Have Manchester United signed another dud goalkeeper? One arguable and one awful blunder at Wembley in that overblown event the Community Shield – which as the Charity Shield was years ago a marginal midweek non Wembley affair – were disconcertingly suggestive.
The pitiful attempt to save Dzeko’s shot from far out that gave away Manchester City’s second goal was embarrassing. And lo and behold, in United’s opening League game at the Hawthorns, what did poor young Gea do but concede another grisly goal, when he ineptly dived over the top of an indifferent low shot from the left, by Albion’s Shane Long.
Alarming shades of the disastrous Massimo Taibi, who cost United what was then the hefty fee of £4.5 million only, as one saw on one dire occasion, to let in five farcical goals against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 1999, and quickly to be packed off home.
Charitably Alex Ferguson – well, what else could he say? – declared after the Hawthorns match, when De Gea also seemed so uneasy on the high crosses, that he simply needed time to settle down. To which one can reply only that time will tell.
Meanwhile, all that exaggerated euphoria about wonderful United and their almost inevitable cruise to yet another Championship could so easily be undermined if De Gea continues to give such goals away.
In the Community Shield game at Wembley, meanwhile, I was hardly among those who saw United as an irresistible force. That they went two goals down in the first half was, it was true, a travesty of the play.
Yet of all the five goals in the game there was only one, United’s splendidly engineered and elaborate second, of any true quality while the winner, scored by the excellent Nani, was the consequence of an appalling and highly untypical error by Manchester City’s Kompany.
As for the continuing comedy, of, if you prefer it, farce and fiasco, of Joey Barton, his tweetings and his on field excesses, one thinks of the hard words, many years ago of Prime Minister Clement Atlee to the gadfly left wing academic, Harold Lazski: “A period of silence on your part would be appreciated.”
While we wait for Barton, that newly minted auto-didact, to dredge up from the internet a quotation from Confucious or perhaps even Mae Tse Tung, we have to perceive that – another quotation – the leopard has hardly changed its spots.
Barton’s excesses in the match against Arsenal were all too horribly familiar, even if, after a volley of unconvincing justification, he even admitted, on the radio, that he had been wrong. Wrong to accuse Arsenal’s new winger, Gervinho, of diving, wrong to haul him up from the floor, wrong to go down like a pole axed steer when Gervinho slapped him.
Arsenal should have had a penalty, Barton like Gervinho, should certainly have been sent off. One more indifferent refereeing display, this time by Mr Walton, who turned away too quick from the turmoil following Gervinho’s fall; and, to give Barton his due, should certainly have expelled the Gunner’s Alexandre Song for plainly stamping on Barton himself.
Would Disraeli have anything to say about that?
By Brian Glanville