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Until Lingard goes, Manchester United are screwed
Firstly, get all the Pogba hatred out of my face. Pogba did exceptionally well to win the penalty and was unfortunate to have his shot saved. In hindsight, it’s probably not a great idea to switch from a penalty taker who scored the week before, but there was no dispute between the players and had he scored, nobody would have batted an eye. I suppose the point is that he didn’t score, but shut up.
Secondly, the result feels disappointing, but there were a lot of positives to take from that game. If it were possible, I would inject Martial leading the line straight into my veins. Not perfect, but if he keeps playing there, he will score goals. Wan-Bissaka was largely excellent again, and every time he makes a tackle I shed a tear of joy for the dearly departed (to the bench) Ashley Young. Another big positive was Daniel James, aside from his hilarious dive. His pace is deadly, and his work rate is exceptional, the potential is definitely there and I hope he stays in the starting line-up for the foreseeable future.
Now, I finally get to my main point, the reason I am here in this mailbox. Jesse Lingard. The playmaker who makes no plays. The number 10 with a 0/10 rating. The man pulling the strings, but the strings are broken and the man stayed home. Somehow, Jesse Lingard’s game plan of “run a lot to disguise the fact that I can’t play football” is still working, and I cannot for the life of me see how. What has he done over the last 134 years to convince every manager he should be in our starting line-up? Why is this still happening? He gets no assists, scores no goals, and creates little to no chances, but is starting in one of our most important positions. It baffles me, time and time again, and it surely has to end now. I am a firm believer that until we rid ourselves of Jesse Lingard, we are bound to be trapped in the cesspool of mediocrity for eternity.
Don’t tell me his pressing has earned him his place. It hasn’t. He is not good. You suck.
We had a chance to go top of the league but Pogba happened. Ole should grow some gonads and remove Pogba from penalty taking duties. Rashers has converted ALL the penalties he’s taken in competitive matches. Meanwhile, Mr I’m-off-to-Madrid-unless-I-take-penalties has missed four since the start of last season, the most by anyone in the league. Very frustrating. I hardly slept last night thinking what a wasted opportunity to be top of the league even for one week. The ABUs would have had a nightmare week while we enjoy our day in the ⛅. #pogbaout
Six Conclusions and One Question
(1) First, the coverage. Last week when Chelsea dominated the game and United won 4-0, most commentators were falling over themselves to find positives for Lampard and Chelsea, and the spotlight was on United’s potential flaws, beyond Maguire and AWB. After yesterday, when United outplayed Wolves and ended up 1-1, the discussions are largely around United’s shortcomings. I think that nobody still takes Solskjaer seriously and the assumption is that he’s a lucky sod, who is just bungling along. (Lampard, of course, is the real thing!).
(2) Yesterday’s game was billed as a wake-up call for United, because the Wolves midfield was going to over-run Pogba and company. It wasn’t going to be like the Chelsea game. And United would struggle against Nuno’s compact defensive organisation. The game I saw was one that was dominated by United. Except for 15 mins where Wolves came at United and got their goal and hit the bar, United held them at arm’s length. For a team that was supposed to dominate us, Wolves barely laid a glove on United in the first 45 mins. The match stats show a 63% possession and 51 dangerous attacks, to Wolves’ 32. I would call that a dominant performance.
(3) Unfortunately, the finishing for United was as profligate as it was efficient versus Chelsea. This should worry OGS and we need to improve on this. But again, given the history of these two teams over the past season, this was a overwhelmingly positive showing. Martial and Lingard missed two easy chances each, and there were plenty of times when we got into the last third and didn’t pick the right pass. And then there was that penalty miss. Enough will be said about that, but this was a game which United should have won comfortably.
(4) Reuben Neves – what a strike! If a goal deserved a point, it was that one. I’ll take solace in the fact that we were undone by a wonder goal. The other great chance for Wolves was from their well worked free-kick. But really that was about it.
(5) United’s flaws showed up in the second half. Shaw clearly lost confidence against the hard running Traore. By the end he was just backing off. And we still need an Eriksen type player who can pick a killer pass. Against teams in the bottom half of the table, I’d love to see Pogba pushed up into an attacking role, with Matic and McTominay behind him. Lingard’s game works best when opponents underrate him. He needs to be an impact sub, as does James for now.
(6) On yellow cards. James went down with minimal contact and got booked. No complaints. But shortly after, Moutinho tangled with Pogba and rolled around clutching his ankle when even the super-slo-mo replays failed to show any significant contact between Pogba’s boots and his ankle. Why is that any better and wasn’t the Premier League doing retrospective cards for simulation?
(7) I know every other weekend for at least half the year will be billed as ’the real test’ for United this year. ‘Yes, but can they break down an organised team like Wolves?’ ‘Yes, but can they break down two banks of defenders?’? ‘Yes, but can they handle the physicality?’ And so on, until we kind of know for certain where the teams are likely to end up. I think most United fans will rue this game as points dropped, and feet shot, etc. But equally, we dominated one of the biggest ‘challengers’ from the chasing pack and outplayed them across the pitch. Give Ole a couple of more transfer windows and who knows, we might have a real team on our hands.
