Martial set to miss Arsenal game

Anthony Martial was pulled out of the starting line up shortly before the Midtjylland game after pulling up with a hamstring injury.

The young Frenchman was replaced by debutant Marcus Rashford who went on to score two goals helping United into the last 16 of the Europa League.

While the injury is not considered ‘heavy’ by boss, Lois van Gaal, Martial will be rested to prevent doing any further damage to his injury.

This could prove to be a huge loss for United if the likes of Memphis and Rashford don’t put in the same performance they did against Midtjylland. Although, the burden cannot rest too heavily on Rashford’s shoulders.

Read more on the injury here.

Man United 5-1 Midtjylland | Match review

After going a goal down against the run of play early on, United rallied together to brush Midtjylland aside with 5 goals of their own.

Very few people would have predicted this scoreline, particularly with the long list of injuries the team has and with Anthony Martial being added to the list just before kickoff with a hamstring problem. But the team pulled together knowing that a loss at home to Midtjylland would be unacceptable.

It was the visitors who found the back of the net first, in the 28th minute. Against the run of play, Sisto found himself with a bit of space on the edge of the box and easily skipped past Carrick and Blind then slotted the ball past Romero into the bottom left corner. United were now 3-1 down on aggregate and pressure was increasing. But, they reacted very well by dominating possession, getting forward and moving the ball around quickly, as they were before the Midtjylland opener.

It only took a few minutes for United to find an equaliser. On the 32nd minute Memphis ran the ball past the Midtjylland defence to the byline and hit a driven cross along the ground which was met by the boot of Bodurov who directed the ball into his own net. Just before half time, Mata had a chance to put United ahead and level on aggregate from the spot after Herrera was brought down just inside the area but Mata’s penalty was saved by Andersen.

Sisto celebrates scoring Midtjylland's opener (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Sisto celebrates scoring Midtjylland’s opener (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

United did take the lead in the 63rd minute thanks to a goal from youngster Marcus Rashford. The move started with Herrera who floated a cross over to the back post. Mata got on the end of it with a first time cross back across goal. Using his pace, Rashford beat the Midtjylland defenders to the ball and buried the ball into the back of the net. United were now 2-1 up and 3-3 on aggregate.

The game was being played almost entirely in the Midtylland half with United controlling the play and creating lots of chances. On the 75th minute young boy Marcus Rashford got himself on the score sheet again. This time it was Guillermo Varela with the assist. Following some quick, yet patient build up play, Varela hit a cross from the right hand side which dropped to the back post. Rashford found himself in a yard of space and allowed the ball to drop and then slotted the ball under the keeper, putting United 3-1 up and 4-3 ahead on aggregate.

United weren’t ready to stop just yet and on the 88th minute, United were awarded another penalty after a Memphis shot was handled by a Midtjylland defender. This time it was Ander Herrera who stepped up and he made no mistake by rifling the ball into the top left corner. United were now 4-1 up in the game and had a two goal lead on aggregate. It was the breathing space they had been hoping for and I’m sure Louis van Gaal would have zipped up his note pad at this point.

As the fourth official announced the amount of additional time there would be, there was a sense that the game was already finished. United were as good as through and Midtjylland didn’t look like they had the legs to score two goals in as many minutes. But, Memphis wasn’t done yet and he capped off a great performance with a equally great solo goal in the 91st minute. The former PSV player ran at the Midtjylland defence forcing them backwards and when he created a gap he arrowed the ball into the bottom left corner. And that was it. United won 5-1 on the night and 6-3 on aggregate to progress to the next round.

Memphis celebrates his late goal with Herrera (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Memphis celebrates his late goal with Herrera (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

There were a few stand out players in this match and one of those was the young Marcus Rashford. He continuously proved a nuisance for the defenders with his ability to leave them standing with his quick change of pace. His positioning an ability to read the game were also proven with the two goals he scored. No better way to cap off a fine performance than scoring a couple of goals to help secure a place in the next round of the Europa League.

Juan Mata also deserves a mention. Throughout the whole game he put in 110% popping up in all areas of the pitch, linking the play between defenders and attackers, dictating play, winning back possession and getting an assist for Rashford’s first goal.

