All in all, it was actually quite an uneventful game with long stretches of poor attacking from both sides. A combination of Casemiro, Lindelof and Onana, mostly Onana, essentially threw the ball in the net for Jensen to put the Bees ahead. In between, it was just a lot of huff and puff without much quality from either side. Onana made up relatively with a couple of smart stops from Maupay and Norgaard. Strakosha likewise with Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes. An 86th minute sub from the Dutchman would change things dramatically. Scott McTominay at the double, a volley cushioned into the net and a header directed towards goal. It was relief as much as joy and perhaps a moment where we could look back upon in the future as the kick start that this season so dearly needed. Not impressive in the slightest yet again but a win at least this time.
If You Can’t Win, Don’t Lose…
When confidence is low, sometimes you have to take baby steps to get back to the proper levels you had set before. Of course, wins are the best in order to restore the confidence back into a camp that is so dearly bereft of it but if that is not possible, overreaching in order to grab that confidence boosting win can end up in a loss.
The issue with Man Utd right now is that they are finding ways to turn wins and draws into defeats. It was examples like today of the first goal were Casemiro, Lindelof and Onana were all culpable in conceding a goal where Brentford hadn’t shown a threat in getting a goal, despite showing great proficiency in slowing our attacking play. It was misplaced pass again from the Brazilian, who was dragged off at half time as his torrid start to the season has continued.
He has managed to find himself in complete strange positions to what a defensive midfielder should find themselves in. The amount of times you will see him further forward than the two 8s in front of him as we ring fence the opponent’s box is asking for trouble. It is often why you see teams able to counter right through the centre of the pitch. Today, the amount of times he was nowhere to be seen as Brentford advanced into the final third after a turnover was just unbelievable.
Lindelof has not covered himself in glory either this season when he has had to deputise but really and truly, the most glaring mistake came yet again from Onana. It has become quite a difficult start to life at Old Trafford for the Cameroonian. The mistake at Bayern was the absolute start of that descent and it has kept getting worse for him. The mistakes against Galatasaray just rubber stamped the fact that this a keeper, with his own shortfalls in his goalkeeper, that is absolutely on the floor with his confidence.
His passing has even gotten to levels where he is gifting teams the ball in dangerous positions, something that he was brought in to rectify from his predecessor last season. His wingspan is suspect in that is much shorter you’d expect for someone of his height. His shot stopping technique is delayed, he is often not completely set when shots are coming in with a weird foot placement. Even the flick off Lindelof was not enough to take a blame from that poor attempt of a save. In the end, he got quite lucky because the story won’t be about him. The story won’t be about any of them because United contrived to win in the face of defeat but in trying to overreach yet again, the Red Devils almost got stung badly again.
This is twice now that Rashford has come off the pitch with a substantial amount of time left in the game while United chase the winner or equaliser. Since the Carabao Cup final in late February, Rashford has found goals and performances tough going. The former were perhaps covering for the latter in a period but now they are both not giving anything at this point. He is incredibly important when he is in full flow and Man Utd need him back in that state if they are going to do anything this season.
Garnacho came on for the Englishman and it was his endeavour and willingness for the first goal that perhaps showed why Ten Hag is now comfortable taking off Rashford. His willingness to go down the line to put in crosses and continually be undeterred when the ball doesn’t fall his way is something that is so simple yet so lacking in this side.
I could have sworn that was the McTominay that wears the blue of Scotland rather than the red of United. In the end, Ten Hag threw a last throw of the dice bringing on McTominay and it was in that role as just a chaos factor, aerially and in the box. The first goal was actually excellent control to settle it before he struck into an empty net. The second was a second phase header off the back of another Ten Hag outcast, Maguire as Strakosha was unable to keep it out of the goal. The scenes were rapturous as more unwanted records were not written into the book of Man Utd.