Manchester United 0-1 West Brom: Premier League – as it happened

Rob Smyth on 15 April 2018

Video: Jonathan Wilson on City's title success

Daniel Taylor's match report

Manchester United are booed off after a bizarre game of football. They were hideous, and deserved to lose to a West Brom side who had won just one of their last 30 league games. Hell, bloody football and all that. City win the title with five matches to spare, which equals the Premier League record set by United in 2000-01. Congratulations to them and West Brom, commiserations to United. Thanks for your company, bye!

MANCHESTER CITY ARE CHAMPIONS OF ENGLAND FOR THE FIFTH TIME!

Full time: Manchester United 0-1 West Brom (Rodriguez)

It’s all over. West Brom have won the Premier League!

90+3 min Yacob on, Brunt off for West Brom. He’s been terrific today.

90+3 min Valencia’s driven cross is headed straight at Foster by Smalling.

90 min There will be four minutes of added time.

89 min West Brom are defending their lead comfortably. Lindelof’s nothing pass is headed away by Gibbs and lumped downfield by someone or other.

88 minSunderland 2006,” says Mike Gibbons.

86 min United are struggling to go down with a whimper, never mind a bang. It’s bizarre. They haven’t been helped by a home crowd whose only noises have been groans and boos.

85 min Another West Brom change: Salomon Rondon is replaced by former footballer Daniel Sturridge.

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84 min United have been tactically naive today, constantly trying to play through the middle even though the only space is out wide. They have hardly got behind the full-backs all day.

83 min The word ‘shocker’ feels inadequate to describe what United have had today. This is a desperate mess.

82 min “If last week’s mugging wasn’t frustrating enough for a City fan, are United are now going one better by not even allowing them to win it on the pitch?” says James Evans.

81 min United don’t really look like scoring. West Brom’s defending has been extremely impressive. McClean surges forward from the halfway line and lashes a cross-shot a few yards wide of the far post.

79 min Before today West Brom had won one of their last 30 league games, at home to Brighton.

78 min “I’ve seen both McLean & Lingard shout Foxtrot Oscar directly into the referee’s face today within any punishment,” says Niall Mullen. “I can only imagine what Buffon said to Michael Oliver.”

77 min Nyom is finally booked for a hack at Martial.

77 min West Brom make a chance, with Matt Phillips replaced by Grzegorz Krychowiak.

76 min If it stays like this, Manchester City will be champions, and United will have completed a bizarre week in which they won away to the champions and lost at home to the bottom team.

75 min Marcus Rashford replaces Ashley Young. Don’t ask me what formation United are now playing.

75 min Sanchez picks out Martial, who mishits a shot over the bar from 15 yards.

GOAL! Manchester United 0-1 West Brom (Rodriguez 73)

Hahaha, West Brom have scored! Brunt’s deep corner from the right was headed back across the face of goal by the under pressure Matic, and Rodriguez arrived late to plant a stooping header past De Gea.

Rodriguez runs in to score the opener.
Rodriguez runs in to score the opener. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
And celebrates.
And celebrates. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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72 min The lively Rodriguez leads a three-on-three break and finds Phillips, who wins a corner. It would, let’s be honest, be pretty hilarious if West Brom won this game.

71 min A draw today would not mathematically give City the title, though they would be 15 points and 30 goals clear with five games to play.

70 min West Brom are camped in their own half now. Mata plays an inviting square pass to Lingard, who slashes a shot just wide from inside the D. Lingard wanted a corner, and replays show that it did indeed deflect off Brunt.

68 min “I found United more fun to watch when they had an attack consisting of several talented and likable youngsters like Martial, Lukaku and Rashford,” says Phil Podolsky. “The arrival of an ageing big-name mercenary in Sanchez made them less fun to watch for this neutral. I’m sure Jose will be fascinated with this tactical analysis.”

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66 min: Great save from Foster! That’s more like it! Matic swings in a cross from deep on the left towards Lukaku, who bullies Gibbs and thumps a downward header towards goal from ten yards. Foster plunges to his right and just tips it away at full stretch.

