Manchester United 0 - West Bromwich Albion 1
Wouldn't you bloody believe it. We couldn't beat any of the crap teams around us and we go to an in-form Manure and win it - and deservedly so. Trouble is Darren Moore's appointment is five or six games too late. I said, half jokingly, after the Huddersfield debacle, 'give it to Darren Moore and just tell the players to go out and have a bit of fun'. I'm sure they had fun today, but it was a lot more than that. We were well disciplined, created chances and defended heroically. What a shame today's game almost certainly won't be enough, but at least we have a bit of pride again after a thoroughly miserable season.
Top performers today for me were Foster (two brilliant saves from Lukaku), Hegazi and Dawson (rocks at the back), Jmac (Lively throughout and put in some great crosses), and of course Jrod, who played like he had a heavy load lifted off his shoulders after the unproven racial slurr decision.
Let's hope the remaining four games will be played in the same spirit and that will convince some of our more valuable players to stick around - although a re-tooling of the squad is clearly needed. Some Baggie pride is back!!
This was a brilliant performance from the Albion that included all of our strengths and many of the things we've been missing this season.
I have to say that it's taken a caretaker and a rookie manager to get results out of this squad which I think is damning of the two clowns who were in charge permanently and through the the pride, joy and elation that comes with such a deserved victory is a tinge of anger and frustration that a squad, even with injuries, that can go and win at Anfield and Old Trafford on merit is getting relegated. This shouldn't be happening.
Massive credit to Big Dave - personally I'd have changed the starting lineup to give us more protection but he kept the same 11. It should be noted that this is something Pulis and Pardew never seemed to do but it unquestionably contributes to team cohesion, partnerships over the pitch.
I also thought he go the tactics spot on - the team was reported as 4-4-2 but from the off J-Rod played 15 yards deeper than he has all season, in the attacking midfield role of a 4-5-1. The fact it's taken a rookie coach to play him in what is ostensibly his best position and a role we've neglected to fill in the absence of Chadli and Mozza, and the times we've played Livermore there for example, again reflects poorly on Pardew and Pulis. Rondon was also under instructions to be the last man - bascially they were played together the right way around in the right roles for what feels like the first time this season.
As well as JRod playing that bit deeper, on Matic's toes, Phillips and McClean made the pitch as wide as possible and galloped wide and crossed at every opportunity but also defended really well. They both have their limitations but again this played to their strengths.
So many other things to report we did well - I loved the way we really tried to keep the ball under pressure for most of the match, Brunt and Livermore especially. The way we pressed high and got 'in-yer-face' all over the pitch with agression prevented Utd from getting going.
I loved the way that when we did go long to Rondon, as much as possible J-Rod stood deliberately 10 yardsbehind him for the backwards play-the-way-your-facing-knock-down and our wingers got up the pitch as soon as this happened.
When we broke, there was no half-arsed attempt to do so. JRod, Livermore, Rondon and our wingers charged into tackles on the 2nd ball and then gave it everything to get up the pitch.
In short - the team gave their everything for the shirt and the coaches and they clearly had a plan they all bought into. If only we'd had the same even 5 games ago.
In the first half we probably got lucky with a penalty decsion but apart from that we created the best chances and forced Man Utd to make a change at half time. If we were in a better moment of confidence we might even have scored a couple.
2nd half was more of the same - you could criticise the players for their decision making and quality in really good opportunities on the break but you couldn't fault the effort or tactics.
From about 70 onwards we looked to be running out of steam and I felt for Big Dave because we needed legs but it was so delicately poised that I wasn't sure who we should take off. Anything would be a bit of a gamble.
But from another great break and some lovely positive football we won a corner and from it Jrod nodded home after the ball was nodded back under pressure from Dawson.
From then on the game seemed to take an age to end - there were some heroics and I really didn't get the substitutions other than Yacob for Brunt with a minute to go, but we fought for everything and held on.
The grand inquest and messy summer of change are for another day - you've got to take in and enjoy wins at Old Trafford. We were magnificent to a man and, in Big Dave, it couldn't have happened to a better guy.
I hope we lift the roof off for Big Dave next week.
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