After watching some recent and at times brutal Man United defeats of late (and thoroughly enjoying watching them get thrashed at the derby), I was excited to get up early this morning for Man U v Leicester.
I’ve made no secret of my fondness for Leicester City, in part because of my originally indignant and eventually triumphant support of Ranieri from the first moments of his appointment. Partly because of my adoration for Birmingham City (KRO) and all its successful former players. And since Jack Butland is still out for his ankle and breaking my heart with his absence, I’ve adopted Damarai and his foxes as my second team.
Needless to say, it was a disappointing morning, and I don’t anticipate it growing much better with Stoke v West Brom.
The real question is, can we call this true progress for Manchester United, and what’s the real cause of the great match for Jose’s side?
I don’t think it’s the fact that Rooney was left out – or rather, that it’s not SOLELY because Rooney was left out. He’s an easy fall-guy, and I was really hoping they’d be thumped when they left him out just to try to stop the negativity toward him.
The fact is, he wasn’t the only thing changed about the line-up, and the changes led to a lot of people stepping up, playing better and smarter. Leicester didn’t play poorly (although their set piece defending had a very ugly five minutes), but Man U just gelled so much better today.
I’m not ready to sing dirges for Leicester yet, or to praise a revival of Man U, either. There’s a lot of high-quality teams in the league this season, which wasn’t really the case last season, and I doubt very much that Man U will win the title, or even come in second.
As far as Leicester, I’d be pleased to see them in the top half, and maybe right by Stoke (although I’d be pleased for a Stoke in the Premier League next season, at this point). I’m not naive enough to expect them to be in the Europe slots again, but I suppose I can dream?