Sep 19 2016

Retrospection and detailed analysis of Manchester United’s 1-3 defeat to Watford

pogba

Manchester United got mutilated 1-3 by the yellow Hornets, Watford, as the home side vandalized over listless United at Vicarage Road. United’s third straight defeat on the bounce over the course of a week saw the history repeating itself for manager Jose Mourinho after 2002, when his team Porto lost three on the trot (in single season) and back in 2006, when his club Chelsea got defeated in three consecutive matches.

Surely one could have filed a missing person complaint for the non-existent midfield play United had today. The final ball from every United player was  pathetic. Skipper Wayne Rooney was atrocious and looked like a burden playing at central midfield. United missed  the controlling midfield presence of Micheal Carrick, to provide stability in front of the back four and give Paul Pogba freedom to motor forward, which Rooney lacked big time. United needed to keep hold of the ball and composure. The midfield seemed to be marking space or chasing shadows rather than marking Watford players.

So disjointed and slow performance from the Red Devils was on display, with no dominance, no creativity, no tempo, no passion. United fans must got tempted to get into the touchline and pull out the mask of supposedly Mourinho, to unravel Louis Van Gaal a la Mission Impossible. 

United started as if they came  straight from  Amsterdam after wild bender. In the dull, sluggish Rojo of  performance that United churned out, even the throw-ins were shocking.

Errors and decision making all over the pitch by the Red Devils were just wrong. Serious lack of pace and initiative in midfield and forward line  were  killing the flow. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic  and Rooney, two 30+ players, the pace was shambolic. Players did not seem to actually know what type of football they are supposed to be playing? 

After each & every minute of  play you can start  see more flaws. The holding midfielder got the ball ,sees that there is no one to pass the ball  to. Tries audacious  pass. That  Goes out. This pattern got repeat all game like ”Live, Die, Repeat” of Sci-fi flick ”Edge of Tomorrow”. Like a pot of soup for amala joint in Africa, the elements  of United’s game didn’t sync.

United lost the ball, possession so cheaply, couldn’t put more then two or  three passes together. The match was a major throwback to Van Gaal era as they were as frustrating as the past three  seasons. Mourinho need to sort out his best starting 11, best formation to eradicate the  confusion of Moyes and the monotony  of Van Gaal. There were far too many sideward passing and they didn’t go for the jugular vein when they should have had.

United attack was very narrow as Marcus Rashford and Ashley Young both were  playing inside, needed more width. The  attacking play was awful, the decision making in the final third was miserable, looked clueless going forward. Ibrahimovic wasted chances too. How many touches does  he  want? Under 10 kids  are drilled in “Control, Look, Pass” mould, which look in better mould than the aging superstar. The front six were  immobile and the three up top were standing absolutely still. Is Ibrahimovic another Van Persie in the making?

The Goals and the impacts:

Stage was set for Frenchmen like Pogba and Martial, but another Frenchman Capoue scored Watford’s opener in the 34th minute. Decent build up goal. Ibrahimovic immediately forced Watford keeper and defence into red alert with his 41st and 43 rd minute efforts.

After the one-hour mark, Marcus Rashford came to the rescue at  62nd minute, to become the highest scorer for United in 2016, sublime finish after an Ibrahimovic ball came off a Watford defender. The Swedish got the assist for what was United’s 800th away goal in the Premier League in his 800th professional club appearance.

The goal was triggered because Ibrahimovic made a run, movement was the key for the cherry picker. The Red Devils were actually doing something with the possession finally after the equalizer. Held  possession on the attack and kept the ball,needed to up the pace though.

But as Zuniga ended Neymar’s world cup campaign, he ended United’s comeback hopes into smoke as the super sub scored within 50 seconds of coming on, at 83rd. Pereyra came up with a great cutback to get the assist, as United trailed again as  they got  ripped open in defence by the pull back again.

Watford’s third goal was the final nail in the coffin as Deeney converted from the spot at 94th minute after Fellini gave  away a penalty, pulling down Zuniga after Bailly fails to deal with the threat.

