Saturday is still a bitter pill to swallow. Not often does a draw feel so much like a defeat, but the manner with which Arsenal left Old Trafford with a share of the spoils on Saturday afternoon really quite smarts. A last-minute equaliser is never a nice way to lose grip of a win, but what was the reason United allowed the lead to slip? And with the previous two league home games also ending in stalemate, is there something at play beyond Jose Mourinho’s control or is the core of the issue at the feet of the Manchester United manager?
The debate comes from somewhere. An easy answer would be that the side, as it stands, lack the killer touch that is so famously associated with Manchester United. This is very true, and is certainly one of the roots of the issue, but there are certain things players aren’t in control of and that is the performance of the referees. Of course mistakes happen, and once the decision is gone there is absolutely nothing anybody can do about it, but such glaring errors cost points and football matches, they even cost managers their place on the sideline.
Against Stoke, there were no blunders. The downfall of the side was a complete inability to stick the white, round thing in the back of the big, rectangular thing. But against Burnley Matteo Darmian was denied a certain penalty in the first half, and the decision to send Ander Herrera off for a slip was utterly atrocious from Mark Clattenburg. And on Saturday, Andre Marriner was worse. Alexis Sanchez had been booked, a long ball went forward and the Chilean all but caught the ball. Second yellow yes? No. Juan Mata celebrates a goal and he is booked. Antonio Valencia was on the receiving end of nothing short of a rugby tackle and there wasn’t a sniff of a penalty when everyone in possession of eyes could see it was stonewall. And in the closing seconds, Paul Pogba out muscles his man on the byline and lays it back, there was nothing doing until the ball was rolling into the path of his teammate and as it reached him a foul was given.
Jose Mourinho would receive a lengthy ban if he were to point out these glaring errors, and I feel it is violently unfair on him for that to be the case. Saturday was genuinely remarkable, it is unfathomable some of the decisions going against Manchester United. Opposition fans (mostly of scouse persuasion) are delighted as, of course, for years now United have ‘had the referees on their side’, and I know will jeer at this seeming meltdown from myself around the situation. But the reality is it simply isn’t good enough from the officials.
There is absolutely blame to be laid on lady luck, and we fans are well within our rights to bemoan her wicked way of late. But to ignore the other problems at hand is negligent at best, no way should Arsenal have been allowed to be within a shout in a game United dominated. Chances weren’t taken (particularly Marcus Rojo who missed a glorious opportunity) and the defending was poor for the equaliser. And against Burnley the ruthlessness just simply wasn’t there, players seemed scared to score and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was determined to add to a long list of absolute sitters missed. It is becoming concerning, but there is also light at the end of the tunnel. Chances are being created and it is surely just a matter of time before the shackles are cut loose. Now, how’s about a decision or two to help things along? Please?