So it’s the end of another ‘almost’ season. Almost Premier League Champions, in spite of beating the Champions at the Etihad and being above them in the table for a good part of the season. Almost qualified for the last stages of the Champions League had we not shot ourselves in the foot in the last two qualifications games. Almost progressing to the EFL Cup Final – but we lost the semi to City at Home. Nearly made it to the FA Cup semi; but we lost in the quarters to Leicester. And now, nearly Europa League Champions, after beating Real Sociedad (last 32); AC Milan (last 16); Granada (quarter-finals); and Roma (semi-finals). Only to lose in a penalty marathon in the Final. This was this season’s last huge missed opportunity for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to win his first trophy as Manchester United manager.
I was particularly disappointed that David De Gea did not get close to saving even a single penalty. Records show that David has an infamously poor penalty record having conceded the last 40 he has faced in normal time and penalty shootouts for both United and Spain. The last penalty saved by the Spaniard was when he denied the then-Everton striker Romelu Lukaku in the 2016 FA Cup semi-final. Versus Villarreal he seemed to slouch around the goal line, missing a few savable shots. On the other hand Henderson has a better record, thwarting Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus while on loan at Sheffield United last season, and stopping penalties in the 2019 Under-21 European Championship and the 2018 League One Play-off final. Ole did admit that he had considered substituting David as penalties loomed large. United goalkeeping coaches are reported to have handed De Gea a note to place inside his towel before the shootout detailing an indicator as to which way each Villarreal player would go. It is believed that had he followed each instruction things may well have been different. Or almost!
My final Man of the Match of the season is Scott McTominay. Although he missed a good opportunity by skewing an early shot wide when he should have hit the target, he followed that up with some gutsy play and drove forward regularly and was involved in United’s equalizer. Possibly was the only Red who could truly leave the pitch with his head held high.
Article contributed by Contributor Kenneth. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.