Where has United’s ruthless streak gone?
Saturday's game against West Brom would have been a regulation victory had the Reds taken a fair proportion of the chances created.
I thought the first-half performance was excellent in terms of tempo and United played some lovely pass and move football. But as Sir Alex pointed out in my post-match interview with him, West Brom simply weren’t killed off as they should have been. The Baggies - like Fulham, Everton and very nearly Liverpool before them - were let off the hook and emerged with a point.
Okay, had Nemanja Vidic’s header early in the second half hit the net rather than the post, the contest would have been stone dead. But football being the crazy game it is meant that just a few minutes later the visitors were level. Firstly, West Brom enjoyed the luck of a rather freakish own goal and then they profited from a bad mistake by Edwin van der Sar.
It says much about Edwin's quality that, in the five years he’s been our number one, I can’t recall another mistake like that. In fact, I can barely remember a mistake of any sort. His uncharacteristic error means United have now conceded two or more goals on five occasions this season – it only happened six times in total last season.
On countless occasions in the past the Reds have emerged from tight situations by scoring late goals. Hit by wave after wave of attacks, opposition teams defend deeper and deeper and get hemmed in. Everyone knows a goal is coming and more often that not it does. But on Saturday there was little hint of that, the game just seemed to peter out. In the end West Brom looked as likely to score a third goal as United did, and they deserved their draw.
The great thing about football of course is that there’s always the next game and thank goodness it comes so quickly. A thumping win against Bursaspor might blow a few cobwebs away ahead of the Britannia bombardment we can expect from Stoke on Sunday.