- After a positive week for United, starting with the win at Spurs and a last gasp draw in Italy against Atalanta in mid-week, United welcomed City at Old Trafford, which had to be considered as an indication of where the club is heading. Well, it’s fair to say that it turned out to be a disappointing afternoon for the Red Devils as the men in blue came out on top, not only in terms of the 2-0 result but most tellingly, in terms of the commanding performance they produced. City were on top from the first whistle and their movement on and off the ball, slick passing, technical individual abilities of their players and hunger shone through. United on their part looked disjointed and were left to chase shadows for most of the match, disappointing their fans at Old Trafford and those watching at home. Despite their brilliant team play, City only managed to score because of two individual mistakes from the United players. First it was Bailly, who in attempting to block a cross from the left, he only managed to steer the ball past a helpless De Gea in the United goal. Then at the end of the first half, Luke Shaw inexplicably did not deal with a deep cross for the back post and the lively Bernardo Silva stole in to poke the ball past De Gea from the tightest of angles. It was no less than City deserved for a commanding first half, but the truth is that United created their own troubles. There were no further goals in the second half and very few chances from any of the teams, as City chose to maintain possession and see the game out.
- A friend of mine sent me a text at halftime and commented on the inadequate tactical game by United. Cannot disagree but sometimes things go against you as a manager and it all seems sub-standard. I will not try to defend the Manager but let’s analyse a bit more in depth. So, Ole set out United with a 3-4-3 formation, which most of the time in that first half looked more like a 5-3-2. Most probably, the plan was to frustrate City in their attacking intent and then adjust the formation depending on how the game panned out. With the United wing-backs almost in line with their central defenders, City had the opportunity to do anything they wanted in midfield. Indeed, Scott and Fred were outnumbered by Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, Rodri and Gundogan. That’s why City looked so good because they had more players around the ball at all times in that first half. More often than not, United’s three central defenders had no one to mark and they were just waiting for the City midfielders to make their moves and try to stop them around our penalty area. The system did not work because of the individual mistakes mentioned earlier because if United had managed to keep a clean sheet in that first half, then things might have been different to how the game developed. Something had to change to calibrate the team better and when Bailly was substituted by Sancho, for 15 minutes in the second half, it looked like United were going to give it a go. City had other plans though and opted to control the game and pass the ball around, strong of their double advantage.
- I will skip the customary special mention comment for today and ask some pertinent questions for my third point. The main question really is whether United are still so much back in terms of quality of their players that they need to defend from the start against anyone in the Premier League. Given their obvious attacking prowess, shouldn’t United take on other teams using a more attacking approach and try to score first, rather than having to come back in games after conceding? Has Ole managed to devise a structure for this team worthy of the United history, after three years at the helm, or was maybe the system that he was building disrupted by the arrival of Ronaldo? And if that is the case – and I believe that it is – can he create another system that would comprise Ronaldo in it and would bring to the fore the attacking talent that we have at the club? Is it time that Fernandes is given a chance in central midfield? Can Scott play as one of three central defenders? Let’s get some reactions from the fans
Looking forward to receiving your thoughts on the Facebook page. GGMU
Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.