And we cannot leave out Memphis. He was poor in the first leg and against Shrewsbury Town on Monday he showed signs of improvement and a growing confidence. I said in the Shrewsbury review that he now has a great opportunity to prove himself over the coming weeks with several players out injured and he took his chance very well tonight. He had a very high success rate with take-ons, beating the defenders and getting plenty of shots in. But he wasn’t greedy by just taking shots, he also looked up to see what was going on around him and played a few key passes into the path of runners. We even saw flashes of skill from him which just indicates that his confidence is slowly returning and the goal he scored in injury time was the icing on the cake.

All in all it was a good performance from United. The team played well as a unit and as fans we can be proud of them. They are all under a lot of pressure and together with all the injuries, they need our support.

United’s next game is against Arsenal, on Sunday, at Old Trafford. This will be a real test for Memphis and United as Shrewsbury Town and Midtjylland can’t really be considered as tough opponents, but both games have done the team and Memphis some good in terms of morale and confidence. Hopefully both will carry into the game against Arsenal and we can get a result.

Paul’s Player Ratings – United V Midtjylland:

Romero (6) Was a little flaky with the ball at his feet but was rarely called upon.
Varela (7) Was good getting forward, linking up with Herrera and Lingard and provided an assist for Rashford’s second goal.
Carrick (6) Could have done more to prevent the Midtjylland goal.
Blind (6) Also could have done more to prevent the Midtjylland goal.
Riley (6) Was good going forward, linking up with Memphis.
Schneiderlin (7) A stalwart in the midfield with plenty of interceptions and winning tackles.
Herrera (7) Put in a good shift and scored a penalty.
Lingard (6) Was good going forward but lacked a killer end product often choosing to come backwards.
Mata (8) Dictated play, very high work rate, pressed well winning possession and provided the assist for Rashford’s first goal.
Memphis (9) Used his strength, pace and skill to beat defenders throughout the game, created chances for others and scored a great solo goal.
Rashford (9) Also showed great pace and strength when in possession and scored two strikers goals.

So what did you think of tonight’s game? Are there any players that you thought stood out? Would you rate any of the players differently? Let me know in the comments below.

You can watch the United Stand’s live match reaction with Mark Goldbridge by clicking here or watching below:

Shrewsbury Town 0-3 Man United | Match Review

United cruise comfortably past Shrewsbury Town with a 3-0 victory to set up a quarter final tie, at home, against West Ham United.

This was the first time in the clubs history that United have played Shrewsbury Town and the home team, including their fans, were excited for the occasion. They even fancied their chances of causing an upset based on United’s recent form and who can blame them? But it wasn’t to be thanks to goals from Chris Smalling (right footed volley), Juan Mata (cleverley worked free kick where three United players looked to have been offside) and Jesse Lingard (getting on the end of an Ander Herrera cross).

The win itself is of course something to be happy about as it sends United into the quarter final of the FA Cup, but it’s nothing to write home about considering the opposition. Typically, of a United under van Gaal, they controlled the game from start to finish having an 80% share of the possession in the first half and 75% possession overall. Also, United were reduced to long shots for most of the first half as they failed to find a way to break down a resilient Shrewsbury defence. Something else we have become accustomed to during the van Gaal reign. United did, however, finally make a break through late in the first half when Chris Smalling, staying up front when a cleared corner was played back toward the box, hit a right footed volley past the Shrewsbury keeper. Shortly afterwards, on the stroke of half time, Juan Mata doubled United’s lead from a free Kick that was awarded after Anthony Martial was brought down on the edge of the box when he was through on goal.

Mata scores United's second from a Free Kick (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Mata scores United’s second from a Free Kick (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

For the second half Shrewsbury altered their approach and played further up the pitch. This allowed United to play their game, bringing the attacking players into the fold with some much quicker football. And it didn’t take long for United to get their third goal to seal the win. The goal came from a counter attack that started with Romero. The United keeper released the ball quickly, picking out Herrera who touched the ball on to Mata on the left. At the edge of the box, Mata played the ball back into Herrera who hit a cross to the back post finding Lingard who hit it first time into the back of the net. United then took their foot off the pedal and played possession football very effectively to see the game out.

