We’re inviting some of our Twitter friends, and now resident thought sharer Iwan Lenhert, to share some of their ‘Pre and Post Match’ thoughts with us from now on. You can still enjoy my nonsensical, confusing punctuation buffets below their proper good ones…
If there was one thing that had me mightily worried for our club’s future post-SAF last season, it was the lack of fight. Last season against Newcastle United almost exactly a year ago, we lost 3-0 and had nothing to offer in way of response. We looked like we just expected to come back into the game on sheer strength of character or reputation, and it was awful to watch. There were a number of games, especially in Europe, where teams were willing to pressurise us, and we had no answer. With the strength of our ability to keep the ball in the middle of the park dwindling and showing no signs of being properly addressed, the response has been to bolster our attack. This hasn’t changed our opponents mindset; they’re still unafraid to come at us and pick us off at the back, where we continue to look surprisingly weak. But where twelve months ago, we struggled to respond when we fell behind, this term has been founded on a series of come-from-behind victories. It’s been tense, frustrating, exhausting and thoroughly unnecessary. It’s also been bloody wonderful.
We went behind three times on Boxing Day, and responded each time. Newcastle had one of their best performances in weeks, and often ripped us to shreds. On another day at another ground, they would’ve won, and deservedly so. Sammy Ameobi hit the post barely a few minutes before one of the most deadly finishers ever seen at the club grabbed the winner. Forgive me for getting all serious, but if you can endure games like this and still come out on top, then you’re on to something special.
The rest of Europe will rip us apart unless we sure things up, but for now, I’m going to allow a solid basking period after an amazing afternoon that now sees us seven points clear after a player deemed surplus to requirement sat Eastlands stung them in the tail. Ready? And…..BASK.
So, after originally plumping for a 3-1 victory and proclaiming that West Brom would pose a tougher test, God knows what lies in store on Saturday. The Baggies, having had a rubbish start to December, have not only remembered how to score, but also win, which makes for an exceptionally constructive combination. Steve Clarke has taken a decent, solid, hardworking side and made them better at everything. It’s worth remembering that they were the only team to take any points from us at Old Trafford two seasons ago, and after grinding out the grindiest of 1-2 victories at Loftus Road, they’ll be in decent spirits (that’s merely an assumption. I mean, we all assume that most teams get on well when they’re winning and doing well, but are they REALLY?)
Prediction: As long as it’s less aneurysm-inducing than Boxing Day, come what may. My family spent almost two hours watching me regress into a mess of flailing limbs against Newcastle whilst a particularly intense game of Disney Scene It! was on. Less drama, please.
(Bit of a kop out but I’m copying and pasting the same thoughts for the next few games. If anyone I mention gets injured or suspended I’ll get my just desserts) Christmas takes over for me in these coming weeks – I love the festive fixture chaos, but I won’t be paying as much attention as I perhaps might *Gasp!- release the hounds on me!!* As I’ve said, I think we’ll take our foot off the pedal a touch with our six point advantage and City are starting to look like their 2011 selves, so, I think we’ll be about even again by New Year. Having said that I always expect us to win,so how that will actually manifest itself is anyone’s guess.
Fergie has already suggested he’s going to be hitting the rotation button hard and so I can’t imagine we’ll win any games comfortably over Chrimbo. If we keep to similar elevens to the previous two or three games (we need to) then we should get through these games. Fingers crossed.
I really feel like Danny and Chicha will be vital to this period and really hope they can make the impact required when we need them. Hopefully TV will show a bit more (The revolution will be TV-sized), and who knows maybe Ashley Young will hold off the impending stinker for another week.
Steve Clarke and West Brom have been the surprise package of the season so far, but we should have enough – just.