Sunday was certainly a day of contrasting emotions. While it was painful to lose to an injury time goal, my overriding feeling was one of huge pride in the team.

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Backed by some great support they pushed the champions to the wire, despite one of Andre Marriner’s best performances in a United shirt. Howard Webb will be worried about his place in Sir Alex’s squad for next season.

Joking aside, there is no doubt that the defeat hurt so much simply because we were so competitive and could easily have come away with a well-deserved point.

Had the much-maligned David de Gea not chosen this match to produce his most convincing performance in United’s goal we might even have had more

However, United are champions for a reason, and while some will see their late winner as fortunate, the way that they were able to up their game the moment we drew level showed their class.

While it’s annoying to have to endure the antics of the likes of Nani, who doesn’t seem to have realised that he’s no longer in the school playground, any true lover of the game would find Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs a pleasure to watch.

I’ve read some criticism of the substitutions and how we defended after our equaliser, but I think that it’s unrealistic. Not only were some of the players dead on their feet, as Paul Lambert has pointed out, but also, having got more attacking players on to try to get a goal and doing so, we were then less well equipped to defend against the onslaught.

Sometimes things happen in football and you just have to take them on the chin rather than finding something, or someone, to blame.

Being a manager can be a thankless task. However, while his decisions will always be second guessed by some, he’s the one who knows how players have performed in training, who’s been a bit under the weather and which combinations work. Given Paul Lambert’s record over the last two and a half seasons I’m happy to trust his judgement, but I can’t say the same for Stuart Pearce.

If I take off my green and yellow glasses I can just about understand the age argument with respect to Grant Holt’s omission from the squad.

Having said that, though, the Euros are only months away and Holt is currently as potent as any English striker, although Danny Graham also has every reason to feel aggrieved.

However, Pearce’s failure to pick John Ruddy is totally inexplicable to me. Here is a young English goalkeeper who is having a fantastic season, and whose confidence is growing by the game.

What will Pearce learn about Robert Green and Scott Carson that isn’t already known? Both of them have had numerous chances without ever convincing when it really mattered, and both have made costly errors in big games.

This was a perfect opportunity to get Ruddy into an England squad, even if he didn’t get onto the pitch, and to let the England coaches have a good look at him as well as allowing him to get a feel for international football.

Unfortunately a chance to look at promising players from clubs like City, Swansea and Newcastle has simply been wasted in order to avoid upsetting the established order.

In my view, friendlies like the one against Holland are pointless unless new faces are tried out. With little at stake the established players aren’t interested, as evidenced by the inevitable spate of withdrawals, although I expect, as ever, there will be a number of quick recoveries in time for the weekend’s League games.

Thank heavens for Norwich City, where passion for the badge and belief in the team ethic are still the overriding principles.


Previous columns by Robin Sainty