of its skipper’s acting like a spoiled brat, Manchester United managed to show the kind of stubbornness that used to be their stock-in-trade under Sir Alex Ferguson. Indeed, having almost casually grabbed a two goal lead and thenceforth showing off their awful knack for making their own lives difficult for themselves, a ten-man United barricaded the doors, dispensed with the tiki-tak and held on to take three well deserved points.

Just why Rooney aimed a dangerous high, wild kick from behind at Stewart Downing an hour in is impossible to know. Still, the Iron Tulip’s lads’ showed a spirit of plurality that’s been absent for a long time. One brilliant play—a truly physics-defying headed clearance from Paddy McNair, a 19-year-old debutante—impressed. A Belfast native, signed from Ballyclare Colts four years ago, McNair was vocal and looked comfortable and ran United’s patchwork of a defense as if he’d been on the team for months. Still, unfathomably vulnerable at the back, United seemed much less likely to panic with Rojo and McNair holding down the CB spots, rather than the dithering triumvirate of Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling, which seems addicted to panic.

Had they begun with more oomph and energy, who knows what the result could have been, but West Ham were frazzled and subdued for most of the first half. Dazzled perhaps by the brilliant stop-start brilliance of Angel Di Maria, the Hammers barely hung in there under the threat of United’s speedy transition game during the opening half hour.

77863901 van persie getty2 United Survive Rooneys Red MistUnited’s first goal came in the fifth minute as Rafael Da Silva rode two hard tackle attempts while steaming along the right flank. With Wayne Rooney running neck and neck with him down the middle, the Brazilian right wing-back pinged an exquisite pass into the box that Rooney managed to volley home hard into the top right corner of the net.

The second goal stemmed from Rooney and Ander Herrera pressurizing Alex Song into giving up possession inside his own half. After hoovering up Rooney’s dish, Radamel Falcao selflessly played a pass into Van Persie and the Dutchman made a clever little turn to surprise his marker, Guy Demel, who clearly expected him to shift left, and then slipped home a right-footed finish slide-rule finish just inside the post to make it 2-0 in just the 22nd minute.

To their credit, well bolstered by the coaching of Sam Allardyce, who spent a lot of time up on his feet, urging his lads on from the technical area, there was no quit in the Hammers. It didn’t hurt their cause, either, that they had a massive height advantage in the penallty area. It wasn’t pretty, but despite the battering West Ham laid on Rafael, Rojo and McNair in their own box, the Red Devils held on well. Forced by sheer, relentlessly applied physical pressure and getting no help from referee Lee Mason, giving up a goal seemed inevitable.

37 minutes in, Stewart Downing’s swerving corner created a panic. Blocked by striker Diafra Sakho, De Gea didn’t punch the ball away hard enough after off Enner Valencia’s header, Valencia got another go and the ball crunched against the crossbar as, finally, the mighty Sakho pushed aside his markers as he headed home the third rebound. Fingers were pointed at De Gea, but the truth is that these days the Spanish goalkeeper tries too often to do too much to compensate for his weak coverage. In this case he erred, but I’ll happily call it a noble one.

Sakho’s goal definitely came at the perfect most opportune moment to rev up the Hammers in the second half and they attacked United in relentless waves. Then 70 yards out from United’s goal, Rooney found himself sprinting against Downing. That silly red Scouse red mist then exploded in his head and Rooney blatantly decked Downing only a couple of feet from the referee. And although there can be no doubt that Rooney deserved the card—none at all!—United’s sense that all of the PL’s referees are out to get them was reinforced by a number of reckless ruthless fouls Mason chose to ignore, especially a half-dozen or so cheap-shots inflicted upon Ander Herrera. The one break Mason did give the club, a late offside call he blew on a late goal from substitute Kevin Nolan, may have had fans at Old Trafford chewing their cuticles, but it really was offside.

All in all, in spite of the club having way too many injured defenders and Rooney about to be out of the picture for three matches, the very spirit of the team leaves a feeling of positivity behind. Once Messrs. Falcao and Van Persie hit their goalscoring groove, the sky is still the limit.

One thing is for sure: Being a Manchester United is not for the feint of heart and we wouldn’t have it any other way!456189908 United Survive Rooneys Red Mist

Ivor Irwin

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