It’s only November, but it feels like we’ve already played enough football for ten full seasons. As proper football takes a break, we rate what we’ve seen so far, nominate our high and lows, and pick our players of the season so far.
Yousef Hatem – Grade: B
With the exception of the Bournemouth defeat, there have been no surprise losses – and even that one was hardly of a type to which we Mags are unaccustomed. Balanced against the defeats – and the Brighton and Liverpool ones were deeply disappointing for different reasons – we have had three quite stupendous results: PSG and Man Utd most obviously, but that 5-1 win over Villa on the opening day is now looking like quite something too. All in all, it would probably be harsh to award less than a B. In the league, we remain within touching distance of the European spots. In the Champions’ League, we remain in the hunt (just about), and have given a respectable account of ourselves whatever happens. Oh, and we’re winning the Carabao. Believe.
High point: There is a temptation to go for Schär’s goal at the Gallowgate against PSG. But for sheer hilarity / Schadenfreude / cleansing, it’s got to be our stiffs stuffing the Red Shite at OT. Geordie boys have never taken so much piss.
Low point: The loss to Liverpool was a real sucker punch. Absolutely threw it away, and desperately wanted to win that one.
Player of season so far: Anthony Gordon
Matthew Philpotts – Grade: A+
Stare at the ink bolt and what do you see in this Rorschach test of a season?
The relentless, inspiring, brilliantly coached team that swept past PSG and the two Manchester clubs, that constantly defies expectations to conjure performances from meagre resources, and that only two weeks ago beat Arsenal so deservedly that their manager had to go full-on toddler mode, lying down and screaming in the supermarket sweet aisle denying reality (except that toddlers are more dignified)?
Or the injury-ravaged, imbalanced, striker-less, predictable squad coming off two consecutive dispiriting 2-0 defeats, about to be ejected from Europe, losing touch with fourth place, and facing another daunting run of fixtures including inevitable defeat to a resurgent Chelsea in the League Cup? Oh and that’s before we even get on to the endless ticketing shit show, shameful pro-Saudi stunts, and wilful neglect of “legacy” match-going fans…
But hey, whatever happens, I’ll always have Old Trafford, so for me it’s a wildly irrational and one-eyed A+ from me!
High point: Easy. Little Joe sweeping the ball unerringly into the net for 3-0 at the Theatre of Shite. Thirty years of misery evaporated in a moment.
Low point: That fucking drum
Player of the season: Tino Livramento
Ted McCindrey – Grade: C+
Predicting the trajectory of this United team has proved fruitless since the takeover two years ago. Up until the summer of 2023, this beautiful collective of black and white bastards was constantly contradicting and confounding anyone who dared to suggest where their limits lay. However, in the weeks leading up to the start of this current season, there seemed to be a consensus among the faithful that we were about to embark on a challenging year – the additional fixtures, alongside the inevitable improvement of our league rivals, would test us to the limit. Apart from the most flagrantly optimistic of fans, there was uniform belief that we would spend the season skirting around the edges of 4th place, with a few big nights among Europe’s elite, and perhaps another cup run. And so (so far) things have transpired. My C grade may seem harsh, but it’s a C that says – you are doing as well as expected. Nevertheless, that is still pretty magnificent.
High Point: István Kovács blowing his whistle and pointing to the centre spot after a 5-minute VAR check, leading to a deadpan lad from Blyth lifting his arms aloft and a city erupting from a 20-year slumber.
Low Point: Alex Isak, down on the turf after the Dortmund game had barely begun. Felt like the beginning of a potential unravelling, and it was.
Player of the season so far: Jamaal Lascelles, for his attitude alone.