Manchester United vs FC Copenhagen: 5 Things We’ve Learned

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Bruno celebrating the winner.
Image source: Manchester Evening News

Manchester United have beaten FC Kobenhavn to reach the last four of the Europa League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named two changes to United’s best team by bringing in Eric Bailly in place of Victor Lindelof and Fred in place of Nemanja Matic. A Bruno Fernandes penalty in extra time was not the prettiest way to win the game but it got the job done and we’re through to the next stage. The next stage is the Europa League semi-final where we will face either Wolverhampton Wanderers or Sevilla in the RheinEnergie Stadion in Cologne, Germany.

Here are 5 things we learnt:

1. We Can’t Play Out From The Back… Yet

For a while now, we have tried building from the back by involving the centre-backs as the first line of attack. The goalkeeper plays short goal-kicks and the defensive midfielder drops deeper to help build play from the back. This invites high press and our players aren’t ready to deal with high-press situations just yet. Maybe that’s something we can work on over the pre-season but for now, it has led to some sloppy moments in our defensive third. This is mostly down to players not being comfortable with receiving the ball and having to turn in their own halves.

2. Fred’s Game Is Binary

Fred started the game over Nemanja Matic and as usual, his performance divided opinion. A lot of fans thought he played very well and he did. However, this view would’ve been very different had his direct error led to a Kobenhavn goal in the first 15 minutes. He had a last-ditch Harry Maguire tackle to thank for saving his blushes. Also, his attacking output at the other end of the pitch was quite poor. He barely picks out a man or changes the tempo of the game. That said, he is a good squad player but his performance, for me, highlighted the necessity of a Matic-like player that our squad needs to sign. 

3. We Need To Improve A Lot

It’s as simple as that. Manchester United should not need an extra-time penalty to beat FC Kobenhavn. The main reason is that we are yet to face the tougher clubs in this competition like Sevilla or Inter and Kobenhavn should’ve been a breeze. But instead, we managed to take the game to extra time and tire ourselves more. Their goalkeeper had an amazing outing and if it weren’t for him, we’d probably wrap up the game in normal time but that’s no excuse. Our performances need to be much, much better if we face a dynamic side like Sevilla, a well-drilled side like Wolves, or a defensively astute side like Inter.

4. Ole’s Substitutions Worked

At the beginning of extra-time, Solskjaer substituted Juan Mata for Mason Greenwood which caused some doubts amongst the United fans but it did pay off ultimately. Mata played the pass that led to the penalty that scored our winner. Solskjaer has often been criticized for not using his substitutes wisely and over-playing the first team but he laid that to rest today. In terms of substitutions, we probably expected Ole to bring on Odion Ighalo or Daniel James but instead, he brought on an unlikely player who yielded results which shows he had a plan.

5. This Team Needs Some Rest

These players need a nice, long holiday after the season is done. You can just see the fatigue in someone like Bruno Fernandes or Marcus Rashford. These players gave it their all since the restart and without quality squad depth, there hasn’t been a lot of rotation. The players need all the rest they can get and the board needs to sign some players to add some depth to this squad. Unfortunately for them, there are two more games to go and there’s going to be no rest until then!

Author: TUD Author