To right a wrongBy: Ian | September 21st, 2012
The title of this post may belong more appropriately in a judge’s sentencing or such like, but United’s performance in the Champions League certainly comes into the category of things having gone wrong. And so, on Wednesday night, with the eyes of the media more on Chelsea and Juventus (understandbly), Utd got their Champs League campaign off and running at home against Galatasaray. Sir Alex promised there would be no upsets in the competition this season and this turned out to be exactly the sort of match that might have produced one.
The team sent out was a strong one; Evra, RVP and Kagawa all returning. This approach was nearly undone completely with a rash Vidic challenge early on that in the eyes of some referees would have been an instant spot kick. Rightly or wrongly, it wasn’t given and fortunately Utd got it out of their minds quickly. At the other end on seven minutes, Kagawa released Carrick through the Turkish defence. The goalkeeper came and dived, catching Carrick as he swerved around, but Carrick kept his head and his legs and scooped the ball into the net for 1-0. Evidently, he thought the early goal punishment enough, for if Carrick had stayed on the ground or fallen as so many players do week in week out, a penalty and a red card would surely have been given.
A gentleman called Nordin Amrabat who you’ve all heard of (no, me neither) gave Utd a scare by serving up a shaken crossbar but chances were few generally. Not so were the penalty appeals, coming thick and fast as they were, but the penalty count remained unbelievably at zero. This changed after the break as Nani (why him?) stepped up to take such a spot kick. I say stepped up, people have staggered home from the pub faster. A stuttered movement and I just knew he was going to miss it. Nani kindly oblived my psychic abilities with an appalling shot. As has been made plain, that’s three penalties missed so far this season, from three different takers. Whoever is in charge of penalty practice ought to be taking a look at themselves, because I don’t know about you, but I was always taught nothing more than smash it. Crude, but far better than these pathetic little stutter runs that are intending to make the keeper dive early, and which every goalkeeper seems to be aware of, and just waits for the resulting weak kick that is meant to look clever as it goes to the keeper’s wrong side. Perfect bottom-corner penalties are great, but if you don’t feel up to that, at least have the decency to whack it in the goal direction. Apologies, rant over.
We’ll skip forward to give De Gea some credit, back in the side after a short Lindegaard spell. With the lead a slender one, Yilmaz and Colak sought to change that. The young Spaniard was having none of it, with a great first save and an even better second.
The other talking point was the return of Darren Fletcher on 79 minutes. Much has been said of his ability to play again with his condition, but the man is nothing if not a battler, and this should be a lovely little morale boost for him if nothing else. His commitment to the cause has always been his best quality and I hope this is part of a successful path to a strong recovery.
So, Utd began their quest to ‘right their wrong of yesteryear’ with the necessary three points. They didn’t come easy and Galatasaray should be proud of that. A similar performance in front of their home fans and three points away three would be very difficult indeed. Nevertheless, this was the sort of game that Utd threw away last season, but they held this time around and its a useful start against the second strongest team in the group. An average start, but the result is what matters.
Next up are Liverpool, in a match surrounded with many headlines before its even begun. Its an occasion that deserves, and will receive, a complete post in its own right, but I just hope, for the sake of genuine football fans, for the sake of respect, for the sake of general human decency, that the forthcoming match is noted only for its remembrance message and its football.