Manchester United travelled to the Premier League’s worst team needing a win – and left with faces as red as their shirts.
The Red Devils started well enough as Scott McTominay’s eighth-minute strike, helped along by poor goalkeeping from Jonas Lossl, gave them a lead against a long-since relegated side that had mustered just four points from their previous 23 games.
United’s bright start quickly faded and there was little to separate the two sides in a game that for long spells resembled a relegation scrap, with Paul Pogba finding the woodwork and an under-fire David de Gea saving from Karlan Grant.
Then, on the hour, Lossl’s side-winder kick caught Luke Shaw out of position and allowed Isaac Mbenza to slot his first-ever Terriers goal through the legs of De Gea.
Another Pogba effort found the post again and substitute Tahith Chong forced a good stop from Lossl, but not even eight minutes of added time – totted up after Mbenza had destroyed the corner flag in jubilation – was enough to rescue the visitors.
As it was, their soporific display sent their top-four hopes into a permanent sleep.
McTominay and mediocrity
“He’s humble, he wants to learn, yet he doesn’t want headlines or flashes.” So said Jose Mourinho of McTominay, a comment that at the time felt more of a swipe at Pogba than praise for a future Manchester United star. A little more than a year later and only the most blinkered of Pogba fans would jot the £89m man’s name down ahead of McTominay in the starting XI.
Since slipping quietly onto the scene, the Scotland international is sturdy. Solid. Safe. Handy for a team whose default setting is disjointed.
He’s not just a steady Eddy, either. McTominay was first into the box and first back to defend numerous times on Sunday, and was the only player in red to sustain a pass success rate of 90 per cent.
Scott McTominay’s first half vs. Huddersfield by numbers:— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) May 5, 2019
100% final third passes completed
100% defensive aerials won
89% pass accuracy
2 shots (1 on target)
Building on an excellent month. 🙌🏴 pic.twitter.com/rs6xj6rMtE
This is, however, Manchester United. And the opposition was Huddersfield, a team that last won a Premier League game on February 26 and are up there – or rather down there – with 2007/08 Derby as the worst side the division has ever seen.
A 22-year-old showing a bit of passion, nous and end product should be the bare minimum for a club of United’s stature. If he was a Manchester City or Liverpool player, he’d merely be a useful rotational piece.
In truth, the Red Devils’ only ‘silver lining’ – a fairly promising academy product – speaks for how grim the clouds gathered over Old Trafford truly are.
HIS ED’S NOT RIGHT
No amount of money in the world is likely to stitch Alexis Sanchez’s ego back together again. Google ‘biggest flops’ and the Chilean will be on the podium for eternity after prioritising cash over trophies with Manchester City. Still, he could turn the amount of pound notes he’s earned with the Reds into an incredibly comfy supersized mattress.
Based on figures supplied by Der Spiegel, Sanchez has earned approximately £29.5m since performing that ditty on the piano 67 weeks ago. That’s about £1m per start, or £6m per goal.
It wasn’t even as if he played particularly poorly against Huddersfield, certainly not compared to his team-mates. There were a couple of neat touches and darting runs before another issue reared its head to sum up how impossibly short-sighted the decision to throw money at him was.
The 30-year-old hobbled off with an ankle injury early in the second half, one more addition to an assortment of leg-related problems over the past 18 months. Who’d have thought that would happen after being run into the ground by both Arsenal and Chile?
Every time the television broadcast cut to the hapless Ed Woodward, the ‘brains’ behind this operational mishap, you could sense the blood boiling back in the red half of Manchester.
What hope is there with that man in charge?
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