No Passion Derby
Traditionally, the biggest league game in United's calender is against Liverpool. Second to that would be Leeds. And now with Leeds in the lower league, Liverpool would be the game. Neville against Carragher! That sort of stuff! Where players becomes lagends after such games. As Diego Forlan would agree.
Last night came such a derby match. United lost their last match away to Swansea - a poor match to lose - and the two-weeks international hiatus seemed almost a lifetime. United made a few changes. De Gea decided to make peace and signed a new contract. We bought in a new striker in the shape of 19-year-old Anthony Martial. And I duly waited for the 12.30 am kick-off.
The last time the two teams met, Gerrard was sent off after a lunge on Herrera. I was expecting a game of passion. Of high pace and intensity.
Rooney was out injured. Fellaini started up front with both Scwansteiger and Carrick anchoring the midfield, ensuring plenty of possession and good use of the ball. De Gea started his first game of the season between the sticks. Martial was on the bench.
The first half was summerised by wayword passing and purposeless possession. It was the most pedestrian 45 minutes of football you were ever going to see. No flying tackles. United were taking the initiative to Liverpool but they lacked penetration. Plenty of high crosses to feed Fellaini, and that was about it. United backline was rarely troubled.
The second half fared better with Young replacing the disappointing Memphis. He injected pace and United started to string passes together in the opposition's half. A clever free kick left Blind unmarked at the edge of the box after a cutback from Mata. He took it first-time to the keeper's top right-hand corner. One-nil United.
Martial was then introduced for Mata. Carrick released Herrera, who was tackled by Gomez when he was going nowhere in the box. Penalty. Herrera. Roof of the net. Two nil.
Only then Liverpool decided to play. They tested De Gea on a couple of occasions but when the goal came, it was a beauty. It could've won any game of football, bicycle kick executed to perfection. The keeper had no chance. Shame that it was only a consolation, as a couple of minutes after Martial killed the game.
He recieved the ball on the left wing, cut inside, turned Skrtel twice before side-footing inside the far post. First game for United, first goal, and what a goal. He would tell the grandkids one day about the strike.
The fire was still missing at the end of game. There was no flying tackle from either side. None worthy of a debate. The referee never had to consider reaching for his red card. I can imagine Liverpool fans would not be pleased, and it may spell some trouble for Mr Rodgers. United was now second in the league behind the noisy neighbour without hitting top gear ....