My, this is embarrassing. We wait three months – plus those tortuous extra 9 days – for our season to begin, then promptly find ourselves nestled amongst the bottom one teams in the table after being torn apart by a bunch of blasted kids. Thank heavens for the fixture-list and its remaining 37 entries.After studying numerous repeats of last night’s game in infra-red and from all manner of camera angles the crack team of football connoisseurs at AANP Towers have concluded that Man Utd are a bit better than Hearts. This was particularly evident in central midfield, rather inevitably. Poor old Livermore fought the good fight pretty well, but could hardly be said to have grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and given it a ruddy good talking to. Once United stepped up a gear, midway through the second half, they blew us away, those damn red-clad whippersnappers haring all over the place – around us, over us, beneath us, through our legs and from all angles until it was left to Friedel to do his damnedest while they queued up and peppered his goal. “They’re coming out of the walls man, they’re coming out of the goddamn walls”, Friedel would have been forgiven for musing.
Alas, instead of Sigourney Weaver with a double flame-thrower, our midfield was patrolled by Niko Kranjcar. In recent weeks here at AANP Towers I have been doing my best to ignore the Modric tommyrot and instead been bleating on about the virtues of our other Croatian midfielder. Cue a Kranjcar performance that began modestly, with a healthy percentage of misplaced passes, and gradually saw him descend into anonymity. One esteemed Croatian acquaintance of mine today opined that Kranjcar will one day fall asleep on the pitch; a little cruel perhaps, but well as some jolly lazy distribution (he was not alone in committing this particular misdemeanour) he became slower and slower in the chasing of United shadows, eventually running out of steam completely and spending 10 minutes just standing in the centre-circle panting, alongside the similarly wheezy VDV, before being withdrawn by ‘Arry and placed on a ventilator. Two players of dashed good technique, but if we ever consider sticking the pair of them together again in such close proximity in the centre, it might be worth injecting into their blood-streams some Lucozade, or Coke, or whichever Class A drugs the kids are using these days for their afternoon energy boost.
Elsewhere On The Pitch
A cracking performance too from Brad Friedel, despite conceding three. The stats may say he is 40 but one glance at his kindly, wizened visage betrays the fact that he is clearly somewhere closer to 70, and like any good grandfather he has a rather comforting presence. His shot-stopping was excellent, and he seemed to gather the odd corner with none of the fuss and bluster of a Gomes.
Lennon’s exasperatingly poor decision-making (you know the one I mean) and Defoe’s rattling of the woodwork could be rued, but we can hardly complain about the outcome. Our heroes need to get their act together sharpish, but there were first half moments – the odd one-touch passing move, the occasional dart from Bale – to suggest that things will improve soon enough.