It is such a task to be a Manchester United fan right now. It is not their fault, Sir Alex Ferguson got them used to winning trophies on a regular but since he stepped down things have gone South barring Jose Mourinho’s reign (2016-2018) which produced a Europa League and Carling Cup trophy, also add Louis Van Gaal’s FA Cup triumph in 2016. United now struggle to get berths in the Europa League, I mean battle to qualify for the Europa League which is played on Thursdays. A tournament which the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich never get to play in at their worst.
The man in charge, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to field a team filled with youngsters in Man United’s Europa League game against Astana at Old Trafford. I didn’t expect less anyway, I mean it’s Astana what’s their football history. He also had to rest his perceived big boys too, not that they have stepped in the 5 league games played so far and please don’t mention the 4:0 drubbing of Chelsea on the opening day of the season. Personally, the earlier Manchester United are eliminated from the Europa League, the better so they can focus on league football. It is not easy playing every Thursdays and Sundays shuttling Europe like a musician on tour.
Sergio Romero got the nod in goal for the Red Devils as David De Gea was rested after bagging a new 4 year contract making him the highest paid goalkeeper in the world. Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Axel Tuanzebe and Marcos Rojo made up the back 4 with the experienced Nemanja Matic and Fred supporting Angel Gomes in midfield. The attack had the young guns Mason Greenwood and Tahith Chong play on either side of Marcos Rashford to make up the starting XI.
The young Manchester United team played really well but the inexperience was obvious as they fluffed chance after chance. The introduction of Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata for Gomes and Chong however brought more spark and not long after Mason Greenwood who had a fantastic pre-season bagged the lone goal of the match to give United a winning start and send them top of the TABLE. My man of the match has to be United’s center back Axel Tuanzebe, can’t wait to see him become a regular player. The other teams in the group AZ Alkmaar and Partizan played out a 2:2 draw.
Other results of the night saw Arsenal beat German side Eintracht Frankfurt 3:0 on their turf, Lazio lost to CFR Cluj 2:1, Basel annihilated Krasnodar 5:0, Sevilla were 3 nil better than Qarabag, French side Rennes played a 1:1 draw with Celtic, the team I am tipping to win the tourney AS Roma got off to a flying start with a 4:0 win over Basaksehir. Scottish side Rangers beat Feyenoord 1:0, Beskitas lost 4:2 to Slovan Bratislava, English side Wolverhampton Wanderers lost 1 nil at home Braga, Wolfsburg beat Oleksandriya 3:1, Porto narrowly edged Young Boys 2:1, Ludogorets mauled CSKA Moscow 5:1, Gent 3 St. Etienne 2, Espanyol drew with Ferencvaros 1:1.
Borrussia Moenchengladbach lost 4:0 at home to Wolfsberger AC, Standard Liege were 2:0 winners against Guimaraes, PSV 3 Sporting Lisbon 2, Getafe, FC Copenhagen and Dynamo Kyiv beat Trabzonspor, Lugano and Malmo FF 1 nil respectively with APOEL losing 4:3 at home to Dudelange in a thrilling encounter.
Phew that was one hell of a fixture list. Next up for my beloved Manchester United is a trip to London to face a well rested West Ham United.
Have a lovely weekend.
Retelling sports with a goal in mind!!!