Manchester United came back from 2-0 down at get a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford in their match against Burnley on Boxing Day. Jesse Lingard got the goals for the Red Devils while Ashley Barnes and Steven Defour scored for the Clarets. Contributing writer, Nathan Quao, of Citi Sports, Accra, Ghana noted a few things from the match.
Defensive organisation is below zero
For a team managed by Jose Mourinho and has some good height, Manchester United’s powers in terms of preventing goals from set pieces is very, very horrible.
And the show against Burnley was another one in a series that has gone on for a while. It has happened against Manchester City, West Brom and Leicester City and punishment was served.
Whenever the ball falls in the area from set pieces, it is as though the players do not know their roles and they are unwilling to get the ball away.
Players fail to pick up targets and there is massive chaos in the box. No one knows what is causing this. Are the players losing focus or they not being coached to deal with these situations?
The answer may be either one or both but something has to be done fast. Teams with greater potency will hurt Man United in coming games because they have so many good examples to choose from.
More pace and urgency needed
Slow. Static. Unattractive. Boring. All these words have been mentioned in conversations concerning Man United and the 2-2 draw with Burnley shows that a departure from these traits will bode well for the team.
In the last few weeks, matches have been started with players in zero gear while the opposition is ready to find their feet and go for the points.
Against Burnley, the goals came after upping the ante and showing the hunger and willingness to get back into the game. The movement was better and there was a good bounce around the players.
More of that is needed going forward. There is no need to wait for a trigger before going for the victory. Players should want to win matches and they must take the right decisions.
Marcus Rashford, for instance, must take better decisions whether he is running at full pace or after he has just received a pass. He needs to vary his crossing and he must be aware of his surroundings before choosing an option of a free kick. The regular fizzing of the ball yields no results and he must be told that.
Players should learn to shoot from distance too. That could hold the needed break to make a difference in very close encounters and Man United are just not doing enough of that at the moment and it is not good.
Lingard gets the work done
Despite some good goals in the last few weeks, a lot of people may still not have imagined Jesse Lingard as the man to save Man United.
But he did.
He made a very good point about his use in the team and the manager will very pleased to have him around for days like this.
But his introduction, in a way, underlined Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s failings today.
No one doubts the Swede’s experience and quality but it was very evident that the guile and movement needed to break Burnley was not going to be found in the Swede’s corner.
He will surely have to his moments in the season. Certain matches will belong to him and he will do as he pleases.
However, the plaudits will go to Lingard. He is not in the league of world beaters like Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar but his pace and how he places himself to create openings and score have been beneficial at times. The games against Arsenal and Watford quickly come to mind to prove these.
The manager must do his part to get the maximum out of the winger if he will stay for the long haul.