Manchester United drew vs West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford on a cloudy afternoon. This is Manchester United’s 8th draw at home this season out of 15 games. Stoke, Burnley, West Ham, Hull, Bournemouth, Arsenal and now West Brom, games in which United have dominated at home but games which United have not been able to win. What was earlier seen as a little encouraging site of United creating chance after chance has now turned into a sorrowful sight.
The Theatre of Dreams has now turned into the Theatre of Draws. Draw after draw after draw. Had United taken those 16 points which they deserved but dropped, United would have been fighting for the league title. In the Sir Alex era, teams used to fear Old Trafford. They came here and parked the bus or tried to park the bus as United somehow found ways to score no matter how well organised the other team was defensively. This place is not a fortress anymore. Teams don’t fear coming to Old Trafford anymore. This place does not hold any fears for any team now.
Jose Mourinho selected the only line up possible due to injuries. Such is the depleted state of the squad that the only attacking substitute available was Wayne Rooney, a man past his prime. Jose Mourinho definitely got some of his tactics wrong. United were trying to cross the ball into the box against the Premier League’s tallest team with the likes of Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan trying to get on the end of those crosses.
The seven draws which United had before this one were different from this one. In those seven draws, the fans were on the edge of their seats. There was chance after chance after chance. United stomped the opposition’s penalty box in a barrage of attacks. Although the end result was disappointing, the games were thrilling and nail biting. What we saw versus West Brom was something very different, there wasn’t any barrage of attacks, there were merely one or two big chances and as time ticked by, Old Trafford already had a feeling that this was going to be a draw, there were no chants, no excitement as a glum looking Mourinho watched on from the bench.
The start of the match was nothing special, the ball was mainly found in the centre of the park. Then in the 11th minute, a chance arose, Jesse Lingard found himself in a pocket of space to the right-hand side of the West Brom penalty box, but the young winger blazed it over the bar. Then in the 26th minute, Jesse Lingard played a ball towards the six yard box after receiving an inch perfect pass from Carrick but there was no one to shoot. Anthony Martial then got a cross right on his head from Antonio Valencia but the young Frenchman headed it over the bar. And then came the end of the first half without any more chances. The second half was a little more encouraging.
Dawson tackled just at the right time otherwise Martial would have been through on goal, then Fellaini had a big opportunity in the 55th minute after he shot wide of the post with Ben Foster down. Then Henrikh Mkhitaryan was one on one with Foster but as tried to chip him, Foster got a hand to the ball which prevented it from hitting the back of the net. Then Marcus Rashford hit a fierce shot which Foster saved brilliantly. Then Darren Fletcher hit the crossbar after a fumble from De Gea. Marcus Rashford then hit an almost perfect free kick which was again saved by Foster in the 88th minute. And then came the final whistle with the result being the one which we feared before the game.
In the previous draws at Old Trafford this season, the goalkeepers were the man of the match, not quite this time, Ben foster did make a couple of good saves but not for once would he would have had his heart in his mouth, a feeling which other goalkeepers have had. This match felt like a step backwards. A result which once again puts United’s top four chances in jeopardy with games against Everton, Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Tottenham coming up
Of course, this is not the end of the world. We still can make the top four (maybe) but what we’ve seen at Old Trafford this season in not acceptable. Jose Mourinho has to turn Old Trafford into a fortress again.After all,t hat’s what he is here for. And for a club of Manchester United’s standards, injuries should not be an excuse. It never was during the Sir Alex era. Well maybe, we should all just be patient and stand behind Mourinho and the team. The Europa League is still there to be won.
Maybe the Fergie era has made us so used to success and winning trophies that we are not able to see where the club currently lies. Comparing the Jose era to the Fergie era would be unfair. Of course, the attacking standards have got to improve but we should remember that even Sir Alex took 6 years to win his first league title.