Full time: Real Sociedad de Futbol 0-0 Manchester United FC
That, my dear hipsters, is that. It was a poor game in which Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini embarrassed themselves, and Robin van Persie missed a penalty. United have played 14 games in Spain since the turn of the century; seven have been 0-0 draws. They stay top of the group, although anything buy a win in Leverkusen in three weeks would probably leave them with a nervous final game at home to Shakhtar. They should be fine though. Thanks for your emails; night.
90+2 min Prieto plays a dangerous angled pass to Seferovic in the area, but his first touch is a sackable offence and forces him so wide that he can only spray the ball into the side netting from a ludicrous angle.
90+1 min David Moyes shuts up shop: Kagawa off, Duncan Edwards on.
90 min: FELLAINI SENT OFF
This is not at all surprising. He has been lummoxing around all night, and now he has receivied a second yellow for a trip on Zurutuza near the halfway line. That was troublingly brainless. The poor chap has had an awful start to his United career. But he's a great player and youse are all idiots.
88 min Andy Townsend, who usually brings the pom-poms when English sides play in Europe, describes United's performance as "ordinary".
87 min "Young's diving is annoying," says Ethan Dean-Richards. "But defenders foul on purpose more often than attackers dive, and rather than equivalent condemnation for something which actually holds up the game, they quite often get praised for it. The adjective to describe a useful foul is 'professional'. It's a double standard, no? If anything, aren't dives a response to tactical fouling? Young was actually being tugged a bit there, but we just accept that. And don't we only prefer professional fouls because they're seen as the more masculine of the two, despite being equally as cowardly, and having the potential to injure people, whereas no-one has ever been out for a month because of an Ashley Young dive*? (*as far as we can tell.) What I'm saying is: Ashley Young is a great man."
It's what I like to call a "moral maze", Ethan!
86 min See 17 min.
84 min Moyes is on his feet, attempting to freeze hell. United have not been great, at least not going forward.
82 min Fellaini, diligently tracking the run of Castro, concedes a corner down the Real Sociedad de Fútbol left. It's swung out to Inigo Martinez, in too much space ahead of the near post, but he mistimes his jump and loops a tame header onto the top of the net.
80 min The anonymous Griezmann is replaced by Haris Seferovic. Moments later, Valencia's cross-shot is kicked off the line by Gonzalez. Hard to be sure whether it was going in or flashing wide of the far post.
79 min "I'd like to think that Moyes, unlike most other managers, has the gumption to say 'yes, justice was done', on the penalty," says Elliott Carr-Barnsley. "He probably won't, but if anyone was going to, he would. Also, good to see Townsend not still holding onto his opinion that Bravo saved the penalty instead of it hitting the post, contrary to the evidence. He's losing it that guy."
77 min Vela's deflected pass towards Vela is spilled by the sliding De Gea, who has been slightly skittish tonight, but he gets to the loose ball before Vela.
75 min A quick left-wing from Real Sociedad almost catches United out. Xavi Prieto, on the turn 15 yards out, rifles a rising drive across goal that is going wide, but Vela gets to it and tries to chest it in. He doesn't get enough on the ball and it goes over the bar. That was a chance; he was only six yards out. "Put your head on it!" says Andy Townsend.
73 min "Ashley Young is a disgrace in every way," says Paul McGrory. "Sadly, he's the mould from which most modern footballers seem to be cast." Aye, footballers used to be stand-up guys in more ways than one.
72 min United have been much more urgent since the substitutions. Young had started brilliantly, and then he ruins it all with that miserable nonsense. Xavi Prieto is on for Ruben Pardo.
71 min Hang on, he didn't save it at all! It smashed off the right post, and at considerable speed, before clipping Bravo's hand on the way out.
70 min: WHAT A SAVE FROM BRAVO!
That's a sensational stop! Van Persie leathered the penalty towards the right corner, and Bravo flew across his line to palm it away. That is a stunning save, and a bit of justice too. Ashley Young's dive was embarrassing.
