How many times will it be through McTominay that Man Utd are able to get a win this season? He headed into the net from a lovely Dalot cross to win the match. Hojlund had put the visitors ahead after a good corner kick routine. He was in the middle without any pressure and slotted past Martinez. After that, Aston Villa were much the better team. They should have been level much quicker than they were. Douglas Luiz scored off the second phase of a corner kick and it looked for all the world that the home team would continue to pressurise until they got the winner. In the end, it was the sub that Ten Hag has leaned on the most this season that came up trumps again. A game that has firmly put Man Utd back into the race for Champions League football.
To the behest of the Gods
Football is hardly comfortable viewing at the best of times. Games are often decided by a singular goal and it means fans are on the edge of their seat, be it with excitement or trepidation. The best teams are the one that are able to mitigate the uncomfortable viewing for all of those supporting.
If this was the singular way to rank teams, then you would Man Utd in the bottom embers. It is hard to remember a time where the Red Devils were actually to see out the game without giving up multiple looks and shots to the opposition. Just last week, West Ham were able to get into our half and get off a lot of shots. This is a West Ham team that were playing a RB at RW. The ability to hold onto the ball or stop teams running at our defence has been largely lost for a long time, outside of some reprieves that only seem to last a small swatch of games.
The reintroduction of Casemiro into the first XI has helped in some regard, especially as he has come back in to settle beside the youngster Mainoo in order to have some sort of protective barrier in front of the back four. Yet we saw that today, even with them, there is still far too much to do for them in the middle of the park. They were having to cover loads of space and constantly swivel their head to pick up the markers as Villa had two attacking midfielders that stayed in space behind them. Garnacho and Rashford had the flying full backs to take care so could not tuck in to make it difficult to play those passes into the half spaces. A combination of tactics and the heavy legs centrally that made Villa find their rhythm once Hojlund put us in front.
Watching us today there was no point that I thought we would be able to stem the flow of Villain pressure and the fact that the manager just looked on for so so long without doing a single thing to sure it up is just another example of Ten Hag having no effect with his tactical acumen or personnel off the bench to change the game. Shaw had to come off with an injury and in came Lindelof but rather than switch Dalot to LB to have Lindelof on the more comfortable side, the manager just watch the Swede struggle and struggle with Bailey and then Diaby. Lindelof is a CB and Dalot was stepping into midfield in the second half to deal with the threat that Ramsey poised in the first half yet the fact Ten Hag continued with that troubled left hand side shows a lack of proactivity that hinders him.
United are not good to watch aesthetically but they are not even good to watch from a functional perspective. You watch the game and we are truly at the behest of higher powers to what score line appears at the end of the game. As a manager and players who train weekly, that cannot be something to be proud of.
Rather be bad than do nothing
A lot of the criticism that has been levelled at Bruno and Rashford is that their worst levels are of some that should not be possible for players of that quality. Bruno’s brute force style of play can be ugly but as seen before, at least it was yielding some type of result. The goals, assists, chances created, it might not have been pretty but it was effective. Rashford, the type of player he is, there is a contingency that simply being an attacker that constantly runs at his full back and plays the low percentages means that he can have the bad games.
With these two now, they are now just floating through games doing nothing. You can watch large parts of the game and forget the 8 & 10 are even on the pitch. Bruno was shifted out the right hand side and Rashford brought off for the eventual game winner of McTominay and truly, it shows where they are at right now. There has to be a balance between the sensibility of keeping possession and the aggressiveness of finding the pockets. They both have to find it again.