1. United produced a scintillating display in Paris to come back home with an important 2-1 win in their first match from the group stage, a group that includes also RB Leipzig of Germany, where just two teams go through to the knock out stage. Most players on the field excelled against PSG and it is very difficult to pick out a star performer. I will do it though and would like to highlight the performance of Fred in midfield. Fred is generally that type of player who goes unnoticed even when he has a fantastic game because he does the ‘dirty work’ in midfield and allows other around him to put their skills to effect. Against PSG, it was clear that Ole gave him a crucial task, that of nullifying Neymar. No easy feat. Yet, Fred stood up to the plate and terrorised Neymar for the whole 90 minutes. He tracked Neymar’s movement and when Neymar received the ball in midfield, Fred was like a vampire who had not tasted blood for months. He intercepted, frequently stole possession from Neymar and reduced him to just one dangerous shot throughout the match. The pundit – maybe because he played for the Scousers – continued to say that Neymar is not being himself on that day but failed to understand the reason why – Fred. He reminds me of one Ji-Sung Park during the Fergie era and the almost man-marking tasks that the Korean would carry out when United encountered stellar players as opponents. In essence, Fred was one of the main reasons why PSG seemed ‘very normal’ during most of the match yesterday. Workaholic.
2. There has been fierce criticism of the Manager in the last weeks. Some justified, others baseless and unfair. Results were not good and Ole always maintained that the team still needed to reach a condition which is acceptable for a club like United. Rather than the players however, most attacks were on the Manager, with some pundits and fans claiming that Ole did not have the depth of knowledge needed to run a big club. Yesterday, was the perfect example of how ridiculous that claim is. And I don’t judge on just one match but the test was so important against PSG that people need to sit up and consider. Let’s not forget that PSG are the runners-up of the Champions League ended merely two months ago. Their manager Tuchel is highly respected and viewed as the typical modern successful coach. Yet, Ole not only managed to control the PSG threat in the first half with the system he fielded, but even when in the second half, PSG changed system and started to be more direct in its play, Ole brought on Pogba – only a sub till then – and moved to a 4-2-3-1 system of play. For the last quarter of the match, United took the initiative again, were the better team and looked like the most likely to score, which occurred when Rashford hit his pile-driver, three minutes from time.
3. Speaking about Rashford. The boy still has significant room for improvement. He’s far from being the finished product, particularly as a forward where decision making in the final third of the pitch is fundamental for the success of the team and also of the individual. Marcus is a rough diamond, getting more polished with time but more maturity is needed. The advantage is that at 23 years of age soon (end of October), time is on his side.
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Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.