PENALTY TO UNITED!
Young plays a neat one-two with Kagawa, dives pathetically after feeling a slight touch from the arm of Markel Bergara, and the referee buys it.
68 min A good pass from Kagawa puts Van Persie in the inside-right position. He moves into the area and sits the defender down, but his cut back is behind the supporting Kagawa.
67 min The keeper Bravo races from his area to beat Van Persie to a through ball and concede a throw-in.
65 min Van Persie hits the post, possibly with his first touch. Kagawa, in his favourite position, slipped a good ball wide to Ashley Young. He passed a lovely, pacy low cross in between keeper and defenders towards Van Persie, beyond the far post, and he rattled a rising right-footed shot off the post from a tightish angle. Moments later the ball came back to Van Persie and he swept not far wide of the far post from the edge of the area.
64 min A double change for United: Ashley Young and Robin van Persie on, Rooney and Hernandez off. The Kagawa enthusiasts will be happy, as he is now playing as a No10. Or a deep-lying No9, I can't tell the difference. Real Sociedad also make a change, with Chori Castro replacing Agirretxe.
63 min "The Kagawa enthusiasts need a reality check," says Christopher O'Loughlin. "Kagawa may well be a fine No10, but who's to say Mr.Moyes is playing aNoten and not in actual fact a deep lying No9 along with an orthodox No9? Thus allowing his front men the flexibility to interchange at will, something kagawa could not offer, as he an archetypal counter attacking footballer, suited to quick transitions, carrying the ball at pace and intimate passing, the characteristics which made him such an effective midfielder for Klopp."
Sorry can you run that past me again? The old narcolepsy kicked in during the tactics bit.
62 min Can you keep a secret? This game is awful.
61 min Rooney tries to put Hernandez through on goal, but the pass is a disgrace and Hernandez was offside anyway.
60 min At the moment it's still Shakhtar 0-0 Leverkusen, which means this result will do for United. But if Shakhtar and/or Sociedad score, flip might get real.
59 min Smalling is lucky not to be booked for a poor challenge, with studs showing.
58 min "It’s a rare day when United in Europe is the second biggest distraction of my day," says Alexander Cobb. "But you see I’m from Toronto. Our mayor has just admitted that he smoked crack cocaine about a year ago. He didn’t mention it before because he didn’t remember it. Because he was in a 'drunken stupor'. When he smoked the crack cocaine." Regrets? He'd had a few.
57 min Smalling concedes a corner down the Real Sociedad left. Pardo's dangerous inswinger is headed by Fellaini.
53 min Evra's driven cross is only half cleared by Gonzalez, straight to Kagawa on the left of the box. He tries to go past Gonzalez and falls over after bodily contact. That was probably a fair challenge.
51 min Evra is booked for an inept hack at Vela.
50 min Javier Hernandez misses from six yards! Kagawa did really well, taking down Valencia's deep cross before sliding a perfect ball through the legs of Carlos Martinez and across goal. It bobbled up slightly in front of Hernandez, six yards out, and he wafted it over the bar in the comedy style. That's a really bad miss, only partially explained by the bobble.
49 min Fellaini clumsily tattoos the Achilles of Griezmann. He needs to be careful, having already been booked.
48 min Real Sociedad have started the half assertively. A dangerous cross from Zurutuza is headed away well by Evra, who moments earlier did well as the last man to track Vela's run and conceded a throw-in.
47 min Six of United's last 13 games in Spain have ended 0-0.
46 min Sociedad begin the second half, kicking from left to right. Within the first minute, Pardo bobbles a volley a few yards wide of the left post from 20 yards. A decent enough effort.
"Nonsense of a game," says Adam Hirst. "Smalling better be good at centre-half over the next few years because he’s useless as an attacking fullback. With Valencia in front of him checking back, there’s almost no threat on that side."
