After a summer of angst in the transfer window, a chance for a performance to cast away all the bad energy that had been floating around Old Trafford. However, being able to dignify that performance with words is going to be incredibly hard. Townsend at the back post made it one, Zaha from the spot made it two, Van de Beek on his debut got one back before Zaha would confirm the consigning of defeat on Man Utd’s first match day.
It has been a problem for as long as could be remember at United. Probably since the lessening of Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes’ game time, the Red Devils have played the football between the team mates far too slowly. The injection in pace is never there, even if an upgrade in the personnel is there. So you start to wonder what exactly is the issue? For one, better players is needed. Players like Maguire, Shaw, McTominay add to the incredibly ponderous pace at which we play. Taking far too many touches in situations where only two, maximum, are needed but they do so because of a lack of trust in their technical ability to be able to play at that pace. Then again, if they were able to know players were always going to be in specific parts of the pitch without having to survey their surroundings then it would be much easier. The passing circuits that you see from more sophisticated systems, such as the ones you see from Antonio Conte teams, really help with the more technically limited players. Our free flowing shape does not help them in the slightest and it is a question for the coaching staff to shoulder. What’s more is that even with the slower passing, we are still not particularly accurate with it. The amount of times we lost the ball in a simple passes was quite embarrassing. It will only continue the way things are.
Stuck in Ice
The man nicknamed the Ice Man had a quite terrible day. The first goal, Viktor Lindelof couldn’t quite match the run of Schlupp, even if the majority of the fault lies with the Man Utd left back, Shaw. The second goal, harshly albeit, it was his hand that was struck from Ayew’s shot and eventually, after the referee pulled the penalty back, Zaha stuck the penalty away. The third goal, a weak effort on the 50/50 meant that Zaha was able to poke the ball ahead before striking low to De Gea’s right. It cemented what many people became concerned about towards the back end of the season that a defence comprised like it was, would not be able to sustain clean sheets and the flurry that came in the second half of the season was more of luck rather than design. All day, the pace of the Eagles up top threatened the centre back pairing all day. Maguire and Lindelof was never an ideal partnership and it was noticeable in this same fixture last season as well. Neither look to be any better than each other, which is mostly quite average. They lack the necessary pace, recovery and aggression to be at the back for a top team. They have no major upside, in their mental or technical defensive prowess, to compensate so why they have been paired together is an indictment on United’s offerings in that area.