5 Ups And 2 Downs Of United’s Final Day Qualification
Steady those heartbeats and have a beverage of your choice and relax because the boys have done it. Having been well off the pace in January, one signing changed all and now Ole can celebrate taking his United team into the big time when it looked like an impossibility all those months ago. It wasn’t pretty and it took United’s best friend in a penalty to get over the line against Leicester.
The game was even and if anything, ‘The Foxes’ had the better chances with notable shaky moments from David De Gea. It took United’s secret agent Jonny Evans to contribute to the penalty that was awarded and scored by Bruno Fernandes. Once a red, always a red. The game might not have been won in the dying embers, but Champions League qualification certainly was, long before a surprising Jesse Lingard goal that capped off a weird and wonderful season not just at United but in the world of football.
It wasn’t the most glamorous performance so let’s dive in and digest the ups and downs of this dramatic end to the roller-coaster season.
DOWN – SHAKIN-SPANIARD
Something that is going unmentioned is the possibility that we have just seen the final league game in a United shirt for David De Gea. The likelihood of him leaving is quite remote but with Sheffield United starlet Dean Henderson returning to Manchester, De Gea’s future as the club’s number one is in doubt.
If it was his final performance as number one, it will go down as an average game. He may have kept a clean sheet but there were a few edge of your seat moments when David either spilled the ball to the feet of the league’s top goal scorer Jamie Vardy or watched the ball smash against the crossbar from a looping Demari Gray freekick.
My views on the keeping situation at United is simple. Next season, Ole welcomes Henderson back with open arms, and United begin to ease De Gea out of the team by dropping him for some games in favour of the Englishman. Then towards the second half of the season, Henderson will be a staple of the United team all in time for him to get called up for the delayed European Championship with England. I’m expecting my managerial role at United in the post within the next 3-5 working days.
Note: This won’t be the last time we see De Gea
DOWN – CAPTAIN CALAMITY
Another week, another vacant captain performance from Harry Maguire. At one point in the game, I thought I was watching a game from last season because I thought Harry Maguire was playing for Leicester. His vulnerability matched with the deadly pace and goal scoring talent of Jamie Vardy, I’m surprised United walked away with a clean sheet from that game. As a centre back in this game, poor.
As a captain in this game, empty. For 70 minutes, I remember shouting at Maguire telling him to rally this team together and demand more. Trust me, my neighbours can vouch for how angry Maguire made me as a Manchester United Football Club captain in that game and over the past few months. I hope Ole can see what I and many others can see and changes the captaincy up for next season. Bruno Fernandes is the obvious choice, but Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford or David De Gea would also make for better choices than Maguire.
UP – BEATING ONE SCHMEICHEL AGAINST ANOTHER SCHMEICHEL
If you want a fun drinking game to play whenever Leicester play United, then drink every time Peter Schmeichel gets a mention as Kasper’s father. However, the Danish was mentioned for another reason on Sunday as David De Gea has now broken the clean sheet record at Man United by keeping recording his 113th shutout of his legendary United career.
So, this up may be a bit ill founded as it is an up for his whole United career but on a historic day, I can’t resist praising a keeper who has received stick recently, notable from myself earlier in this article. My ups and downs article, my rules.
UP – VICTOR WIN-DELOF
Earlier, I touched on my disbelief of United keeping a clean sheet with a less than trustworthy Harry Maguire at the back and a shaky De Gea in between the sticks. The reason for this shutout is Victor Lindelof plain and simple. His defensive display was calm when needed and strong when required and caused many a problem for the Leicester attack. Even after the Fernandes penalty, Lindelof remained solid at the back and withstood the constant Foxes pressure.
I’ve always said Lindelof isn’t the centre back we should be questioning and with defensive displays like against Leicester, I feel confident he is the right man to be at the back for the future of United.
UP – PRESSURE FROM 12 YARDS
Daily reminder that Bruno Fernandes is the reason Manchester United will be playing Barcelona and co. next season and not a bunch of WIFI passwords and scrabble bag clubs. Arguably his biggest moment since his January signing was from 12 yards yesterday. Fernandes is no stranger to the penalty spot, but this was by far his biggest goal yet. Knowing the situation before the game, Bruno Fernandes was at extreme pressure in order to take and score that spot kick. Yes, there’s no fans in the stadium so that pressure is lifted but that penalty proved to be the most important of the 14 United have received in the league this season. Props to Bruno for dealing with the pressure from 12 yards.
UP – 528 DAYS
Jesse Lingard last scored in the league when he netted a brace in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game in charge of the Red Devils. That was 528 days ago but Jesse did what only Jesse can do and cap off a unique season by scoring the last goal of the campaign.
We can joke about Lingard and yes, his time at United is down and I believe he knows that too, but his open goal tap in to secure us Champions League qualification put a smile on my face. We know what this club means to Jesse and he has been having some hard times off the pitch and the constant criticism he gets from fans, that goal would be a lot to him.
The likelihood of that being Lingard’s last goal in a United is grand so let’s just thank Jesse for his services and celebrate before we wave goodbye to a servant of the club.
UP – CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BABY!!!!
The biggest up given in the ups and downs article so far as Man United qualify for Champions League having been well off the pace in January. The turnaround of this club and the manager has been unbelievable and while the Fernandes signing was crucial, most players have improved since the turn of the year and have contributed to this club’s remarkable comeback.
Ever since the restart, Manchester United have had their eyes set on Champions League qualification and the joy and relief of having it confirmed is overwhelming. Rivals will laugh at United celebrating third place like it’s a title but in terms of development this was crucial. This could determine the Sancho deal amongst other signings, the future of Ole and maybe help Paul Pogba sign a new contract. It was a must and the boys pulled themselves over the line. The United trajectory back to the top continues as United qualify for the Champions League. COME ON UNITED
Stay Tuned on the site for an ups and downs of the United season. Coming Soon.
What did you make of the final day drama at the King Power? Leave those thoughts below.