Well after the pretty average start to the season, which as I mentioned in my last post, saw us knocked out of the league cup and lose a couple of “should win” games and draw a couple of “should win” games. United were up against a few of the leagues bigger teams and given the way we have played, although I would never say we were underdogs, we were going to have our work cut out!
Our injury situation has improved slightly, however I still don’t think that we can judge our team fairly until we are fully fit and running on all cylinders! Given that, I think we have had quite a good October. The team are playing a more settled yet still very attacking and exciting style of football, Di Maria has settled in beautifully and is a real threat for us, his assists, goals and set pieces show just what a threat he can be! Falcao is still searching for full fitness and working hard to get onto the score sheet (which he did against Everton and I think this confidence boost will really help him and United, that first goal is always vitally important) whilst Janujaz and Fellaini have both been given the opportunity to start and cement a place in the team.
At the back Rojo is getting better each game and gives 110%, whilst Luke Shaw has just returned and very slowly starting to show why we have paid £30m for him, although there’s a long way to go in my eyes until he can justify that price tag! Daley Blind had settled into his holding role as has Herrera (who broke a rib and thus is just coming back into the fold again) and thanks to a very stupid and clumsy moment of madness from captain Wayne Rooney, leading to a long suspension, Juan Mata has been given the chance to show why he should be starting for us.
However the stand-out player for us so far this season up-to and including October, has been David De Gea and without him between the posts making some unbelievable saves, and commanding the fragile 4 in front of him, some of the results could of been alot worse!
Firstly the Everton game where we won 2-1, Everton turned us over twice last year and are a very good, organised team. However Di Maria put us ahead on the half hour mark with a clean strike past Howard and United dominated the first half, however a Luke Shaw fould gave Leigton Baines the chance to score from the spot, only a fine diving save from De Gea stopped the usually reliable Baines from scoring. Naismith did however put the visitors level around the 60 minute mark, again the fragile defence really showed and De Gea had no chance.
United continued to apply pressure when they could and an instinctive and powerful strike from Radamel Falcao gave United the lead shortly after the equaliser. The crowd errupted as Falcao hit the back of the net for the first time in a United shirt….is this the first of many for the Columbian?
The pressure was then firmly on United for the rest of the game with constant attacking drives from Everton. A string of world class saves from De Gea was the only difference between 3 points and 1 or 0 points. It is very important for United to secure his signature for a few more years as this boy can become one of United best keepers along with Schmicheal and Van Der Sar.
Unfortunately we couldn’t carry the momentum through as we played West Brom away, and it was only down to a late (87min) equaliser from Daley Blind – his first Reds goal, who really is showing what a great little player he is, that allowed us to rescue a point. Fellaini had one of his best games in a red shirt and got his first Premier League goal for us, having been a major critic of (in my opinion) the over priced midfielder, it was nice to see him have a good game for us and show that he may just yet have a place in this team. Having said that I believe we were the better team on the day and although we didn’t finish well we created alot, WBA only created 2/3 chances, the difference being, they scored 2 of theirs! With Valencia Sidelined, it was an opportunity for Adnan Janujaz to start, and to be honest, he didn’t really show up. I do rate him though and I think he will grow into this squad with a little run of consistent game time.
Our biggest test of the season was our final October game against Chelsea and the once protoege of Louis Van Gaal’s time at Barcalona – Jose Mourinho. This game would prove to be our toughest test, Chelsea are a good few points clear at the top of the table and playing very good football, as you would expect now Jose has been back for over a season. United looked solid in the first half, we created space and managed to get RVP on the ball quite alot – Angel Di Maria was quite but still provided us with a good set piece. Janujaz and Fellaini both started and to be honest they both played really well. Fellaini did a great job keep Cesc Febregas quite and Janujaz caused Ivanovick a few problems down the right hand flank. The back four had a much better game yet De Gea again had to save brilliantly from a Hazard 1 on 1 to keep United in the game. A quick corner and a bad match up (Drogba > Rafael) lead to the first goal of the game and wit h the amount of set pieces Chelsea had, it wasn’t surprising they scored from a corner!
Luckily the United fans kept the team up and fighting and a second rash challenge form Ivanovick which lead to a red card and a free kick was the climax to a very exciting game. United 1-0 down 90+4 on the clock and a set piece just outside the box. Angel Di Maria fire in a perfect cross, met by the strong head of Fellaini, great save from Courtois, but could only parry out to Robin Van Persie who’s thunderous left foot sent the ball flying into the back of the net! The crowd went crazy and the result felt like a win. The never give up attitude had returned and who knows on another day we may of won that game as we certainly had the chances to do so!
We may not be where we want to be in the league but I have to say, I still think we are getting better and better, the team is growing together and with a fully fit squad, a few goals and the odd clean sheet we are going to be up and fighting around Christmas I’m sure. I for one think we are going in the right direction. Let’s see what next month brings, hopefully starting with a win at City and a few players back to fitness!