Skip to content

Still flawed, still fabulous, Manchester United comes back again

Jan 5, 2013, 3:10 PM EDT

FBL-ENG-FACUP-WEST HAM-MAN UTD Getty Images

It wasn’t the same level of comeback that spawned our fledgling #FlawedButFabulous meme (that I’m starting right now), but Manchester United was still up to their old tricks today at Upton Park. Though Tom Cleverley claimed the opener against West Ham United, the Red Devils still managed to fall behind. And with a confounding level of predictability, they still managed to come back, Robin van Persie coming off the bench to claim a stoppage time equalizer. The teams will replay their third round tie at Old Trafford after Saturday’s 2-2 draw.

The game exhibited so many of the qualities that make Manchester United the best European soccer’s most entertaining team. Like them or not, the drama crafted from their excellence and shortcomings creates a near-perfect balance of watchability and incredulity. You ask how can a team with this midfield and defense be first in England, but when the game starts, you stop caring. There are always too many goals for too many explicable reasons to turn away from a Manchester United match.

Consider the ones they conceded on Saturday. Joe Cole, making his first appearance since rejoining the Hammers, had a part in both, each time given too much room to get a crosses into the box. And each time, poor marking allowed James Collins to head past David de Gea.

Joe Cole had two assists. James Collins had two goals. Both balls served in from the left. Both headers redirected from around 12 yards out.

They (and their teammates) deserve credit, but these are not the type of things that should happen often against title-contending teams. Against United? It’s become a type of expected surprise.

But this being Manchester United, the 2-1 deficit wasn’t going to stand. Even as the clock struck 90:00 you knew West Ham was unlikely to maintain their lead. So it was that Ryan Giggs launched a perfect long ball from well within his own half right onto the shoelaces of Robin van Persie (one of the best long passes you’ll seen in a long time). And of course, Van Persie takes a perfect touch with the outside of his left foot, brings the ball down for a sharp angle shot, and beats Jussi Jääskeläinen to salvage a result:

Had the 90 minutes that came before been a replay of West Ham versus West Brom, that goal would have justified watching the entire every moment. That it capped the typical Red Devil theatrics only reinforced this double-edged sword they’ve crafted from their season. They are extremely flawed at the back: unable to prevent a double from James Collins; unable to prevent a Joe Cole revival. And they are spellbindingly fabulous in attack, able to contrive a 91st minute goal of the year candidate.

They’re why the Premier League (and today, the FA Cup) is great. They’re also an example of why Premier League is slipping. But on Saturday, they were as advertised: Flawed by fabulous.

Latest Posts
  1. Confirmed: Neil Warnock takes over at Crystal Palace; what will he bring?

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT

    warnock-4361-1879034_478x359

    Eagles swoop to hand former boss his second stint in charge at Selhurst Park.

  2. AC Milan want to sign Chelsea’s Fernando Torres. Should he leave?

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    fernando_torres Getty Images

    Milan want Torres on season-long loan deal. Will the Spaniard move on?

  3. Report: Neil Warnock to be named new Crystal Palace manager

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:18 AM EDT

    Hull City v Sheffield United - FA Cup Semi-Final Getty Images

    Experienced lower league manager set for second stint in charge of Palace.

  4. CONCACAF Champions League Roundup: New York makes victorious debut

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:02 AM EDT

    concacaf champions league logo

    Red Bulls win their full tournament debut, while Club Améric takes a valuable point on the road.

  5. PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings – Whole New World Edition

    Aug 26, 2014, 10:14 PM EDT

    kyle_beckerman_fabian_castillo

    The rankings have had a big four — LA, RSL, Seattle, and Sporting. That group makes way for two new teams at the top of the PRs.

  6. Samuel Eto’o signs two-year deal with Everton

    Aug 26, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 5.16.32 PM

    Three-time Champions League winner adds depth to Roberto Martínez’s attack.

