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October 4, 2019 at 4:53 PMKINGS
The Manchester United supporters chorused to ‘We are the pride of all Europe’ as kick-off approached and a lyrical change to ‘Europa’ would be generous. They have now mustered 18 goals in their manager’s 20 matches in permanent charge and the supporters could barely bring themselves to serenade any of the starters.
Daniel James, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood, Marcos Rojo and David de Gea all have their own song and none of them were aired on mass, save for a quick paean to Greenwood after he was substituted that quickly petered out. Late arrival Scott McTominay, named player of the month for September, was the exception.
The 750 Mancunians remembered Jaap Stam, Andy Cole, Roy Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy. They do not sing ‘Ole’s at the wheel’ any more while someone ponders a replacement for ‘Sanchez’ yet the manager’s name was among the pantheon playlist. Solskjaer had no fear in approaching the away end at full-time. They ended the night singing ‘We want Glazers out’.
Those United supporters who capitalised on The Hague’s close proximity to Amsterdam and stayed in the capital will not have regretted it. This was another numbing night in keeping with the tedium of watching United at times since the anomalous opening weekend drubbing of Chelsea. They are an unpredictable team, but the draw with AZ Alkmaar was predictable.
United, winless away from home in 211 days, devoid of four first-teamers and playing on a plastic pitch against the third-best Dutch side, were never going to provide a turn up for the books. Given the context of the fixture and the presence of three teenagers in their XI, a scoreless draw is not a negative result and United’s progress to the knockout is unlikely to ever be in jeopardy with four games remaining. They are unbeaten in the Europa League for three years, which may make the highlights of Ed Woodward’s next investors’ call.
Some of those 750 supporters stood have been present for similarly forgettable European nights in Prague, Athens, Valencia and the like under Sir Alex Ferguson. There were worse nights than AZ against Lille in Paris and in Benfica and Basel. United had dropped out of the elite contenders well before Ferguson took up his row in the Old Trafford directors’ box and they were reduced to playing for a draw with Alkmaar.
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