Another mixed performance from the Red Devils today saw them come with just a point as the Villians took the lead with a Grealish curler, United eventually taking the lead with two headers from Rashford and Lindelof. All the work undone moments later as poor defending saw Mings finish emphatically from a second ball.
It’s something that is missing throughout the team, whether it be mentally or physically. Mentally, just being able to have the personality to command the ball in tight areas and take players out the game to free up others. Physically, against a side in the lower half of the table, like they did against Sheffield United, the players looked scared when they had to stand up in a battle vs the Villa players. Both of these were emphasised in Anthony Martial’s performance today. The ability he has in this team makes it so that he has to have the presence of mind to take the ball and run at players because no one else can do it quite like he does. He has to demand more for the ball, not just into feet, but in the channels if he wants to be found more often. Harassing the centre backs, pulling them into the uncomfortable areas where he can show his technical prowess or holding up the ball when they are up against him. It is understandable why he drops so deep given the lack of a midfield that was in behind him today but the Frenchman has to take responsibility, even if he isn’t in the best form.
In both goals, Fred and Pereira were heavily involved with good whipped balls into the box. Perhaps the only bits of quality from either of them as they yet again turned in a poor performances. It was the usual disgrace in possession, particularly from Pereira, as they conceded possession frighteningly easily. They offered little in way of protection to their back four and the only time they seemed to have influence is when Villa just let them pass between themselves because it is known they have neither the quality or craft to make any difference. It is probably even beneficial to the opposition to give them the ball as they are more likely to concede in dangerous areas through their usual poor play. Garner and Levitt impressing during the mid-week loss will only put more pressure on them to actually pull their socks up and play like actual footballers because the quality they both showed in the goals today are so fleeting that they may just be anomalous bits of play rather than signs of potential in there
Hands full for Wan Bissaka and Williams
It was a difficult day for both full backs as they both struggled with different types of wingers. Grealish’s smooth languid style contrasts entirely with Wan Bissaka’s fully committed intense defending yet the latter made him impossible to mark as he drifted in and out of the wide berth, leaving him often marking no one. When they did come up against each other, Wan Bissak’s proclivity of slowly approaching wingers as he trusts his ability in behind did not help him today because Grealish did not even try. He instead made him commit and looked inside to build play up. In possession, it was the usual for the English international, looking clumsy and not offering much in terms of penetrative passes. Williams had to handle El Ghazi and Trezeguet, struggling against both. It has been a hard couple of weeks, with the youngster arguably at fault in both goals today. A goal last week masked another poor day for the boy but he is young and coming through these games will only stand him in good stead for the future