It’s getting to the point now at Old Trafford, where even a shot on target is treated as some sort of valuable rarity, a trinket to be cherished and remembered. Last night’s nil-nil draw at Old Trafford was so drab, dour, dreadful and any other words beginning with ‘d’ you want to use, you wouldn’t blame UEFA if they decided to abolish the entire competition.
So what can we actually tell from 90 minutes that truly belong on the scrapheap of football history? Here’s five things we learned following the borefest masquerading as a Champions League game.
1. Alexis Sanchez has lost it. Whatever ‘it’ may be, call ‘it’ desire, ability, belief, the former Arsenal attacker no longer has ‘it.’ We’ve seen him play in various positions and last night he started on the right which many believed would be a perfect role for both him and the team, but it suited neither mainly because Sanchez looks about as able to unlock a defence as he is to perform open heart surgery with a plastic spoon. Whether he’ll ever get ‘it’ back at United is anyone’s guess but time’s already running out for the January signing. His substitution last night was greeted with the sort of cheers you’d expect when the Reds win a last minute corner, not one of your star signings leaving the field.
2. Yet again, Romelu Lukaku fails to turn up. It’s been a constant of these articles for the past few weeks and there’s a reason. No, I’m not obsessed with Lukaku and no, I don’t want him to leave, I want him to show the kind of early United career form we saw and haven’t really seen since. Lukaku’s effort and desire have always been a reason to get behind the striker, even when his touch has looked about as useful as Juan Mata in a rugby team. Now though, even his hunger seems to have deserted him as he plodded around the pitch looking annoyed with his team mates while producing the sort of stepovers that belong in a cartoon. A dreadful performance from start to finish. Again.
3. Thank whatever God is out there for Luke Shaw. Imagine if Luke Shaw had spat his dummy out over Mourinho’s treatment of him and decided United wasn’t for him? We’d be well and truly f****d.
Shaw was one of the few players not to embarrass himself or Manchester United football club last night, making important challenges and trying in vain to launch productive attacks. He deserves some of his team mates to perform much better and show his level of commitment.
4. You can only ask the fans for so much when the football is dire. At the beginning of the game, the singing section was in full voice and the Stretford End seemed ‘up for it.’ By around the 40th minute the life had been sucked out of both as United’s bright early – despite being late for the actual game – start gave way to more boring dross I can’t even be bothered reminding myself or the readers about.
Why can’t United sustain pressure at home longer than five minutes? Why should the fans be expected to continually turn up and get behind football that is absolute eye aids? If the team showed the desire the fans expect and the willingness to get forward the club was allegedly built on, then maybe there’d be more than 30,000 fans at the final whistle slow clapping the team off.
5. The club’s becoming a laughing stock. Turning up so late for kick-0ff it has to be delayed is bad enough when you’re away from home, doing it when you’re staying in Salford is a shambles. The pre-match huddle by the players served no purpose other than to make the team appear United, what followed was anything but and just adds to the feeling it’s comedy central at Old Trafford right now. Oh and our captain liked an Instagram post calling for the manager to be sacked but then apologised as it was an accident so that’s okay and our club isn’t really a farce after all.