Now in his second season with West Ham, Matty Taylor has struggled to secure himself a permanent place in Big Sam's starting 11, and with the purchase of Matt Jarvis at the end of the summer window, the struggle continued.
That being said, last night under the lights of Old Trafford he exuded a desire to win unparalleled by any other player on the pitch, on either team. It was not the best game he ever played, a number of crosses failed to beat the first defender, and under pressure he made a few mistakes, most notably threading a ball across the six-yard box in search of Vaz Te, while Carlton Cole stood unmarked on the penalty spot. That said, the assumption that Carlton Cole will score when unmarked in the both is perhaps too arrogant an assumption to make.
The work rate he showed up and down both right and left sides of the field energised the Irons in the second half and led us to create chances - something that simply did not happen in the opening 45. That said, in a half of nearly-chances by nearly-men he almost had the best chance of the game, with just 35 on the clock the bouncing ball came to him on the edge of United's box, but alas as he swung his famously powerful left boot towards the ball. Timing was everything and as such nothing came as Mo Diame just tipped it away from him before he could strike in one of many confused phases in the final third.
Matty Taylor runs with an energy, creativity and desire fit for two men, as if suddenly another person will burst out of him - mid dribble - and take over. He's crafty too, as he jinks around defenders without ever really slowing down. And both these things were so evident last night because he seemed to be the only player on the pitch that cared.
With both managers fielding weakened sides, there was an apparent lack of desire to score goals and win the game from both sets of players. An air of generally apathetic unimportance lingered the night's sky above Old Trafford. There was too little evidence that the fans cared, with United's fans inaudible throughout the game, except for chanting '5,4,3,2,1' as if they were celebrating the coming of a new year, not a 15 minute break from the mundanity of watching the overpayed fail to entertain the few that showed up. By the last twenty minutes it was hard to tell whether United fans had cockily assumed victory and left, or just never filled the seats at all.
My respect, as always (and hence expectedly), goes to the travelling West Ham fans who were loud throughout the game, even with the sh*t show that befell them, and that they left work early for. Their chanting of "There's only one Carlos Tevez brightened up the dullest of occasions.
It is a great shame that the purest form of English football - the FA Cup - is not treated with the reverence it deserves - the magic it allows to thrive is worth more than securing a home win against QPR this weekend, that's for sure.