It has been a miserable few days in New York. Thunderstorms and lashing rain replaced the scorching weather we had in previous weeks. I missed the first ten minutes of today’s F.A. Cup final against Chelsea because two pubs were packed due to the rain. After the final whistle went I wished that I had stood on the corner of 6th ave., letting cars splash filthy New York rainwater onto me so I could come down with a debilitating flu and forget the past footballing year.
The first half went by in typical United-under-Mourinho fashion: play the ball around defence and midfield, defend wildly when attacked and possibly let the other team score. Then, and only then, will we attack. You fools! MUAHAHAHAHA. You’ve played right into our trap. Alternatively, and this only used rarely, United could score and park the bus for the rest of the match.
I am a typical bitter United supporter. If the result had gone the other way I would probably be writing an altogether different post. But the fact of the matter is, United played poorly today, the better team won and big players went missing and spurned great chances.
United sat back and the utter mismatch in pace between Hazard and Jones proved decisive. Jones’ clumsy tackle from behind could have been a red if he wasn’t adjudged to have played the ball, leading Michael Oliver to send Conte into fits of rage by awarding a yellow only. Hazard coolly sent De Gea the wrong way, his questionable man bun/ ponytail flapping in defeat. Chelsea could and should have been awarded an earlier penalty when Matic brought Rudiger down inside the box. Thank you again, Michael Oliver. Alexis Sanchez went down softly at the other end after he was pulled back by Moses. A scrappy first half was capped off by an abysmal, funny if you’re not a United fan, attempt at a shot by Rashford. Despite this, I went into the second half feeling optimistic that a rejuvenated United side would appear to win some silverware.
I was wrong. Yes, there was some chances and flashes of quality. The introduction of Martial and Lukaku in place of the disappointing, Russia bound duo of Rashford and Lingard gave some sense of focus and direction. It was too late. Sanchez kept running the ball into impossible areas and despite Pogba’s impressive use of the ball and distribution to the flanks, he spurned United’s best chance of the game. He missed a free header from three meters out. The header was so wide in fact that I thought it was a pass to the onrushing Phil Jones, the earlier villain of the piece.
After scoring the penalty in the first half, Chelsea sat back and defended for the rest. Online, United fans jeered and brandied about the ‘park the bus’ taunt that we have endured for the past two years. The bitter pill to swallow, and something I’m sure we all know, is that if the tables were turned and Rashford had sent Courtois the wrong way then we would have sat through United defending like that.
It’s hard not to feel pessimistic about United going forward into next season. This was the last chance for silverware. Finishing second was not much of an achievement when you realise that Manchester City had a 19-point gap as leaders. Liverpool are contesting the Champions League final, a game against Real Marid which they could just as easily lose or win. Forgetting these petty facts and looking at the real picture is important. Manchester United are still one of the top teams in the Premier League. The record against the top 6 this season wasn’t bad and a final appearance in the F.A. Cup is not to be laughed at. However, they are not a joy to watch anymore. Far from it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Martial and Mata leave the side this summer. Why should they stand being used as last call reserves when they should be on that pitch from the start? Sanchez needs to buck up too and stop blaming officials for him losing the ball.
I had to leave the Storehouse Bar on 23rd st. straight after the match for work and was only drinking coffee due to being on the front desk for the next eight hours. But by God, do I wish I was sinking pints and throwing back whiskey.