Jan 22, 2014, 8:19 PM EST
After a Heimlich maneuver from Javier Hernandez brought Manchester United back from the dead, the Red Devils stepped up to the penalty spot five times at Old Trafford looking to spurn Sunderland.
They gacked four of them.
With David Moyes searching every corner of the Red universe for answers to a season of questions, he found nothing but black yet again.
The night had started with a feeling of new life, as rumors sparkled around Old Trafford that United were on the verge of rescuing Chelsea’s lost man Juan Mata. But it ended with that same empty feeling that’s plagued the home supporters all season, and it was hard to watch.
Now it’s clear that sunken feeling has spread to the dressing room as well.
One of the most embarrassing penalty shootout showings in recent memory showed the public how horribly fragile the mental state of a once-powerful squad has become. All you had to do was watch the penalties attempted by Moyes’ men.
Danny Welbeck missed the top corner horribly, flying over. Phil Jones looked very much like a defender, not testing Vito Mannone. Rafael, another defender, meekly touched well within range of the Sunderland stopper. Even the wonderkid Adnan Januzaj, who has looked like United’s lone bright spot the last few weeks, couldn’t hit confidently enough to pass the keeper.
Plenty of excuses have flown around the last few months for why Moyes has struggled in his first year at Old Trafford, but tonight’s penalty debacle lies squarely with the gaffer.
With nobody on the team on a good run of form aside maybe the Belgian teenager, Moyes decided to pick a pair of defenders to take spot-kicks, while leaving out striker Hernandez and winger Antonio Valencia.
Even if reports that Chicharito injured himself celebrating his last-ditch goal are true, it doesn’t excuse the selection, for which there were a myriad of better combinations.
And let’s not forget, one of the most mentally fragile players on the squad – goalkeeper David De Gea – flubbed the easiest of collections to give Sunderland extra-time hope to begin with
According to WhoScored, its the Spaniard’s first goalkeeping error leading to a score since 2012, a year when rumors of his exit from Old Trafford flew as many claimed his young mind was unable to handle the rigors of the Premier League.
With a team already scratching and clawing for any kind of positive results, Moyes may have broken his players’ mental state beyond repair. It’s possible they seal the deal with Juan Mata, which could certainly provide an injection of creativity they so desperately require.
But at this point, Moyes no longer has a shot at the title, and he must tread carefully or the Scotsman risks falling out of European football entirely.
The red on the world-famous Old Trafford home kit has long since lost its fear factor. Instead, the club is bleeding red, and Moyes must find a way to cauterize the wound now.
Here’s a hint for you David, free of charge: it’s not Phil Jones from the penalty spot.
Jan 26, 2015, 2:59 PM EST
As the soccer world will no longer see the maverick skills of the Argentine playmaker, here’s a look at some of his best moments.
Jan 26, 2015, 2:38 PM EST
Here’s the draw for the last 16 of the FA Cup, as PL big boys get more tough tests.
Jan 26, 2015, 1:57 PM EST
Van Praag announces his intentions to run against Blatter, says he has the backing of five federations.
Jan 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
Betting on five underdogs away from home in the FA Cup will win you serious cash.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:32 PM EST
Fagundez explains why he couldn’t wait any longer to select his national team.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EST
If Wolfsburg can agree a fee for Schurrle, should he leave Stamford Bridge?
Jan 26, 2015, 11:26 AM EST
Carver will take charge for the final 16 games of the season… but what then?
Jan 26, 2015, 9:55 AM EST
Red Bulls attacker heading to Abu Dhabi?
Jan 26, 2015, 9:20 AM EST
The signing of two Venezuelan youngsters could put Real in plenty of trouble with FIFA, as Barcelona-esque transfer ban could be on the cards.
Jan 26, 2015, 8:34 AM EST
The Koreans will face either Australia or the UAE in Saturday’s final in Sydney.
Jan 26, 2015, 8:00 AM EST
All the latest gossip, right here.
Jan 25, 2015, 11:33 PM EST
“I am concerned, not because of Chelsea but because we didn’t score in our last two home games,” Pellegrini said.
Jan 25, 2015, 10:50 PM EST
The 33-year-old Cameroonian striker joins a Sampdoria side currently tied for third in the table with 34 points.
Jan 25, 2015, 10:13 PM EST
“If he’s not ready for Tuesday then he’ll be back, for sure, against West Ham next weekend,” Rodgers said.
Jan 25, 2015, 9:22 PM EST
Maloney turned 32 on Saturday and will be unveiled by Chicago on Monday.
Jan 25, 2015, 8:31 PM EST
Sepp Blatter: Kind of like “The Godfather”. But let’s be clear, we’re talking “The Godfather: Part III”.
Jan 25, 2015, 7:40 PM EST
What else is cooking? Glad you asked.
Jan 25, 2015, 6:30 PM EST
There’s a new top-four team in Spain, while little has changed in Italy, both for good and bad.
Jan 25, 2015, 4:28 PM EST
Two of eight quarterfinals places were clinched on Sunday as the late drama continues at AFCON 2015.
Jan 25, 2015, 2:59 PM EST
A work permit still must be obtained, but Arsenal is on the cusp of securing some defensive depth.
- Head of Dutch FA, Michael van Praag, will challenge Blatter for FIFA presidency 0
- Newcastle United name John Carver head coach until end of 2014-15 season 0
- Transfer ban for Real Madrid? Probe launched after signing of Venezuelan kids 2
- Transfer rumor roundup: Ings to Tottenham Hotspur, Busquets to Manchester United 0
- Rodgers: Sturridge could face Chelsea in League Cup, certain to be back for Saturday vs. West Ham 0
- Sepp Blatter keeps talking trash at UEFA regarding FIFA election 4