Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Krul Decision and Manchester United

Bang, bang, bang!

If you live in Surrey, The South Coast or The West Country you were kept awake last night by the thudding noise of thousands of Manchester United fans jumping in celebration.

When Krul saved his first Costa Rican penalty the confetti filled the air of Poole. Thin ribbons of colour littered down as bumpkins in red shirts with 'Sharp' emblazoned across their chests emerged from taverns and joyously waltzed in the streets under the pale moon light. 

Robin Van Persie cheekily poked his penalty into the net and was met with innumerable gin and tonics flying through the air in celebration across the bars of Epsom.

Manchester United are back.

I logged onto the football 365 forum and saw pages and pages of Irish Manchester United fans posting in sheer ecstasy: "Van Gaal proved tonight he is a Manchester United manager"  noted one fan. 

"The rest of the league will be shitting themselves now" hiccuped an excitable Finbarr of Knocknaheeny. 

"I have absolute unconditional faith in the gaffer" stated Fintan of Rathangan.


There's a hint of desperation about the Manchester United fans. An eagerness to show everybody that they've 'still got it'. It seems like they've tricked themselves into believing that the good times are definitely coming back too.

To the outsider they look like a former tap dancing champion, who has become fat, with ill-fitting jeans slumping downwards, exposing a hairy arse crack. A sad figure that leafs through a tear-stained book of former memories, of a slimmer more graceful time.

And then one day this character finds some golden shoes in a skip, and is convinced that this means that he's back to being the best in the world again. So the slob slips the golden shoes back on and bursts into the local tap dancing studio, running up to people, breathing foul breath all over them while proclaiming: 'Look at these new shoes, they're better than your shoes, I'm back, I'm the best!'

So he attempts to dance, and ends up tripping over his feet, spinning to and fro then falling onto the table of judges, smashing it to pieces before being carried out by paramedics.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Louis Van Gaal is a magical figure who will transform United into the league's powerhouse once again. Maybe the excitable provincial plastics are actually right to be so energised. We'll have to wait and see.

I'm inclined to lean towards the idea that they're so wearied from Moyes that they're willing to find a messiah in anybody. The coach driver might have turned up, sat in the dugout and 60k United fans would chant his name in devotion. We were a bit like that in our worship of Hughton once we freed ourselves from the shackles of McLeish. 

Van Gaal stated today that the decision to swap Cillessen with Krul was down to the Newcastle goalkeeper's greater height and reach -  which rather than being a masterstroke, appears more like common sense.

Bizarrely however, the move was inadvertently a genius play because it gave the illusion that Krul was a master penalty saver, even if that wasn't what Van Gaal was attempting to do. 

If you were a Costa Rican player and you saw Krul coming on in the final seconds of extra time you'd think "Bloody hell, this guy must be the penalty king", which is perhaps enough to plant just enough doubt in the mind which leads you to miss your spot kick.

Cillessen, Louis Van Gaal, Holland, Costa Rica, Netherlands

You had to feel for Cillessen, who had performed admirably for the whole match, including extra time, and kept the Dutch in the game at times. The pathos was enhanced because, despite being 25, he looks like a lost boy. If he had a beard, some tattoos, you might reflect...'He can take it, he's had a rough life, he's as hard as nails', but Cillessen has the aura of one of the players' younger brothers, who's been called up late to make the teams even and is just helping out.

At the end, the Dutch players swamped Krul and celebrated with him for his five minute heroics, whilst the man who had kept the Costa Ricans out for 120 minutes stood in the background holding a towel being ignored. There was a particularly awkward moment where Cillessen approached Krul to shake his hand, but the tall goalkeeper just looked the other way and spoke to somebody else.

Cillessen, even sounds like 'silly son'. Which is perhaps what Krul calls him away from the cameras.

You can imagine the pair of goalkeepers in a Balearic nightclub, and a hot girl approaches Cillessen and seems keen. Krul comes over and tells him it's his round, by the time Cillessen returns Krul is neck deep in the stunner. Back in the hotel room Krul is having his fun with the girl whilst across the room in the other twin bed Cillessen is hiding under his duvet, pinching his ears to try and block out the terrible sounds.

Although in fairness to the spurned keeper, he didn't skulk away during the penalty shootout and seemed to embody the 'team before the individual' spirit as he joined in with the celebrations.

The Dutch move on to play Argentina in the semi-finals, in possibly the most eye-catching, old-skooly tie in the 2014 World Cup thus far.

I'd like Holland, as the 'fun Germans', to go all the way and bring the cup back to Europe. I'll be continuing to support De Oranje. I think Robben has been the player of the tournament too. His engine is astonishing.

Let's just hope they can win the World Cup in circumstances where Van Gaal has as little input as possible, because these internet United fans are costing me a bleedin' fortune in smashed computer monitors.


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