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 7, 2014, 9:44 PM EST
In a sports world full of “business decisions” Bolton has clung to the human component of Stuart Holden, remaining strongly supportive of their player despite the sad fact he could be facing his fourth torn ACL.
Mar 7, 2014, 9:16 PM EST
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Mar 7, 2014, 8:08 PM EST
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Mar 7, 2014, 7:28 PM EST
Looking for yet another reset button, Clint Dempsey will indeed begin the 2014 MLS season with Seattle’s matchday squad.
Mar 7, 2014, 6:34 PM EST
After incidents last weekend, Brek Shea and his teammate have both apologized to fans after lashing out at abusive supporters.
Mar 7, 2014, 5:57 PM EST
PST’s experts weigh in and predict the MLS Cup champs and the final standings:
Mar 7, 2014, 5:44 PM EST
For a year and a half the Ligue 1 side won’t be able to acquire any players.
Mar 7, 2014, 5:13 PM EST
Will the Sounders finally win an MLS Cup in 2014? What will happen to Sigi Schmid if it doesn’t happen?
Mar 7, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
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Mar 7, 2014, 3:40 PM EST
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Mar 7, 2014, 3:08 PM EST
With both newcomers and familiar faces, the 2014 MLS season features a jumble of quality at the front of attacks across the league.
Mar 7, 2014, 2:45 PM EST
Former coach Pia Sundhage, in charge of the USWNT when their streak began, guided Sweden to a 1-0 victory in the Algarve Cup – the USMNT’s first defeat in two years.
Mar 7, 2014, 2:03 PM EST
It once seemed incomprehensible that Leo Messi could leave Barcelona. But is it a possibility?
Mar 7, 2014, 1:15 PM EST
Can Kansas City start their defense of the MLS Cup off on the right foot, grabbing a win at Seattle?
Mar 7, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
When Jonathan Walters converted his match-winner, there was only one song on the Stoke supporters minds: Delilah.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:43 AM EST
The regular MLS referees will be locked out of the weekend’s opening games, meaning the league will turn to qualified replacement officials.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:14 AM EST
The Manchester United manager penned a letter to season ticket holders praising their loyalty and promising the club will be great once more.
Mar 7, 2014, 10:25 AM EST
Juventus insist the midfielder isn’t for sale, but with at least three big names sniffing around, will the Italian giants be tempted?
Mar 7, 2014, 9:40 AM EST
Will either Cardiff or Fulham get the three points they so desperately need?
Mar 7, 2014, 8:43 AM EST
Don’t worry, Leo fans: Messi’s reaction during Argentina’s match against Romania was perfectly normal.
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