Mourinho’s mistakes: Maybe United players looked like that they had watched illegal streams of  Gazza hobbling at Old Trafford but Mourinho got it wrong. He shoehorned Rooney in the line-up with disrupted the whole rhythm. It was Interesting that Rashford’s on the left and Martial on the right. Herrera and  Mata were mostly on the bench, when United needed creativity and to unlock.

Mourinho needs to pick a team with speed and intent on scoring. Pace and movement is a key. The gaffer need to be ruthless enough  to show Pogballs and drop Rooney and mould a new free-flowing team. Maybe just  play in a 4-1-4-1 formation with  Carrick  playing CDM on his own and Pogba with freedom.

A big-money  playmaker who has to drop into holding midfield and play square balls to the full backs, is just not done. In the match, United went from a counter attack of 3 on 3 to a a situation of 6 on 8- such was the lack of planning.

The  tailored approach to forwards’ immobility by putting wide men on and the short-termism by Mourinho is getting bared. Against progressively weaker opponents, three submissions on trot, speaks of something.

Tactically the players didn’t seem to know where they’re meant to play, looked like individuals and not on the same wave length frequency.  Whether he would  draft in Schweinsteiger from the wilderness to solve midfield woes, is up to him.


Sep 19 2016

Manchester United 1-3 Watford: Red Devils’ player ratings

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Nirvana churned out ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’, but the influx of world class superstars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan along with manager Jose Mourinho, which was supposed to give Manchester United ‘Nirvana’, has furnished something excruciatingly different over the course of last week.

Three defeats in a row in all competitions, a jeremiad Wayne Rooney with Capoue emitting the French perfume instead of Pogba and Anthony Martial becoming a silhouette of wannabe Angel Di Maria with personal life turmoil and faking confidence in United, capped with Watford’s win over the Red Devils after 30 years, was embarrassing.

Mourinho’s stars over system policy, non-existent United midfield, sloppiness, lack of intent, lack of pace, tendency to lose possession easily- were the harbingers of United’s downfall. Mourinho needs to sort his midfield to feed the ball to the likes of Ibrahimovic. After the first half strike of Capoue gave the yellow Hornets lead at the south of Vicarage road, United’s Marcus Rshford equalized at the 62nd, but the 83rd minute strike from Zuniga and 95th minute penalty from Deeney sealed the match in the home side’s favour.

Take a look at how each players fared

De Gea 6– Made a great save in the first half, followed by another regulation save. Conceded at both near and far posts. Almost morphed into his 2011 self as balls rifled past him.

Valencia 5– Average. Was subbed off. Took way too long to put a cross in. Atleast should beat the first man with his crosses.

Smalling 5– In his first league start, was all over the place. Had a terrible mix-up with De Gea in the first half to allow Ighalo to score a sitter, which the Watford striker inexplicably missed.

Bailly 4-Mess at the back. A culprit in conceding the penalty that Watford scored from. Not a Baresi or Nesta, which some touted the defender to be. Tried to volley from 40 yards.

Shaw 6– Only shining light of United defence. Drove the ball well and operated okay down the flank.

Pogba 5– Can you blame United if they take Juventus to court for allegedly selling a Chinese personation of Pogba? On a serious note, amidst all the hyped four hairstyle changes and dab dances, the man is not delivering. £89million doesn’t get you the insane pass Pogba delivered to the referee. Hit the bar from 40 yards and attempted another long-ranger from 35 yards which missed the net by 35 yards ironically. ‘Goals & Assists of Pogba for Manchester United’ Youtube compilation video is still at least how many years old? Tetralogy. Trying to emulate Henderson or Xhaka pile-drivers maybe. Made a good tackle though. Just a stat- Watford Squad & Stadium = £63million and  Paul Pogba = £89 million.

Fellaini 5.5– Excellent in the first half as won balls, made tackles,but was  poor in the second. First touch and composure were pathetic, conceded the penalty. Gave a decent cross to Ibrahimovic. The defensive holding midfielder was woefully out of position in Watford’s goal as he was nowhere to be seen near Capoue and Zuniga.

