2022 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

October was a busy month, right from the very start, heading to Dungannon on the first day of the month to see Linfield get a win at Stangmore Park.

That was followed a few days later by another away day, to a very wet Wilgar Park to see Linfield grind out a 1-0 win over Dundela.

The following night, it was the Ulster Hall to see Beabadoobee in concert.

Back on the road the following Saturday to see Linfield draw with Coleraine.

Then it was back to Ulster Hall to see Paul Weller.

Two days after that, it was Linfield v Glentoran, the less said of that the better.

The following day was a lot more enjoyable, making the most of a football free Saturday to check out Murlough Bay.

Over the next seven days came two Linfield home matches, against Glenavon and Larne.

The following week, I was off to Manchester, my first visit to see Erik Ten Hag’s United in the flesh, against Sheriff Tiraspol.

While I was there, I got some photos from a stroll along a canal, some Street Art (of course) and a walk up Hartshead Pike.

The month ended with a trip to Newry to see Linfield get some much needed three points.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Dundela v Linfield

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield v Larne

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester Canal Walk

Manchester Canal Walk Photo Album

Manchester United v Sheriff Tiraspol

Manchester Untied v Sheriff Tiraspol Photo Album

Hartshead Pike

Hartshead Pike Photo Album

Newry City v Linfield

MANCHESTER UNITED 3-0 SHERIFF TIRASPOL 27.10.2022

First trip to Old Trafford of the season, and my first time seeing Erik Ten Hag’s United in the flesh.

Things were a lot different from my last visit in August 2021 to see United thrash Leeds 5-1, and not in a good way.

It was supposed to be the launchpad to a season of glory, instead it was a false dawn.

Ralf Rangnick became the first United Manager since Ron Atkinson that I never saw one of his teams play in the flesh. You could say that I had a lucky escape.

I was looking at going to Brighton in the first weekend of May this year and trying to blag a ticket for the game at The Amex, having been to Brighton six months earlier.

I went to Edinburgh instead. That was a very very lucky escape, even if I did end up going to a rather drab game between Livingston and St Johnstone.

My first visit to see Ten Hag’s United was always going to be a European game.

One good thing about playing in the UEFA Cup (probably the only good thing) is that Thursday night games are a convenient short break.

This season’s scheduling being all over the place due to the World Cup meant that all the groups had to be wrapped up by early November, which meant the bargains on hotels and flights due to long lead times between draw and fixtures might not be there.

Although, I had to choose what match I wanted to go to.

My first choice was Omonia Nicosia, but I wanted to do a trip from Wednesday to Friday instead of Thursday (the day of the match) to Friday.

The problem with that, was that I was going to a Paul Weller concert the night before the Omonia Nicosia game, so Sheriff Tiraspol it was.

United were as good as through before the match, one point would have sealed the deal, but it was three that they really needed.

A restructuring of the competition gives teams more motivation to win their group, as group winners go straight into the Last 16, while runners-up face a Play-Off against a team that has dropped down from the European Cup.

With United trailing Real Sociedad by three points, they simply couldn’t afford to drop any points if they wanted to avoid that Play-Off Round.

Not that they would be putting their feet up on those two free midweeks, which will probably be used to play the postponed League games against Crystal Palace and Leeds United.

It turned out to be a mostly full strength United line-up.

The only name who might not have been overly familiar was Alejandro Garnacho. By the end of the game, he certainly was.

A highly rated youngster, he was given his first start after a handful of substitute appearances.

He’ll certainly be getting more starts soon on the basis of this performance, making things happen when he got the ball, skinning players for fun and an end product.

There wasn’t long to wait for that prediction, scoring a futile winner away to Real Sociedad.

Unsurprisingly, the early minutes of the game was all United pressure.

Bruno Fernandes had United’s first attempt on goal, curling an effort just wide.

Ronaldo was denied from close range by Sheriff’s keeper making himself big, before later getting down to save a shot from Christian Eriksen.

Of course, if you don’t take your chances, there’s always a risk you can get caught out at the opposite end.

That was what almost happened when a cross came in from the left, perfect for a striker to get on the end of it, but thankfully there was no striker on the end of it.

Just when it looked like being a frustrating half for United, they finally made the breakthrough in the final minute, when Diogo Dalot headed home from a corner.

