Away Day Blues For Manchesterís Reds
Manchester United’s continuing inability to win away in the EPL has not prevented them from holding on to third place in the table, despite falling behind city rivals, big-spending City last weekend.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s under-achieving travellers were held to a goalless draw at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light with the Black Cats, managed by former United defender and Ferguson protégé Steve Bruce, unlucky not to grab all three points.
United’s result on the European road was an improvement, with Mexican summer-signing Javier Hernandez’s late strike seeing off Spanish league leaders Valencia 1-0 in the Mestalla.
Controversy continues to plague star striker Wayne Rooney, whose physical as well as mental well-being has been the subject of intensive on-going debate throughout the media.
Rooney was substituted after an anonymous hour against Bolton Wanderers, only for an ice pack to appear on his ankle after he took his place on the bench.
Confusion reigned thereafter, with United assistant boss Mike Phelan suggesting in a post-match interview that Rooney would be fit for the Valencia game three days later, only for news to emerge later that the England man would be “out for three weeks.”
Rooney, however, claimed he would be fit for United’s trip to Sunderland and England’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro, which takes place at Wembley next Tuesday, October 12th.
He wasn’t named for the Sunderland trip, despite his protestations of fitness. But he is in the England squad.
The 24-year-old, who appealed for privacy in the wake of lurid allegations about his sex life, has been dropped from a lucrative advertising deal with drinks company Coca-Cola.
He has other deals with Coke. But the soft drinks firm dropped him from a Coke Zero promotion earlier this week because “given the situation at the time we did not feel it was appropriate to run an on-pack promotion featuring Wayne Rooney.”
United’s visit to Sunderland got off to an unorthodox start when part of their dressing-room ceiling at the Stadium of Light collapsed, damaging considerable amounts of the players’ possessions, although no player was hurt.
The team’s generous efforts to play down the incident were undermined by their poor first-half display, with only the continuing heroics of veteran goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar keeping them in the match.
Subsequent reports have suggested that the keeper, who turns 40 at the end of this month, will hang up his gloves at the end of the season.
United goalkeeping coach, Eric Steele, told the Manchester Evening News: “I think Ed has made up his mind and said this is his last year.”
Steele said the Dutchman is keen, however, to win the FA Cup before he retires, the one major trophy that has eluded him. Steele claimed: “When we rotate keepers I think you will see (him)…asking the boss to play in the FA Cup.
United host West Bromwich Albion, recent winners at Arsenal, on Saturday October 16th, after the international break. Four days later, they entertain Turkish side Bursaspor in the Champions League.
Tags: Manchester United, EPL, Sir Alex Ferguson, Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney, Mike Phelan, England, Edwin Van der Sar, FA Cup, Champions League