In a game that made Monday’s efforts look like a classic, one bit of quality from the Newcastle debutant, Matty Longstaff, striking from just outside the box has consigned the Red Devil’s to their third defeat of the season as things look like getting no better
Empty space better than nothing
In modern football, there is a lot of talk of how the spaces in between your opponent’s defence & midfield and your own determine much of how the run of the game goes. Not just directly in front of the CBs either, but those spaces in between the full backs and centre backs. Man Utd’s lack of effective utilisation both offensively and defensively cause much of the problems we see week in and week out. Today, Mata ran around aimlessly giving little in terms of effective build up play or defence splitting passes. Aside from Angel Gomes playing there, something Ole seems strangely reluctant to do, it might be better to just empty that space and allow either the midfielders to run into it or strikers to drop back deeper. As much as it has been said that we have sured ourselves up in our defensive rearguard, the protection they receive is far from good enough. It’s not just a problem that has emerged out of nowhere but something that has persisted for the best part of a decade now but currently, it is at its lowest ebb. Again, rather than stationing a ‘specialist’ in there to break up play, the manager should perhaps look to encourage midfield play reminiscent of when he played for United: all-action, intense midfielders. It is the best chance of actually managing to get a stronghold in the centre of the park.
Much ado about Pereira and Fred
There has been opportunities to dedicate several words to this duo about their lack of contribution on the football pitch but dignifying their nothing displays seemed a pointless exercise. In a game that would make the most ardent fan nod off, it seems the most appropriate occasion. Both Brazilian by nature but anything but the sort in the way they play, particularly Pereira. They do manage to put shifts in with how much they run but their run is not smart or particular intense. Both seem to love to a tackle despite having little ability to do so. In moments, they feign the dexterity of a potentially technical player but it is far too little and not even sublime enough to register as anything to see potential in. In many ways, Fred and Pereira have come to represent the Man Utd team that we have grown accustomed to loathe to watch so far this season: we can see them on the pitch but they’re not doing anything in any sense. They might as well not be there
There was little quality on the pitch today and to be quite frank, little of it on the bench. Yet, the Norwegian manager has been too slow to make a change and often that change has had such little impact you begin to wonder if his apprehension at doing so is because he himself knows that it is going to be absolutely worthless. Still, it is worth a gander as to why he thought Greenwood for Mata would be a suitable change for the situation, particularly as the aforementioned Pereira ended up in the hole after a brief stint of Rashford and Greenwood together, something that happened to bring some of our best work in the entire game with Young’s chance. The Chong 5 mins from time was too late nor did it make sense. The issues were picking up the pace of passing on the ball, not having pace out wide to hurt their wing backs, who already possess great pace. Even the forced chance, Rojo could have easily slotted in at LB after being brought on for Dalot but it was decided to take Tuanzebe out of his CB position and place him at RB. Strange worthless decision on a weekly basis and it’s beginning to frustrate
As intimated earlier, Tuanzebe, up until his change of position, had another stellar game this time in his favoured position. Hopefully this form sees Lindelof stay out the team, where the English U21 international can build up a relationship with Maguire, with Shaw and Wan Bissaka eventually making their returns from injury
A tough game for Rashford, where he was neither helped or helped himself. He is between a rock and a hard place where he has to make runs with the knowledge of the ball most likely not finding him and not making the futile run and looking like he isn’t making an effort. A stint up top has just seemed to gleam a light on how far he has to go as a No.9 at the top level