Lukaku has this headed saved.
Lukaku has this headed saved. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

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65 min “I’m obviously no fan of United, but I accept they have a weird public persona this season,” says Matt Dony. “If someone were to base their knowledge purely upon thinkpieces, they would assume that Liverpool and Tottenham are comfortably above United in the league. It’s hard to love Jose’s style of football, but I’ve always loved him as a manager and a presence in the league (Although, I would HATE to have him at Liverpool). One thing that’s been noticeable this year is, they’ve rediscovered the ability to come back. Ferguson’s United hardly ever looked beaten; you always, always expected them to mount a come-back. Without being exciting, or even particularly consistent, they’ve had some of that steeliness this year. I respect them. Grudgingly. Bitterly. Annoyingly.”

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64 min Martial has looked lively since coming on, and Sanchez is still scurrying around relentlessly.

63 min “Bored,” says David Flynn. “The most likely scorer in this game is Harry Kane.”

62 min It’s now pouring down at Old Trafford, the heavens weeping at the memory of a Giggs-Scholes-Keane-Beckham midfield.

61 min “Hey Rob,” says JR in Illinois. “I’m finding this game very similar to that 5-5 game five years ago with the exception of the ten goals.”

60 min Martial runs at Nyom, who shoves him over with all the subtlety of a ramraider. The free-kick leads to a corner which leads to sweet, sweet nothing.

59 min “Generally, if you say it’s two good goalkeepers playing well, it would give the impression of a freeflowing open game,” says Adam Roberts. “This fixture disproves that theory. I’d write more but the lethargy induced by watching this has overwhelmed me.”

Embrace the lethargy. I’m so bored that I’m starting to get a kind of Valium high.

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58 min A United change: Anthony Martial replaces Paul Pogba, who was poor.

Mourinho as Pogba is substituted.
Mourinho as Pogba is substituted. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

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55 min Pogba, already booked, shoves McClean over just outside the box. It wasn’t enough for a second yellow card but he needs to be careful. The free-kick is a long way to the left of centre, and Brunt spanks it into the wall.

McClean goes over after a push from Pogba.
McClean goes over after a push from Pogba. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

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54 min This match is absolute muck.

53 min Mata whistles a 20-yard shot well wide.

52 min Imagine following that City comeback with this.

51 min “My United supporting friend also says that this team should get more respect,” says Niall Mullen. “I think they do get respect but not a lot of love (like most Mourinho teams they are not that lovable). The respect is mitigated by the fact that they’ve essentially failed to trouble the scorers in the two big competitions despite spending a lot of dough & hiring a blue-chip manager. Also United fans asking for their team to get more respect is indicative of the post Fergie slide. I’m used to a bulletproof United swagger that doesn’t really give a fig what people think of them. That seems to have disappeared.”

49 min Lukaku isolates Gibbs, beats him with his 12th stepover and hits a low cross that deflects into the warm bosom of Foster.

49 min De Gea makes another comfortable save from a Rondon header.

47 min Lingard almost scores straight away with a shot that is crucially blocked in the kamikaze style by Dawson.

Lingard shoots.
Lingard shoots. Photograph: John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

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46 min United begin the second half. Lingard has, in fact, replaced Ander Herrera.

Manchester United have made a half-time change, with Jesse Lingard coming on to replace all 10 outfield players.

“If this game carries on in the same vein,” says Ryan, “this MBM could be up there with Jacob Steinberg’s fabled MBM of the FA Cup 5th round replay between Fulham and Sheffield United in 2014. Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I find that page in my bookmarks and remember that at least I’m not being forced by my employer to watch that terrible match. There’s certainly a place beside it for another one, and you just might be in the process of suffering for this art.”

“Watching Leicester in the 70s, there would sometimes be a quick break,” begins Adam Roberts. “It would reach Jon Sammels on half way and he would put his foot on the ball, look around, slow the game, let the defence organise itself and lose all momentum. Paul Pogba’s playing that role today.”

He’s got the keys to the kingdom but hasn’t got time to use them because he’s having too much fun on his smartphone.

“You said earlier that this United side deserves more respect; isn’t this sort of game exactly the reason they don’t get it?” says Nick Parish. “I expect they’ll win comfortably 2-0 in the end, having survived a few scares along the way, but compare how City, Liverpool, Spurs or any of Fergie’s great United sides would have put this West Brom team to the sword. That’s how you earn respect.”

Yep, fair point. I still think United/Mourinho deserve more respect for the fact they are above Liverpool and Spurs, but they didn’t half test my remaining generosity of spirit in the first 45 minutes.

Half time: Manchester United 0-0 West Brom

Let us never speak of that half again.

