Sometimes, to get back on the horse, you have to just get it done even if the way it is done is not in the most stylish way. United were not impressive at all and looked every much a team who had been leaking goals but the quality of the winner was enough. Not quite Rooney to Van Persie against Aston Villa but Evans to Bruno against Burnley will be highlight reel worthy as the former played a lovely lofted pass on his weaker foot to the latter, who smashed it low on the volley. Burnley were good and might have been worthy of the point, hitting the post in the first half. However, the Clarets were unable to and The Red Devils will travel back from nearby Lancashire with a well fought win.
Dreary but Deadly
When United have their unfavourable start to last season, the game against Liverpool was obviously the game in which people remember the getting back to winning ways. However, there were two away games after that, which were as much of a steadier for the team as that rocking win at Old Trafford was. The wins against Southampton and Leicester, courtesy of two goals from Bruno and Sancho respectively, were by slender margin.
Outside of the fact it was against two teams that were eventually relegated, showing the quality of the opposition, United did not cover themselves in glory in those games either. Outside of the quality for the goals, it was dotted with little prowess and skill elsewhere in terms of showing great verve in getting a goal. You could say that the same was on display today. Confidence was on the floor after a terrible season and bad start, with the defence being a significant debilitating factor for the team in undercutting any sort of progress the attackers could make.
Coming into this game against Burnley at Turf Moor, the mood was very much the same. 16 goals conceded in 6 games, one clean sheet to add to that, was not being bailed out by the attack because they have had issues stemming back to last season. United went into this game have 7 injuries to their defenders. Varane managed to bring himself back to be available from the bench but outside of that, all fit defenders were on the pitch.
As much as the injuries are dictating how much United are able to truly show the true form they have been working towards, there is still much cause of concern with the performance today. Against a side without a win in the Premier League, the Red Devils gave much of the game away to the Clarets of Lancashire. The team is clearly low on confidence and a lot of the team is patchwork, however there is no excuse for how terrible United were on and off the ball for the majority of the game. On the ball, the problems are as they have usually been.
An inability to play quickly, to play into tight space and then play out of it to create space for others, to move adequately so the man in possession has enough options to play to. The personnel problems are known but there has to be some improvement by ways of coaching yet there is little to be seen of it. The latter point in particular, moving off the ball to create angles and options is something that comes from the coach and it is still as turgid as it has been since Ten Hag has stepped through the door. In that Southampton game, Bruno popped up with a great goal on the half volley after being fed a great pass by a defender. It was much the same today but on the full volley today. It was a winner from individual brilliance and it was the same today but it cannot continue in this way, with or without injuries.
Barely Holding It Up
In Solskjaer’s tenure, the Norwegian spoke about needing to want to break your nose in order to get a goal. It was because the forwards he had at the current time were not of the typical striker mould of his day. United have been searching for a long term option in that position for some time and any time they look like they are close, something seems to go wrong.
Hojlund is obviously seen as the current option to fix it and he is a striker that is constantly looking to get on the end of things. A couple of times, Hannibal and Dalot both on the byline, gave him different types of crosses. A cut back that the Dane was unable to gather in but similar to the chances he had against Arsenal, Brighton and Bayern. The one from Dalot was flashed across the box but he was unable to get a touch on it. He clearly needs more service and that comes in him needing to be on the ball less for the time being while he cleans up his approach play.
Several times during the game where United needed him to take the ball in and take care of it, he looked off the pace and unable to simultaneously tussle and control the ball. His passes and touches were extremely erratic. At the end of the day, goals are his currency and if he shows an ability to constantly sniff out goals then it will be up to the team to up their technical base behind him so what he lacks doesn’t hinder the team as much as it currently does now.