I just turned off my telly after watching Chelsea beat Burnley by three goals to one on their return to the Premier League, and Cesc Fabregas was instrumental. The game at Turf Moor concluded the opening weekend of the new season. All in all, a bad opening weekend for United and all concerned.
Obviously we lost and at the same time the so called “big clubs” won. Even Arsenal and Liverpool who long looked like they were going to drop points as well, managed to scrape wins.
Watching the Chelsea game showed just exactly how far there still is to go for United. Both Chelsea and United went behind in the first half to a team they had more or less dominated. The way Chelsea reacted to their goal however, made United’s performance look even worse than it did when watching MOTD on Saturday evening.
Chelsea, inspired by the brilliant Cesc Fabregas, quickly scored three goals; one of them a fantastic team effort, merely to outline how far above their opponents they were in terms of quality. United, however, struggled to get going and even once they managed to equalise didn’t look like they were going to be the undisputed winners of this game.
Yes, you might say Burnley are destined to go down, where as you wouldn’t bet against Swansea to stay up quite comfortably. But this was about the response to going a goal down. Chelsea looked so settled, so assured so well-organised, very much a team in which every player knows what everybody else is doing and a team where everyone is pulling in the same direction. In terms of how they appeared, this might have been a mid-season encounter.
Never did they look in doubt of winning this game. Such was the composedness of Jose Mourinho’s side. Maybe he was right in saying that he needed time. Judging by the first game, Chelsea definitely no longer look like a squad in transition. With them already having wrapped up the majority of their summer signings, they are (together with Manchester City) the favourites to win the title.
United however, are merely the bookies fourth favourites to win the title. Probably for the first time in over 20 years. While we must say that this doesn’t feel good, we also mustn’t read too much into it. As I told myself after an abysmal start to the Fantasy Premier League season, there are still 37 game weeks to go. And (to use a cliché) a lot is going to happen between now and May.
Still it’d be wrong not to be at least a bit concerned about how Manchester United is faring at the moment.
After finishing seventh, letting four huge figures leave (or join the coaching staff), replacing them with only 2 new signings, one of them a teenager, the other one unproven in the Premier League, isn’t exactly the mark of a team that has ambitions to win trophies en masse.
The first game showed us exactly that. We’re definitely still in transition.
So what went wrong against Swansea?
To be fair, I thought it wasn’t as bad as many pundits suggested. Swansea had 2 chances (and one half-chance) from which they managed to score 2 goals.
United, with 3 debutants, playing with a new system, dominated possession throughout the game, always looked to be on the front foot and apart from the last bit of cutting edge, I thought did quite well. Better – in fact – than in last season’s opener when United beat Swansea by 4 goals to 1. That result shines over a scrappy performance, over which two quick fire goals, a RvP masterclass and a late Welbeck goal on the counter-attack paint a pretty picture.
Now I know I ejaculated euphoria all over our preseason last time I put up a blog, saying that we were back and stating how everyone is afraid of Manchester United again.
And now, after the first game of the season, I’m moping over everything and going into hiding? You might be right to call me cynical, but I’m not yet one of them people on Twitter who are demanding that everything change instantly at the club.
We still have a very good squad, one or two signings would have us challenge for the top 3, with a bit of better luck in terms of injuries maybe even the top 2 come the end of the season. We mustn’t forget that we are still without players like Carrick, Valencia, Evans, Rafael, RvP, Shaw and Welbeck. All of whom would definitely have improved Saturday’s team.
So no, I’m not too worried just yet. Yes the heavy heart I’ve had to get used to during last season is (temporarily) back, but van Gaal isn’t a man who will accept mediocrity and will look to improve United as soon as possible. And, what’s more, in contrast to his predecessor, he has the managerial know-how of improving a team like United. So let us not get ahead of ourselves.
Another thing that has annoyed me over the weekend is the sudden – and inexplicable – upsurge in abuse for the Glazers and Ed Woodward. Now, before you call me fickle, I’m not too happy with neither. The Glazers should not take money from the club to pay for their own dept and Woodward’s lack of transfer activity so far isn’t something that lets me fall asleep easily at night, no not at all.
But what annoys me most is the timing of the “#GlazersOut” – campaign. Right after we lost our first game in months. Where were the complainers over the summer, where were they when we outplayed Real Madrid and beat Liverpool?
One defeat and tons of so-called “fans” lose sight of what really counts? To me that was disappointing.
Of course I’d rather we were more active in the market, and obviously I’d rather the club was in a different owner’s hands. But wearing green and gold scarves and starting fickle hashtag campaigns on Twitter won’t win us the league. It didn’t in 2010 and it won’t now. Sadly.
What I can do now, is to tell you as United fans to keep the faith, after all we only lost one game, and stand by your club even when they lose. Complaining and negativity won’t get us back on track in any case. Support the team, don’t talk about the owners if you don’t like them, and hope that we sign some players over the next fortnight, for even with all the players out injured, it goes without saying that it can’t be right to let Vidic and Rio go and not replacing them. Reports last night of Rojo being close to signing for us would be a very good start. And if not, we will start by beating Sunderland next Sunday.