"What do you think of the continued use of Smalling (or Jones) at full-back?" says David Wall. "I appreciate that to some degree it's been by necessity given Rafael's injuries this season but it's not an uncommon practice in England, to introduce a centre-half somewhere he'll 'do less damage', and to think that you can get away with that rather than having specialist cover for the position. It seems sadly reminiscent of junior league attitudes and is a bit ignorant of the difference that a great full-back can make, and it's especially odd in this case as Moyes is obviously aware of that in Baines's case."
Fergie often did it with central midfielders, never mind centre backs - Ince, Keane, Phelan - but these stories Moyes doesn't fancy Rafael are a bit odd.
"Sure, you can say Kagawa needs time in his actual position to impress," says Rob Edwards. "And I agree that he's a brilliant footballer. But you'll notice that 18-year old Adnan Januzaj has been played all over the place and impressed each time. Being played as a left winger hasn't caused him to be a bit slow and weak."
Clayton Blackmore and John O'Shea are the greatest players in United's history.
Plug! Plug! Plug!
I wanted to call it 'The Story of Football's Hipsterist Team, Yeah?', but they wouldn't have it.
Half time: Real Sociedad 0-0 Manchester United
Thatr was a poor half full of slow, meek football. One side dragged the other down to their level; I'm just not sure which.
45 min De la Bella's bobbling 20-yarder goes just wide of the far post with De Gea unsighted.
44 min Vidic concedes a corner with one of those pieces of "defending" of which he is so unusually fond. Again nothing comes of it.
43 min "30 mins," says Matt Dony. "Are you absolutely certain there isn't a slight spelling mistake in the last sentence there?"
He's not talking about impostors.
42 min No fireworks yet?" says Simon McMahon. "Game needing a spark? Ok, sorry, I'm desperate." No, I'm desperate, I've just published this.
41 min Vela's inswinging cross from the right is punched for a corner by De Gea, one of those odd pieces of goalkeeping he occasionally produces. Pardo's delivery is headed away by Valencia.
39 min "I get where you're coming from with Kagawa being a beautiful footballer and everything, but what has he ever done for United?" says Patrick Cullen. "It can't all be down to Big Bad Sir Alex, Nasty Mr Moyes and That Horrid Rooney all conspiring to not give him the ball – where's the spark, the drive, the will and desire to prove his doubters wrong? I can understand people describing him as lacking in confidence, but to me he looks more like a player that's already decided to move on, now just going through the motions and making sure he doesn't get injured."
I don't agree with any of that. I'd be particularly loath to judge him until he's had a decent run in his actual position. But I won't call you bad words on Twitter for having a different opinion to mine.
38 min Seconds later a fine cross from Kagawa, lashed towards the near post, is superbly defended by Inigo Martinez, who just gets there first to concede a corner with Javier Hernandez waiting to stab the ball into the net.
37 min Valencia puts Smalling clear on the right. The cross is a disgrace.
36 min Evra slithers round the back to win a corner for United. Rooney swings it deep towards Vidic, who is shoved over by de la Bella. As Clive Tyldesley says, if that's outside the box it would be a foul for a push. I don't think Vidic was getting there, mind you.
35 min "Whilst you're at the business of plugging new United books," says Mark Payne, "the kindle version of this one came out on Saturday."
34 min Smalling Bebes a cross out of play on the far side.
33 min See 17 min.
32 min "This game," says Joe Deasy, "is screaming for a young Kosovo-Albanian-Belgian-Turkish-potentially-English winger." You misspelt Ashley Young.
31 min Fellaini is booked for a block on Markel Bergara.
30 min "Think it's quite telling that Moyes went for a player like that when someone like Mkhitaryan was available this summer," says Dileep Premachandran. "Kagawa should have known then what his role (fringe) would be in the new dispensation."
Mind you, Moyes and the imposters also went for Herrera. The problem for Kagawa is simple: Rooney and the cult of the English footballer.
