Sep 19 2016

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


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


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) 

Aug 20 2016

Player ratings: Manchester United 2-0 Southampton



Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 36th minute header and 52nd minute penalty saw Manchester United through, as they retained the top spot in the Premier League table. Southampton saw more of the ball though, as they dominated ball possession with 57% . 

United made four on target goal attempts, while the Saints had one. Also the Red Devils got four corners, whereas Southampton got none.

Let’s take a look at how the United players fared:

David de Gea 7: The Spanish player barely had to touch the ball as United’s defense was impressively organised. De Gea has hardly had to do anything , looks like he finally  isn’t carrying the Red Devils on his shoulders week in week out. His distribution was really good as usual.

Antonio Valencia 8: Valencia looks to be back into his old form , as the  fullback seemed rejuvenated with Mourinho’s arrival. The workhorse through the right flank made  32 accurate passes, three completed Take-ons, one Tackle , five Ball recoveries , two Interceptions and one Block.

Eric Bailly 8: Another commanding display, infused pace in the United back line.  93.3% pass accuracy, 9 clearances and 4 interceptions speak volumes. Old school clearance and proper forwarding centre back.

Daley Blind 7: Decent partnership is blossoming between Bailly and Blind. Game reading and vision was immense.

Luke Shaw 8: In the off day of Anthony Martial, Shaw looked more threatening through the left channel and earned the penalty. Brilliant performance, furnished directness in the left.

Marouane Fellaini 7: As Mourinho said his phone call to Fellaini has instilled confidence in the player, another decent performance as holding midfielder proved likewise. Made 40 accurate passes among attempted 46. Kept things simple, astute display. Composed, no rash challenges.

Paul Pogba 8.5: Took time to settle in, but soon showed why United paid a fortune for him.  Audacious passes, dynamism was at full display, as the provided the extra edge in the attack. Made most  touches (103), most key passes(2), most shots (4), most dribbles (8) and most interceptions (5) in the game. Impressive second debut.

Juan Mata 7: Offered pace but disrupted United’s attacking advances at times. He  beat players and laid off a nice pass at times. Was decent at defensive contributions though: 100% aerial duels won,100% tackles won, made 4 clearances,2 blocks and 1 interception.

Wayne Rooney 6: Made superb cross to assist Zlatan in his first goal, perfect out-swinger to latch onto. A  blooming Rooney-Ibrahimovic partnership is on the cards. Matured and composed display.

Anthony Martial 5: Looked poor, went into the Euros in excellent form but his confidence probably got knocked after being subbed off  in their 2nd match. Squandered a good chance in second half. Raced into the areas but failed to take them and lacked  sharpness in the box.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic 9: His header and United’s opener reminded Shearer in his prime. Scored another as he converted from the spot. Man of the Match. Made 48 touches, covered 9.33km, took 3 shots and scored 2 goals. Class.


Henrikh Mkhitaryan 6.5: Showed class and nice touches in last 20 minutes. Needs to start.

Ander Herrera 5: Average.



Mar 07 2016

Five things we’ve learnt from WBA vs United

Tag: Match Reports,Opinion Piece @ 8:03 am

2369Manchester United’s already slim chances of securing a top four finish were dealt a heavy blow on Sunday, as they deservedly lost 1-0 to West Bromwich Albion.

After a run of four wins in all competition that had somewhat eased the pressure on Louis Van Gaal, United delivered the sort of abysmal performance that has become a common theme of the Dutchman’s tenure.

Here’s five things we’ve learnt from Sunday

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Feb 23 2016

Five things we’ve learnt from Shrewsbury vs United

Tag: Match Reports,Opinion Piece @ 7:59 am

3899Manchester United put criticism and speculations over Louis Van Gaal’s future momentarily aside as they booked their ticket to the quarter finals of the FA Cup after beating Shrewsbury Town 3-0.

After a slow start, United eventually began to take control of proceedings in the first half and went ahead through a goal from Chris Smalling, before Juan Mata made it 2-0 with a wonderful free-kick just before halftime.

Jesse Lingard added a third in the second half and United could have, and in fact probably should have, added a couple of more.

Here’s five things we’ve learnt from last night.

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Feb 19 2016

Five things we’ve learnt from Midtjylland vs United

Tag: Match Reports,Opinion Piece @ 7:02 am

3484Manchester United’s season took yet another embarrassing turn as Louis Van Gaal’s side slumped to a pathetic defeat away against Midtjylland in the first league of their Europa League.

Despite going ahead through a Memphis Depay’s goal, United succeeded in delivering an even more abysmal performance than the one they had produced at Sunderland on Saturday and were eventually deservedly beaten by a hungrier and more organised side. 

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Feb 15 2016

Van Gaal wants Europa League success but United face struggle

3152A season punctuated by too many lows and very few, if any, highs plunged to a new whole on Saturday.

Arrived on Wearside on the back of their three best performances of the season and facing a Sunderland side stuck in the relegation zone, Manchester United reverted to type and produced a performance of such ineptitude that any talk of a top four finish must now surely be taken as a practical joke and nothing more than that.

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Feb 14 2016

Five things we’ve learnt from Sunderland vs United

Tag: Match Reports,Opinion Piece @ 12:16 pm

Sunderland-v-Man-United (1)Manchester United’s already slim hopes of reaching a top four finish this season were dealt a fresh blow as they slumped to an embarrassing defeat away at Sunderland on Saturday.

Having gone behind after just three minutes, United equalised through a sumptuous Anthony Martial’s finish and looked to have dragged themselves back into the game, only to serve up an utterly inept performance in the second half as Sunderland found a deserved late winner.

Here’s five things we have learnt form yesterday.

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