Robin Van Persie missed a penalty and Marouane Fellaini was sent off as Manchester United remain top of group A despite a 0-0 draw and the creation of further scandal surrounding a certain winger.
Leaving San Sebastian, United will rue missed chances. Javier Hernandez, 2 days after his controversial retweet of a post by international team mate Carlos Vela demanding more game time, missed a predatory tap in; the sort of which has made his name. Robin Van Persie saw a powerful drive ricochet off the post before the very same post denied him again from the penalty spot.
Both of these were surprising sites, yet in a game which was low on action, the unsurprising site was Ashley Young on the turf, just 5 minutes after having come on. Ashley Young is becoming an increasingly large headache for David Moyes. Following a good debut season for United, a succession of poor performances and poor sportsmanship along with the emergence of Adnan Januzaj make his inclusion in the squad increasingly hard to justify. Whilst there was very slight contact from the Sociedad defender, the contact appeared to be initiated by Young, whom took those vital few steps before going down. United players turned away expecting nothing from the incident yet the stadium arose in anger as referee, Nicola Rizzoli awarded a spot kick. The phrase “swings and roundabouts” seems apt as the penalty was justly missed.
The controversy surrounding Ashley Young, as well as increasingly loud voices from the United faithful questioning the value of their new £27.5 million midfielder, masked another lacklustre performance. Real Sociedad sat pointless at the bottom of group A and 20 points behind Barcelona in La Liga and yet the Premier League champions across the course of two games failed to unlock La Real’s defence. Despite dominating possession throughout the game the killer pass is not there, and has not been since Owen Hargreaves left Manchester United in 2011. Shinji Kagawa was given 15 minutes playing in the “number 10” role which United fans have been craving for months. The attacking impetuous from United was markedly improved in this period, but a cameo is all it will ever be. In order to satisfy The Red Devils two superstars, Van Persie and Rooney, Kagawa will never break into this role and Moyes’ intent to bed in Fellaini beside Michael Carrick in the long term means creativity may become Moyes’ blind spot, as it was Ferguson’s.
Attention now turns to Sunday, as Manchester United seek to cut the gap to the top to 5 points as title pretenders Arsenal seek to prove their title credentials on the back of a fine win away to Dortmund.