At the goal I was sitting behind, which was a relief.

The early minutes of the second-half were all about Ronaldo.

Cutting inside and creating a shooting opportunity for himself just like in the old days. Just as you expected to put the ball in the back of the net, the ball went wide.

Soon after, he put the ball in the back of the net, but was denied by an offside flag.

It was Marcus Rashford, on as a half-time sub who wrapped the game up with a header. That was the three points secured, even if the lead wasn;t conclusive, there was no way Sheriff were going to score two. Even one was looking too much.

Ronaldo finally got his goal, only after his header was saved, he was quickest to the rebound to make it 3-0.

Scott McTominay was denied in injury time with a header saved at point blank by the keeper.

Three goals was enough for the three points, now attention turned to the group decider against Real Sociedad.

So, what to make of Erik Ten Hag so far?

Apart from the false start, it’s been good.

United actually playing with some balls and standing up to their detractors.

Let’s just pretend that City game never happened.

The way this season is structured has favoured.

In a normal season, there would have been an International Break after the win at Southampton, then the wins against Leicester City and Arsenal would have been postponed due to The Queen dying.

Game after game allows them to develop, and getting Europe out of the way very quickly has been helpful, although the two extra games in February less so.

Hopefully, they’ll be able to hit the ground running after the World Cup. They’ll have to.

Friendlies in mid December will be helpful to ease themselves back in.

My next scheduled trip to Old Trafford is for the Wolves match in May 2023, all being well.

Old Trafford wasn’t the only ground I visited during my time in the North-West of England.

On my flight in, I saw Edgley Park, University Of Bolton Stadium and Boundary Park from the Sky.

At ground level, I took a day trip to Altrincham and took a nosey to Moss Lane as I wasn’t far from it, and I saw Seel Park, home of Mossley when I walked up Hartshead Pike.

You can read about that walk on the next blog.

As you will have read on my previous blog, I went on a Canal Walk that led me to the City Of Manchester Stadium.

I was hoping to try and take in a game on the free Wednesday night I was there.

Annoyingly, Altrincham were playing Oldham on the Tuesday night I was there.

Sheffield Wednesday were at home. It was doable, but an early flight, checking in, it would have been only a brief visit to Sheffield, and Sheffield is a city that deserves a full day visit.

It’s easy to forget, I was there to see United.

Let’s hope things will continue to be going upwards when I hopefully visit to see them play Wolves in May.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

August’s football watching began with Linfield in Europe. Yay, but not for long after defeat to Fola Esch.

The following week, I was at Old Trafford for the first time since January 2020 to see United take on Leeds.

Finally, the new Irish League season began at the end of the month, with Linfield taking on Crusaders.

Linfield v Fola Esch

Manchester United v Leeds United

Manchester United v Leeds United Photo Album

Linfield v Crusaders

2021 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August is usually a busy month. It didn’t have a trip to Edinburgh as usual, but it did have a trip to Manchester to see United take on Leeds, and of course, get some Street Art pictures.

The week before that, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Fola Esch in the Euro Conference League. The less said about that the better.

Towards the end of the month, I took in another trip, this time to County Wicklow, getting pictures of the Bray To Greystones Walk, Bray Head, Bray Harbour and of Street Art in Dun Laoghaire.

On the final Saturday of the month, I was back in Irish League watching mode, seeing Linfield take on Crusaders at Windsor Park on the opening day of the season.

Linfield v Fola Esch

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Leeds United

Manchester United v Leeds United Photo Album

Bray To Greystones Walk

Bray To Greystones Walk Photo Album

Bray Head

Bray Head

Bray Head Photo Album

Bray Harbour

Bray Harbour Photo Album

Dun Laoghaire Street Art

Dun Laoghaire Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Crusaders

MANCHESTER UNITED 5-1 LEEDS UNITED 14.8.2021

I had resigned myself that 2021 would be the first year since 1992 that I wouldn’t visit Old Trafford, but the opportunity to take in the opening game of the season against Leeds United came up, so I went for it, even though I did have anxieties about attending such a large scale event.

A lot of things have changed since my last visit to Old Trafford in January 2020, a 2-0 defeat to Burnley. It was grim.

My recent United watching record isn’t great, with two defeats in my last three visits to Old Trafford, and just one win in four under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

He’d won every match in charge before I turned up against Burnley in January 2019. Don’t look at me as it it’s all my fault.

