A few weeks back, I headed to my first United match of the season, a nice novelty of not having too far to do so, a (relatively) short bus journey to Dublin.
This was my third visit to Lansdowne Road since it was redeveloped. My last one was the 2011 UEFA Cup Final, and my trip had two tenuous United links. I walked past Mike Phelan (in his official club suit) outside the ground, and the winning goal was scored by Radamel Falcao. Whatever happened to him?
It also meant that I would be getting to see some football in Dublin in 2017, five days later than I hoped. Oh, have I got a story for you.
The weekend before, I headed to Dublin for an overnight stay on the Friday, see some Street Art, walkabout and see some football.
The football match I planned to take in was UCD v Cabinteely. I went on UCD’s website and knew to get on the number 11 bus, which was 5 minutes away for about 20 minutes.
So, I got on the number 11 bus, and the Driver confirmed this was going to UCD.
However, when I got off, I discovered I was at DCU, a university, not a football ground. It turns out I had got on the bus in the wrong direction.
It was 7.15pm and I had no hope of reaching the 7.45pm, but there was still some footballing hope as Shamrock Rovers v Bohs kicked-off at 8pm.
I got a bus back to the City Centre and hopped on the Luas.
At 8.15pm and 4 or 5 stops away from Tallaght, I decided to admit defeat and head back to Dublin City Centre.
For future reference, i’ll just get a taxi or ask the Bus Driver five times to make sure he is absolutely sure the bus is going in the right direction.
This match represented an opportunity for me to tick Sampdoria off my 102 Club List.
For me, Sampdoria will always be Vialli, Lombardo, Vierchowod, Pagliuca, Gullit, and the iconic red, white and black stripes across that blue shirt. The current team aren’t quite in the same vintage.
The first save of the game came from David De Gea on his own goal line. From a misplaced Daley Blind backpass. It was very Phil Jones.
Sampdoria were awarded an indirect free-kick for the save, which was blocked, United went on the counter attack and Henrykh Mkhitaryan headed home from a Matteo Darmian cross.
It was one of many instances where Darmian found space out on the left hand side.
Mkhitaryan almost got a second headed goal but he was denied by Sampdoria’s keeper.
Romelu Lukaku fired just wide as he endured a frustrating evening. Thankfully, the goals have started to come in time for competitive games against Real Madrid and West Ham.
The second-half was dominated by substitutions as Antonio Valencia was the only United player to complete 90 minutes.
Ander Herrera had a goal disallowed before Sampdoria equalised when a poor clearance fell to Dennis Praet on the edge of the box.
One of those substitutes introduced, Anthony Martial, was the United player making things happen, and it was no surprise that he was involved in United’s winner, setting up Juan Mata to fire home.
Ander Herrera then tried to emulate Paul Scholes goal against Bradford as United searched for a 3rd goal that would secure the win. They didn’t need it as they were comfortable and in control at 2-1.
The match saw Nemanja Matic make his United debut in a ground he will be playing in for Serbia next month in an eventful week where he signed for United and then celebrated his birthday.
He was everywhere. When Sampdoria passed the ball forward, he was usually intercepting it.
I’ve got two trips to Old Trafford planned in 2017-2018, Bournemouth in December and Watford in May.
Hopefully, when I go to see them, United will be in a position where they have built on an encouraging pre-season, especially when I see them face Watford in May 2018.