The Damned United

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. That was the dilemma for Marcelo on Tuesday and it was almost a case of the latter for us against Crewe.

Once we’d seen the Under-23s team the previous evening it was clear that he wasn’t going to follow the usual practice of filling the side full of young lads for the Carabao Cup tie, but it was still something of a surprise to see such a strong squad out there.

It was, on paper, a team that could play a Premier League fixture, but with that, and with a sell-out crowd, comes expectation when you’re up against a lower league side, and that’s nearly where we came unstuck.

I say nearly, because we didn’t. 3-0 was probably a fair reflection of the game and the fact we didn’t score until 10 minutes from time down was more down to our own wastefulness than anything else.

In the end, captain marvel Kalvin Phillips conjured up a goal and Jack Harrison finished things off. You have to say the presence of Patrick Bamford during that final 20 minutes made a huge difference after he replaced Rodrigo and in the end the big guns came good.

Rodrigo was his own worst enemy at times and the jury is still very much out on the Spanish international, given that this was a real opportunity for him to give Marcelo something to think about.

It was good to see Diego Llorente back after injury and as I said after the weekend, I think he will have a huge part to play for us at the back this season. I think he’s such an important player when he’s fit.

The biggest plus, though, was the return of Adam Forshaw. I know he’s played in pre-season, but this was his first competitive game for almost two years and I was buzzing for him. God knows what he’s been through mentally over the past 23 months, it must have been so tough for him.

I don’t know Adam personally – one of my best pals worked with him at Middlesbrough and tells me he is a smashing lad – but he’s a scouser like me so he’ll be a tough cookie and will have stayed level during his time out.

He was a promotion winner at Boro, but was a bit part player in their Premier League season. He started our promotion season at Leeds before injury struck, and now he has his chance again to have a crack at the top-flight. He’s waited a long time, and this was his first step back. Now he’ll want to kick on, and I really hope he can. Good luck Forsh.

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