Sunday Night Takeaway: Man Utd 1-0 Watford

Reaction from the final league game of the season.
It’s Carrick, you know…
For a player who already had one testimonial, having this one effectively play out as a second was a little greedy — but all jokes aside, it’s a fond farewell to a player who will go down as one of Manchester United’s best ever midfielders.
Once the sentiment subsides it will probably be difficult to justify a place in the club’s all time first XI or even second XI but that should not undermine Carrick’s contribution at Old Trafford. At the time he was acquired from Spurs he was the best passer of the ball whose name wasn’t Paul Scholes and alongside the Ginger Prince the club were a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the park again. It was a huge boost to the club’s chances of winning the league and a great platform from which to build.
It has taken Nemanja Matic’s arrival to remind people what they first loved about Carrick and it’s no surprise that Matic’s beautiful consistency also went under the radar after the first month.
It was fitting that Carrick was the highlight of today but it did also highlight why now is the right time for a player who will go down as a legend to retire.
Second with a limp
Thursday night’s dull draw at West Ham confirmed second and today’s game wasn’t much better but it has been obvious since the semi final that Jose Mourinho has seen these last few games as processions. At the risk of sounding hypocritical this writer had his first concerns about the manager this time last year when all the eggs were put in the Europa League basket, on the basis that no United game should ever be treated as unimportant.
In my own defence, the club still had a chance of finishing fourth via the league and it was a gamble from the manager. Some might say that his heavy rotation for the last 3 or 4 games has seen him gamble with second but his message has been that second or third doesn’t matter if United aren’t leading the table and that was possibly the best thing that he could have done in terms of giving some of the players an obvious chance to say goodbye, or an unlikely window to prove themselves.
Too many of the players who have featured in the last couple of weeks are players who could be accused of having coasted through the last five years at Old Trafford. In this regeneration period there is a temptation to say that each summer is bigger than the last in terms of hopes of future success but there is most definitely a finger of judgement being readied at the manager, for his recent open observations of players who are not good enough are going to be publicly assessed this summer and judged next.
Today’s game proved nothing in favour of anyone whose futures are on the line.
Tony Martial came from France…
…but where will his next destination be? He did not play today with rumours of an injury — at least, that was the official line from the club — or the impending birth of a child accounting for his absence.
Of course, most saw through that and wanted to surmise that this was a sign that Jose Mourinho had made ‘another’ mistake with a young player, as it deemed to be the death knell for his career.
Will it be? We don’t quite know that yet. It’s too early to write the obit on his career at the club yet; likewise, it should also be too early to criticise Mourinho for ruining a career, especially in the erroneous context some seem determined to in order to justify their own agenda.
Cup Final Team
It seems likely that the team who started the FA Cup semi final will be trusted to play the final against Chelsea. It wasn’t ever going to be changed today but it can’t be said that over the weeks since the semi final, the squad haven’t had a chance to prove their own case. They have had the chance and they haven’t succeeded.
Second guessing Jose is a fool’s game as there could well be a surprise in the team sheet yet. But we have a good idea. And a starting line up of De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Young, Pogba, Matic, Herrera, Lingard, Lukaku and Sanchez is four to eight players, depending on your opinion, short of what would constitute a top class United side. Improvement, regardless of next week’s result either way, is necessary.
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