Despite the 3-0 scoreline it was a very average team performance. I’m finding it difficult to pick out any player who had a particularly impressive game. In my match review for the Midtjylland game on Thursday, I was very critical of Memphis. Today, however, despite a shaky start, he grew into the game and gained confidence; particularly in the second half. He showed glimpses of what he did at PSV by running at defenders, cutting in and getting shots at goal. An extra yard of pace and he will become dangerous again. He also linked up with players very well during attacking moves with some neat one-touch passing. What’s important now is that he carries that into the next game. He has a great opportunity, with Rooney out, to prove himself and build on today’s performance.

Daley Blind in action for United at Shrewsbury (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Daley Blind in action for United at Shrewsbury (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Another player I enjoyed watching was Daley Blind. He makes things happen. Plenty of times tonight he was able to pick out a pass from deep, finding the forward players and at the same time taking several Shrewsbury players out of the game.

Andreas Pereira also made a positive impact coming on as a substitute just after the hour mark. His positioning was on point, making sure he found space off the ball to receive a pass. When he was in possession he moved the ball quickly. He proves a nightmare for defenders with his pass-and-move football which is something United need more of.

So, United did what was expected of them and have progressed to the quarter final of the FA Cup. But the pressure is still on Louis van Gaal with the focus now on the second leg of the Europa League tie at home to Midtylland. The danish team bring to Old Trafford a 2-1 advantage, but United could progress with 1-0 victory having scored an away goal in the first leg. As with tonight’s game, United will be fully expected to win this 2nd leg with the real test being the game against Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday.

What did you make of tonight’s game? Did any players stand out to you? Was the performance good enough? Let me know in the comments below!

Paul’s player ratings – Shrewsbury V United

Romero (6) Kept a clean sheet but was rarely called upon.
Borthwick-Jackson (6) Played the long ball that led to Chris Smalling’s goal but was generally quiet.
Smalling (7) Scored the opening goal and won the majority of aerial battles.
Blind (7) Showed great vision picking out long ground passes into the forward players.
Varela (6) Fairly quiet for most of the game.
Herrera (7) Helped to control the united midfield and provided an assist for Lingard’s goal.
Schneiderlin (6) Helped protect the defense on the rare occasion he needed to.
Lingard (6) Was quiet for most of the game despite scoring.
Mata (7) Scored the free kick and played his part in the build up to Lingard’s goal.
Memphis (6) Poor start to game but grew in confidence in the 2nd half linking up well with other players.
Martial (6) Was isolated as a lone striker with several defenders around him.

Riley (6) Made his debut as a sub an wasn’t afraid to run at defenders.
Keane (6) Came on for Martial, hit the post, then left the field after just 4 minutes after picking up a groin injury.
Pereira (7) Proved a nuisance for the Shrewsbury defenders with his quick movement.

You can also watch The United Stand’s live match reaction with Mark Goldbridge by clicking here or watching below:

Midtjylland 2-1 Man United | Match review

When the draw was made for the first knock out stage of the Europa League, the question on everyone’s mind was, “Who on earth are Midtjylland?”

Well, I’m sure you would have done your research but, for the sake of this blog post, let me give you a very brief reminder.

Midtylland are a Danish club who play in the Danish Superliga and have a stadium capacity of just 12,000. They have played in European cups on several occassions but rarely passed the qualifying or play-off rounds. This season however, they made it to the group stages and despite losing 9-1 over two games against Napoli, they still progressed to the knock out stages.

With that said, you can forgive the majority of people, myself included, for thinking that even with the lengthy injury list, we should still be beating this team comfortably. Oh how wrong I was. How very wrong.

It has been said many times that this is a tournament that United never wanted to be a part of and it really was evident when looking at the players on the pitch tonight. Throughout the whole game none of the players looked like they were interested. There was no fight, no desire, no will to just go and grab the game by the scruff of the neck and sweep Midtjylland aside.

Far too many times there were gaping holes in the middle where you would expect to see Mata or Herrera. Or even Carrick. Anyone with an ounce of awareness! But nothing. No movement, no forward thinking; just stale, uninspired, dribble. And I feel like a scratched record having said this many times already this season.

There were periods in the game where Midtjylland were dominating. Not many, but there were. There was even a period where they were just toying with us. It was embarrassing to watch. Apart from Memphis’ goal – which he was lucky to score – We struggled to create any real chances. Lingard came close near the hour mark when he hit a volley against the cross bar but that was it. Midtjylland on the other hand, forced a few fantastic saves out of Romero. We could have lost that game 3 or 4-1.