Things were to change a week after that Burnley with the signing of Bruno Fernandes. It’s not just his footballing ability, but his character, which has driven United forward.

That is what United have needed, a bit of balls and a bit of arrogance. In 2017-2018, they beat every side in the Premier League, then beat Juventus and PSG the following season, yet still seemed inhibited, allowing themselves to be gaslighted by Scouse Journalists that they were a club in crisis, a club in decline.

Liverpool were scraping 4th on the last day of the season, but sticking slogans on buses and acting like they’ve won The Treble every year for a decade.

It’s amazing what a positive mental attitude can do. It’s felt like at times that teams have been scared of Liverpool and Manchester City.

United needed to issue a few thrashings early in the season, although a 1-0 lead would have sufficed in this fixture.

This wouldn’t be my first time seeing Leeds at Old Trafford. Curiously, the previous time i’d taken in this fixture, it was on Saturday 14th August as well, in 1999.

Back then, David O’Leary’s young team were going to be the team were going to be the Team Of The 21st Century, taking on the newly crowned Treble winners.

That game too was a lunchtime kick-off, although I only found that out when I got my ticket the day before. It was moved on Police advice, as it wasn’t broadcast live in the UK, so i’d assumed it would be 3pm.

Leeds were actually the better team but it was two quickfire goals from Dwight Yorke that secured the points for the home side on a day which saw both sunshine and torrential rain.

This would be my first time seeing Bruno Fernandes in the flesh, but it wouldn’t be my first time seeing Edinson Cavani in a United shirt, with a late return after the Copa America and Quarantine ruling him out.

There would be no new signings in United’s starting eleven, beginning with players who were at the club last season.

Just before kick-off, Raphael Varane walked out onto the pitch to introduce himself to United fans, his transfer now being officially official.

You can’t be too sure. I was there when Ruud Van Nistelrooy was unveiled as a United player, only for concerns to be raised about his knee during a medical which caused United to pull out of a transfer. Although, it was all eventually sorted a year later.

At least Varane didn’t go out in a tracksuit top and shorts, juggling a football like Michael Knighton.

Involvement in England’s Euro 2021 campaign meant that Jadon Sancho had to make do with a place on the bench alongside Tom Heaton. It just would have been rude not to mention Tom Heaton amongst United’s Summer signings.

Inside the first couple of minutes, Scott McTominay burst forward and had a shot saved, obviously determined to repeat his early double in this fixture last season.

United’s biggest attacking threat in the early stages was Mason Greenwood, usually involved in everything, being available for a pass, and scaring Leeds defenders by running them. A few shots easily saved was a warning.

Greenwood was one of three Yorkshire born players in United’s starting eleven. They all seemed especially up for it, typified by Dan James going in for a crunching tackle inside the first five minutes.

United’s early pressure looked like it was going to be rewarded when Paul Pogba was played through, set himself up with the keeper closing him down. but fired wide when Old Trafford was expecting a goal

More agonisingly for United was the number of crosses that were just evading the oncoming attacker.

Leeds weren’t totally anonymous as an attacking threat, the best they offered was a shot from Mateusz Klich that was turned out for a corner.

Eventually, United’s pressure was rewarded when Bruno Fernandes was played in behind Leeds defence, his first time shot eventually sneaking into the net, just as it looked like Leeds keeper had done enough to save it.

United were on a roll, with Dan James just firing wide, looking to silence chants from the away ned of “You’re too shit to play for Leeds”. He was doing well enough in this game for United.

Luke Shaw was continuing his good form, being mostly based on the left hand side, just outside Leeds penalty area, such was the one way traffic as United went into the break 1-0 up.

A satisfactory first-half for United, but they needed a second (maybe even a third) goal just to have of breathing space.

There would be a goal early in the second-half, but it would come for Leeds, a long range strike from Luke Ayling that nobody saw coming to make it 1-1.

Now this was a test for United. Which way was this going to go?

Too many times in the past eight years, it has gone the wrong way.

The response from United was emphatic.

Within a matter of minutes, they were back in front when Mason Greenwood got in behind Leeds defence and fired home. There wasn’t even a debate about the outcome, despite the wide angle.

