Manchester United need a response against West Ham
The show must go on.
I tried to see the funny side of Leicester’s 5-3 comeback victory over Manchester United, but this was no MK Dons (at which I was in convulsions). This was genuinely frustrating. Forget growing pains and forget patience; it is pretty much unacceptable for any side to squander a two-goal lead over a newly-promoted team, never mind concede another two afterwards. Saturday’s tie with West Ham isn’t a ‘bounce back’ fixture. The Leicester game was like dropping an egg – no bounce and a small mess. What United now must do is forget about that mess and turn their attention to the recipe. There are plenty of eggs left in the carton.
Manchester United win 3/10
West Ham United win 7/1
(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)
No matter how bad things got under David Moyes, and they got pretty bad, the most widespread criticism from United fans was the style, or lack thereof. Last year United limped and sputtered through games, sometimes appearing to resign themselves to mediocre results. Individual performances were often just that, and more often not enough. This season, or in the last two games at least, they have already shown enough to be labelled a juggernaut going forward. Swagger has replaced stagnation, and United are once again the most exciting team in the league to watch.
Usually we have to wait for new signings to ‘click’, but Ángel di María has been electrifying in his last two appearances and Falcao looks sharp as a tack. The latter’s movement and cross in the buildup to Robin van Persie’s opener were impeccable, while the former’s goal was genius of the sort not seen in red since Cristiano Ronaldo. After the first few months of Moyes’s reign had passed, I rarely found myself looking forward to watching a match. Now I can hardly wait for the next one and I’m certainly not alone. Need to sort out that defence though.
When Jonny Evans limped off early against Leicester, it was no doubt worrying, but we assumed it would be something to worry about after the final whistle. Instead, United’s makeshift defence, with Phil Jones injured and Luke Shaw on the bench, was short of both quality and leadership. Chris Smalling became something of a scapegoat after the game, but in truth Marcos Rojo and Rafael were both awful at full back as well, even if the penalty given against the Brazilian was a soft one. Tyler Blackett was probably United’s best defender before Cambiasso’s goal, but then the capitulation began. The youngster eventually showed his inexperience and Daley Blind was simply overrun in the second half.
All eyes will be on United’s defence against a West Ham side that looked good in their 3-1 win over Liverpool. Evans’s scan has ruled him out for about a month, while Smalling picked up a thigh injury in training, further limiting van Gaal’s options at the back. If Smalling is deemed fit, he will be partnered by Rojo at centre half, allowing Shaw to make his competitive debut at left-back. If not, United will have to look at the bottom of the barrel for someone to pair with Rojo. With go-to makeshift defender, Michael Carrick also an injury doubt, van Gaal could call on a youngster or even Darren Fletcher.
Nothing to Shout About
Many, myself included, were never in favour of making Rooney captain. He held the club to ransom twice and was welcomed back with open chequebooks on both occasions. If anything, agent Paul Stretford should be wearing the armband – at least he’s resourceful. Rooney showed his idea of crisis management on Sunday when, after his failed clearance led to a Leicester goal, he screamed at anyone within earshot in a show of authoritah. Rooney lent nothing to the team’s performance, but will of course be preferred to Juan Mata on Saturday in spite of recent form or, y’know, ability.
But one problem at a time. Going forward, the team has played well in spite of Rooney, not because of him. If van Gaal can assemble a back four for Saturday’s game, his side should be able to dispatch of West Ham. I can still remember when United fans didn’t use the word ‘if’.
Betting Instinct tip – With United strong in attack and porous in defence, more than 3.5 goals looks good value at 5/4 with Intertops.eu