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.
Mar 3, 2015, 10:05 PM EST
Montreal has ensured that Major League Soccer will have at least one semifinalist in this season’s CONCACAF Champions League after a year out of the final four,
Mar 3, 2015, 9:30 PM EST
Oh MLS: What fun is there in following the narrative?
Mar 3, 2015, 8:40 PM EST
If you’d like your supporters group to be featured on future episodes of ‘I Was There’ simply send pictures/video to @NBCSportsSoccer or NBC Sports Soccer on Twitter on Facebook using the #IWasThere.”
Mar 3, 2015, 7:47 PM EST
Vancouver may be missing that huge, huge name but is solid top-to-bottom.
Mar 3, 2015, 7:00 PM EST
It could be a dark year in Commerce City, but don’t forget that this was a promising young team that floundered last year.
Mar 3, 2015, 6:47 PM EST
The brash Englishman is happy to call the win a turning point for his club, which moves out of the relegation zone for the time being.
Mar 3, 2015, 6:28 PM EST
Videos, recaps, analysis and more from the three PL games during Week 28 on Tuesday.
Mar 3, 2015, 5:53 PM EST
After a late win against Palace ended their goal drought, Saints remain in the top four hunt.
Mar 3, 2015, 5:52 PM EST
The pair of managers had to be separated on the touchline after Poyet angrily approached Bruce, who had been loudly criticizing a dive from Sunderland’s Jack Rodwell.
Mar 3, 2015, 5:17 PM EST
This should be the year TFC breaks its MLS playoffs’ duck. But nothing’s ever certain in Toronto.
Mar 3, 2015, 4:54 PM EST
Villa net late win after PK drama, move out of relegation zone.
Mar 3, 2015, 4:45 PM EST
Relief for Southampton, as Mane’s goal seals crucial win to keep top four hopes alive.
Mar 3, 2015, 4:42 PM EST
The Tigers stay a point ahead of Sunderland. Hull is in 15th place with 27 points.
Mar 3, 2015, 3:45 PM EST
Watch the second half of all three PL games on Tuesday, right here.
Mar 3, 2015, 3:29 PM EST
A referee in Cyprus has come clean, describing an incredibly deep-rooted problem of match-fixing in the country that makes us wonder how prevalent this problem really is.
Mar 3, 2015, 2:35 PM EST
The FA says the finding of “significant new information” has led them to extend the investigation.
Mar 3, 2015, 2:09 PM EST
A massive relegation six-pointer between these two north east rivals. Watch live online, here.
Mar 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EST
Can Villa get their first win under Sherwood in this huge Midlands derby? Watch live online, right here.
Mar 3, 2015, 1:50 PM EST
Can Saints get back to winning ways as old boss Pardew brings Palace to town? Watch live online, here.
Mar 3, 2015, 1:33 PM EST
With just over 72 hours to go until the MLS season kicks off, talks between the league and the Players Union still ongoing.
- WATCH: Incredible 60-yard pass leads Montreal ouster of Pachuca in CONCACAF Champions League 1
- Tuesday’s Premier League roundup: Saints, Villa win; Hull, Sunderland draw 0
- 2015 MLS season preview: Toronto FC 0
- Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion: Late drama hands Sherwood first win (video) 0
- Southampton 1-0 Crystal Palace: Mane’s late goal gets Saints back on track (video) 0
- Update on MLS labor strike: Players Union, league at impasse as situation looks dire 8