It is fair to reflect on 2014 as a year of very real ups and downs for Manchester United. It feels – as fans – that we have spent much of the past twelve months being told to look at the bigger picture, to try to think about the long-term plan and to stop expecting a quick fix. This may well be sensible advice but as it draws to a close, we’d like to take a few minutes to be just a little indulgent and look back at the five greatest individual moments of this calendar year. We’re not necessarily referring to the biggest results or most important goals; we’re purely interested in those moments which make it such a pleasure to be a fan of this club.
5. Angel di Maria’s Goal vs Leicester City
It transpired to be completely in vain as United slumped to a 5-3 away defeat but di Maria’s goal at the King Power Stadium was something to be truly excited about. The Argentinian summer signing had shown glimpses of his brilliance in his first two appearances for the club, certainly, but it was the delightful lobbed finish over the stranded Kasper Schmeichel which confirmed that we had signed a real star. Now, if he fancies getting himself fit and doing that every week…..
4. Louis van Gaal’s Appointment as Manager
I’m sure that a few fans would place this one slightly higher but I don’t want to do David Moyes too much of a disservice. He certainly wasn’t up to the job, however, and it was a relief when he was released just twelve months into his seven-year contract. It was a different sort of relief when the worst kept secret in football was finally made official shortly before the World Cup this summer, when club representatives announced that Louis van Gaal would be taking the reins. A terrifying and slightly crazy genius is just what we need in charge at our club – sorry Moyesey.
3. Ryan Giggs’ Final Home Game vs Hull City
Okay, so an entire game isn’t quite a ‘moment’ but it’s difficult to pick just one; Giggsy choosing to hand debuts to two academy players, one of these – James Wilson – bagging himself a brace, and the Welsh winger bringing himself on for the final twenty minutes for a wonderfully emotional farewell, are impossible to split. Just imagine if that free kick had sailed into the top corner!
2. Falcao Signing
We had already seen some very positive summer transfer activity with the likes of Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and most notably Angel di Maria, joining the squad. However, it was when Falcao – yes, Radamel Falcao – was announced so brilliantly out of the blue as a Manchester United player that fans of other clubs really started to take our new look side seriously. It was a huge statement of intent (as well as a massive financial outlay for a loan deal) and one which smacked of ambition and a determination to waste no time in weighing back into the title race this year. It has been a season of fits and starts for the Colombian so far but following that goal at Aston Villa, we’re confident that the floodgates are at least most of the way open.
1. Patrice Evra’s Goal vs Bayern Munich
We Miss you, Patrice. Another goal which turned out to be fruitless as United were dumped out of the Champions League by old foes, Bayern Munich. There was less than a minute between Evra’s thunderous left-footed strike arrowing into Manuel Neuer’s net and Mario Mandzukic’s equalising header, but it was a minute of pure elation. United went into the game with little hope of qualification following a 1-1- draw at Old Trafford – a near-impossible scoreline to build upon considering Bayern’s dominance at the Allianz Arena – but that goal gave us all a moment of hope. We all believed for a (very) short period of time that we were actually going to secure a place in the semi-final of Europe’s biggest competition, despite our dismal domestic form. It was short-lived but it was a beautiful gift from the Frenchman. Let’s hope for plenty of moments like this one from his replacement (no pressure, Luke).
Did we miss out your favourite moment of 2014? Let us know in the comments below.