45+1 min Pogba links up well with Sanchez and whacks a shot that deflects off Hegazi and over the bar. United have their first corner!

44 min Can you die of boredom?

42 min West Brom win the first corner of the match - and almost score from it. Brunt swings the ball beyond the far post to Dawson, who heads it dangerously into the six-yard box. There’s nobody there for West Brom and Smalling hooks it clear.

Dawson heads one into the mixer.
Dawson heads one into the mixer. Photograph: Adam Fradgley - AMA/WBA FC via Getty Images

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41 min “At LEGOLAND Windsor getting wet,” says Ian Sargeant. “At least I’m not watching this match.”

38 min A sustained spell of pressure for United ends when Pogba wafts over the bar from near the touchline.

37 min “As an Arsenal player Sanchez used to terrify me by picking the ball up between the lines & then being able to turn & create havoc.,” says Niall Mullen. “That sort of player is not one that generally thrives in a Mourinho side. I wonder if that’s why he’s not been on top form since arriving (or does he just have too many miles on the clock)?”

He’s looked much more like himself in the last couple of weeks, I think. He needs better movement around him though. This isn’t a particularly mobile side.

36 min Herrera’s miscontrol turns into a perfect through pass for Lukaku, who himself miscontrols the ball through to Foster. A triumph for all concerned.

34 min “West Brom are typically a fairly likeable team (unless your loyalties lie elsewhere in the midlands, I guess), and Chris Brunt has a magnificent left foot, so it’s been sad to see their season turn out to be such an unrelenting sequence of inadequacy,” says Matt Dony. “But even more frustrating that, in the midst of all that, they completely deservedly smashed Liverpool out of the FA Cup. Typical. They’re down, obviously, but I wish them a speedy return.”

32 min There are a few groans when Pogba stands still with the ball, waiting for some movement in front of him. United’s attacking player has been far too slow.

30 min “In the office with one eye on the MBM, waiting for the rain to abate so I can cycle to the curry house,” says Philip Wainwright. “Is that two saves with the mush from Foster? I wonder what the record saves with face is for a match. One for The Knowledge?”

The only question from this game for the Knowledge is: did anyone who watched the entirety from the first half-hour emerge with their sanity intact?

29 min Pogba is booked for deliberate handball in the West Brom area.

Pogba handles the ball.
Pogba handles the ball. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

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28 min This is crap!

25 min McClean’s very deep cross finds Rondon, who stretches over Lindelof to head towards goal. De Gea gets down to his right to make a comfortable save.

23 min Sanchez and Mata look bright for United. Pogba has been pretty quiet.

21 min “No Pardew today means no dancing I guess,” laments Niall Mullen. “It’s been all downhill for him since that moment of hubris. Has any other footballer/manager suffered in a similar way after such an act? I can only think of Joe Hart screaming at Pirlo before watching both a Panenka and his career at an elite level sail by.”

19 min Mata threads a clever through pass to Lukaku, whose shot hits the face of Foster. Sanchez’s follow-up is also saved, this time in more authentic fashion. Replays suggest that was a foul by Dawson on Herrera, though he also made the most of it.

Foster uses his face to save from Lukaku.
Foster uses his face to save from Lukaku. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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18 min United have a penalty appeal turned down when Herrera is challenged in the area by Dawson. I thought it looked a penalty, though we haven’t seen a replay.

16 min It’s all a bit pedestrian and sloppy from United. West Brom look like they fancy their chances.

13 min McClean’s cross is headed over by Rondon, 10 yards from goal. That was a decent chance too, though he was under pressure from Lindelof. West Brom have started very well.

12 min De Gea makes a good save from Livermore! The move started when the busy Rodriguez robbed Herrera near the halfway line and found Rondon. He eventually moved the ball across the area for Livermore, who came back inside onto his left foot and hit a low shot towards the far corner. De Gea got down smartly to his right to palm it away. Livermore should probably have scored.

Livermore shoots.
Livermore shoots. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

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11 min “I always adhere to that great Greek philosopher of sport, Willamus Parcellus: ‘You are what your record says you are,’” says George Melkie. “Chelsea fan I am, so no skin in this: Man City rule 2018, Man U also ran, we ate dirt.”

If Chelsea are dirt, I shudder to think what West Brom have eaten.