  7. Van Gaal appeals to supporters’ belief after Manchester United’s League Cup loss

    Aug 26, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT

    louis_van_gaal AP

    United boss asks fans to withhold judgment on his team’s disappointing start.

  8. League Cup Roundup: Manchester United embarrassed by Milton Keynes, 4-0

    Aug 26, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT

    jonny_evans Getty Images

    Red Devils hit a new low, with three other Premier League clubs bowing out in the competition’s second round.

  9. UEFA Champions League Roundup: Zenit, Porto through; Celtic sunk by late Maribor goal

    Aug 26, 2014, 5:06 PM EDT

    hulk AP

    BATE Borisov and APOEL Nicosía are also into the group stage, with the five final spots to be decided tomorrow.

  10. Landon Donovan will get U.S. farewell, to be called up to face Ecuador

    Aug 26, 2014, 4:27 PM EDT

    One of Donovan;s finest moments came for the USA at the 2010 World Cup. His last minute goal sent the USMNT through to the last 16. Getty Images

    U.S. Soccer is doing right by its biggest icon. Donovan will be called up for the Oct. 10 game in Connecticut.

  11. PST’s Major League Soccer Player of the Week: New York’s Thierry Henry

    Aug 26, 2014, 4:14 PM EDT

    thierry_henry Getty Images

    For the second time in seven weeks, Thierry Henry takes home our weekly honor.

  12. The danger in Jermaine Jones to New England: perceived league chaos

    Aug 26, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Bv7WpAlIMAER8e9

    Why the Jones to New England move would’ve been a whole lot better with a little more transparency. Or a lot more transparency, if you like.

  13. Jermaine Jones unveiled in New England, quips that “I like to win”

    Aug 26, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    Bv_Aa5AIcAEBfhI

    New England got a whole lot better on Tuesday, and the Revs new Designated Player will immediately cause opposition problems in MLS.

  14. Official: Manchester United breaks transfer record, signs Di Maria

    Aug 26, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT

    Bv-8S8vCcAAWAVe

    Angel Di Maria has cost Manchester United a British transfer record of more than $98 million from Real Madrid.

  15. Fantasyland: Week Two leaders, three names to monitor

    Aug 26, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    There’s still time to join up for a year of Fantasy Premier League fun via Yahoo’s free game, but don’t wait too much longer: the points are getting racked up!

  16. Arsenal, Man United sigh as Benatia heads to Bayern, Manolas to Roma

    Aug 26, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT

    International Champions Cup 2014 - AS Roma v FC Internazionale Milano Getty Images

    Both Kostas Manolas and Mehdi Benatia have been pegged for the Premier League all summer, but the former will head to Roma to take the Bayern-bound latter’s spot.

  17. UEFA Champions League playoff round preview: Oh, those second legs

    Aug 26, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT

    Arsene Wenger AP

    Tuesday and Wednesday bring 10 second legs for 20 clubs hopeful of the group stage windfall and another step toward glory.

  18. Real Madrid rolls out black kits for UEFA Champions League (Is that a dragon?)

    Aug 26, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

    https://twitter.com/realmadriden https://twitter.com/realmadriden

    Real Madrid goes to extremes, with only a touch of pink dotting their UEFA Champions League gear.

  19. Men in Blazers podcast: Spurs, Toffees and Chamakh’s brutal hair

    Aug 26, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

    meninblazers

    The Men in Blazers are back for the second week of the Premier League, roaring through the league with breakneck speed and, dare-we-say, banter (not the Moody/Mackay type).

  20. Lampard joins Gerrard in int’l retirement; Who will man middle for England?

    Aug 26, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT

    England's Frank Lampard shoots at goal during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Moldova at Wembley Stadium in London Reuters

    Injuries to Adam Lallana and Ross Barkley further complicate things for Roy Hodgson with a looming Euro qualifier against Switzerland next month

Featured video

Balotelli will boost Suarez-less Liverpool