Memphis and co celebrate his equaliser (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Memphis and co celebrate his equaliser (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

With Rooney being out injured and Martial moving into the number 9 role, it was a big chance for Memphis to shine and gain some much needed confidence. I was full of hope for him. He has really struggled this season and I was praying that tonight would be his night. But again he was well below par. His decision making was poor; running into defenders, taking too many touches. I’m not going to write him off just yet though. I think that would be unfair. I believe under a new manager next season (assuming LVG won’t be here) he will be given a new lease of life. You never know, maybe we’ll start seeing the Memphis of PSV.

I have singled out Memphis because he is the player I was most excited about when the season started and he is the player who, for me, has the most to prove with his price tag and reputation for scoring goals and giving defenders a nightmare.

The rest of the team cannot get off lightly. Tonight they were all equally as poor. They all worked together to lose this game and they should all take a good long look at themselves. They may not agree with the manager’s philosophy but to show no desire to win is unforgivable. Especially when fans have traveled hundreds of miles and spent hundreds of pounds on tickets, travel and most likely accommodation.

Now, although I openly criticise the players – and I must say this criticism applies not just to tonight’s game but for many, many others – the manager, Louis van Gaal does not help the situation. His “philosophy” on and off the pitch is completely lost on the players. We can all see it and I’m sure he can too. He should now do the decent thing and walk away. Because it sure as hell does not look as though the board are sacking him anytime soon.

An emotionless van Gaal looks detached from the game (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
An emotionless van Gaal looks detached from the game (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Next up for United is Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup and I will not be making the same mistake in thinking we should win comfortably. In fact, in thinking that we will win at all. Never before has my confidence in United been so low and it’s horrible.

I’ll be interested to hear how you guys are feeling right now. Are you just as fed up, frustrated and as disillusioned as I am? Or have you learned to accept such mediocrity and are now just waiting for it to be over so we can start afresh with a new manager and new philosophy? Please comment below.

Also, if you want to hear what Mark Goldbridge thought of the game, watch his match reaction right here, or by watching below.

Thanks for reading!

Javier Hernandez, United’s fox in the box

When Sir Alex Ferguson agreed to sign then unknown Mexican forward Javier Hernandez in the spring of 2010, you could hardly blame some of the United faithful for having their doubts. Untested in the Premier League, only 21 years old and was relatively unheard of. However the little Mexican turned out to be a real clever piece of business by Sir Alex Ferguson, as Hernandez aka Chicharito, went on to play a key role in the clubs historic 19th and 20th Premier League title winning campaigns.

Going into the 2010 World Cup, quite honestly we didn’t know what to expect from Hernandez. Yes we had seen glimpse of him on YouTube, but this would be our first real chance to actually see him up close and live and what better occasion to show your talent than the biggest stage of all, the World Cup. What was to follow exceeded even some of the most optimistic United supporters expectations as Hernandez showed us exactly why Sir Alex had brought him to the club. His finishing for a player so relatively young wasn’t just good, it was outstanding.

It didn’t take long for Hernandez to get off the mark, as he opened up his United account against Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley albeit in rather unusual circumstances, as his shot deflected off his face and into the back of the net. He then followed that up, by netting the all important winner against Valencia in Europe with a superb finish into the bottom corner. Goals then continued to flow against West Brom and Stoke City where he again grabbed the headlines scoring an outrageous backwards header.

It wouldn’t be till early Spring where Hernandez would finally find himself a regular starting place in the Manchester United team ,taking the place of then top scorer Dimitar Berbatov in the side. Doubts at the time were raised given Berbatov was having such a fine season, however Sir Alex’s reasoning for choosing the Mexican over the Bulgarian was more than justified as the forward went on to score crucial goals for the club, from scoring the all important winner at home to Everton, to netting the opener against Chelsea at Old Trafford in May inside the opening minute, as United closed in on another League Title. When the big occasions came calling, Hernandez didn’t go missing, he delivered.

His efforts on the field were rewarded, as Chicartio was named in the running for the PFA Young players of the year award, and was even named in the starting eleven in the European Cup Final against Barcelona. His 20 goals that season made him the first player since Ruud Van Nistelrooy to score 20 goals in a debut season for the club.

