Disappointing, drab, dull, deplorable, dire, dour, disgusting, or any other word beginning with D. United’s performance- if you can call it that- against the non-league minnows of Crawley Town was quite simply -p*ss poor.
Yes, we fielded a virtual reserve side and yes, we won, but that shouldn’t mask the fact that for the thousands of Reds who spent their hard-earned cash to witness such a diabolical display- okay I’ll stop now- its just not good enough. If Roy Keane were still at Old Trafford there’s no doubt his post-match interview would have to be deleted.
Sir Alex has wasted little time in letting all his players -and the media- know that that performance was unnacceptable- even going as far to admit Crawley deserved something from the game. United have always succeeded in the Premier League era due in no small measure to the ability of our second-string players to come into the first team and do a job. Solskjaer, Sheringham, Forlan- don’t forget he actually did play his part- Tevez, Park, there’s along list of United men who’ve struggled to break into the first team but have always done a job when called upon.
Watching some of United’s fringe players embarass both themselves and the club yesterday, I genuinely prayed we didn’t suffer an injury crisis any time soon as there’s a case to be made that some of them didn’t look Championship quality let alone Champion’s League.
I realise some people may think I’m being overly harsh and as I said earlier a win is a win, but in all my years of watching United, i can’t remember a team so many places below us in the League -or non-league if you will, coming to Old Trafford and giving us a real scare- yes I remember the Exeter game, but yesterday for me was actually worse.
So what did we learn from yesterday’s game other than Crawley’s manager looks like he’s auditioning for the part of Widow Twanky in panto?
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5. Obertan. Need I really say more? Everything that was wrong with United’s display yesterday could be summed up by watching the french winger. One fan labeled him the new Ralph Milne, although I’m well aware of Milne’s reputation having never seen him play I can only imagine how bad he was.
Obertan’s perfomance was one of those rarities in that it had nothing postive about it, he can run fast, but unless you’ve got the ability to take the ball with you as you run ,then that trait is pretty useless on a football pitch.
Even his running couldn’t be relied upon as by the end of the game he was struggling to do even that. It was the sort of showing that makes you wonder whether he’s still got a future at Old Trafford- that may sound melodramatic but it really was that bad.
I’ve always thought Obertan had potential, he’s quick and up until yesterday I’ve always considered him fairly skillful. Some of his perfomances for the reserves have been impressive, yet he just doesn’t seem capable of making the step up.
People may comment that even Ronaldo took a few seasons to prove his worth, but the signs were evident early on that he was more than good enough. It’s unfair to compare Obertan to Ronaldo but even if you were to compare him to Nani, it’s the same scenario- Nani took time to find any level of consistency but from early on in his United career the signs were there that he was a talented player. Obertan hasn’t shined at all when he’s been given first team chances and if he were to leave in the Summer I for one wouldn’t be losing any sleep over it.
4. Wes Brown and Fergie have not fallen out. As soon as Wes Brown emerged wearing the captain’s armband, yet another United rumour was immediately put to bed. Over the past few months, it’s been ‘common knowledge down the feathers’ that Brown did something to upset Sir Alex.
The most commonly repeated theory is one of a drunken night on the club’s pre-season tour where the hardest man in all the town, was alledged to have given the gaffer a bit of late night advice. One thing’s for certain though, Sir Alex doesn’t reward players who’ve fallen foul of him, with the skipper’s armband. The likelihood behind Brown’s lack of first-team action is something far less sinister- the emergence of both Rafael and Smalling, plus the gaffer’s preference for John O’Shea. Brown may be the people’s choice over O’Shea but that doesn’t make him Fergie’s and all the theories and conjecture were indeed just that.
3. It’s not all Darron Gibson’s fault. Despite the fact that almost every United player had an afternoon to forget it was every Red’s favourite whipping boy Gibson who seemed to receive yet another barracking from nearly every United fan who could muster breath.
It may not be the most populist view, but I actually think Gibson is a little hard done by and yesterday was a case in point. Some of Gibson’s passing in the first half was sublime and although he faded, he was argaubly the best midfielder in a red shirt. People will label it ‘yet another poor display from Darron Gibson’ -but for me it was one of United’s better ones.
2. Bebe needs time. Unlike his french counterpart Bebe’s lackustre performance can be excused- a little. The step up from the Portuguese thrid tier to Manchester United in a matter of months must be unfathomable for any of us to truly comprehend. Bebe’s treatment by the press upon his arrival in England was nothing short of contemptible- where on to the ‘c’ words now. Name me one other player who’s been crucified by the media to such an extent following a training session? It’s a farce. Bebe may not have lit up Old Trafford since his arrival but to expect a totally unknown entity to come to the biggest club in football and not be somewhat over-awed is ridiculous.
I understand fans may question Sir Alex’s judgement in spending £7 million on a player who seems out of his depth but can we not give the lad at least one season to adjust. Antonio Valencia had three years at Wigan before he was ready for United and I think a loan deal for Bebe in the Summer may not be a bad idea. Get him playing first team football regularly in this country and we may see the real reason why we spent such an amount on him emerge.
1. The FA Cup doesn’t mean a lot to some players. We may have this vision in England that from the shanty towns of Sao Paulo, to the ghetto’s of Johannesburg, there’s thousands of children crowded around transistor radios wating to hear the latest from the third round tie between Brentford and Millwall. However, this idea that the FA Cup is well-known and revered around the world is about as accurate as an Obertan cross.
The FA Cup may mean a lot to the fans, especially those born in or before the 70’s but it isn’t as well thought of or deemed as important by the Champion’s League generation. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who barely escaped being born in the 70’s I still hold the FA Cup in high regard and one of my favourite United memories in the semi-fianl at Wmebley in ’94 when Mark Hughes scored -yet another- stunning volley to equalise in the last minute.
It’s time to face facts though, as Fergie admitted, when the League’s our priority and the Champion’s League is all everyone talks about, convincing certain players that a game against non-league opposition in the FA Cup is just as important as the trip to Marseille must be a tad difficult.
I’m not making excuses, if you wear the United shirt I expect you, nay, I demand that you give your all, but as Sir Alex noted in his post match thoughts: “Maybe some of our players didn’t understand what the FA Cup is like, so it was a lesson for them in that respect. “
For more opinion about United’s match with Crawley and the nature of David and Golliath games check out Zayd Jawad”s excellent article here.