After spending a pleasant late autumnal Sunday afternoon doing some of those jobs in the garden that need to be done at this time of year, I was looking forward to listening to the radio commentary of our game at Old Trafford. So I came indoors shortly before 4.30 p.m., took my seat in the lounge, and switched on the TV and tuned to Sky. I was going to watch the Southampton v Everton game “live” on Sky with the sound turned down, whilst simultaneously listening to our game on the radio on my i-pad.
I tuned into the normal radio stations, Five Live and Talk Sport, and was surprised that our game wasn’t on either of them. As I was searching for Radio London, who I discovered were actually broadcasting our game, I was initially listening to the commentary of the Southampton game, and heard Charlie Austin scoring a goal in the first minute. Looking up at the TV screen to see the goal I noticed that the players were still in the tunnel!
Then as the players were coming onto the field I heard the commentator telling us they were going to a break, and suggesting that we stay tuned to Sky for the game, finishing with the words “and it’s live”. Well according to the radio the game was already well underway. By the time they kicked off on TV, the game had been going for more than five minutes. The top right hand corner of the screen had the word “live”. How can Sky get away with this?
Anyway, back to the radio commentary. Whilst still waiting for Radio London to kick in on my i-pad, I heard the dreaded words from the commentator at Southampton, “goal at Old Trafford.” Oh no, how can we have conceded this early? As they went over to the reporter at our game, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that we had, in fact, taken the lead. What is more, one of our forwards, Sakho, had scored the goal. This was the first goal scored by a West Ham forward since last May when Sakho opened the scoring in the thrilling last game at Upton Park. It was his third goal against United in four games and his second at Old Trafford. Apparently it was also the second quickest goal that United have ever conceded at home in the Premier League.
I listened as the half wore on and we seemed to be playing quite well. Then, once more, according to the commentator, we conceded a goal because of a defensive mistake. How can we keep doing this? Then, yet another surprise (not)! A Pogba dive after Mark Noble hadn’t touched him, and United’s costliest ever player was booked for simulation. Mourinho did his pieces on the touchline, kicking a water bottle, and was sent off by referee, Moss. If I remember correctly Moss was the referee who sent Mourinho to the stands when we beat Chelsea 2-1 at Upton Park a little over a year ago.
By all accounts we were well worth the draw, despite United doing more attacking and having greater possession, but you would expect this at Old Trafford. Darren Randolph vindicated his selection in goal with some magnificent saves. I look forward to watching the game later on Match of the Day 2.
At the end of the match I had a look at the league table, and had a few “if only” thoughts. How many points would we have had at this stage of the season if we had held on to win games that we were winning? How many points have we dropped? Watford (3 points), Stoke (2 points), Tottenham (3 points), and Man United (2 points). Three of those four games have been in the last three matches we have played. And how many points have we retrieved from a losing position? Just one I think, from the Middlesbrough game.
So despite having what most people would describe as a poor season, the loss of points from a winning position has been crucial. With those ten points we would now be sitting in fifth place in the league with 22 points. Tottenham would be sixth with 21, and Man United seventh with 19.
It is no good really looking back and saying “if only” because we can’t change history and what has happened. It makes you think though. We still have two tough games to come against Arsenal and Liverpool, before a run of four easier (on paper) games to take us up to the end of 2016, and the half way point in the season. Although we have risen to sixteenth in the table, we are still only one point above the drop zone. Every game is vital of course, but the next six games are critical. The table is very compact with only nine points separating Man United in sixth and Hull in eighteenth. Even Swansea and Sunderland have not been tailed off after their recent improved results.
Thirteen league games played now (and only five of them were Saturday 3pm kick offs!) Next Saturday’s game at home to Arsenal is at 5.30 pm, adding to the proportion of games played at a non-traditional time. Now that we have no more international breaks for a while, the games will come thick and fast with the EFL cup quarter final on Wednesday, followed by the six league games mentioned above all taking place in December. Wednesday’s game is “live” on TV. Well they say live but ………….