It was a throwback to the old days as Man United came back once and needed to find a late winner to beat Southampton 3-2 at Old Trafford on Saturday. Romelu Lukaku scored twice with Andreas Perreira getting the other on the day. Contributing writer, Nathan Quao, observed the match and noted a few things.
Lukaku saves the day
Romelu Lukaku gave another brilliant performance to help the Red Devils get over the line in a very difficult match.
The Belgian had found the net twice in midweek against Crystal Palace and proceeded to another two more (with his right foot) to his tally and make a very strong argument to the manager and his showing was not only restricted to putting the ball past the Southampton goalie.
As the team struggled to wake up in the first half, he was the only one ready and willing to take the ball and put in the work for the tide to turn. At times, he went wide to send in crosses for the other forwards and he was seen urging his colleagues to keep fighting and when he had to do his day job, he was on hand to make the score 2-1 ans 3-2 to Man United.
He may have had bad times in the season and there were moments when it looked like he would not find a way back but he has saved the team in two consecutive difficult games and he must be applauded for all he has done.
More of that, Rom.
Dalot and Perreira repay Ole’s boldness
With the match at 1-0 in favour of Southampton, something had to change and it was bold on Solksjaer’s part to introduce Diogo Dalot and get Andreas Perreira more on the ball and the players too executed well to a large extent to give Man United a 2-1 lead.
Before Perreira scored his wonderful attempt from range, it was good seeing that he was willing to go wide and send in crosses to the forwards.
When Dalot was thrown on, he followed that same lead and did even better with his deliveries. It gave the team a lift and they need to to commended.
Of course, they will have to get better since they are still learning their craft but they proved that they had something to give.
What can they improve on? Their work rate, decision making and a good understanding of situations but on the value of their performance against Southampton, they should get more opportunities.
One final thing, though. Dalot is better as a winger or a wing-back and that was very apparent against Southampton. Here is hoping the technical team has noted this down for future use.
Ole must address poor individual performances
When everything cools off and the tape is reviewed, it will be clear that certain players were below the required standard on the day.
Captain Ashley Young did not cover himself in glory during the match. Nathan Redmond and Ryan Bertrand easily went past him and he had no answers to them all game and for the first goal, his attempted long throw in started the sequence which led to Jan Valery getting the chance to score that wonderful long-range shot.
Luke Shaw was very guilt of backing off Valery and allowing him to shoot but Young’s complicity was obvious. He was also in the mix for the foul on Stuart Armstrong and James Ward-Prowse duly punished.
Chris Smalling looked very uncomfortable and he could have been punished for consistent tugging of jerseys in the penalty area.
David De Gea could be forgiven for not being able to save Ward-Prowse’s lovely free kick but he could have done something about Valery’s goal. He seemed surprised at the shot but he had to be prepared and locked in.
In addition, his distribution was not convincing as the ball kept going to the opponents whereas Lukaku was always a good target to hit.
Apart from the individual errors, the entire team looked off from the start and that must be looked at. Solksjaer must get the team to be ready from the start of games especially during this crucial time when the hunt for Champions League football is heated.
In the match against Arsenal in the next round, a slow start could mean curtains for the team’s ambitions.
No opponent is too small or too unimportant in the scheme of things and the team must be reminded of this constantly.
On the next one!!!