La Real Sociedad's first shot. Agirretxe knocks the ball wide to Zurutuza, who stretches to drag a cross back whence it came, and Agirretxe bobbles a shot comfortably wide from 15 yards. It was a quarter-chance probably.
27 min Rooney kicks Inigo Martinez up in the air, a challenge for which he might have been booked. The referee, for some reason, has a right go at Martinez and tells him to get up!
26 min Although United have had lots of the ball, their play has been laboured and a little imprecise. It's a strange game actually, fairly low-key.
25 min The geriatricos, Vidic and Ferdinand, have had very little to do on their promotion from Carling Cup duty.
24 min "I'm good with Sociedad," says Hubert O'Hearn. "La Real sounds like a late 70s disco act with tight white pants and extra-funky bass players..."
23 min A nice break from Sociedad yields their first corner. It's an outswinger from I have no idea who took the corner, okay and it clears everybody.
22 min Fellainiwatch: how much? He does look ordinary, although it's early days and many United greats and very goods have had slow starts to their United career.
21 min "What are your thoughts on the notion that Fergie bought Kagawa not thinking he could get RVP and thus Kagawa was made redundant before the season ever started?" says Colin Sebastian.
That would make a lot of sense – Kagawa as the No10, Rooney as the No9 - but in his book Ferguson, I think, says he always planned to buy either Lewandowski and Van Persie that summer. And he's not going to tell lies in his autobiography, is he?
19 min A reasonable rising drive from Kagawa, 18 yards out, is patted down by Bravo and claimed at the second attempt.
18 min "Please just say Real Sociedad or La Real and not Sociedad," says Richard Thomson. "It’s well beyond a joke now. If you really don’t want to, then start calling RVP van Perseye."
Any other requests?
17 min This is a game for hipsters and Roy Hodgson, which is to say it has been entirely boring thus far.
16 min "I hear you brother and concur with your views on Kagawa and likewise would sell Rooney to accommodate him," says Mark Judd. "My daughter speaks Japanese and lives in Japan, I’ve told her that she has my permission to marry Shinji but she’s not too fussed as she has her eye on a guy in a K-Pop band. The youth of today eh? Not listening to their parents an’all."
14 min Sociedad have been surprisingly meek, playing like an away side. They are better than this, as Griezmann shows with an outstanding piece of control on the left touchline from an overhit crossfield pass.
10 min That was a nice move from United. Kagawa put Evra away down the left; he cut it back crisply to Rooney, who touched it off first time to Kagawa, and his first-time shot – which was going wide anyway - took a deflection to give United a corner. The corner produced the cube root of sweet bugger all.
Plug! Plug! Plug!
One of the great Manchester United books came out last month You should buy it.
8 min United have been the more assertive side thus far, albeit without creating anything of note. Giggs's cushioned pass to the overlapping Evra is not cushioned sufficiently and just drifts out of play.
6 min "What is your opinion on Kagawa wide left? Wouldn't it be nice to to see Rooney out there, as he sometimes was in the last, truly exceptional United vintage of '06-8?" says Chris Rose. "Or would that be a grave error? We all know it makes Jurgen Klopp cry to see Kagsy on the periphery. Kagawa on the Periphery could be nice companion piece to Duckworth Lewis Method's exquisite Mason on the Boundary."
I would sell Rooney and make Kagawa the regular No10. But that isn't going to happen, and therefore it's hard to see him succeeding at United. It's all pretty sad as he is a beautiful footballer, as he will demonstrate for Dortmund next season. Rooney is now more of a No9 than a N010 in my strikingly humble opinion, so the choice should be between Van Persie and Rooney, not Rooney and Kagawa. In time, David Moyes may regret bending over backwards for Rooney in the summer. Or Rooney may score 35 goals in United's 2013-14 Treble. Nobody knows anything.