It was a continuation of Greenwood’s impressive form at the end of last season. Even more impressive that it was an injury that disrupted him inbetween as opposed to the close season.

Long may that continue, especially with Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani currently unavailable.

Soon afterwards, it was 3-1, when Bruno Fernandes dummied to shoot, took Leeds keeper out of the game, despite an attempted clearance by a Leeds defender, who was behind the line rather than on it.

Due to this, there was a slight delay in Old Trafford’s celebrations.

And then, it was 4-1, Bruno Fernandes got in behind Leeds defence and smashed home. Start as you mean to go on.

1-1 to 4-1 in eight minutes. Now that’s what I call a statement of intent..

United weren’t finished there, as Fred fired home to make it 5-1, and four goals in sixteen minutes, an average of a goal every four minutes.

If they started the game like this, they would have won 22-0, and might have made it 23-0 depending on the amount of injury time. Might as well find something to complain about.

Do you remember when Paul Scholes scored a volley from a corner against Bradford City?

Well, time to feel old. That’s the day that Jadon Sancho was born.

With the three points in the bag, it was time to bring him on. He showed some neat touches, but the attacking intensity was there like it was earlier in the game due to the game being won. A nice way to ease yourself in.

It looked liked Leeds were going to get a goal back when Raphina fired wide with only De Gea to beat.

So, a good start for United. Long may it continue.

It is important to dish out a few thrashings to bring about a fear factor, so this was welcome.

When will I be back at Old Trafford? I’m not sure.

I do have my eye on the Brighton game before Christmas, but i’ll monitor how things are going before deciding.

It was hoped that this would be my second United game of the season, after taking in the European Super Cup Final against Chelsea.

The less said about why United weren’t playing in that, the better.

Hopefully, this will put Windsor Park in a good position to bid to host the Euro Conference Final in the next few years.

And talking of the Euro Conference, for crying out loud Linfield, just put the ball in the back of the net. We should have beaten Fola Esch comfortable.

To make it worse, we got denied a Thursday afternoon game I could watch while working. The dream. Oh well, onto Crusaders at the end of the month.

Normally, at this time of year, I go to Edinburgh, but I gave it a miss as the city will be a free for all. I do hope to visit Scotland at some point in the next six months. I think i’ll live at missing out on Hibs v Kilmarnock and Edinburgh City v Hearts B.

As i’m going to Brighton in November, it means i’ll miss out on Northern Ireland v Italy as I leave that day.

I’ll take it on a game by game basis for Switzerland and Lithuania.

Honestly, I can’t say i’d feel totally confident at being around some of our support in this current situation.

You know the sort, The Rugby Brigade. Football matches are the only time they’re allowed out of the house, so they get so full they can’t walk an hour before kick-off, shout “GREEN AND WHITE ARMY” out of tune and can’t sit in the correct seat. Probably think they are a “geg”.

Definitely go on the Beer Bikes once a month and RT posts by LAD. Geg.

Eighteen months into this, i’m pretty good at identifying people who look they are riddled and to be avoided. They fall into that category. An absolute embarrassment.

I know that every team has embarrassing supporters, but this lot are next level.

Let’s face it, Eventsec won’t do anything about them.

Finally, i’m quite excited about visiting Harland and Wolff’s new ground.

The big opening should have been a few weeks back, but they’ve been switching their games.

Good job I spotted that on Twitter as I was tempted to go to their match against Newry a few weeks back.

The new date is set for September. I’m sure things will align where they will be at home when Linfield have a free Saturday.

Pre-season for Linfield will conclude with a friendly against Dungannon Swifts on Saturday. I’ll give that a miss.

Now, if they could arrange one away to Bray when i’m there next week.

Photo Album

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2020

Bloody hell, what a year. As you can imagine, not a lot of football matches were attended.

Still, fingers crossed that i’ll get to some games in 2021, nothing in the calendar yet.

As a bonus, hopefully i’ll get to go to a ground that isn’t Windsor Park, as much as I enjoy visiting it.

