Well, that was coming, wasn’t it? Having held on for large parts of the game United surrendered a late equaliser at Cardiff, a timely reminder that things are not going to come easy this season.
Not only are things not going to come easy for the Reds this season, but United conspired to make their life harder by missing a couple of chances in the second half which, had they been converted, would have put the game to bed.
Danny Welbeck skied a glorious chance after playing a wonderful one-two with Wayne Rooney with 10 minutes to go, but the England striker’s finish ballooned over the bar.
The miss was made to look even worse when, in the first minute of added time, Kim Bo Kyung headed the hosts level, thus depriving United of two precious points.
The Reds, in truth, hadn’t looked brilliant throughout the game, but had managed to get ever so close to what would have been a fourth consecutive league win.
With Robin Van Persie and Michael Carrick out of the side, United fielded the “dynamic” combo of Marouane Fellaini and Tom Cleverley, with neither of them able to get a hold onto to the game.
Having said that, United were 1-0 up within 15 minutes as Wayne Rooney put the Reds in front after Antonio Valencia had pounced on a misplaced pass and fed the England striker.
In truth Rooney was lucky to still be on the pitch by then, as he had petulantly kicked out in frustration to Jordan Mutch with the game just 10 minutes old.
United struggled to keep control of the game and Cardiff pulled level as Gary Medel found Jordan Mutch, who picked out Frazier Campbell before the former United man finished coolly across goal to equalise.
United were 2-1 up just before halftime as Patrice Evra headed Rooney’s corner past David Marshall to give his team a 2-1 lead.
United’s lead looked increasingly in danger in the second half, as the Reds struggled to impose themselves into the game, even though they twice went close to double their advantage.
With 51′ minutes played, Fellaini’s header forced Marshall into a difficult save, before the Cardiff repeated himself on the following corner, as he kept Chris Smalling’s header out.
Two minutes later Cardiff could have equalised but Frazier Campbell’s chip hit the crossbar, much to Tom Cleverley’s relief, given that the United midfielder’s wayward pass had released the Cardiff striker.
Cleverley remains an unsolvable mystery, for while he runs around fill of intent and he’s obviously determined to make things happen, the England international brings nothing to the table.
Danny Welbeck and Ryan Giggs replaced Adnan Januzaj and Javier Hernandez, but this time United were to be punished for sitting back, as Kim’s header flew past David De Gea in the dying minutes.
Still, there was still time for Rooney to squander a glorious chance, as United fell seven points behind Arsenal and today will very much feel like a missed opportunity.