Ok want is a bit strong. I don’t like babies. But if he asked after he swooped back in and made us look like a football team again it would be damn churlish to say no.
In the News: As predicted the Red Swarm celebrated our demise in Rome by speculating about the manager jumping ship and hot-footing it back to Italy in the summer. Not even the Daily Fail could find anything contentious after that epic fail about the players though. They were quite obviously ashamed, and contrite. None more so than poor Rudi, who will possibly never ever let a ball go again, no matter how fiercely someone claims it’s theirs behind him after that disaster. Conte shouted at them, a lot. Unsurprising. And the players sucked it up, because they were terrible. Apart from Kenedy who yawned. And Luiz. But let’s not talk about him. As for the Three Wise Men, they spent the week trying to work out who the five greatest strikers ever in the Premiership are. Redknapp included Suarez. If you needed an explanation for why his wife would leave a man so pretty, there you have it. He’s unhinged. Another one of them, Keown I think, put Aguero on a level with Thierry Henry. Sigh. Southgate is still moaning that England players are rubbish, especially Smalling. Having watched him do nothing but hang on to Morata’s shirt today I can accept this, but the fact that this appears to be new to Gareth is disturbing. Plenty of the coverage was of our impending fixture. It was pointed out that every lunatic thing that comes out of Chequebook Pulis’s mouth is suddenly acceptable now he is at United. And he said that “Our” philosophy is not to cry and not to moan. Sorry, I’m just off to laugh into a cushion so I don’t scare the kitten with how amused I am by this fat lie. Oh, and as if Rio trying to be a boxer wasn’t hilarious enough, (though naturally I can’t wait for someone to sanction him get repeatedly hit) Michael Owen is trying to be a jockey. Possibly to be less boring. But he keeps falling off the horse.
The Others: Huddersfield beat Real Pulis to continue their great start to life in the Premiership. Same goes for Brighton, who narrowly defeated Swansea in South Wales. Burnley picked up a slightly surprising three points at Southampton, Stoke drew with Leicester and the Scouse defeated the Pikeys in the Benefit Derby. Arsenal fans were playing Sudoku during their Thursday night game, today they were just hiding under the seats at City. And Wenger had one of his usual delusional rants. Everton managed to come from 2-0 down to beat Watford. Oh and some gits in North London won at Wembley, but nobody cares.
Them: There was a polite reception for some our old boys; more effusive for Matic than it was for the management team that’s migrated up there. Then he forearm smashed Cesc in the throat and he was dead to me. I didn’t care enough to see what happened when they announce Lukaku. There was talk of Pogba being ready, but thankfully we were spared seeing whatever he’s done to his barnet since we last saw him.
Us: There is one first team player that has apparently checked out of the club in the manner of that bog eyed twat Ozil at Arsenal, they just aren’t interested. And there is another who doesn’t particularly want to be at Chelsea either. We don’t need this sh*t. What we needed after Roma was eleven players who were willing to drag themselves off the pitch with their hands at the end of this game if necessary. Christensencame into the centre of the back three. Praise baby Jesus, Dave returned to the right side of it instead of being stuck out on the wing. Zappacosta got the start most of us thought he should have had midweek, Kante, praise Baby Jesus, Joseph, the Virgin Mary, the three wise men, the shepherds and the donkey was fit to start alongside Bakayoko and Cesc moved further up towards Hazard and Morata. I wasn’t interested in what Chequebook Pulis might do to this game. There was every chance it would be insufferable and that we’d get nothing out of it. I didn’t care, I just wanted to see them play out of their skins.
We survived the first 39 seconds. I had the pleasure of sitting with Pepe the Prawn (Muppet alias) today, and he pointed out after one minute and four seconds we had already completed more passes than the whole of the game in Rome. In fact in the first three minutes we managed to survive their first corner and even had a shot on target. What a difference a few days makes. We were up for it, if nothing else. United lucked out when we had a goal chalked off for a push that wouldn’t even have sent my kitten over. We were pinging it about with a lot more confidence than you might have expected after the Italian debacle. There was a sublime ball forward to Zappacosta, but Bakayoko hit it all wrong when he played him in and the ball nearly made it to us in the Shed Upper. He had two other chances in succession too, which were better, but De Gea saved one and the third was blocked. Don’t look now, but we were the better side. We were enjoying a good spell and whenever we came at them United seemed to be a little bit in headless chicken mode. They came up with a single attempt on target in the first half hour when Lukaku curled a ball around Dave but it was saved low by Courtois.
