United slumped to their second defeat in four days and after a calendar year of ups and downs we start the next year on a low note with a defeat to go with our two best defenders facing lengthy lay offs.
The narrative surrounding much of the fixtures yesterday was regarding ‘new year’ and a look back at the previous year’s made up stats. I say made up as football (and sport in general) is seasonal. Creating stats like ‘Arsenal won 82 points in 2013 – more than any other team – and it won them nothing’ are as pointless as they are incorrect. I think it all started with the Lionel Messi ‘most goals in a calendar year’ stuff last time, which was similarly nonsensical.
New Year or not we can only be disappointed with a return of 0 points from 6 games at the back end of the month and there is a real gap opening up between us and the top 6 sides. David Moyes’ Manchester United continue to badly imitate David Moyes’ Everton sides and we have Man City at home, 2 away games and then the mackems. Interesting times ahead and we could find ourselves stuck in mini league to finish 7th.
Here’s what the papers have been saying:
Evening Chronicle: Lee Ryder is not happy with United once again. He claims Pardew was too cautious with is team selection and bemoans girting the game to a ‘nervous’ West Brom side. The match report is incredibly basic and short. He saves any real analysis for his opinion pieces. You don’t really get much flavour of what actually happened apart from the bare facts.
Lee Ryder, The Chronicle, click here
The Journal: Stuart Rayner is unhappy with United’s festive period saying that after being gifted three points by Stoke United could have no complaints about losing this match. He disagrees with Pardew’s assessment that United ‘controlled the game’ until the sending off. Rayner believes a point would have been undeserved. He believes United were second best and West Brom should have been ahead before the red card and Tiote should have given away a penalty. He comments on a couple of United half chances but his match report reads like West Brom should have scored 5 or 6.
The Shields Gazette: Mile Starforth’s report starts quite strangely with ‘the team lost yesterday’s game against West Bromwich Albion.’ As opening lines goes it’s pretty blunt but his point is that the injuries are more damaging to the club tan the result – though it’s a strange way to begin a match report. The report is actually more balanced and less scathing than the Journal and Chronicle. His angle is that a tight game looked to be going United’s way before the red and even then stood firm until the penalty. A more enjoyable read.
The Guardian: Richard Rae’s match report is a balanced piece again stating that United were holding their own in the game without creating much until the red card. Interestingly (and not unsurprisingly for this paper) he devotes a fair few words to Anelka and the ‘Quinelle’ gesture in the report. The report is written from a significantly ‘West Brom angle’ as Rae is the Midlands football correspondent for the paper, though this doesn’t end up affecting the quality and honesty of the report.
The Independent: You’d be hard pressed to realise that this game has taken place as it’s one of the few not actually featured on the ‘Football’ home page of the website. Local football man Jon Culley writes a West Brom centred match report full of quotes from West Brom caretaker manager about not wanting the job. The rest of the match report states West Brom should have been up before half time, they weren’t, then Debuchy got sent off and West Brom won. Pretty poor stuff.
Jon Culley, The Independent, click here
I think a pattern will emerge of a more critical local press and the nationals focussing on stories or incidents than overall performances. For away games, it’s natural for local correspondents to report distinctly from the angle of their local team. The consensus here was that after weathering a bit of the storm, United looked more likely to take the game going into the last half hour, and West Brom struggled to create against the 10 men. It’s still better than reading reports by National Correspondents (when we’re playing one of the Manchester Clubs or 2 London clubs at the top) when we’re away from home, in which case you’d be hard pressed to find out we actually took part in the game.
Roll on Cardiff and a chance to get back on track.