Rashford 7– Sensational awareness and ability to score United’s equalizer. With the goal, became United’s highest scorer in 2016 with ten goals. Rashford has now been involved in nine goals in 14 Premier League games for Man United. 

Rooney 3- Had a stinker. Rooney ruined United’s play and  Continuously broke up United game  and fed Watford players the ball all game, as he lost possession easily. Was booked, argued with the referee.

Martial 4– Lost the ball in the build up of Capoue’s goal but was foul. Was pathetic. Head injury cut short his game time.

Ibrahimovic 6.5 – Wasted chances. Not too many movements. At 41st, 43 rd minute and later in the second half, forced Watford keeper and defender on toes. But his run and assist for Rashford goal was top-notch. Cherry picker.

Substitutes: Young 5(on for Martial, at 38 mins), Mata 5 (on for Valencia, at 60 mins) 


Sep 17 2016

Mourinho explains why Manchester United star is struggling, tells how to overcome it

Paul Pogba

£89 million is a hell of a record transfer fee which Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba to secure his services from Juventus. Is that baggage of the mint playing at the back of the midfielder’s mind everytime he steps onto the field in the Red Devils shirt?

United manager Jose Mourinho certainly thinks so as he has told his star midfielder to forget about the price tag, the Frenchman has come with, to improve display on the field.

Pogba is yet to register a goal or assist for the Red Devils. United lost the Manchester Derby in Premier League, followed by another defeat to Feyenoord in the UEFA Europa League. The 23-year-old was poor in both the matches and the player has failed to justify his transfer price till now.

Mourinho has said that he has ”full of trust” on Pogba and the Portuguese manager added that he had told Pogba to inadvertently neglect the world record transfer fee. “The world-record player is always a question, but I want Paul to forget that,” said United manager.

“He played in the Euro 2016 final, went on holiday, then had no pre-season. It is normal after the first game he has a little decrease.” ‘Pogba can play where he was playing before in the Premier League or where he did against Feyenoord. I am full of trust because I know he is a good guy with a lot of ambition, so the form will come naturally.”

Pogba has received widespread slaughtering for being anonymous in United’s matches as he has failed to make any significant contribution. But despite poor form, four new hairstyles has raised questions whether the former Juventus man is synonymous to Travis Scott’s Rodeo of all style and no major substance or not.

So, it is a simple story of suggestions that Pogba should shrug off the price tag from his psyche, but not so simple story to tell if you are a certain Lebile Pogba. 


Sep 03 2016

Injury update of Manchester United star prior to Manchester Derby against City

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Manchester United attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan is likely to miss the Manchester Derby of 10th September against Manchester City through injury, going by statement released by Armenian Football Association.

The Armenian international suffered the injury owing to an off the ball collision with Czech Republic defender Marek Suchy, when the two countries locked horns in their international friendly fixture, which saw Armenia getting defeated 3-0 to Czech Republic. Mkhitaryan, who was subbed off immediately after the collision will also miss the tie against Denmark tomorrow.

The statement on Mkhitaryan’s injury update, released by Armenian FA, confirming that the attacking midfielder has suffered a thigh muscle injury, that will require seven to ten days to heal , means the player would be cutting it tight to make it to the much anticipated Manchester Derby.

As reported by Sky Sports, the 27 year old will now return to Carrington to be assessed by United’s medical staff ahead of the big game at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The statement released by the Armenian FA read: ”As reported, senior national team captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan received an injury against Czech Republic and as a result was unable to continue the match.”

“Mkhitaryan has had a medical examination in a clinic in Mlada Boleslav. Unfortunately, the results are not encouraging.”

“Mkhitaryan was found to have an injury in the lower third of the left thigh muscle. Such injuries usually require a week to 10 days to heal, which means that Mkhitaryan will miss the Denmark-Armenia match on September 4.”

