Manchester United 1 - Rochdale 1 (Pen 5-3)
Midfield Woes Continues For Manchester United
Lots were expected from this young team, to dominate, to attack and attack. That was not to be, because what the game between Manchester United and Rochdale proved was that this team needs time, lots of character and a couple of transfer window.
United began the game sloppily, poor passing and fouls right left and center. By the 30th minute Manchester United had committed 8 fouls and Rochdale none. United gave the ball away at the wrong places, be it in the final third or at their own half, it was simply poor. Wan Bissaka was off his game, Paul Pogba was rusty, his passes and through balls were heavy. Pereira seems to be running aimlessly, his positions in the final third needs to be revisited and he should be given more sessions for taking up good positions while going forward. Jesse Lingard was anonymous once again, Solskaer has some trust in this thoroughbred Mancunian, but how long will that continue, only time will tell. Marcus Rojo was dangerous a couple of times he had so many shots maybe just below the double digits.
Passing in the final third was very poor. Chong is alright but he has not been getting many balls to work with, also he needs to tighten his game in the final third, giving away the balls too easily. Total communication breakdown when it comes to the final third. By the 30th minute United had 10 shots and no goals, the shots to goal conversion is very poor. Clear chance in the 33rd minute from a brilliant cross from Mason Greenwood with his left foot, but Paul Pogba sent it into the stands. To be fair, Rochdale's goal keeper thwarted United's many attempts to score a goal.
Rochdale's short passing was very snappy in the beginning, United's short passing was very slow that the opponents have the time to decipher what United are trying to do. This has been the major reason for Manchester United’s inability to breakdown opponents who defend deep. Rochdale’s counter attack was much better than that of Man United’s simply because those attacks looked as if they were going to score and they nearly scored only for Wan Bissaka to clear the ball off the goal line.
Axel Tuanzebe captained the side pretty well, except for the initial blip, he was assured and composed on the ball.
Phil Jones was substituted and Brandon Williams was given his senior debut. Phil Jones is having some kind of problem or he was not interested in the game at all. Either way it was a good substitution. Chong was shifted to the right wing and Pereira was moved to the left.
Fred was very poor. No creativity no forward thinking.
Mason Greenwood once again had a brilliant game, at the moment he is the only United player who seems to carry a threat in the opposition's box. His control on the ball in the opposition's penalty area was very good, Rashford should watch him and learn. In the 68th minute Brandon Williams intercepted a ball and he moved it forward to Jesse Lingard and Lingard for once passed it forward to Greenwood who with a killer instinct finished it off and United were 1-0 up.
All that brilliance of Greenwood was undone by Andreas Pereira’s inability to mark Rochdale’s right back Matheson, a 16 year old kid, who with his brilliant run forward latched on to a loose ball from a Rochdale corner and put it into the back of the net.
The introduction of Daniel James brought in much more energy, but for some reasons he operated on the right wing. There was a chance for United and they should have been awarded a penalty as Pogba was pulled down by Matheson but James should have scored, he shot it way over the cross bar. Then it was penalties and United kept their cool and Sergio Romero saved one shot and that was all that was needed.
United breathed a sigh of relief, their performance was not on par with the standards set by Manchester United, Solskaer will be happy with the performances of Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams. The glaring truth is that United’s Midfield, at the moment, is non existent and bereft of ideas. Someone should be the catalyst for the change. Fans are frustrated with boring performances, it does not matter if United lost a game playing the United way, but does these new set of players know what the United way is? Lots of thinking and soul searching should be done by each one of those players except for a very few.
© 2019 Jim David