Dear United : A Letter From A Ghanaian Fan
I saw what Ibrahimovic did there, in the 89th minute. Anthony Martial was wide open to his left, but endeavored to play Rashford through on goal to finish. That wide smile on the young man’s face? Yeah I saw it too. It was one massive relief. And boy did he need that. Ever since his brace on his senior debut in the Europa League and against Arsenal at Old Trafford last season, Marcus Rashford has become a player that you and the fans expect to have an amazing future. You have been pretty proud of bringing through promising young talent and nurturing them to become not just icons for the club, but international superstars in years past. There are many out there, myself included, who are just as proud of that reputation and desperate to see Rashford become one of such players. He ended a run of 20 PL app without a goal, 11 starts among the lot. All of his last 3 goals since September came in the FA Cup.
“I feel like Benjamin Button, I was born old and I will die young” — Zlatan
The win at the Stadium of light was pretty much a routine one, the red card shown to Sebastian Larsson also helped. The question I asked myself before this game was “ Surely there was no way the team could complicate things any further against the worse team in the PL this season?” So yeah, I’m willing to bet not many United fans were out there partying well into the night because of this result. The general feeling would have been that of relief, positive momentum to carry into that nail-biting home fixture against the manager’s former employers.
Our last game against Chelsea, a trip to Stamford Bridge ended in a similar result to the first this season. But arguably, it was generally a better performance. The Chelsea fan reception for Jose was a disgrace. Even Moyes who had a plane with a banner calling for his sack flying over Old Trafford got a better reception when he came to town. I fully expect the fans to come out not just for the team but for the manager as well. You could argue that we do not need to make this about the manager but sometimes, it matters. If fans and pundits can argue about when players are playing for the manager or not, then it is fair to suggest that the players need to know that this one is a big one especially for the manager. It would crush Jose if he lost three times in the same season to his former employers who got rid of him only months after winning another championship with them. It may be what it takes to beat Conte’s side because I hate to admit it, they are the better side.
What did I make of Fellaini being captain against Sunderland? Bizarre. If any other manager had done it I’d be questioning their judgement. But this is classic Jose. Fergie used to be associated with playing mind games a lot. But I’ve not seen any manager who does it quite like Jose. Sometimes, I feel the manager constantly has to feel like he is “at war” with somebody to keep going. This is just my observation and opinion, but it's simply unnecessary sometimes. Not to say he is at war with the fans because they do not like Fellaini much or anything, but his show of faith in the player in this instance was a bit over the top and really did not prove anything. There are some fans who legitimately question whether every player in that squad is afforded the same level of tolerance.
I’m going to hold back on criticizing Fellaini for allowing that Anderlecht player to ghost past him and head in that equalizer last night because I must admit, criticism of the player is usually exaggerated these days because of the general dislike among fans. He has been decent in recent games, but he really was at fault for that goal. However, that performance has become expected this season though. Typically, the team failed to capitalize on opportunities and take the game to the opposition when they were in control. As the team huddled together after Mkhitaryan’s goal, I could lip read Ibrahimovic urging his teammates on, “We need to do more! We need to do more!” unfortunately, they did not do more.
Before I sign off, I hope despite my overall frustration at the team’s performances I did not make it a tad obvious I’m not a huge fan of Fellaini. During the week, there was a joke about Fellaini’s (brief) Man United captain record :
- 100% win ratio (Neville 55%, Rooney 56%, Keane 61%, Vidic 63%)
- 100% clean sheet record
- Average 3 goals per game,
CAPTAIN. LEADER. LEGEND.
At least I thought that was funny.
A Ghanaian fan.