Manchester United vs Middlesbrough

Pre-Match Analysis:

To begin with, our opposition, Middlesbrough are currently fourth in the Championship, only one point away from being joint second. They look to be a team that will be battling to get promoted into the Premier League at the end of the season. This in itself is a reason why not to underestimate them. They are one of the top teams in the Championship and will have analysed every game of our season. They will be looking for a win to take them a step closer to Wembley Stadium.

This Capital One Cup fixture is against an opposition in a lower division, we should seriously consider starting with our best young talents that don’t really get game time. However, we still feel that we should not take it easy as Chelsea and Arsenal have both been knocked out by lower league oppositions due to underestimating their capabilities, so we should be wary. Since these two big players in the competition are out, we think that this may be our year to win the cup and we should definitely try hard to do so.

As for who deserves to start, Lingard was impressive against City although he didn’t have much game time. Wilson should also start as Martial needs to be rested so we don’t burn him out. Darmian should almost certainly start due to Valencia being out injured and Darmian having done well for us so far this season. Other than Darmian coming in, the back line should stay unchanged as they were solid against City. Herrera needs more game time as does Memphis so both of them definitely need to start. Pereira should be starting alongside our other young stars. We think that Rooney should also start to try and score some goals and then regain his confidence.

The subs bench needs to be strong just in case the match starts to go bad, since this is a match that we definitely don’t want to lose. Also, we’ve seen from Arsenal how important it is to still have big names on the bench. That is what cost them the game against Sheffield Wednesday.

Hopefully this will be a good chance for the young players to show their capability to Van Gaal as they are our future. Let’s see what the lineup actually is, so until then, Live Long and Stay Red!

Pre-Match Line-Up Analysis:

WOW. What a line up! So many unexpected changes! Let’s start with the keeper. I can’t be the only one that’s shocked about David De Gea being rested for Romero. I for one am not comfortable with him in goal. He makes me nervous whenever the ball goes near him.

The back line is as expected really. Valencia has been changed for Darmian as he picked up an injury against Manchester City. Blind is back in the starting line-up chosen over Jones. Van Gaal is probably as he doesn’t want him to get injured. At least we have Mike Smalling at the back to lead our defence.
Fellaini is also back in the starting line-up. He’ll be playing alongside our skipper for the day, Carrick. Pereira is set to make a start today, he’ll be very keen to impress and produce some magic like he did with his free-kick against Ipswich Town. It’s a great opportunity for the youngster to show Van Gaal what he’s made of.
The front three look deadly. That amount of pace would frighten any team in the world. With Memphis looking to start on the left wing after being dropped to the bench for the last few games, he’ll be keen to impress and to show that he deserves to be starting every game. Lingard has been getting quite a bit of game time recently and it looks like he is starting to impress Van Gaal. Let’s not forget that it was on the Dutchman’s first game in charge, he started Lingard as a full back, but he unfortunately got injured very early on. There is also an opportunity for Wilson to show off his talents today as he’ll be starting up front.

First Half Analysis:

An exciting Wednesday night which saw Old Trafford host the Capital one cup fixture for the home team Manchester United against championship side Middlesborough. It is always a pleasure to watch the Red Devils in action, but this is a particularly anticipated fixture given that United have been quite shaky in domestic cup games in recent years.
LVG picked a strong line up which is sending a message out to the other teams in the competition- a message of intent. United are in the competition to win. He has also found a good balance between youth and experience. We have a realistic chance of winning this game as well as having the luxury of giving our younger players some more first team action.
The first ten minutes started just as we wanted. We dictated play and dominated possession, swinging the ball from left to right and making intelligent passes with the ball. Pereira and Lingard were particular bright sparks. Pereira’s attempted chipped pass into the penalty area in the 8thminute showed signs of intent, to get the ball forward and make things happen. This is the United that the fans want to see and the united that we are used to.
Darmian is looking particularly impressive as he wins a free-kick. I have enjoyed watching Perreira in the opening minutes, he is not afraid when he is in possession but rather cleverly uses the ball. Let’s look at Romero, since De Gea’s return to the first team we have not had a chance to see much of Romero. So far so good from him. Rojo is looking solid as he heads out the pass from the middlesborough player into the left flank.
Middlesborough are now pressing high up the field but United are resolute in their defending, confident and calm- exactly what is needed. Memphis has been criticised of late so it is important that he proves himself in this first half.
High studs from Jesse Lingard but that is down to inexperience. Fellaini’s presence in the midfield is crucial, big and strong to cut out the threats in the middle of the park.
Brilliant save from Romero but sloppy defending from United. I would like to see United play with more intensity, move the ball higher up the field and quicker. It’s important to maintain a good shape but equally we need to get some shots on target. The only stat that counts in football is the number of goals scored.
20 minutes have passed but we are yet to see any attacking threat from United. Too many sidewards passes.  24 minutes- no shots on target. Just not good enough. 39 minutes have passed, United have not been poor but have not been anywhere near their levels.
Middlesborough once again had a good opportunity with Kike shooting straight at Romero. Fellaini had a good shot but was unlucky, he used great chest control only for his shot to be blocked by George Friend. There was a magnificent save from Romero after Stuart Downing hit a deadly strike.
Finally, there was one minute of extra time. Overall, Middlesborough had the majority of chances, their best being from George Friend’s shot just outside the six yard box which was saved comfortably by Romero. United’s best chance fell to Fellaini whose shot was blocked by George Friend. It was a very average half and performance from the Red Devils. There was a distinct lack of attacking intensity combined with a few shaky defensive moments.

