Louis is smiling. And when Louis is smiling we should all be smiling too. Juan and Ander are smiling, and when they’re smiling I can’t help myself but smile. And maybe shed a teeny tiny tear of joy.
Anyway, everyone is smiling, because United are second in the league and were top for nearly a whole day! Sure, it’s only been two games and people who study the Premier League table before September should be fired from an airlock into the vacuum of space, but it’s been a long time since we stood on top of the world. Let’s enjoy our 100% record. Hurrah. Two wins from two. Two clean sheets to boot, achieved with one centre back who is hopeless in possession of a football and another who is a handsome, weak, slow dwarf. Louis truly is a genius.
Let’s us cast our mind back 12 months to those grey days (I say ‘grey’ because ‘black’ is saved for Captain David Vacant’s poisonous reign of thunderf*ckups) when an injury plagued and unbalanced squad lost at home to Swansea, thus casting a large cloud full of sleet the size of golf-balls over the hollibob I was on the way to the airport to fly out for. United then bought Angel Di Maria and promptly drew at Burnley. After ten games, with only thirteen points to show for some dreadful football, I decided that the ‘don’t look at the table until September’ rule should be extended until March. Louis was not smiling. Louis had suddenly realised that his defenders were injury-prone cretins and that a good portion of his squad would be better off at Rochdale. A year on, most are now at Rochdale, or banished to the Ottoman Empire.
With United finally bothering to buy a midfield, defensively everything looks far more rosy, or as rosy as it can be when you’ve only played Spurs and a Villa team who only met last week and who are still calling everyone they bump in to at Bodymoor Heath ‘Jordan’, as statistically that’s the name of the players they have most chance of meeting. Morgan Schneiderlin has quietly protected the back four whilst, when on the pitch, our Aryan demi-god helps to organise and maintain the shape of the team. As a result the defence is far better protected than it was last year, when the previously mentioned handsome dwarf could be sidestepped and left for dead by a geriatric using a walking frame. It’s all very encouraging. And don’t get me started on the full backs. Not wanting to get carried away at all but Darmian looks to be WORLD CLASS. I repeat, WORLD CLASS. What a novelty to have a complete right back who can both defend and pass. Well knock me down with a feather. And on t’other side a lean looking Luke Shaw offers the potential for the same. He has all the physical attributes to do so, but just needs to work on his end product in the final third of the pitch. But yay.
Returning to the midfield, Carrick has been no more than adequate in the first two games. In both, United have shown signs of losing hold of the midfield. In both off went Carrick and A.N. Other and on came the demi-god and Herrera. This time the latter came in at no.10, a position where it makes a lot of sense to start him, given the in-game tactical changes that he allows the manager to make without using one or more of his often baffling subs. If he doesn’t need to make a sub then it can’t be a weird one. In fairness, the smiling one made the right swaps at Villa and United took back control of a game which had the potential to get a little scary.
Going forward the team still looks inhibited and disjointed. Three shots on target in two games tells its own story. A very, very short story. Like a poem, but one that doesn’t rhyme. More a paragraph. At Villa Park, Depay was finally played on the left, where United concentrated passes which were just a little too long or a little too high. But we got a glimpse of his danger from that position when Mata played an exquisite ball through Villa’s back line which Depay could only side foot wide. That is his best position. He needs to stay there.
On the other side of the pitch everyone’s favourite part-footballer, part-teddybear Juan Mata was combining the sublime with the ridiculous. Cheap ball was surrendered, but twice in the match the Spaniard did stupendous things that made The Angels weep with joy. His pass to Adnan for the winning goal was absolutely disgusting. Filth. Beautiful filth. He makes things happen. If Pedro does sign from Barcelona you have to wonder if he’ll still play. He has to. DON’T ANGER THE GODS LOUIS.
In the middle it was a pleasant surprise to see Adnan included and Ashley Young excluded. He did ok. His goal, and the turn which made it, brought involuntary gasps of wonder and joy from this writer. And probably a Phil Jones face. Fortunately no one was around to see it. Other than that his performance was reasonable, no more. He needs games. Let’s hope he gets them.
Which brings me on to the topic that I’ve been putting off for the last four hundred words or so. The striker. The Captain. Poor against Spurs, his performance against Villa was quite possibly the most shambolic attempt in a forward role I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen Geoff Horsfield play more than once. Rooney did nothing right. In fact, he didn’t even do anything adequately. Think Falcao in his darkest hour and double it. When his biggest defender on social media describes his efforts as ‘sh*te’ you know something is amiss. The question is whether his ability to control a football, pass, head the ball, run and shoot will return, or whether this is a story likely to end in a similar manner to The Tale of the Lame Colombian Wildebeest. One moment in the second half summed up his night. Put through, running into the left hand corner of the penalty area Rooney, attempting to control the ball before shooting, proceeded to head it away from goal before rushing to prevent a goal kick by toeing the ball out for a throw. Was that his ‘Fellaini against Bayern’ moment? The Belgian redeemed himself. Can Wayne?
Regardless, it was negligent of United not to have invested in a new striker before Rooney stunk the joint out. Now, sheesh. I’m sticking to my guns and saying that he will still get twenty goals this season, but that’s because I can never admit I’m wrong, as I’m also demonstrating by insisting to anyone who’ll listen that Chris Smalling will never be an adequate centre back for United. I hope that I’m wrong about the beautiful dwarf playing centre back too, but I’m not sure I will be.
Van Gaal still needs to buy a centre back, and a winger, and a striker and possibly a new goalkeeper, if he, Woodward and De Gea stop their tiff about whether he should be sold and actually do the deed. And quit the ‘he said, he didn’t say” politicking. It’s all very Real Madrid. This has all got very messy when it didn’t need to be. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, which we don’t know, it would be best for all parties if they all just shut up and kept it in-house. Capisce? Then there would be no frowning at all, just smiling.
And smiling is good for all of us. Last season there was definitely not enough smiling. The season before there was no smiling, just spittle. So we should take advantage of this opportunity to smile, like Louis is, because the football may not have been fluid or compelling, but last year we’d have drawn or lost that game and the opener against Spurs. This is progress, slow but sure. With a couple more signings we could make a title challenge. Until that all goes to sh*t we can look at the Premier League table and pretend IT’S OUR YEAR, LA. We’re gonna win the league, we’re gonna win the league……..