Old Trafford – Ouch! – Transfer Windowing Closing

Ouch! I’m still smarting from Saturday’s loss at Old Trafford. On the run of play we were at least a point but we just can’t resist pressing the big red self-destruct button, can we?
Abou Diaby’s headed own goal would have been at absolute peach – if he had scored it at the other end of the park. Without a doubt the best own goal against Arsenal since Lee Dixon lobbed David Seaman from outside the box at Highbury against Coventry City in 1991.
As usual with Arsenal v Manchester United games controversy reigns. For mine Darren Fletcher’s “tackle” on Andrey Arshavin was a tacked on penalty. Karmic revenge for Eduardo’s dive against Celtic perhaps? I’m not so sure about the United penalty. I’ve watched it umpteen times now and still can’t make my mind up.
We can only blame ourselves for the own goal however. What on Earth was Diaby thinking about? There nobody, friend or foe, within 2-3 metres of him. His header was completely unopposed. Dear, oh, dear. We’re really going to have to improve our concentration to stop mistakes like that. Diaby’s own goal capped a frustratingly lackadaisical performance from him. One minute he looks like Patrick Vieira, the next minute Zack Knight. You never know which one is going to show up. Gaël Clichy must also be adversely mentioned in despatches for an indifferent game.
Before moving off the negative aspects of Saturday’s performance, I feel moved to comment on Arsčne Wenger’s remarks both after Saturday against Yoonited and last Wednesday against Celtic. As a coach I have great, great respect for the man. He’s intelligent and articulate too in languages I can’t even speak (I manage just English and Spanish). His semi-hysterical verbal jihad against UEFA’s decision to stick on Eduardo for diving is both wrong-headed and likely to backfire. It may be easy meat in this country to bash UEFA for being a bunch of Brit (or, more precisely English, UEFA’s general secretary is, after all, Scottish) bashing foreigners. That doesn’t make it right.
The regulations in this country allow the FA’s disciplinary authorities to ping a player for misconduct where the referee has failed to detect the offence. UEFA’s regulations are no different. The logic of Arsčne’s position is that just because some burglars aren’t caught and prosecuted it’s unfair that some should be. The instant reaction of all around me in block 112 last Wednesday was that Eduardo had dived. That was confirmed by TV replays. I just can’t see how you can complain if you get caught cheating.
As for Arsčne’s dummy-spitting after being sent from the touchline on Saturday following Robin van Persie’s late “equaliser” being (correctly) ruled offside, I thought he made himself look like a bell-end. I prefer my manager’s to display some dignity. Le Boss lost his on Saturday, playing right into the hands of the lumpen elements of the United support. I love Arsčne Wenger to bits. He’s already a towering figure in the Arsenal pantheon. I just wish he’d act his age and not his shoe size in situations like this. No doubt the officials over-reacted. No doubt Mike Dean’s performance overall was lacking in the game, although far from the worst I’ve seen. No doubt large elements of the Old Trafford crowd were on the manager’s back. That doesn’t excuse acting like a tired and emotional five year old. Grow up mate. We all love you dearly but you’re making yourself and us look like plums.
All that negativity out of the way, I thought we played quite well overall on Saturday. We were ahead of United on the run of play by a good couple of heads.  United aren’t quite the team they were at the moment. I think whoever finishes ahead of Chelsea this season will be champions, at least based on the early running. What’s critical for us now is getting all our players back from international duty with no further injuries and putting up a real show on our return to the north-west in a fortnight to play Manchester City.
This evening sees the transfer window close until the winter New Year window. I have no inside information about player movements in and out but I think it’s more likely than not that we’ll stand pat with what we’ve got. We shall all know soon enough.
Despite Saturday’s setback I remain optimistic for the rest of the season based on the early going.
Keep the faith!

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