Second Half Analysis:

We started really positively with Memphis and Periera seeing more of the ball and Rooney becoming a nuisance to the middlesborogh defence.

While on the other end of the pitch Smalling using his strength and awareness to get rid of any danger. Lingard was a constant presence on the left flank, it shows that he’s more comfortable playing there and that LVG needs to play him there more usually in premier league matches so that Lingard can thrive. Periera reminded me of another Carrick in the second half he picked his passes incredibly well and displayed maturity which you would find in the more experienced players.

Blind was good defensively however the problem he has is that he is totally left footed which means he can only play on the left hand side of the pitch and this limits his versatility in a kind of way. Sergio Romero had a good half after the Devastating  slip which nearly resulted in an own goal, he made some pretty great saves in the end of the second half and kept United in the game. Darmian kept on trying to whip the ball in to Fellaini while still doing his defensive duties efficiently.

Overall the second half effort was pretty good offensively and a tiny bit shaky defensively after a few blunders and a couple of good chances for the opposition

Extra Time Analysis

We started extra time looking like we were playing to win the game. We were making positive attacking runs, which is something we failed to do throughout the majority of the first 90 minutes. Middlesbrough were defending well and it was clear that we were finding it hard to break their defense down. 
We had two massive appeals for a penalty, one of which was for sure a penalty. But, the referee didn’t give it. We often threw lots of players forward, but Middlesbrough counter attacked at some points and we found it hard to cope with. Romero made some amazing saves throughout the game, but he also made some almost costly mistakes. However, 120 minutes was not enough to decide a winner, it had to go to penalties.

Penalties Analysis

That’s why you never let English players take penalties because they have a record of not being able to score them. Young, Carrick and Rooney took disgraceful penalties. There was no composure and no sense of confidence. There was no passion visible on their faces. Pereira gets off the hook because he scored his. The opposition took wonderfully placed penalties that Romero just couldn’t get to even though they weren’t hit high. 
My gut instincts were right; Romero is not good enough to be in a united goal. He made too many blunders during the game and didn’t save any penalties even though they were beautifully taken (learn a thing or two Rooney). 
Now Rooney’s miss brings out the question: what is he good for?
A goalkeeper doesn’t have to be rested and that’s why De Gea shouldn’t be benched. He’s earning a reportedly £200,000 a week! The problem is we’re looking to give away Valdes, who is a good goalkeeper, this January because he hasn’t got used to LVG’s philosophy yet. We can’t be resting key players because we need to win something this season and the capital one cup was our greatest chance.
Martial and Lingard should’ve taken penalties instead of Young and Carrick.  Carrick lofted his penalty and made it look like we were the championship team not them. A player like Carrick who has so much experience, should not be bottling it and skying a penalty like that. Both Young and Rooney placed their penalties too low and close to the middle of the goal. Even Pereira didn’t take a good penalty and was lucky to score. This is due to a lack of penalty practice on the training ground. And that is down the Louis Van Gaal. 

Overall Analysis

To conclude, we are utterly disappointed with the performance and the final result. Before the game, when I looked at the line-up, I was sure that we were going to play good, entertaining football. Our four players playing highest up the pitch (Pereira, Memphis, Wilson and Lingard) looked as if they were going to inject pace and power into our football and be creative. However, that is not in Louis Van Gaal’s philosophy. We ended up playing sideways passes and possession football, which was getting us nowhere. I think that everyone at Manchester United is now having second thoughts about the “philosophy” and the style of play which Van Gaal likes. 

Author: TUD Author