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damp squib This was an Old Trafford Halloween horror - no United team should ever play with fear

This was one of the worst 90 minutes of football that I have ever seen in my life

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United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chats with Thiago Silva of Chelsea after the 0-0 draw at Old Trafford

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chats with Thiago Silva of Chelsea after the 0-0 draw at Old Trafford

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United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chats with Thiago Silva of Chelsea after the 0-0 draw at Old Trafford

This was a shocker, 90 wasted minutes of my life that I can never recover.

It is very easy to put this match down as a damp squib. It was certainly damp at Old Trafford and this match never caught fire.

Neither team wanted to risk losing the match, by really trying to win it.

At the risk of repeating myself, but there were shades of Ireland of late from both teams as they held the ball for the sake of holding it.

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Fernandes tries an overhead kick

Fernandes tries an overhead kick

PA

Fernandes tries an overhead kick

Both teams were coming off Champions League matches last week and face into another one this weekend.

Both clubs had their pre-seasons rendered almost useless by having to finish off last season's European adventures in August and also Chelsea's progress to the FA Cup Final.

Throw all those things into the mix, add in the lack of supporters in the stands to create and atmosphere, and you have the turkey we had to endure.

A turkey that arrived two months early.

Oh, it wouldn't have happened if Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho were prowling the touchlines when they were going head-to-head for the Premier League.

They'd probably have agreed to start a row between them over something or other - just to divert our attention from how bad the game had been.

I suppose I do have to give both Manchester United and Chelsea a little bit of leeway given the lack of long-term preparation both had.

There's no doubt about it, that has contributed to what we've seen so far in the Premier League.

We've seen some very enjoyable games, with plenty of goals, as teams struggled to get up to the pace, to reach the levels of fitness and concentration that would be regarded as par for the course.

This one, by contrast, was a dreadful night's 'entertainment' for the opposite reason - because the two teams were not fluent enough to put together a decent game.

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Man United’s Harry Maguire comes into close contact with Cesar Azpilicueta. Photo: Oli Scarff/PA

Man United’s Harry Maguire comes into close contact with Cesar Azpilicueta. Photo: Oli Scarff/PA

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Man United’s Harry Maguire comes into close contact with Cesar Azpilicueta. Photo: Oli Scarff/PA

And how the occasion lacked for a bit of passion coming down on top of the players from those who had paid their money in.

A bit of Manc humour and desire was badly missed, the players might have located it if they were hearing it in their ears every time they came over to take a throw.

Last night's match was another piece of evidence for my theory that this season's Premier League is going to be a very tight affair - in which even the teams challenge for the crown are going to drop points all over the shop.

No way will we see a season when Liverpool and Manchester City romp ahead of everyone. Teams are slipping up all over the place.

I mean, Manchester United have already dropped eight points at home this season. Eight, they've gone through whole campaigns lately not dropping eight points in their fortress.

For sure, it was an awful match. Yes, the rain probably didn't help, but then it wasn't the first Saturday night it has ever rained in Manchester.

So the home team, at least, had no excuses.

Perhaps the fear of losing a third home game this season got the Red Devils.

But my answer to that is that no Manchester United player should ever play with fear.

You are playing for one of the world's greatest football clubs.

You have everything going for you - fear should not be a factor.

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Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy messes with Paul Pogba after the final whistle.

Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy messes with Paul Pogba after the final whistle.

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Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy messes with Paul Pogba after the final whistle.

Chelsea have such players of quality that they have no need to be afraid of anyone either.

But Frank Lampard's decision to spend big recently on young attacking talent, the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, during the summer, still seems daft to me.

At least not when Lampard didn't stiffen his back-line with players of a similar standing.

Chelsea had defensive problems last season - and they still have them this term.

Unlike in attack, they did not buy in bulk.

Ben Chilwell was a good purchase for left-back and Thiago Silva is a great centre-half.

And he was one player that was excellent in this game.

Yet at 36, Thiago is not a long-term building block at Stamford Bridge.

Maybe Chelsea have identified their centre-half of the future for buying next summer.

However Chelsea managers, given Roman Abramovich's notoriously quick trigger finger, should always be wary of long-term planning.

In West London, it is all about winning now.

Maybe Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feels a bit like that too. For Edinson Cavani, great goalscorer that he has been for a number of top clubs, is not going to be at United in three years' time - no matter how well he plays.

The Uruguayan's 33-year-old legs will see to that!

He came on yesterday for his United debut and almost scored with the first kick of the ball he had.

But when I was at Manchester United, and when Alex Ferguson was leading the club to so many trophies, older players were rarely brought in on short-term deals.

Henrik Larsson is one such exception that I can think of.

And if Cavani has the strong influence the great Swedish centre-forward had in his brief stint at Old Trafford, then he will do fine.

But United signing a 33-year-old centre-forward? Sorry, it's not for me.

One thing struck me last night as we limped to the end of this match was how much we need the occasion that is created by fans at the match.

And football has to be careful that we don't turn fans away long-term.

VAR has become one huge issue. It has taken away the spontaneity from games.

Yes, I know it was brought in to stop a series of stupid mistakes, one of the most blatent of them being an injustice to English football at the 2010 World Cup when Frank Lampard clearly scored a goal agianst Germany that wasn't given.

But listen, if you are using technology you have got to get everything right and the idea that the VAR official at Goodison Park last weekend didn't see Jordan Pickford's foul because he was looking for an offside is the sort of stuff that drives football supporters mad.

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