It was a game of four quarters rather than two halves. United played the better football in the first ad final quarter while champions-elect Leicester City edging the other two. The visitors came to Old Trafford knowing a win would secure an historic title and one of world’s most unbelievable sporting stories in recent memory. But Ranieri’s men will have been the happier manager to return home with a point meaning only a win for Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge can deny the foxes from clinching the league this weekend.
United had their own priorities. The Red Devils started the game really well, in a similar vein to their opening fifteen minutes against Everton at Wembley. A quick move from Lingard releasing Valencia whose speculative cross from outside of his boot, found Martial unmarked who only had to lay the ball into the net in between the legs of Kasper Schmeichel. United looked like they could score more than one until a set piece goal from leveled things up and swung the momentum in the favor of the visiting side. Shocking defending from United in a set piece which would not be for the first time this season involving Wes Morgan winning an aerial duel inside six yards against Marcos Rojo who failed to make a case for him to prolong his stay in Manchester.
The second half began with Leicester looking determined to punish United on the counter, something they have done to almost all the teams in the league with astonishing success. But Manchester United kept testing Kasper Schmeichel who played a vital role in seeing the game out after making a couple of brilliant saves to deny Lingard and Rooney during the course of the game. From Louis Van Gaal’s perspective, it was another mismanaged game in the season they could have won if he had acted quickly and more decisively. The introduction of Herrera and Mata was far too late to make an impact on the game and the fact that Marcos Rojo was allowed to play the whole game despite his inability to win headers and contain player of the year Riyad Mahrez baffled many in the ground alike as much as it must have baffled the full back himself.
The draw in the end has only delayed Leicester City’s title celebrations but otherwise dealt a firm blow to Manchester United’s aspirations to finish in the top four. Dutchman Louis Van Gaal, did save the best for his post match press conference where he said he reckoned the performance was one of the best in the season, which is questionable and worrying for the supporters as to low the standards have dropped in the last two seasons. An irate Van Gaal said or rather questioned,
“When you see what Huth is doing to Fellaini, that’s a penalty. Shall I grab you by your hair? What is your reaction when I grab your hair? Your hair is shorter than Fellaini but, when I do that, what are you doing then? It’s a reaction. Every human being who is grabbed by the hair, only with sex masochism, then it is allowed but not in other situations. They did it. They did it several times I think. Huth was the guy who grabbed the hair of Fellaini. I think the reaction of Fellaini is like a human being.”
No matter how Van Gaal tries to defend Fellaini’s actions, the Belgian deserves to be punished. And despite the Dutchman’s best efforts to deflect the attention from what was an ordinary performance in a game they had to win to keep their Champions League hopes alive, fact remains that it was again a case of Manchester United falling short at the best of times – given City’s result at Southampton – this must be considered two points lost rather than a point gained – which is more bad news for the fans in a season to forget.
With the chances of finishing in the top four becoming slimmer by the week and another trip to Wembley to be made in what is a repeat of the 1990 cup final, Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United can only hope the result repeats itself likewise and be the lone silver lining in a murky cloud.