No hard luck story here. The Championship is calling and the sound is getting louder. It’d be utterly deserved as well. Norwich City with their goal music, clappers and second tier stadium, deserve to stay in this division out of the two toxic sides from the North East of England. I don’t know the stat but it’s been a while since this region wasn’t represented in England’s top flight (and ‘Boro could ensure it doesn’t happen). For a region with little else to shout about, the football up here is a source of embarrassment. We deserve to go down, it’d be a travesty if we didn’t.

That’s not to say we will. Benitez hasn’t thrown in the towel and neither should we. If Sunderland had beaten West Brom it would be too much. As it is there’s a glimmer of hope. Maybe 4 wins will do. It could happen. It can happen. It probably won’t but since when has football been about dead certs? Southampton is a massive game. I’m not convinced we can survive another defeat, but Norwich’s results are now more important than our own. All we can do is hope they get beat and then pick up points ourselves. It’s not over though.

The first half was as bad as anything served up under McClaren. Playing without shape or direction United were a BenitezNorwichshambles. Team selection was bizarre. After Winjaldum’s anonymity since January I was convinced De Jong would start ahead of his fellow Dutchman. Wrong. I thought Sissoko would start at left back. Wrong. I had a feeling that Mitro might not start due to his lack of football and training in two weeks but ultimately it was an imbalanced and unorganised side. Benitez isn’t a magician, and he has added a resolve to this side, but he got it wrong with the selections of Anita and Winjladum.Norwich are a poor side. Of course they are. They’re 17th. You only find poor sides down this end of the league. They create very little, look nervous in possession and are defensively fragile. Poor all over the park. First half they deserved their lead. A great save from Darlow and the linesman’s saved United from going behind earlier. For their goal (I’m writing this in an Indian Restaurant in Norwich so haven’t seen any replays) our “fans” decided to keep the match ball for over a minute to the extent an alternative ball had to be sourced, to cheers from the away end. I wish I lived a life where a £250+ trip to East Anglia was worth keeping the ball from the game I was playing to watch, disrupting it as much as I could. You can’t even say ‘sections’ of our away support are embarrassing. It’s a majority. I hate them. If you go to away games to be aggressive to locals, throw beer around and enjoy disrupting the actual game you should be banned from attending.

I’ve not seen replays of anything, but it doesn’t really matter. You can’t concede three goals and expect to take anything from games. The second half was better. Benitez got it right again with his subs and his tactical changes. Sissoko (who was played in a Carver-esque 5 different positions) was vastly better at left back than the shocking Anita. Perez made a difference. I noticed Winjaldum for the first time when he moved to the middle besides Shelvey. Keeping Cisse and Mitro on the pitch was a good move. Bold. It should have worked.

I wrote in the preview of this game Mitro and Mbemba could be £30m players. I really like Mitro. However, now he’s scored against Sunderland the same people screaming for him to never play again have now given him ‘cult’ status. We’re at the stage now where when Cisse misses his chance large swathes chant for him to be replaced. I really like Mitro. He should have started, and what a header. He’ll go through tough times again, as all young players do, and I hope people stick with him compared to the shit he’s been given this season before his goal against WBA.

Ultimately we chased the win and came unstuck. How many United players were ahead of the play when the third went in? Too many but it doesn’t matter, more progress, much better in the second half but it wasn’t enough. It was gutting at the end of the game. Gutting. A mixture of disbelief, devastation and anger swilled around the away end.

Charnley and Ashley have been saying they’re not even considering relegation. I’d advise them to start making plans. They utterly deserve everything that is coming to them. The problem is as Mike Ashley correctly said, we’re tied to him and him to us. This has been coming for years. Saivet and Doumbi didn’t make the bench today. That says as much about the people running the club as Anita starting a massive game at left back, and that says a lot too.

We now need Palace and Pardew to do us a favour and beat Norwich next week. It could happen. It might happen. We need to take something from Southampton. It probably won’t happen. But it might.

Motm: Mitro

Their fans : 2 – dead quiet all game until the end.

Our fans 6: good noise but too many arseholes

ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892 
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