5 min The referee has a word with Smalling, who shoved the keeper Bravo over as he tried to throw the ball out. He might have been booked for that I suppose.
3 min United have started pretty well, passing the ball around in the modern style. There is a cracking atmosphere.
2 min It's an important night for Marouane Fellaini, United's hitherto underwhelming £27.5m lumberista. He needs a decent performance if he is to be given the chance to kick Arsenal all over Old Trafford on Sunday.
1 min It's a wet, windy night in San Sebastian, so Clive Tyldesley tells us via the medium of television. United, in red, kick off from left to right; Sociedad are in blue and white stripes. Hernandez elbows Inigo Martinez in the phizog after about 20 seconds. It was probably accidental, and there's no to-do to report.
Ryan Dunne/house/in the
"You missed a great opportunity to describe the European Cup as Joey to Sir Alex Ferguson's Dawson, there," says Ryan Dunne. "NB it's simply cruel to link to the webpage version of the Fiver, replete with Soulmates ads (although I do like the touch of false hope in today's spiel, merely saying that said lovelies would just never "normally" dream of going out with Stereotypical Fiver Reader. Never Give Up!)."
"Are Sociedad one of these hipster teams the young people are into," says Graeme Neill, "or are Manchester United likely to give them a right old shoeing?"
What are young people?
Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane are among the ITV punditry team "I think I'm the bad cop and he's the bad, bad cop," says O'Neill, who may or may not be one of the 47 people worldwide who subscribe to the Fiver.
United’s record in away matches in Spain puts the dire in diabolical: P21 W2 D9 L10 F18 A35
But one of those two victories did include the greatest goal of David Beckham's career, irritatingly forgotten because of the return leg eight days later, in which Beckham inadvertently introduced the word 'metatarsal' to the football dictionary.
"Yeah, you can laugh. That was the World Cup."
A celebration of Irish football's new marriage.
(NB: Video contains a wee bit of adult language.)
Tinkerbell makes six changes: some because of injury, some because of Arsenal, one because of a desire to give Javier Hernandez something resembling the game time he deserves for his excellent form.
Ryan Giggs starts, 24 days before his 40th birthday and 22 years after he made his European debut against another Spanish side, Atletico Madrid.
Real Sociedad (4-3-3) Bravo; Carlos Martinez, Gonzalez, Inigo Martinez, de la Bella; Pardo, Markel Bergara, Zurutuza; Vela, Agirretxe, Griezmann.
Substitutes: Zubikarai, Elustondo, Seferovic, Xabi Prieto, Ansotegi, Castro, Cadamuro.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Fellaini, Giggs; Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa; Hernandez.
Substitutes: Lindegaard, Jones. Anderson, Nani, Young, van Persie, Buttner.
Referee Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
Moyes in! After four straight victories, Manchester United’s best winning run since February 2013, David Moyes and Manchester United travel to Spain without any talk of pressure, crisis or Wilf McGuinness. One of the reasons Moyes wanted the United job was to experience those magical European nights™. Another was to experience those minuscule European nights, to be at a club so big that a match in Europe’s premier competition against side from one of Europe’s premier leagues is just another game.
United’s trip to Sociedad has been overshadowed by Sunday’s title decider against Arsenal, and Moyes’s team selection may reflect that. In this respect he seems to be his own man: Europe was Sir Alex Ferguson’s true love – the one he will never truly get over – but if you gave Moyes a choice of trophies this season he would surely take the Premier League.
A bigger reason for the disparity in importance of United's next two games is their position in each competition. When Moyes took over, it was said by plenty that he would be fine domestically, where he was familiar with the circuit, but might struggle in Europe. As we know, nobody knows anything. United are eighth in the league – their lowest position this far into a season since the unspeakably bleak winter of 2001 – and top of their Champions League group. A failure to win tonight would leave them vulnerable to a nasty sting, particularly if Shakhtar beat Leverkusen, but at the moment it's serene-bum time in Europe.