United 0 – West Brom 1. It was always going to be emotional evening. After it was announced earlier in the day the sad passing of Rio Ferdinand’s wife Rebecca. Both the United and West Brom fans paid their respects five minutes into the match with a few minutes of applause. Along with echoes of “Rio Rio” being heard from all four corners of the ground. Our thoughts too are with his family. RIP.
Black arm bands were worn by both teams and obviously with the return of Darren Fletcher, even more close thoughts were with Rio’s family. In fact both the captains, Fletcher now of West Brom and Rooney were probably the two players on the pitch that have known him the longest.
Emotions to one side, West Brom was always going to give United a tricky game. Even after a recent defensive blip, where they have conceded ten goals in three league games to Man City, QPR and Leicester. You always know they’ll be tough to beat after getting back to their defensive ways with a seventh clean sheet under Tony Pulis against Liverpool last week. It was going to take United time and they would have to be patient to break down the defensive blockade.
Despite watching the van Persie performances (and goals) in the last two United U21’s games, after his two month lay off, I was still surprised to see him start up top on his own last night. For him to go straight in ahead of Falcao shows to me where van Gaal’s loyalties lie. To be fair to van Persie though, he got good positions and had some half chances. Unfortunately they were all just well defended and came to nothing by the end of the first half.
That’s three defeats and three games without a goal for United now. They had the chance for the latter though but van Persie’s penalty was saved brilliantly by Boaz Myhill in the 74th minute. West Brom by that point were already in the lead though, as ten or so minutes prior to the penalty they’d gone ahead through a massive deflection. Chris Brunt smashed his free kick towards one corner of De Gea’s goal, only for it to cannon off his own teammate Olsson’s calf. Neither Olsson himself or De Gea knew anything about it as the ball flew into the other corner to give them the lead.
More half chances came but nothing apart from a McNair header from a corner was clear cut for United. There was some good, but routine saves by Myhill late on which gave West Brom back to back Old Trafford victories and yet another defeat for The Red Devils.
This is becoming a regular saying now “another tough away game for United next week” as they travel to Crystal Palace. That final Champions League qualification spot between Liverpool and United continues, both of them still with three awkward fixtures to come.