Matches : 19

Goals : 68

Red Cards : 5

Missed Penalties : 0

Hat-Tricks : 1

Andrew Waterworth (Linfield v Carrick Rangers)

Teams Seen : 17

Accrington Stanley, Ballymena United, Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Crusaders, Dundela, Dungannon Swifts, Glenavon, Glentoran, Institute, Larne, Linfield, Manchester United, Queen’s University (1st time), Salford City (1st time), Warrenpoint Town

Stadiums Visited : 10

Ballymena Showgrounds, Inver Park, Milltown, Moor Lane (1st time), Old Trafford, Solitude, Taylor’s Avenue, The Dub (1st time), Wilgar Park, Windsor Park

Competitions : 5

County Antrim Shield, FA Premier League, Football League Trophy (1st time), Irish Cup, Irish League

2020 IN PICTURES – JANUARY

I went out for a walk on New Year’s Day and found a tenner. That was as good as it got in 2020.

If a see a £50 note lying on the ground on the first day of 2021, i’m just walking on and leaving it.

2020 began with a trip to the Football on the first day of the month. Not too far thankfully, just a short trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Institute.

My second football match of the year, Linfield’s trip to Queen’s University, was not as enjoyable. The less said about, the better, even though it was my first visit to The Dub for a match.

I had to wait nine days for my next football match, as Linfield won at Cliftonville, before a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Dungannon Swifts.

It wasn’t all football, as the middle of the month saw my first concert of the year – Badly Drawn Boy at Black Box.

The first of many concerts in 2020, with Paul Weller and Lightning Seeds already booked for late March. Um ….

That was then followed by a trip to Manchester, primarily to see United take on Burnley. While I was there, I managed to sneak in a trip to Salford City v Accrington Stanley (a first visit to Moor Lane), as well as Street Art in Manchester and Salford Quays.

The month ended with two more football matches, Linfield’s 8-1 win over Glenavon, which was followed by a 3-1 defeat at Larne, my first visit to Inver Park since 2005.

Linfield v Institute

Queen’s University v Linfield

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Badly Drawn Boy live at Black Box

Badly Drawn Boy live at Black Box Photo Album

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Salford City v Accrington Stanley

Salford City v Accrington Stanley Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Burnley

Manchester United v Burnley Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Larne v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – JANUARY

A new year, but same old football related photo adventures.

Thankfully, a home game to see in the new year (didn’t really fancy the 212 on New Year’s Day) against Institute, and a 3-0 win for Linfield.

My first Saturday game of the year saw me visit a new ground for the first time. The less said about Linfield’s trip to QUB, the better.

Things got a bit better on the pitch, the weather less so, as I headed to Solitude nine days later in the middle of Storm Brendan to see Linfield go top of the League with a 2-1 win against Cliftonville.

Linfield’s inconsistent form continued with a 0-0 draw at home to Dungannon Swifts the following Saturday.

The following midweek saw my first football trip of the year, to Old Trafford to see United lose to Burnley.

While I was there, I was able to take in another match, Salford City v Accrington Stanley in the EFL Trophy, which meant I was able to visit another new ground for the first time, the second of the month.

The following Saturday, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield hammer Glenavon 8-1.

That was then followed by a trip to Larne the following midweek, my first visit to Inver Park since 2005, to see Linfield lose 3-1.

Linfield v Institute

Queen’s University v Linfield

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Salford City v Accrington Stanley

Salford City v Accrington Stanley Photo Album

Manchester United v Burnley

Manchester United v Burnley Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Larne v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – NOVEMBER

November’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed by a first trip of the season to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on
Partizan Belgrade.

The following Saturday, came another football trip, but it was a relatively short one Foyleside, to get some photos of the abandoned stadium at Drumahoe, and then Linfield’s match against
Institute.

After that, it was a dash back to Belfast on the 212 to see Northern Ireland play Holland in aEuropean Championship Qualifer.

The month ended with Linfield’s matches against Glenavon and Larne.

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade

Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade Photo Album

Drumahoe

Drumahoe Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Holland

Northern Ireland v Holland Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Larne

MANCHESTER UNITED 0-2 BURNLEY 22.1.2020

There are a lot of things to be annoyed about Manchester United in the last decade, and even though not being able to do the double over Burnley in six attempts is quite minor in the grand scheme of things, it’s still fucking annoying.

I’m beginning to see Will McKenzie’s point of view.

Ole is still at the wheel, but it’s a bumpy journey. United want to get 1st but need to take a detour to 4th. Chelsea keep slowing down to let them pull in, but they seem hesitant to put the speed on and go for it.

Chelsea’s latest fluff was a home draw against ten man Arsenal the night before, presenting United with an opportunity to reduce the gap on 4th place.

January had been mixed so far, and not an even balance.

The very first day of the month saw United become the first team to lose to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal.

Even though there was progress in the FA Cup via a replay against Wolves, there was a League Cup exit to Manchester City and defeat to Liverpool at Anfield. Sandwiched inbetween that was comprehensive 4-0 win over Norwich City.

I’ve travelled to midweek games in recent years as they’re easier to get to and cheaper in terms of hotel rooms, heading over Tuesday to Thursday. However, even midweek fixture lists are having games moved to Thursday night, I might not be able to do this if i’m going to be held to ransom by TV schedulers.

TV schedulers had their fun with this game, making it a 8.15pm kick-off. Yep, you read that right.

United started off well and their first chance came when Aaron Wan-Bissaka crossed for Anthony Martial, who sliced it with his left foot when he should have smashed it with his right foot.

Juan Mata was next to miss for United from a similar position when he also went with the wrong foot.

Wan-Bissaka was enjoying a lot of space down the right, and United weren’t slow in getting him on the ball at any opportunity they could.

United were given a reminder of why they had to take their chances when Chris Wood headed a free header wide from a few yards out. It was a major let-off for United.

Daniel James was next to be denied for United when his stretching header was saved by Nick Pope. It looked close on the TV, but it was a save that Pope should have been making.

Anthony Martial then had a big chance to give United the lead, but a heavy touch allowed a Burnley player to get in and make a tackle. All he had to do was take one touch to set himself up and then smash it into then net.

As the half neared it’s end, it was Burnley who took the lead when Chris Wood hooked home from close range after a long free-kick was flicked on. It was a poor goal to concede and against the run of play.

As United players gathered to restart the game, you could sense in the body language that United’s players didn’t believe they could get the two goals now required to win the game.

Even at this early stage, it was clear that this game was calling out for Mason Greenwood. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw that, and brought him on at half-time.

After a brief flurry at the start of the second-half from United, it was Burnley who got the next goal from a first time effort from Jay Rodriguez.

As with a lot of goals United have conceded in recent years, there were a lot of questions to be asked, even if it did look spectacular when you saw the TV footage.

First, it cam from a throw to United, two headers lost and Burnley were in on goal. Maguire beaten first to the ball when he should be winning it and De Gea being beaten too easily at his near post.

There was a late flurry of pressure from United, but it became clear that United were a team in need of inspiration, but a team without inspirers.

Most often an attack was ended by Nemanja Matic or Fred being unable to use their right foot. Both are good at what they do, but what they do isn’t what United need.

That late flurry brought about two incidents that were a match going first for me, VAR calls in the flesh.

One was for a possible red card for a Burnley player who had been booked, and a check to see if a United goal would stand. Neither decision went in United’s favour.

My own experience was that it was very quick, and it was clear what was happening as an announcement was made over the Tannoy, although the announcement sounded automated.

The previous two seasons, United had come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. In last season’s match, it was two late goals that secured the point. It was not to be, as Burnley secured a 2-0 win.

It was a result that left United 5th in the Premier League, allowing Chelsea to extend their gap in 4th, and allow Tottenham Hotspur to pull closer and failing to take advantages of defeats for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United.

It was a match which highlighted United’s deficiencies over the past seven years.

As soon as Burnley went 1-0 up, it was clear which way this match was going to go.

United’s players have a weak mentality and don’t know how to respond to adversity. When they fall behind, more often than not, they don’t know how to respond. Games against Watford, Arsenal, Bournemouth and West Ham are examples of that.

Even the League Cup game against Manchester City saw 0-1 escalated to 0-3 very quickly, which ultimately cost them, regaining their composure far to late, rendering the result at the City Of Manchester Stadium nothing more than heroic failure.

And when they do, such as games against Sheffield United and Aston Villa, they threw away the initiative immediately. They haven’t got the ability to close games out and always give teams a hope.

Also weak in mentality in terms of going away from home to bottom half teams. It’s their biggest game of the season and you have to be up for the fight before you can play football.

Don’t tell me United still aren’t a big deal. If Solskjaer gets sacked, the papers will clear at least ten pages to cover it.