Shortly afterwards Hazard threatened to put fierce long range effort into the net with a world class shot but it was parried by De Gea. The rebound came out but Fabregas could only find the side netting with his impressive forehead. If we were not taking our chances, as Pepe pointed out, we were at least making them; which was better than my nightmare scenario of being tanked by Chequebook Pulis and there being no gin in the Shed to dull the pain. In fact we were doing really well, we had really tightened up in terms of the criminal amount of giving the ball away that we have been doing of late and thanks to the likes ofKante and Bakayoko in particular, we were really effective when it came to taking possession off them. There were plenty of shots as the first half closed out, and no matter what CP tells you, we were categorically on top. George Michael was slightly offline when it came to taking a free header when his marker fell over, a somewhat tame one from Morata bobbled into the hands of some Dr Seuss character manning the United goal. Their defending really wasn’t very good, and Christensen had yet another free header too but it ricocheted off his shoulder as he tried to nod it towards the goal. We’d been good, they had been distinctly average and should have considered themselves lucky not to be behind. Priceless moment of the half? The buoyant chorus of “Mourinho’s right, your fans are sh*te” coming from the home fans. Mocking them with the song that devised to mock us. I couldn’t keep a straight face when they started singing his name. If Henry VIII had sent a Christmas card to the Pope you could not have seen a more blatant and ridiculous display of hypocrisy.
Refwatch: Anthony Taylor had the whistle today. Oh joy. And in the first half he could not tell the difference between a dive and a foul if his life depended on it. He also couldn’t spot an elbow flying into someone’s face. Or a forearm in the throat. 25 minutes in he had wound up the blue faithful to the extent that even the West Lower were screaming at him en masse. Chants of “Who’s the w”nker in the black?” Reverberated. If you are getting rampant, sarcastic applause before the half hour is even out, and the West Stand wants blood, you are not having a good day. It was his usual sh*tstorm of inconsistency. Apply everything I’ve ever said about him in the blog to today. I’m bored of typing the same thing again and again. This man is a f*ckwit. That is not up for debate. His bad days are up there with one of John McClane’s. His good days are the ones when his being a f*ckwit happens to not ruin everyone’s day. This was one of those days. Just. Although if there was any justice in the world he would spend the next Saturday of League action in IKEA with any small children may be related to, not refereeing a football match and getting paid lots to do it.
Chequebook Pulis employed one of his favourite psychological plays by making his team come out late for the second half. As if anyone cared. Actually it gave Morata time to bond with Taylor. In a nice way, not in the way I frequently want to bond a meat cleaver to his shiny head during matches. My favourite ref started the second half in style by outrageously awarding United a corner for putting the ball out of play themselves. Then realised he’d done wrong and fabricated a foul in the box to give it back to us when the common sense fairy whispered in his ear. Oh well, at least he got it right in the end.
United’s halftime team talk was so obvious it was just sad to watch it play out. “Hazard is getting too much space. Kick him.” Even Taylor saw through this and in the opening minutes of the second half the picked up two bookings in two minutes for this tribute to Real Pulis’s Tactical Playbook. United still did not look like a match for us. To be honest not even their counter attacks scared me today. Tame all round. One break led to another, and on 52 minutes the ball went past the face of goal agonisingly with nobody there to stab a foot at it. A minute later in came another. Awesome ball, great shot but just needed to be hit anywhere but straight at De Gea. But we didn’t have to wait long. FIFTH time the assist for Morata has come from Davefor his countryman. Another pinpoint accurate cross, a sublime leap and a cracking header from quite far out that left De Gea for dust. Get. The. F*ck. In. Team lifted, crowd buzzing. Chequebook Pulis with a face like thunder.
Is that 88 minutes on the clock? Said Pepe. Er. No. But nice try. CP didn’t leave it long before ringing the changes. Jones had to go off before the big stupid bellend got sent off, which arguably he could have been before he was yanked out. His replacement? Fellaini the Clown. I predict chaos, legs and arms all over the place and a gormless expression of non-comprehension every time he is pulled up for any of it.
