Skip to content

Ugly penalty shootout highlights Manchester United’s fragile mental state

Jan 22, 2014, 8:19 PM EDT

ManchesterUnited AP

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.

Mind-boggling.

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.

Latest Posts
  1. MLS Snapshot: Real Salt Lake 5-1 Colorado Rapids

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT

    alvaro_saborio_real_salt_lake AP

    Real Salt Lake demolished the Colorado Rapids, 5-1, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

  2. WATCH: Real Salt Lake nets five consecutive goals to lead Colorado, 5-1

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

    javier_morales AP

    Five consecutive goals have Real Salt Lake ahead of the Colorado Rapids tonight, 5-1.

  3. Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Liverpool

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:52 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund - Pre Season friendly Getty Images

    Preview of West Ham v. Liverpool match on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET this Saturday.

  4. Watch Live: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids (Lineups)

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    Edson Buddle, Nat Borchers AP

    Watch Real Salt Lake encounter the Colorado Rapids live on NBCSN or NBC Sports Live Extra at 10:00 p.m. ET tonight.

  5. Premier League Preview: Aston Villa vs. Arsenal

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Preview of Aston Villa vs. Arsenal match on NBCSN at 10:00 a.m. ET this Saturday.

  6. Pellegrini, Mourinho have different views on Lampard’s Chelsea exit

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT

    41361 Getty Images

    Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hold different rationales about midfielder Frank Lampard’s Stamford Bridge exit this year.

  7. UEFA president Michel Platini to keep gifted watch despite FIFA’s dislike

    Sep 19, 2014, 7:17 PM EDT

    EURO 2016 Steering Committee Meeting Getty Images

    UEFA president Michel Platini doesn’t wish to give into FIFA’s pressure to return a watch gifted to him at the World Cup.

  8. Seattle Sounders ink Nigerian defender Onyekachi Apam

    Sep 19, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

    Olympics+Day+15+Football+57gftmf5b8fl Getty Images

    Seattle Sounders FC have signed Nigerian defender Onyekachi Apam.

  9. WATCH: Coritiba striker Joel vanishes into hole during goal celebration

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Joel+Coritiba+v+Chapecoense+Brasileirao+Series+hdtIomrwmOml Getty Images

    Coritiba striker Joel brought out a one-of-a-kind goal celebration vs. Sao Paolo.

  10. Chicharito admires Sir Alex Ferguson for spearheading “European dream”

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer League Cup AP

    Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has sung the praises of former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who the forward believed was instrumental in getting himself exposure in Europe.

  11. At “massive” Madrid, Bale hails Spurs fans, mentions possible return

    Sep 19, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT

    Gareth Bale, AP

    Gareth Bale could one day return to Tottenham, but his waxing poetic on White Hart Lane is likely nothing more than political fare.

  12. Van Gaal has interest in Ronaldo, doesn’t think Real Madrid will sell

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Of course it’s possible that Louis van Gaal could bring Ronaldo to Manchester United, but he doesn’t believe his current team is interested.

  13. WATCH: Ronaldinho’s brutal PK attempt mars Mexican debut

    Sep 19, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT

    Ronaldinho AP

    How many times in his life has Ronaldinho performed this task with flair (or at least adequately)?

  14. Americans Abroad preview: Guzan looks to keep Villa rolling

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Tim Howard’s stint as No. 1 USMNT backstop may be on hiatus, but the battle of who’s the top American goalkeeper in the Premier League is on

  15. Premier League Preview: Queens Park Rangers vs. Stoke City

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    niko-kranjcar-qpr-stoke-64064-1928575_613x460

    An even rivalry heads to Loftus Road to start its season series on Saturday, kicking off the Premier League weekend.

  16. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 5

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 5, right here.

  17. Awaiting trial on domestic abuse charges, Hope Solo plays on. Fair?

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Mexico v United States Getty Images

    A Washington Post report asks why Hope Solo is being celebrated for her on-field efforts while awaiting the results of her not guilty plea to domestic abuse charges.

  18. Di Vaio seems ready to call time on prolific stint in Montreal, career

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

    Di Vaio

    It’s not about the Impact, the CONCACAF Champions League or the club’s record. For Di Vaio, it’s about home.

  19. Benoit Assou-Ekotto suspended for comments on Anelka quenelle gesture

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT

    Benoit-Assou-Ekotto-tweet-2932591

    Perhaps the investigation took a bit too long, but it seems many athletes did not understand the depths of their joke usage.

Featured video

Breaking down Man City vs. Chelsea