It was probably to be expected that Manchester United’s game at Spurs would feel like the first game of a new season. It was, in a way.
There was a lot of rustiness, a lot of cases of players trying too hard to impress, a lot of neat and tidy football with no cutting edge for either side and that is despite some seriously talented attacking stars on show. You could definitely see the difference between training fitness and match fitness but then again it is hard to know if these new situations players find themselves in make it feel like it’s a training match to them.
It maybe needed the first goal to happen in the way that it did to bring the character out of the players. It was not a great goal for United to concede, and although it was a mistake from the goalkeeper, I don’t know if I’d agree with Roy Keane that he deserved a punch. And I say that as one of the only United players to have ever received a clip from a team-mate!
There was a pleasing reaction at least from United and you could tell that they meant business. I would have said that 1-1 was a fair result but I was much happier watching a Solskjaer team get a draw than I was watching a Jose team.
We saw the first glimpses of Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes together. Again, maybe both of them were a little too keen to show what they could do and the jury is still out on whether that can be a productive partnership. Football sometimes makes its own rules – people wonder if they could play together but I would say that the midfield I played in had Sammy McIlroy and Lou Macari, they were both attacking players and that worked. With enough quality, and time, the blend can be right and let’s hope that it is.
It is a strange time for football and I certainly never experienced anything like it when I was playing. Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba were injured before the league was postponed so they went just about six months without playing. When I was at Millwall I played through the summer because I went on loan to Chicago Sting!
It is a difficult ask for these players and although not many people have sympathy with them because of the money they are on, it must have been tough not knowing when football would come back and just what it would be like when it did.
Now we know, and at least in England we’ve had some idea of what to expect by what has been happening in the Bundesliga. As was to be expected, the Germans have handled a difficult situation with great professionalism and they have led the way.
The truth is these are baby steps so we still don’t know what to expect. Things are going to change, and probably in ways we don’t even know yet. People have questioned football coming back but we have to look at this as a positive move forward with the world trying to recover from a difficult time. They are baby steps but I for one am glad to have the game I love so much back.