Manchester United 0 Chelsea 0: Was That a Match or Training?

27 August 2013

After all the talk, all the hype of a big four clash just 10 days into the Barclays Premier League season, and anticipation of David Moyes first home match as Manchester United manager, the viewing public saw a nil-nil draw where the highlight of the match wasn't the actual match itself. That honor would go to the minutes applause before kickoff for Brian Greenhoff, Ron Davies and Jack Crompton.

It was a game of quarter chances, half chances at best. Not once in this ninety minutes did was there any moment I thought a goal was going to be scored. Ironically enough, the only player on either side that had any consistent attacking intent was Wayne Rooney, who fired off the two best chances of the game when Petr Cech was caught off his line. Chelsea's midfield spent too much time roving around the ground, making short passes with no real purpose. Ramires was the poorest player on the pitch, constantly giving the ball away in advantageous areas for Manchester United. The lone surprise of the match was John Terry, who showed how valuable a defender he still can be on the big stage.

It could be argued that Chelsea's best chance in the entire ninety minutes was a long distance effort from Gary Cahill in the 59th, right before Torres was subbed on. Once Fernando Torres was brought in on the hour, it was obvious that Chelsea were shutting down and daring Manchester United to score. The long balls played into Torres required headers that had to be sent at a minimum 15 yards before another Chelsea player could get to it. That allowed the Manchester United midfield to continually shut down Chelsea's attack. The one time Torres was able to get forward, he lost the ball under his feet trying to elude three United defenders.

I was disappointed in David Moyes. My worst fears of his substitutions bore fruit. In a game that screamed out for Kagawa in the midfield to continually hustle Ramires, and give Manchester United an even better chance to win, Moyes went the conservative route in bringing on Ryan Giggs and Ashley Young. Neither player did anything to give Manchester United any hope of taking all three points. When Ryan Giggs came on in the 78th, I just wanted full time to blow. It was obvious neither manager cared to win. If David Moyes is going to keep his Everton management mentality at Old Trafford in the big matches, his time as manager as Manchester United is going to be shorter than he would like.

In a game that has recently been filled with controversy, there were only two minor ones Monday night. The first came in the 62, when Martin Atkinson questionably denied Manchester United a penalty on a Frank Lampard hand ball. I have seen that call go both ways, and I'd say that was right on the line of being a correct no call. The other came ten minutes later, when Ashley Cole decided to take a dive in the Old Trafford swimming pool, and not be booked for the obvious simulation that it was. It was an embarrassing miss for the referee, who was consistently inconsistent throughout the match.

Chelsea should be happy with 7 points from 8 days' work. They hid their flaws just long enough to sneak a point back to London. Manchester United fans should be furious that their team refused to take matters into their own hands and take three points that Chelsea was inviting them to take. At full time, I honestly didn't know if I just watched a professional football match. I would almost be willing to say I'm not the only one who had that same thought.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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