|Image from The Statesman|
For a historic 30th time Manchester United has catapulted themselves into the last 4 of the competition with a deserved victory over The Canaries. Let’s get into the talking points, shall we?
1. Squad Rotation
Ole’s decision to make 8 changes to the starting XI against Sheffield United and field a side with much less rhythm and composure has not gone well with all the fans who watched yesterday’s tense match. But what needs to be said is that the boys grinded a good result to take home and we scrapped through with no casualities. It is a no-brainer to understand that Ole can’t field his strongest XI for every single game with 3-4 matches to be played every 12 days. If not Norwich that too in an FA Cup tie, then against whom is squad rotation even possible? Believe it or not, this was the least important/ easiest of our fixture list considering that we need to win every single one of the league matches for a top 4 finish. And arguably the decision has paid off. All those players with no game time in their pockets got some minutes in their legs. The only first team players who had to last the whole 120 minutes were Bruno, Maguire and Shaw. All others got 60-70 minutes of play time which would keep them match fit for Brighton. We should have seen the game out in normal time, nonetheless a good decision by the manager.
2. Bruno Fernandes.
This lad is a winner. To sum it up that defensive contribution of his to run the entire length of the pitch when the clock said 115′ and wrestle the ball back near the byline shows commitment and desire at the highest level. A glimpse of Roy Keane. His shots might not have hit home or his passes might not have found his teammates often enough, but 73 final third passes even then is phenomenal to say the least! Don’t forget that it was his instant flick to Ighalo that got Norwich a red card and allowed us to dominate the entire stretch of play in extra time. Certainly, the Portuguese has been over-worked and if one man deserves a day off that’s Bruno Fernandes. He was dead tired even before the end of normal time.
3. Mata and Lingard
Even the readers would know what I have in my mind for putting them in the same column! Yes absolutely disastrous. Did any single person amongst our readers find a good bit of attacking play from Lingard and Mata? If you did, please comment down below.
Going forward both have been disastrous. The first time many of us noticed Mata was when he was subbed off at the stroke of 60. He played absolutely no part in any constructive play, justifying him being subbed off. Lingard likewise was pointless and blunt. This is a player that is not a specialist no.10 or a winger and that has resulted in him going down the pecking order for Ole. Mata and Jesse simply didn’t offer the width on the pitch resulting in a sluggish center-focused game.
4. Diogo Dalot
In a nutshell, the performance he put up yesterday resembled nothing like the bright young talent we saw under Jose. Notably Norwich tried taking advantage of our weaker right side, almost throughout the entirety of the game . He didn’t offer much going forward too. This was an eye-opener to the fact that Aaron Wan Bissaka has improved us massively both defensively and in supportive play. Is this because Diogo has only been allowed very less game time under Ole or is it because he simply isn’t good enough for the team remains to be seen.
5. Marcus Rashford
He may have grabbed 2 assists against Sheffield United, but it is clear as plain water that the 22 year old is not having a bright patch to say the least. He did well to hold up play and unleash a venomous strike at Tim Krul, but that was more or less the only major impact he had on the game. The Marcus Rashford of fine form is the one with hell loads of confidence, taking on opposition defenders with sizzling flicks and tricks and leaving them for dead. But the post-lockdown Marcus is not confident enough to attempt them take-ons and simply passes the ball back and is no-where near red hot that he used to be. If Manchester United’s hopes to have a good run in needs to be realised, Marcus Rashford needs to find his form. He is that important to the team. As simple as that.