His knack of popping up at the right time in the box was becoming a real trade mark for the Mexican. , if you had to pick one player, who you would want the ball to fall to in the box It would be Hernandez. Yes he may not have been technically that great of a player, in fact technically he was awful! but when it came to putting the ball into the back of the net he was sensational, there were few better. It would only be a crying shame that his career faded away here like it did under the reigns of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal.

The following seasons may not have quite hit the heights of his debut campaign ,but his contribution was just as important never the less. Despite narrowly missing out on the Premier League title from arch rivals Manchester City, Hernandez still found himself in amongst the goals scoring 12 in all, popping up when United needed him most, with in particular the stand out moment coming against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge where he headed the ball in from close range rescuing a point for United in a  3-3 draw.

With the introduction of Robin Van Persie in the summer of 2012, it made first team opportunities for the Mexican hard to come by with more often than not finding himself sitting on the substitutes bench, rather than actually starting games from the off. Despite not starting week in week out, Hernandez sill managed to score a mighty impressive 18 goals in all competitions.  including winners against the likes of Newcastle United  and Chelsea as United steamed their way to a record breaking 20th League Title.

The introduction of David Moyes for the 2013/14 campaign, began not only the start of the strikers downfall at the club, but brought the start of the wholes club’s downfall too.  Despite suffering a somewhat nightmare season, the Mexican still managed 9 goals in all competitions. The following campaign under new management in Louis Van Gaal, seen the forward sent on loan to Real Madrid for the remainder of the season before it was finally announced last summer that he would be joining Bayern Leverkusen on a permanent deal.

He may not have been a great, he may not even be remembered by some supporters in years to come, but his contribution to the club should never go unnoticed.

Sunderland 2-1 Man United | Match report

Sunderland pile more misery on United with a 2-1 win at the Stadium of Light.

United have had many games this season where they have under-performed and this was one of those games.

No one player was particularly poor. It was a team effort to lose that game. There was no focus, no concentration and no will to win.

The football was scrappy for the majority and the players didn’t look like they wanted it. It was disgusting to watch. Louis van Gaal will be pleased that this game was not being played at Old Trafford as you can bet your bottom dollar that the fans would have been booing him down the tunnel.

During the course of the game, United had approximately 8 attempts at goal in total. Comparing that to Sunderland, who had approximately 15, jut shows which team wanted the victory more.

Sunderland opened the scoring in the 3rd minute with a Khazri free kick bouncing through the United defence and trickling over the line in bottom far corner. David de Gea saw it late and couldn’t get to it. But you can’t blame him for the goal or even say he should of done better. When you have 20 bodies in front of you, you expect one of your team mates to get something on it.

Man United managed to get an equaliser late in the first half when Mata’s rebounded shot fell to Martial who delicately chipped the ball over the floored Sunderland keeper from a tight angle. Before the goal and the saved shot that came before it, United had only one shot at goal.

The second half saw Sunderland dominate the game, creating lots of chances and having several shots at goal. During this period United grew frustrated and careless, picking up a handful of bookings.

Sunderland took advantage of United’s lack of intent and went on to score the winner in the 82nd minute with a goal from new boy Kone, who got his head on the end of a Sunderland corner.

The loss means that United remain in 5th but could drop to 6th today if West Ham win away at Norwich. The gap could also increase on the top four with all of them in action on Sunday.

Premier League
United remain in 5th but could drop to 6th if West Ham win at Norwich

There isn’t really anything more to say that hasn’t been said already in terms of United’s performances and the current situation we find ourselves in. We just have to ride it out for the rest of the season and hope some personnel changes are made during the summer. I think you all know who I am referring to.

What did you make of the game? Are you fed up to the point where you no longer have any expectations and you are just going through the motions as a fan? Let us know in the comments below.

You can watch the United Stand match reaction by clicking here or watching below:

Will Keane – Is It Time He Got A Chance?

It may or may not have slipped under your radar but, last night, United Under-21s thumped Norwich City 7-0. In an attacking performance which fans have been crying out for the senior side to produce, Andreas Pereira tucked away a penalty whilst young defender Tim Fosu-Mensah also found the back of the net. How about the other five? Well, they were all scored by Will Keane, taking his tally for the Under-21s this season to 10 since he was recalled from his loan spell at Preston North End in January. After an impressive run of form for the second team, is it time that the 23-year-old finally gets his chance in the first team?

