The instinctive human reaction to failure is blame – blame someone or something. We tend to provide good and sometimes lengthy analysis on why it didn’t go our way but most times, it ends in blame. But the question is “who is really to blame?”
I watched the Manchester united away game against Chelsea on Sunday with an open mind expecting and ready to take any possible outcome provided my beloved united put up a good display akin to what we saw against Stoke City at Old Trafford. United dominated in the opening 20 minutes and for a side with Carrick and Fellaini in central midfield, the zeal of the attack was stellar. The backwards and sideways passes seemed to have evaporated and there was much vigor going forward. Time and again, the attack produced corner kicks as well as a dangerous attempt on target by Anthony Martial. But playing and scoring against a Chelsea side desperate to save their season and that turned up with 2 defensive midfielders in Matic and Mikel as well as a sturdy and quick defender like Kurt Zouma is easier said than done. Therefore, for me, United performed well.
Chelsea grew into the game as expected. Forget their bad season; they are still a strong side with a strong desire to turn things around. Arsenal can confirm that. They applied good pressure for the remaining part of the half and then…fair game to say the least with due credits to both sides.
Fast forward to the Lingard stunner and of course the usual dab that followed.And then Fellaini being subbed off (I really wondered why because he did his job in the middle quite well) and then to Memphis coming on. Now to that part where fans begin to shoot the blames for conceding the equalizer. Memphis got a larger share, Blind got some. Some fans have even been bold enough to add Borthwick-Jackson to that list (an inexperienced lad who just turned 19, whose mates are playing for the youth side and who put in his absolute best). But hey, it was a draw. We didn’t lose but we didn’t win either. Still, it’s painful. Was it a winnable game? You can answer that.
Imagine united sitting in second place probably 2 points of the top just before the Chelsea game. Would a draw have been that painful considering the intensity of the game and the fact that it has been a while United won a game at the Bridge? Would we have been satisfied? The pain and the anger actually hinges on United’s fading top 4 hopes. Bar this game. And before you blame Memphis, Blind or Borthwick-Jackson, let us recall to mind 4 obviously winnable games that dented this season for united.
1. Against Newcastle at Old Trafford at the start of the season. They were bottom of the table as at then but United could not beat them as the obsession with possession was high then. That game cost the team 2 points.
2. Against Swansea at the Liberty stadium. The team dell victim to Gary Monk tactical tweaks and you know what followed. 3 points were lost.
3. Against Bournemouth at the Vitality stadium where again, possession was more important than scoring. 3 points lost.
4. Against Norwich at Old Trafford. This was about the most winnable of all matches this season. Norwich were just promoted and United was at home. There was absolutely no excuse for not scoring a single goal and losing the way they did. Costly 3 points.
11 points in total lost which if bagged and added to the point at Chelsea would have had united contending for the title.
We all saw the match and saw the mistakes but the damage had already been done before Memphis made that error or before Borthwick-Jackson kept Costa onside. All the team can do now is take each game as a must win, channeling the same passion and energy they had against Stoke and Chelsea to the games. The pressure is also on the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal to remain in the top 4. The top 4 sides play each other this weekend and thus, United winning at Sunderland could ease things up a bit making top 4 closer. With 13 matches left and with the new freedom and zeal with which United are playing, top 4 may still be possible with West Ham doing them a favor by loosing at Southampton,but if United fail to make it to the top four come May then someone will definitely have to take the blame as well as pay the price especially now that the ghost of Jose Mourihno is hovering around Old trafford.
Manchester United fan