Ved Sen, MUFC
Some early Man United musings
It is too early to judge teams but also from the last few games, we can infer a lot:
1. OGS must take control of his team. We have two excellent penalty takers in Man U: Mata and Martial. They have 100 records and their penalties are always well placed. Rashford may have scored the last two but he doesn’t place his. He has scored two penalties and they are all similar. Not long before goalkeepers start saving. Pogba’s record is poor and that’s not the player to entrust a winning penalty. I don’t blame Pogba for the miss. I blame the manager..
2. You cannot win the league with a Pogba and McTominay combo for a midfield two. This is nonsense. It makes sense to play Perreira with the two but the two cannot play for 90 minutes against good opposition.
3. It is high time OGS trusted Fred. Fred is tidy on the ball and is technically gifted. You cannot write off such a good player this early. Even Modric was voted the worst signing in his first season but look at him now. A Fred-McTominay or Matic or Perreira axis would enable Pogba play further upfront. It is clear Pogba is best when playing further upfront. Why keep insisting with the deep playmaking thing? It starves us of quality upfront. Just see the run he made for the penalty.
McTominay should be eased into the first team. Not forced to be Carrick when he is still headless. When the intensity of a game increases he cannot handle it and that’s when you need players like Fred and Matic to take the sting off the game. OGS learn your lesson!!! Don’t expect McTominay to dominate the top six and in away grounds like this. If you have to play him use a midfield 3! I expected Matic to have closed down Neves for the goal.
4. Martial’s hold up play is still average. But goals give confidence so we can only expect better. However his understanding with Rashford today was soo off!
5. OGS must know when to make subs. Today he should have taken James off when Traore causes havoc. He should then have brought Young to play as a left wingback. Or he hooks Lingard or James off and brings Tuanzebe and play a back three and then Shaw and Bissaka would have pushed them up front. A manager can’t be that clueless when his team is being rained upon!
6. James must stop diving. And OGS needs to ease him into the team. Too early to be giving him such games from the start. Where is Dalot? He should have helped us in this.
All in all, it is a point gained from last season. However OGS must learn that he won’t get chances like he got with Chelsea. Tougher fixtures await, more so away. And he needs to toughen his players to improve the away record.
Our defence is solid. Sought the midfield mess!!!
Steps in the right direction but…
Some encouraging signs last night from United, absolutely bossed the first half and should really have had more goals to their credit. A few things did nark me a bit though (might just be red tinted specs) the last attack of the first half when Martial was through the defender dived in nowhere near the ball forcing Martial to hurdle him then subsequently losing control of the ball, surely that is a foul even though no contact was made the defender impeded Martial’s run, secondly the Neves goal although a fantastic strike, four Wolves players were in an offside position in the box in front of De Gea, why is this not considered offside? This is a genuine question why? On to the penalty, yes Pogba won it but FFS Rashford hasn’t missed from the spot and you have three, now four times you need to take a step back and let Rashford take the damn thing you cost us the three points there Paul.
All in all though some encouraging steps taken.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
Sturridge has self-confidence
Great piece by Sarah Winterburn on Daniel Sturridge. That season where he was in tandem with Suarez he was absolutely world class and heading to Brazil that year most England fans probably felt that he was the main hope of firing them to World Cup glory.
Since then though he hasn’t really been that great. Suarez moved on in 2014 and this was Sturridge’s time, his moment to become the main man at Liverpool, unfortunately his injuries had really taken hold of his body at that point and he missed 40 games in that season and would go onto miss another 30 until October 2017. It was in October 2017 when he done a promotional video for FA while on England duty with Raheem Sterling in which they have to guess each others FIFA’s stats, Sturridge was genuinely annoyed to find out his pace had been lowered by the gaming company. Now one thing professional footballers don’t lack is self confidence and Sturridge did come across as confident that day “Don’t disrespect my pace” was said to the producer behind the camera and even Sterling looked shocked at Sturridge’s pace being 76 (apologies to non FIFA players but apparently this isn’t very fast) he also added “I’m one of the quickest strikers in the Premier League”.
Now he had missed 70 games in just over three seasons. FIFA had obviously being paying attention to this.
As for the articles on him. Maybe self confidence comes across as sulky to some people, maybe some people see somebody doing something they wish they could and their only way to react is with negative comments.
Speaking the unspoken
Good piece yesterday on why Daniel Sturridge is getting picked on. Why? Because Raheem Sterling has been properly defended and giving an accurate public profile (much of which done by your good selves) so the likes of the S*n will have to find another black footballer to ruin.
Hugh, Cork/London (sinking feeling the Sturridge thing will drag on now…)