Since making his debut for the club in late 2011, Keane has found himself shipped out on loan to no fewer than four different clubs in a bid to ready himself for the vigours of the first team. A short stint at Wigan Athletic was ended prematurely to injury before a six-month loan deal to Queens Park Rangers proved to be equally unsuccessful. Hillsborough was to be his next destination in early 2015, where he found the net on three occasions for Sheffield Wednesday before heading to Preston North End at the beginning of this campaign on a season-long loan deal. His time at Deepdale hardly proved to be prolific, finding the net on two occasions in 22 appearances for the club.

When it was announced that Keane was to have his loan spell at Preston cut short to provide extra cover to Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial in the wake of James Wilson’s loan move to Brighton, it smacked of desperation. In fact, with Adnan Januzaj returning to the club shortly afterwards, the conclusion that many reached was that manager Louis Van Gaal would not be trusted with any money during the January transfer window, a statement that has intensified since the closure of the window after United failed to sign a single player. However, Keane’s form for the Under-21s has done nothing but raise his stock and he could well find himself amongst the substitutes for this weekends game against Sunderland.

Whilst scoring five goals is impressive at any level, it was the nature of the goals which should not go unnoticed. His third goal, assisted by one Memphis Depay, was probably the neatest tap-in you are likely to see, whilst his fourth goal was nothing more than a thing of beauty, chipping the goalkeeper from the edge of the box after some sublime skill.

It is easy to get excited about a prospect from the Under-21s. The level of football down there is nothing compared to the Premier League, and his time away on loan has shown us nothing in terms of his progress. However, perhaps Keane is now willing to knock on the door and show LVG exactly what he has to offer. Keane cannot be judged on his loan spells. After all, one Harry Kane failed to pull up any trees during his temporary time away from Tottenham Hotspur, and it is probably fair to say that he is something of a success now…

Rafael: The highs and lows

You know you must have something special about you when at just age 17 Manchester United come calling. This wasn’t a dream, it was in fact a reality for Rafael Da Silva along with twin brother Fabio, who after impressing at Fluminense joined the biggest football club in the world.

Given Rafael was Brazilian, it was hard not to get excited upon his arrival, flashes of Roberto Carlos and the likes instantly came into my head as the anticipation built ahead of his debut against Peterborough United. You couldn’t blame anyone for being maybe a touch nervous on your United debut, but not Rafael he stole the show, at times making the opposition look almost like school boys. It may have been only have been a friendly against lower league opposition but he looked every bit a real Manchester United player right from the off.

The Brazilian had to wait until the 23rd September against Middleborough in the League Cup for his first senior start for the club, where again he impressed as United cruised to a 3-1 victory. This was a sign of things to come for Rafael as he quickly became a first team regular in the Manchester United starting eleven. It got even better for Rafael as he scored one of the goals of the season against Arsenal at the Emirates, volleying the ball home at an angle into the left hand corner.

His efforts on the field didn’t go unnoticed as Rafael was named in the running for the PFA Young player of the year award only to be beaten by then Aston Villa midfielder Ashley Young and was rewarded with a 2 year contract extension for his magnificent season,  it couldn’t really have gone much better for the Brazilian.

It wasn’t particularly his defensive attributes which stood out, it was his work rate and ability to go forward on the ball which was so eye catching. When he received the ball you expected things to happen and it was only a real crying shame he didn’t build on his superb debut season and become a legend here.

Maybe the expectations were too high, maybe we put too much pressure on him but following season it just wasn’t the same Rafael we had seen flourish so well previously. By no means did he have a bad campaign, but it just didn’t meet the heights of his debut season, we were left wanting more from him. Flaws in Rafael’s game too were starting to creep in. With in particular the stand out moment coming against Bayern Munich at Old Trafford in the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League where in a moment of madness Rafael received two bookings either side of half time and was sent off as United crashed out the Champions league. Many to this day rightly or wrongly still blame for the Brazilian for the clubs exit from the Champions League that season, it was a moment that proved a real turning point in the Brazilians Old Trafford career.

As the following seasons went by Rafael continued to be in and out of the clubs starting eleven with again the same old problems reoccurring. Despite how well Rafael went forward, his defending the other way remained questionable. If you where to ask any United fan hand on heart do you trust Rafael defensively, it would be an unfortunate No, you just couldn’t trust him, especially in the bigger games.