10 min Foster saves with his face from Mata, who was offside anyway.

Foster saves from Mata.
Foster saves from Mata. Photograph: Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

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9 min United are having loads of possession, with Sanchez looking lively. West Brom’s defending has been good so far.

8 min “In the 5-5 game, it was Romelu Lukaku who scored the hattrick to deny SAF the perfect farewell,” says Anwesh Mishra. “Hope the big lad does something similar today. Although, he has always been a goalscorer, his all-round game has had a decent improvement after the dry spell he had. He was easily one of our best players against Chelsea and that sordid affair against Sevilla.”

He also missed that great chance in Seville, though I agree there have been promising signs in the last few weeks. I’m still not convined about him.

5 min Rodriguez robs Matic in a dangeroua area, tries to go past the last man Lindelof and slips over on the edge of the box.

Rodriguez robs Matic.
Rodriguez robs Matic. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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4 min I thought United might try to blow West Brom away at the start but that hasn’t happened - it’s been pretty low key so far.

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2 min “Hey Rob,” says JR in Illinois. “I’m looking for a big game from Jake Livermore today. Perhaps a goal and an assist in addition to patrolling and dominating the midfield. Nah, just fooling around. He shouldn’t even be playing. What a disaster this season has been for my Baggies. The not brief enough tenure of King Pardew possibly being the worst part of it. Just a few more indignities to suffer before it’s over. At least today’s expected beatdown should be a big boost for my fantasy team.”

1 min Peep peep! West Brom get the game under way.

The players are in the tunnel, This Is The One is on the tannoy. It’s time for some association football.

The teams come out before the match.
The teams come out before the match. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

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Jose Mourinho speaks “We want to try to finish second, which is a position where we have been stable for many months. It’s not about delaying City winning the title. When I congratulated them I was being serious, I was not trying to be clever. It’s about us getting as many points as possible and finishing second.”

An email! “I don’t subscribe to the idea that Mourinho is past it, and I think a lot of the criticism is down to his personality having shifted, for many, from cheeky to grating,” says Matt Loten. “However, as the season has gone on, I’ve felt more and more that Mourinho has been doing well with a limited squad, but also that he needs to take a little more blame for those limitations than he might like. Mourinho has done a very good job of identifying the weaknesses in his squad and moving decisively to address them; unfortunately several of his signings have managed to look less astute as the season has gone on as they did when they were made.

“Lindelof, Pogba, Bailly, and Sanchez all probably look less impressive captures than they did upon announcement, to varying degrees, Ibrahimovic is gone, Lukaku has scored goals but still has a question mark against parts of his game. Matic is probably the only Mourinho signing who has been an unarguable success. I think Jose will continue to add trophies to the Old Trafford cabinet, but I think he needs to re-examine his recent transfer history.”

I agree with almost all of that, though plenty of United fans wouldn’t concur re: Matic. It’s such a big summer for Mourinho. If he doesn’t get it right I think he’ll struggle to win the title at United.

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In other news, Rafa Benitez’s impressive Newcastle have confirmed their survival with an excellent 2-1 win over Arsenal.

The teams

Manchester United (4-3-3) De Gea; Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Mata, Lukaku, Sanchez.
Substitutes: Pereira, Jones, Rojo, Lingard, McTominay, Martial, Rashford.

West Brom (4-4-2) Foster; Nyom, Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs; Phillips, Livermore, Brunt, McClean; Rondon, Rodriguez.
Substitutes: Myhill, Gabr, Yacob, Burke, Krychowiak, Field, Sturridge.

Referee Paul Tierney.

Preamble

Pop quiz, hotshot: when did Manchester United last score five goals in a league game? You probably know the answer. It was, symbolically enough, their last game under Sir Alex Ferguson, the 5-5 draw with West Brom in May 2013. They will hope to change that today against a team who accepted relegation a long time ago.

United only need a draw to ensure Manchester City do not clinch the title - but after last weekend’s glorious victory at the Etihad Stadium, they will want a thumping win to reinforce the feeling that next season is going to be different.

Jose Mourinho’s team could end with 89 points, a total exceeded by only seven teams in the Premier League era - and two of those were in a 42-game season. You’ll have your own thoughts about whether Mourinho is overachieving with a limited team or underachieving with a big budget, or even doing a bit of both. But he’s probably right when he says the team deserves a bit more respect.

Kick off is at 4pm.

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