After an excellent performance on their return to European competition, many were hoping that Manchester United’s improved form would carry to their league game against Newcastle. However, while United looked good for long periods of the game, creating multiple chances, they struggled to put the chances away. The performance was better than the first two league games, but the same old doubts resurfaced.
After a year in the wilderness, Manchester United returned to European action by hosting Club Brugge of Belgium for the first-leg of the play-off match to reach the group stage.
United came into the game after winning their first two games of the season 1-0, which are a valuable 6 points but they still haven’t looked all that convincing. The Belgians are further into their season than the Mancunians, beating Panathinaikos 4-2 in the third qualifying round of the Champions League, in addition to 4 league games. A game that started slowly for United eventually turned into one of their best performances under Louis Van Gaal.
After a struggling 1-0 win over the Tottenham Hotspur on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, Manchester United travelled to Villa Park for a rare Friday night match against Aston Villa.
Villa fought out a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth, with Tim Sherwood playing a more aggressive brand of football but they rarely bothered United, as they notched up a second consecutive win.
Louis Van Gaal’s men were hardly entertaining and some tactical patterns are beginning to emerge yet again.
The midfield has been an area that has been under intense scrutiny from supporters, pundits and anyone else who has an opinion on football. From the success of the Keane – Scholes partnership to the disappointment of the Carrick – Fellani partnership, in this post I will try my best to analyse the Manchester United midfield. I will discuss how over the years the Manchester United midfield has changed and why we suffer from the problems we suffer from now
Roy Keane and Paul Scholes
United went into last night’s game against Bayern Munich widely expected to be not only beaten but thoroughly humiliated, given the gulf in quality between the two sides. After a plucky effort, however, United remain in the tie and while a 1-1 draw places Bayern in the driving seat, it’s a lot better than what many of us would have expected.
Here’s five things we have learnt last night.
1) The (not yet) Special Juan
From the moment he signed, last night was always going to be about a man and one man only: Juan Mata.
The atmosphere as he entered the pitch was one of febrile anticipation, one we hadn’t witnessed at Old Trafford since Robin Van Persie made his debut in a red shirt last season and while the expectations were only partly met, Mata’s first game for United was a largely positive one.
Considering the circumstances that have surrounded United’s first half of the season, it’d be a tad premature and probably downright foolish to read too much into yesterday’s performance for, good as the 3-0 win at Villa was, we’ve already been inundated with false dawns and moments when “United turned the corner” this season.
While feet will be better left firmly rooted on the ground, it’s hard not to feel happy for Danny Welbeck who, after a season plagued by injuries and niggles, delivered the sort of performance every United fan know he’s capable of, apart from those who consider Welbz a waste of space and a player not fit to wear the shirt – which, truth be told, could be said about at least a couple of other elements of the squad.
If there’s been one lesson to be learnt so far this season, is that the options at David Moyes’ disposal resemble a blanket that it’s never quite long enough, thus always leaving some vital parts of United not properly covered.
Wednesday’s superb performance against Leverkusen highlighted how big a difference Shinj Kagawa can make when deployed in his favoured number 10 role but, given the injuries that sidelined Robin Van Persie and Michael Carrick, the formation Moyes adopted in Germany was borne out of necessity rather than conviction.