Morning Positive people and it is raining heavily in Norfolk this Monday morning.
Despite that damp start to the week a satisfactory footballing start to the week with our CL qualification to the group stages all but* confirmed by Mr Dean’s final whistle and two games to scrape the point that will place our name in the pot in Nyon on the 5th August.
The game yesterday ? Well having emphasised the ‘special’ nature of the Manc fixture in my comment on Stew’s excellent piece yesterday I sat glumly through the first half, watching what was a long way away from a good game of football. The home side defended deep and solidly, our passing was off target, our threat on De Gea’s goal totally missing. It just seemed our players not communicating as you would expect of a group have played together game after game in recent weeks. I can’t recall Santi knocking so many wrong passes in one half of football. I suspect after all the football he has played this season the man from the Asturias requires a rest.
My congratulations though to Phil Jones for the highlight of the first half pictured above, and provided by the Indy this morning. The boy has a talent for the ridiculous.
Manyoo were not any better during these exchanges and it was surprising that they actually managed to hit the target after half an hour. Not even a bad tackle to spark things up and get the crowd roaring. Barely noticed Dean all afternoon.
Half time came and went and in the opening of the second period the torpor continued, Manyoo hesitant to chase a second, and us not still not clicking into gear.
And then, as so often happens in the mystery that is football, Robin came on at 61 minutes, Radamael waved a wistful paw at the unimpressed Trafford Park tourists for the final time, and we finally came to life. The passes found their target, the Mancs missed tackles and spilled possession. They weakened and we became stronger and more confident. Co-incidence ? The mechanism of cosmic balance for man’s wrongs to be expiated ? The sinister influence of Malaysian gambling interests perhaps ? No idea.
And in that final half hour I thought we were pretty damn good. I sensed a certain tension when RvP arrived and fear among even some stout hearted Positivatas that the bastard would score a second. In truth he was shockingly feeble, barely touched the ball. For us Mesut had been very quiet but was now in space and picking out passes and crosses. Giroud’s battering of the centre backs had drawn blood, Roja and De Gea departed, and we controlled the game as we have not done in a while at their place. For all you Aaron fans out there it was Christmas Day in that final 30 minutes.
The equalizer was inevitable although the part Blackett played was unlucky for the boy, though slightly less unlucky that Kieran Gibbs similar deflection that upset the Ems match for us in November.
Those final 12 minutes or so we pressed, the Mancs covered up and clung on. Flamini arrived and we knew it was a single point rather than the three that would be our reward for the afternoon’s work. Herrera finally got Dean to wave his card in the 94th minute just prior to the final whistle.
And that was that. Some second half quality, not much incident or controversy. A professional performance.
It is just a short step to the Black Cats so enjoy the week.
* touches wood