We have never make it easy for ourselves but we made too hard for ourselves. A bright start settled into a nothing game until the last minute of the first half where a quite incredible handball reaction from Pogba, meant that West Ham were handed the chance to go ahead. They took it with open arms and United went into halftime down in the important game. The second half commenced and the only good play we could muster, Pogba, Martial and Greenwood combining beautifully so that the 18 year old on his 50th appearance, would cap it off with a trademark strike in the bottom corner. The game drifted and if a winner was coming, the Hammers were more likely to get it.
Chicken Roosting for Legs and Heads
The Southampton game and the way in which the result transpired was gutting to the players. The accumulation of games were heavy on them but winning games would keep the vigour in it and confidence in the heads but the late goal from Obafemi sapped it from them. The Palace and Chelsea games, it was easy to see that the team were reverting into their shells for mental or fatigue reasons. Today, it was the same today. The players were unsure of themselves so the extra touches to be extra secure came out, the first touch was towards our own goal more than it was theirs. Seldom did you see the players receiving the ball on the half turn in front of the back four, nor the cute interchanges that were there in previous weeks. It was ponderous, something we became used when personnel on the bench were on the pitch in the majority of these players’ places. Pogba’s pathetic giveaway of the penalty that Antonio struck into the back of the net was a moment that summed up the first half performance. Human reaction yes but just not something you would expect of player in such a high pressured game. The second half did not change much. It was the same thing all over again. The midfield again was the most guilty of this. Matic, Pogba and Bruno were again not showing the personality to stamp their authority over the game. In an area of the team where there is both experience and quality, it is they that have to step up and too many times it was cowardice: Matic failing to play the brave pass, Pogba passing the buck too many times to the man outside him rather than playing into the pockets. The forward line were not helping too much, particularly the wingers. Greenwood and Rashford were coming in off the line far too early, squeezing the game when that’s the one thing you should not be doing. Rashford was up against a player who had only played 2 games prior yet his refusal to stick out wide and continually run at him struck of a lack of discipline on his part. And really, that has been the problem. Even on tired legs, there has been a bit of street-wise play and it was lacking throughout. It was a nervous performance and it will only beget more nerves on the final day as we travel to the East Midlands in what has become a Champions League decider
Floats for Brandon
It has been a difficult two games for Williams, after coming on for the Palace game only to be taken off with a swollen eye and big cut above his eye. He missed the Palace game but then he came in for the Chelsea and today’s game. Saying he had a difficult time would be the easiest way to say it. He had not started a game in months and it is easy to tell he was not as sharp as he was pre-lockdown. Couple that with the fact this is his first season in the top flight, it would be remiss of me to go on and slander his performance, even if they were worthy of it. His passing was off, he didn’t dovetail well with Rashford, under or overlapping when the latter was in the alternate position, Bowen gave him a very hard time, often getting the better of him in the 1v1 situations. There was an occasion where he took up the now popular inverted full back role when Bruno had pulled into a wide position to provide an option infield for the ball carrier and it helped us progress play much better than we had been, alas it amounted to very little. Strenuous circumstances to come into, especially into a team that is flagging in fitness so while many will see him and criticise, context has to be applied to the young boy.
The RoM Manchester United 2021-22 season preview is now available for just £6. It includes articles from the country's best football writers about our expectations for the season ahead and our brightest talents, as well as proposed transfer business and which youth players to keep an eye out for. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.