So United had shuffled the pack but Conte was on the ball. The afro appeared and it became apparent that we were going to be watching a tribute to Real Pulis (lumping long balls forward to Fail-laini in a dull display of sh*t on a stick football) so he brought on Rudi to deal with the aerial threat, and shifted Dave up to wingback. (I know, I started hyperventilating at the thought of that last bit too) The changes enabled United to gather themselves, and they looked better for it, but we weren’t under the cosh at this point. Fail-laini was his usual bonkers self – booked for flailing elbows, a complete brain fart that let us in on goal. Luckily for him it was Bakayoko yet again on it. Bless him. I was convinced that at this point, with fifteen minutes to go, it would now be a travesty if we did not win this game. They had done nothing to warrant it, we had remained disciplined and had fought for it. Conte rallied the midfield to try and shut them out by bringing on Danny Drinkwater for Fabregas. They looked more likely to score than at any other point in the afternoon, but equally that meant that they were leaving themselves more susceptible at the back.
Hazard had a shot saved on 75. On 79 another cross flew across the face of goal. There was acrobatics from Cahill on 81, when I dearly hoped that he would score some miracle goal, but the ball ended up in the hands of De Gea. Then it was kitchen sink time for CP. They had three, sometimes four up front but the aim was always the same. Hoof it up to Fail-laini, he will take flight, swing his arms and legs about and try and nut it back down, chaos will ensue in which everyone tries to prevent himself becoming decapitated by his helicopter arms or smashed by his hideous meathead, and his teammates will try and dive on the end of it whilst we try and knock it clear. At one point the clown landed on his face, and as Thibaut walked past him he patted him on the shoulder and it looked like he said one word. I hope it was: “Chump”
Hazard departed (very slowly) for Willian, but as the clock ran out we were sitting very deep and they were trying everything to steal a point, and theft it would have been, daylight robbery. For the first time in the match, in injury time, United seemed to actually have a plan, as ugly as it was. It was frantic, I was panic stricken, but we survived. Even when Fail-laini managed to get a shot off Thibaut was ready and waiting to parry. All of their efforts were in vain, and in fact we could have made it two. Morata was away, played in by Willian, but tried to cut the other way and ended up crumpling to the floor in the box like poor old Torres in the deepest depths of his despair. But then he sprang back up again.
So: I love being right. United have been reeled in. After listening to all the sycophantic b*llocks about them being invincible in the opening weeks of the season they’ve started to drop points when they’ve been forced to play teams not in the bottom half of the table. I think I speak for everyone when I give a huge round of appreciative applause to Lukaku for going to them instead. Sulky, unimaginative, overrated, immobile bullet dodged. Six games without a goal, didn’t even touch the ball once in the box today. Having listened to the media talk about Matic like he’s the second coming of the Messiah we got, for the first time today, to experience the hilarity of being on the receiving end of his giving the ball away every other minute. Joyous. We told them all that would come. What did we learn? That if in tense situations Chequebook Pulis‘s answer is to put all of his stock in chucking Fellaini the Clown up front and hoping that he creates enough carnage for them to be able to put it over the line, he is monumentally f*cked.
So on the way out it was time for Bellend Excuse Bingo – which one would CP go for today? I opted for him ignoring the first 88 minutes and claiming that his was the only side that tried to win it whilst we sat and waited to score on the counter. Nope, he went with the observation that we scored in the only part of the game when we were on top. If you even needed it, there is categorical proof that he spends the boring hours in his hotel room up north on a crack pipe. Unless of course by “only part of the game” he means “everything that wasn’t injury time when actually got in their box.” We had more possession, four times as many shots on target, more than double the attempts they did, more touches and more passes. All of which means he is as mad as a box of frogs. Anyway, f*ck him.
At no point did they deserve to win this match. The whole team put a shift in. Repeat after me: “Gary Cahill played well.” Not even the surly Cahill Brat Pack can have a go today. Well I say that, but presumably they will find some weather front or broken traffic signal to pin on him before they get home. Outstanding save at the last from Thibaut to secure the win. Kante was phenomenal and the difference in Bakayoko (unless he is shooting) when he is alongside his countryman is palpable. My man of the match though, Christensen. What you might not have caught on TV is his infallible discipline as far as positioning was concerned. What was obvious whether it was on screen or live is his composure. Never panicked once. Calm, measured, and dare I say it, on recent showings in terms of temperament the antithesis of the man he came in to replace. Fourth place within a point of second. I’ll take that going into November.
That’s me done now until after my charity walk, which will see me on a plane to Jordan during the West Brom game, in the middle of the desert when we play FC Carrier Bag, all in aid of wounded servicemen and women. It’s not too late to donate – all pennies gratefully appreciated. You can make a contribution by following the link below: