Manchester United were held to a frustrating draw against Swansea City at Old Trafford on Sunday night
The Red Devils were dealt a blow in their pursuit of a top four position after dropping points against Swansea in a match that many expected Jose Mourinho’s side to comfortably win.
Wayne Rooney opened the scoring from a penalty after a clear dive from Marcus Rashford, before a brilliant free kick from Gylfi Sigurdsson ten minutes from time rescued a point for the Swans.
Thankfully for United, Manchester City could also only manage a draw against Middlesbrough while Arsenal’s hopes of finishing in the top four have all but evaporated after their loss to Tottenham Hostpur later on Sunday night.
Marcus Rashford’s dive was clear for all to see
It is always the case that a young, English player is protected by the English media when they dive on the pitch and it was no different with Marcus Rashford during last night’s match.
Not only were the commentators reluctant to call it a dive, the English media attempted to justify Rashford’s theatrics with Alan Shearer and Michael Owen even disagreeing over the matter on Twitter.
Completely disagree. Blatant dive. https://t.co/SEphavwD6s
— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) April 30, 2017
Owen’s attempts to protect his 19 year old compatriot are slightly hypocritical, especially given how the English media tend to pounce on foreign players when they engage in the same tactics.
Rashford clearly dived to win his team a penalty. He is not the first player to do it and he won’t be the last, it is simply a part of today’s game but only the most blinkered United fan will try and claim that it was not a dive.
Wayne Rooney costs United again
Wayne Rooney got on the scoresheet with a penalty from the Rashford dive but beyond that, the Englishman was largely anonymous throughout the match.
Rooney only managed 43 touches of the ball all game, a full fifty behind Ashley Young, and made no key passes and attempted no dribbles against the Swans.
The Englishman’s decline has been rather rapid indeed but now he is becoming detrimental to the team. His only contributions of note besides the penalty were to miss a glorious chance in the second half and then gift Swansea a free kick with an unnecessary foul outside United’s penalty area – which Gylfi Sigurdsson promptly scored from.
Strong case that Manchester United would have been better with ten and no Wayne Rooney today, and that not be hyperbole.
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) April 30, 2017
United’s defensive crisis gets worse
With Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo already ruled out, United have been going through something of an injury crisis that got much worse on Sunday night.
Luke Shaw limped off only minutes into the match and Eric Bailly limped off with an ankle injury later on in the game. This is the last thing Jose Mourinho would have wanted.
With United’s crucial clash against Celta Vigo in the Europa League coming up, Mourinho could ill afford more absentees and he will be hoping that both Shaw and Bailly can make swift returns, as well as Smalling and Jones.
Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw are all injured and Man Utd still have to play Tottenham, Arsenal and Europa League games. pic.twitter.com/4sYVf2QGQe
— S-H-E-L-L-E-Y (@Pogbasfinesse) April 30, 2017
What now for Shaw?
Luke Shaw has had a difficult enough season to contend with, even without his injury issues rearing their head. Jose Mourinho has been openly critical of Shaw all season and many felt that it was only a matter of time until he was sold.
Mourinho seemed to open the door to redemption for Shaw over the last few weeks and just when it looked like the Manchester United manager had finally begun trusting Shaw, an injury cut that short.
Speaking after the match, Mourinho not-so-subtly questioned Shaw’s substitution by saying that he was expecting a big injury as he could see no other reason for Shaw to ask for a substitution after only 7 minutes.
Mourinho has seemed at breaking point all season and has been tetchy in all his press conferences. The latest setback for Shaw could spell the end for a player who will only have one year left on his contract at the end of the season and it is perhaps best for both parties if Shaw moves on from the club.
— Pete Borota (@Borotas_spirit) May 1, 2017
Gylfi Sigurdsson deserves better
Gylfi Sigurdsson has been the bright spot in Swansea’s dour campaign and even if the Swans are relegated this season, Sigurdsson does not deserve to go down with them.
There will no doubt be a lot of suitors lined up regardless of whether or not Swansea go down and Sigurdsson deserves the chance to showcase his talents in a better side.
His move to Tottenham may not have gone to plan but the 27-year old still has a lot to offer and would be a valuable addition to any team in the top half of the table.