Just when Mkhitaryan was getting his match rhythm, his injury diagnosis has made him doubtful for the derby as the player is facing a race against time to get fit. Manchester City will also be without the services of their mercurial striker Sergio Aguero.

Here is Mkhitaryan’s message to the  United fans on his injury

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“My dear fans, I appreciate much that you worry about me, thank you! I’m now back in Manchester for treatment and hope to be fit very soon!” the player tweeted.

“I wish my Arm. teammates a successful start of the #WorldCup2018 campaign. As NT’s Captain, I expect a fighting spirit as always #GoArmenia.” 


Sep 01 2016

Manchester United star doubtful for Manchester City clash

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Ahead of the much vaunted Manchester Derby, Manchester United were struck with an injury blow as attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan was forced off in the first half with rib injury on his international duty.

In Armenia’s friendly clash against the Czech Republic, the 27-year-old suffered a rib injury and was subbed off. United will be warily, waiting for his injury status report to come. Mkhitaryan  had a collision with the Czech Republic and Basel defender Marek Sukhy.

According to reports, the substitution was  precautionary  ahead of Armenia’s World Cup qualifier with Denmark on Sunday, which the midfielder is likely to play. He signed for United from Borussia Dortmund in the recently concluded summer transfer window. Mkhitaryan is yet to start for the Premier League giants, since making a switch to Old Trafford.

Mkhitaryan starred for United after coming from the bench in his side’s 1-0 win over Hull City. His form saw him he could make it to the starting lineup for the clash against Pep Guardiola’s side. 

Jose Mourinho would probably love to throw Mkhitaryan into the mix against City, as his pace, directness and skill can cause havoc for the opposition’s defence. United and their fans would be on bated breath, waiting for the assessment of the injury.

According to the Manchester Evening News, the injury is not serious and the player is hoping to take part in Armenia’s clash against Denmark. Going by the report, being asked on chances of his availability in their first 2018 World Cup qualifier match, Mkhitaryan answered: “I hope so.”

Sky Sports has reported that  Mkhitaryan is a doubt to be part of United squad for the Manchester derby due to a knee injury, caused by the off-the-ball collision with Sukhy. Marouane Fellaini may also miss the derby on September 10 with a back injury, though the midfielder has joined Belgium squad.

Mourinho confirmed that the former Everton suffered a “bad” injury following his side’s third league win over Hull. Fellaini’s involvement for the derby is something that still needs to be assessed. A section of United fans will be hoping the Belgium international could be fit enough to start against City.

 


Sep 01 2016

Manchester United allow goalkeeper to leave Old Trafford on loan

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Manchester United Under-21 goalkeeper Joel Castro Pereira has completed a season long loan move to Belenenses in Portugal.

The 20-year-old man between the woods, is departing from  the club second time on the trot on loan, after playing for Rochdale in the 2015-16 season.

Pereira, who was included in Portugal’s Olympic squad as well, was on the substitue’s list in the senior team’s Europa League clash triumph over FC Midtjylland back in February. The goalkeeper was vice captain for Under-21s, when the rookie Red Devils won the title at  White Hart Lane in May earlier this year.

As 26 year old Ricardo Ribeiro left Belenenses this  window,the Lisbon based club’s hunt for new goalie saw them capturing the young United prospect. Reportedly, Belenenses has no option to buy the keeper, as they secured only temporary move.

“Manchester United goalkeeper Joel Castro Pereira has agreed a loan move to Belenenses in the Reds’ final piece of business on transfer deadline day,” a statement read on United’s official website.

“The 20-year-old, who was part of Portugal’s Olympic squad, is leaving Old Trafford for the second time on a temporary basis after representing Rochdale last term.

“Pereira was on the bench for the first team’s Europa League win over Midtjylland in February and deputised for James Weir as Under-21s captain when the young Reds clinched the title at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane in May.

“Ricardo Ribeiro left Belenenses in the summer and the Lisbon-based club’s search for a new goalkeeper led them to pull off a late swoop for the United man.”