They also seem unfit and don’t seem capable of playing two games a week. You could see the result against Bournemouth coming a mile off after a run of away games. You could see the result against Arsenal coming, after a busy run of games over Christmas.

Even this match, United’s seventh in January, looked like it was one game too far.

If you want to challenge for trophies, especially this side of Christmas, you had better get used to Saturday-Wednesday.

It wasn’t just this game that United bemoaned missed opportunities. It’s missed opportunities in general.

2016, missed opportunity to finish in the Top 4, shamefully allowing themselves to be intimidated by a West Ham side who had just lost 4-1 to Swansea.

2017, another missed opportunity to finish in the Top 4. It didn’t matter in terms of European qualification as United won the UEFA Cup. However, they could easily have finished 4th (dropped points to Everton, Swansea, West Brom and Southampton from April onwards) and killed Liverpool’s momentum. Typical of United in recent years, they didn’t know what they wanted to do. They could have finished 4th and won the UEFA Cup.

2019, 4th place was there but they threw it away.

Every summer has seen an opportunity to push forward missed by United.

2014, to prove the Moyes era was a blip.

2015, back in the European Cup, now to get back to winning titles.

2016, a lot of big clubs in a state of flux at the shock of Leicester winning the Premier League.

2017, three trophies in two years. Now to push for the big prizes.

2018, highest Leaguue position in five years. Now for the title.

2019, self explanatory.

The whole mentality of the club needs. From the day Sir Alex Ferguson retired, United have allowed themselves to be gaslighted. It should have been a case of business as usual. It started when David Moyes began complaining about a difficult run of opening games. He should have been saying it was a great opportunity to get points on the board and let rivals try to catch us.

The attitude of “Oh well, we had a good twenty years” needs to stop. Let’s have another good twenty years.

United beat every team in the League in 2017-2018 and allowed people to tell them they’re shite.

United beat PSG and Juventus away, and allowed people to tell them they’re shite.

It’s amazing what a bit of positivity can do. Liverpool scraped 4th, stuck a slogan on the side of a bus, and now everybody is afraid of them. The biggest grift job in history.

You’d think people would be careful about believing what they see on the side of a bus after the Summer of 2016.

The attitude of patting themselves on the back for pushing Liverpool and Manchester City all the way isn’t good enough and has to stop. Winning is all that matters.

No amount of Chicken Noodle sponsors will change that. If the decline continues, the Chicken Noodle sponsors will disappear. Chicken Noodle sponsors shouldn’t be dictating change. Results on the pitch should.

It’s true that United have missed key players through injury this season.

That should not be an excuse. That is why you have a squad.

Roy Keane missed most of 1997-1998 and United lost the title by a point. Nemanja Vidic missed half of 2011-2012 and United missed the title on goal difference.

Players get injured, you get on with it.

One of the few highlights of this season has been the emergence of young talent such as Brandon Williams, Mason Greenwood and Scott McTominay.

McTominay is a proper nasty wee shite. The day he gets his first red card, he’ll have a reputation. We should savour these days.

United have finally got themselves into gear, sort of, this Transfer Window, but why has it taken until the last week? They had three months to prepare themselves.

In is Bruno Fernandes, the greatest player ever or an overrated fraud, if you’re one of the millions of Twitter users who watch Portugese Football on Freesports.

Odion Ighalo is a stopgap, but United should have already had the squad in place to cope with Marcus Rashford getting injured, instead of dipping into the loan market.

Next for me in football trips, I might be going to the West Ham game in May.

I’ll definitely be staying in Bray for the Euro 2020 Last 16 game in Dublin in late June. There are League Of Ireland games on the Monday night so i’ll take in one of them.

There was a revised League Of Ireland First Division fixture list, but there’s no home game for Bray that night.

I’m still looking to go away over the July holidays. Tallinn is a hope but looking unlikely. I might go to Waterford that weekend. Waterford are at home on the Friday, but there’ll be other stuff i’ll be doing as well.

I’ve got a random urge to do a Newcastle/York double header towards the end of the year. Not for football, but for exploring somewhere I haven’t been to for a while. Oh course, as soon as I even consider visiting York, they get an outbreak of Coronavirus.

Wherever I go for my next football trip, hopefully the action on the field (I actually enjoyed my visit to Manchester otherwise) on the field is a lot better.

Photo Album

Manchester United v Burnley 2019