However it wasn’t all doom and gloom, far from it in fact. Rafael went on to play a significant role in the clubs historic 20th league title (2012/13) where he again became a first team regular in the side, with arguably the stand out moment coming against arch rivals Liverpool at Anfield, where he delightfully curled the ball into the far left hand corner giving the goalkeeper all but no chance levelling the game up at 1-1 as United went on to grab a vital 2-1 victory, he followed that up months later and delivered another contender for goal of the season against Queens Park Rangers where he emphatically smashed the ball home. It could be argued that this was just as impressive, if not better than his debut season for the club, he was Brilliant from start to finish.

The Brazilians final seasons at Old Trafford if truth be told turned to be a bit of a non event, much similar to team on the field under the reigns of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal, with Rafael more often than not finding himself on the substitutes bench.

The curtain was finally brought down on his Old Trafford career last summer, where after much speculation it was announced he would be would joining Lyon. It marked the end of an era between the Brazilian and the United faithful.

You cant help but feel given all of his ability and talent he could have been our first choice full back for many years to come, Its only a crying shame that this didn’t happen because we all know deep down it probably should have done.

 

United in £40m swoop for Ighalo

Despite the January transfer window being closed and the summer window a long way off, the rumours refuse to give in and the latest rumour sees United being linked with Watford’s Odion Ighalo.

But is he worth the reported £40m fee? The Nigerian attacking midfielder/centre forward has scored 14 goals in 24 appearances so far this season; more than any United player. And Last season he achieved his best goal tally to date, scoring 20 goals in 35 appearances in the Championship, helping Watford to promotion to the Premier League. So there is no doubting his scoring ability.

Ighalo has also recently admitted to being a United fan. Perhaps that is what sparked the rumours.

Were not reading too much into this at the United Stand. Like yourselves, we are growing tired of all the rumours! But we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t share the rumours with you!

Do you think Ighalo would be a good fit at United? Let us know what you think below.

See Ighalo in action by clicking here or watching below:

Chelsea 1-1 Man United | Match report

Despite their efforts, United were unable to hold their 1-goal lead, as Chelsea score a late equaliser to take a point.

United started the game brightly, dominating possession, getting the ball forward and forcing Chelsea to defend. This continued for 30 minutes before Chelsea settled and got into the game.

Once they did, the home side looked more dangerous on the attack and created the better chances.

In the 29th minute Nemanja Matic got his head on the end of a corner forcing David de Gea to make save a full stretch.

A few minutes later, Oscar almost punished United’s sleeping defence when he it a volley over from 6 yards out.

And then on the stroke of half time, John Terry volleyed at goal but Daley Blind managed to block his shot. There were shouts for handball from the Chelsea players.

United’s only real chance in the first half came from Anthony Martial in the 18th minute. The United winger picked up the ball just outside the box on the left and rifled a shot at goal but, Courtois, at full stretch, tipped the ball round the post.

Anthony Martial rues missed chance (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Anthony Martial rues missed chance (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

United started the second half similar to first. On the front foot, searching for the opening goal.

It almost came in the 50th minute when Anthony Martial skipped past Ivanovic and hit right footed shot at goal, only it went just wide of the near post.

United continued to press in search for that first goal and they eventually got it on the hour mark. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson whipped in a left footed cross with plenty of pace in the direction of Wayne Rooney. The captain touched the ball into the path of Jesse Lingard who controlled with his back to goal, turned and volleyed into the top right corner.

Chelsea reacted positively to the goal by applying some of their own pressure on the United defence.

Chelsea probed and probed for an equaliser but United’s defence held strong, kepping the likes of Hazard, Pedro, Willian and Costa at bay. David de Gea also made two fantastic reaction saves from close range shots by Ivanovic (left footed volley from 6 yards out) and Fabregas (right footed driven shot from 6 yards out).

United looked like they were going to leave Stamford Bridge with all three points but Chelsea did not give up and in the 91st minute Cesc Fabregas played a pass straight through the middle of a packed United defence finding Diego Costa who then only had David de Gea to beat. He hit a shot but Cameron Borthwick-Jackson slid into to block. Costa then hit the rebound into the back of de Gea’s net for the equaliser.

The draw means that United stay 5th but see the gap to fourth increase to 7 points as the teams above win their games over the weekend.

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The question on everyone’s mind now is “Have United still got a chance of reaching top four?”

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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