With David De Gea being arguably the best goalkeeper of the Premier League, if not in the world, the first team chances of Pereira were minuscule. So the move makes sense. 


Sep 01 2016

Manchester United confirm English midfielder’s sale on deadline day

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Manchester United have allowed their midfielder James Weir leave the club on the  deadline day transfer. The midfielder has joined Hull City on a three-year contract, becoming the  second player within a week to move from the Red Devils to the KCOM Stadium after the departure of Will Keane from Old Trafford.

The midfielder, who has spent last eight years at Old Trafford has secured move to KCOM Stadium. He will be playing under the former United assistant manager Mike Phelan.

Weir has signed a three-year contract, as the Tigers have continued their transfer dash with  Dieumerci Mbokani being the most hyped capture.

“James Weir has joined Hull City from Manchester United in a deadline-day departure, signing a three-year contract with the Tigers,” a statement read on United’s official website.

“Wednesday night’s transfer means Weir has followed his United Under-21s colleague Will Keane in making a permanent switch to Hull, the club where former Reds coach Mike Phelan is the caretaker manager. Everybody at Manchester United wishes James well for the future.”

Weir, who left the club on undisclosed fee, also marked his name in first team substitute sheet, though unused,  seven times under former manager Louis van Gaal. Though he continued to catch eyes in Warren Joyce’s Under-21s side, that won the title in White Hart Lane. The creative midfielder deputised the young guns and finished the term  with six goals. He has one first team appearance to his name when he came on as a substitute in United’s 3-2 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford earlier this year.

Talking to the Hull City’s official website, Weir said: “It’s an important time in my career and I think every player of my age wants to try and start playing regular first team football.” 

“I couldn’t be happier to join Hull and really get my career started. The key thing for me is that I can be a regular part of the first team squad here and I hope I can help as the club continues to move forward.”

“I’m just looking forward to cracking on now and getting started here. It will be an exciting time once the international break is over and I can’t wait to meet the rest of the lads.”

“I can play in a few positions in midfield, which is a good asset of my game. I can play in the centre, off the striker or on the right or left. Hopefully I can contribute with some goals and assists as I like to be creative, but I also don’t mind putting my foot in when needed.” 


Aug 31 2016

Manchester United confirm striker sale

Will Keane

Manchester United striker Will Keane has left the club to join Hull City on a permanent transfer, for an undisclosed fee.

The striker is believed to make the switch to KCOM Stadium in a bid to regular first team actions. The 23-year-old will join the side, who suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Jose Mourinho’s side, courtesy to Marcus Rashford’s late goal in the stoppage time. 

The striker will play under the former United assistant manager Mike Phelan at Hull. He has signed a three year deal with the Tigers.

“Will Keane is joining Hull City on a permanent basis after the striker agreed a switch to the KCOM Stadium,” a statement on United’s official website read.

“Will, whose twin brother Mike is impressing with Burnley, links up with former Reds assistant manager Mike Phelan and will be out to prove his worth in the Premier League after signing a three-year contract with the Tigers. Everybody at United would like to wish him the very best of luck for the future,” it added.

Keane was the leading the line in 2011 FA Youth Cup winning side that boasted of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Ravel Morrison. Despite being the attack spearhead back them, the player did not develop as expected, with his array of injuries to be largely blamed as he suffered major knee and groin injury setbacks, forcing him onto the sidelines.

Former manager Louis van Gaal   recalled the number nine from Preston North End to galvanize the attack amidst  an injury crisis at Old Trafford last season.

But another injury against Shrewsbury in his second game for the Red Devils curtailed his season that term and with a number of quality forwards at his disposal, current manager Mourinho has decided to offload him, as the new boss continues his squad trimming.

On his transfer from United, Keane said: “I’m really excited. For me, it’s a fresh start and a new challenge so I’m looking forward to coming here and getting underway.”

“I’m 23 now so I wanted to come here on a permanent deal and get settled. My aim is to play as many games as possible and get a real run of games hopefully to help the team do well.”



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