A clean strike from Mason Greenwood was enough to send Manchester United to 3rd as elsewhere Chelsea lost 5-3 to the Merseyside Reds. Let’s get into the biggest talking points from the drab draw at Old Trafford.
The biggest question that needs to be asked is ‘How good are we at handling pressures?’ The sign of any top team who wants to compete for trophys and titles is that when the pressure piles up on them and when their rivals slip up they go out in full force and take advantage of the situation. But what Ole and his set of players are doing are exactly the opposite! They can deliver and did deliver when the pressure was not on them, but every opportunity to overtake Chelsea in the Premier league table has been squandered, an FA Cup final dreams have been squashed with a disastrous performance at Wembley and now the team has come off with a single point from a possible 3 points. Story of the season!
What today’s game showed is the importance of Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan Bissaka to our system. Luke Shaw has been direly missed since his injury last week. Bowen outmuscled and outperformed Brandon Williams yesterday, giving him a very tough 90 minutes. Brandon is a player who sucks up the energy around him and performs likewise,but today there was no energy around him. Being hard on the teenager is a bit unfair too. And so is being hard on Timothy Fosu Mensah. But the difference Aaron Wan Bissaka made to the attack and balance in the right flank when he came on at halftime was evident. Don’t forget that this is not an in-form Aaron! Timothy was poor overall, not creative enough in attack or in defence. That bad sliding challenge to earn himself a yellow sums up his performance today.
The English international was scintillating to watch against Crystal Palace. But he was nowhere to be seen at Wembley or yesterday. He did put a magnificent ball into Bruno’s path which the Portuguese should have controlled and slotted home, but other than that Marcus had an off-day. What stands out evidently is the fact Marcus is half the player he is, in the absence of Luke Shaw. The left wing is very creative when both plays together with crisp passes, neat link up plays and many overlaps and underlaps faciltating a very fluidic attack.
Solskjær summed it up perfectly on Greenwood, “he’s bailed us out a few times and he’s done it again!” The teenager stepped up again today when he was needed the most, to score a fine goal and send us level on points with West Ham. It was overall a fine performance from him to achieve an incredible feat of equalling the record set by the legends Rooney, Best and Brian Kidd.
Martial may not have found the back of the net yesterday but he certainly can’t be overlooked. He is the focal point for our attack which brings the balance to the team and distribution of the ball to the wings much more easier and effective.
The FIFA guidelines provides for 5 substitutions in 90 minutes in 3 different oppurtunities and how many did we see yesterday? TWO! Of which only one was an attacking substitution! We were struggling to create chances, the energy levels were almost nil and the players looked knackered and run down but Ole opted not to sub in anyone to effectively change the game or nick a goal. The only sub he used was Odion in the 85th minute replacing Marcus Rashford. And it’s pretty clear why Ole decided to go with the players he had on the pitch itself. He doesn’t trust anyone on the bench to make the impact he needs. None of them – Mata, James, McTominay, Fred has made a positive impact after football has restarted and looked out of their depths every time they kicked a ball post-lockdown. The manager absolutely needs to be backed this summer and some signings has to be made or next season might be no better!