As Phil Jones strolled towards the penalty spot the remnants of the Old Trafford crowd breathed a heavy sigh, an audible groan that could be heard on the other side of the River Irwell. Jones stepped up, he inevitably missed, Manchester United went out of a cup competition, Twitter went into a meltdown and the twenty thousand or so Reds still left in the ground trudged off with yet another lacklustre home performance to contemplate on the way back home. It’s all getting very familiar.
So what have learned from another 90 mins of Old Trafford dross? Here’s five things that may just make us contemplate gouging our eyes out with our season tickets and using them as earplugs ahead of the next game.
1. Sergio Romero is no David De Gea.
Moments before Derby’s equaliser I claimed with all the insight of a comatose crystal meth addict that ‘Sergio Romero’ is one of the best keepers in the league and would walk into any other club’s starting line up, outside the top four.’ Less than half an hour later I was wondering whether he’d even make the starting line up of a club outside the top four English divisions. It wasn’t just that Harry Wilson’s free-kick wrong-footed Romero, it was that he then also sent off for handling outside the area. A shambolic performance on every level. If De Gea gets injured, a poor season could end up becoming a catastrophic one.
2. Eric Bailly is playing his way out of Old Trafford.
A few weeks ago I’d have argued with anyone that Bailly was United’s most naturally gifted defender, now I wouldn’t argue he’s the most naturally gifted member of a partnership featuring Phil Jones.
Picking up from the Brighton and Hove Albion debacle, Bailly failed to convince the manager he’s up to the job in the slightest, with another nervous display that makes Victor Lindelof look the more likely of the younger defenders to be trusted this season.
3. It’s time to get behind Marouane Fellaini.
He’s been the whipping boy ever since United bungled their way to signing the lanky Belgian for more money than his get out clause – hashtag MoyesThat – but yet again Fellaini was one of the few United players to emerge from the game with any credit. Bagging a late, late equaliser and scoring his penalty wasn’t the entire story, as the more confident of United’s Belgian contingent battled for every ball, kept possession and wasn’t afraid to mix it up when necessary. Whisper it quietly but he should’ve started.
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4. Romelu Lukaku is having a shocker far too often.
Yes he scores goals, yes he ‘gets’ United and yes he always, always tries but if effort and passion were enough, then there’d be a cue of players for the first team from Ordsall to Osaka. Lukaku continues to perform so erratically in front of goal you’d almost prefer a chance falling to Phil Jones than the 100 odd goal former Evertonian. The Belgian top scorer is costing United almost as much as he’s benefitting them at the moment and it could be time to give him a rest sooner rather than later.
5. Jose is running out of allies.
Right now, the United fan base is probably split almost 50/50 as to whether Jose is the right man for the job and the number behind him seems to be decreasing daily. A win against West Ham, watched by United’s hardcore fanbase is essential if the manager formerly known as the Special One is to avoid losing his most vital support. Last night’s loss in front of a half-empty Old Trafford shouldn’t be the end of Mourinho’s time at United, but in the words of Churchill it may just be the end of the beginning.
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