There are a number of statistical ways to look at our season so far. On the plus side, we have lost zero games and have the joint, second highest points total in the league. In Dimitar Berbatov we also have the league’s top scorer.
But these don’t explain lacklustre performances to me. They don’t describe the expressions on the player’s faces and they don’t illuminate the conversations that are happening behind closed doors at Old Trafford.
For the first half an hour United were terrific, the fluid attacking play was exactly what you might expect against a team recently from the lower division. Nobody counted on them having more desire than us over the full course of the match and we paid for it. In the end I think we were rather lucky not to lose a game we should have put out of sight before the half-time whistle blew.
The natural instinct is to praise Roberto Di Matteo's side for the execution of their game plan. The fact it was achieved with imagination and skill, rather the elbows and fouls of the Stokes and Blackburns of this league, is to their great credit.
However, that opening flurry from United indicated an enormous gulf in class that we did not see fit to exploit. For all of Albion’s endeavours United still fielded a side capable of hockeying them into next week.
That didn’t happen, and the dropping of points is becoming a bit of a dirty habit for this team. The whole world and his dog knows about Rooney’s woes but the men who set a clean-sheet record not so long ago need to look at themselves. Edwin Van Der Sar looked every one of his forty years and today is the day when being the leagues oldest player can’t feel so good.
Rio is recently back from injury but his much lauded partnership with Vidic is capable of more than this display, they need to improve. There are rumours that Evra is disgruntled and is angling for a move back to France. That seems fairly barmy to me after his antics over the summer but his own goal here was equally nutty so you never know.
Evra and Hernandez are sick of the lies. They're in love and they don't care who knows it. (C) Getty
Back in number-ville, Liverpool’s entry into an Ally McBeal episode over the last couple of weeks has had us all in its grip. The Hicks/Gillet axis was holding out for more money because it thought NESV’s £300m valuation was too short.
I thought the most interesting quote came from Martin Broughton;“Having scoured the globe looking for a buyer these are the ones we found. Therefore this is a true valuation of the club.”
That is the thing with money, it is supposed to represent the value of goods and services within the current market. I truly love United but even I can concede the club is not worth five times more than the Merseysiders and the Glazer’s appraisal of our worth seems even more skewed and demented than usual.
What’s more we’ve recently had the publication of an £80m + loss in the last year’s accounts. As the Liverpool sale moves into the background you can expect much more coverage of United’s position in the press and none of it is going to be easy reading.
Too hard facts seem to be emerging, firstly they are determined not to sell. And secondly, the notion of fans boycotting a match completely seems unlikely. This is why football is such a brilliant industry to exploit I suppose. Fans define themselves by their loyalty and in order to exert power over these owners that is exactly what we need to compromise. The pain of it is excruciating.
The ownership situation is one in which I struggle to do the maths. With regards to the team, I expect Ferguson will get them to pull together and give this season a real go. With regards to us as fans we must do the same, pull together and remain united by the common goal of getting the Glazers out. I am not sure how yet, but I’m sure we’ll do it if we keep the faith.