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Who Man Utd need now…
I know the English window has only just slammed shut, and we’re only two games in, but looking at that United team last night if United were to go back to Crystal Palace and Leicester with Ed’s big wad and got Maddison and Zaha (with Lingard and James becoming squad players) it would be a pretty dam sexy team; whether they would come or not is another issue, one could have Jones and the other Smalling . . .
All the best for the season.
David (hoping tedious VAR arguments die down) McDougall
Let’s start with the most important takeaway from the game. This game was televised past midnight in my country and ever since SAF retired, the biggest challenge has been not falling asleep through the boring football on display. Yesterday was fun. I didn’t notice the time fly by and despite the draw was quite pleased with the way United played.
The main worry before the game was how United would do against a competent team that just sat back and defended, looking to break on us. The initial signs are promising. We controlled the ball and created a few chances. We off course did give the ball away, but that is expected from a young team learning a new way to play, it should improve over the season. From my perspective the deep-lying midfielder suits Pogba. He doesn’t get closed down and crowded as quickly as he did when he used to play further up the pitch and that enables him to pick his passes and occasionally make a mazy run. Martial and Rashford look good up top and should only improve with more game time together. Maguire again looked solid and the defense looks composed, while Wan-Bissaka looks like a steal as his defensive side of the game is excellent.
McTominay is a young kid and a lot of expectations are being placed on him and he is going to be hit or miss in games, its the same with James. Lingard should have been a bench player, but Woodward didn’t deliver a midfielder, so he or Perreira will have to start most games. Holding out hope that Perreira can fulfill his potential with this extended chance he will receive this season.
Solskjær has really impressed me as a manager. The players are very fit and no long fade after 70-75 mins and he has asked them to pass from the back and more importantly they are always looking for a potential forward pass, not just pass it around. Yeah it isn’t refined like City’s, but its an encouraging start and can only improve. And most importantly Ole is actually playing the lineups most fans would have picked (no Matic, no Young, no Sanchez and Mata off the bench).
Only criticism I have is the fact that he waited for 85 mins or so to send on Greenwood, I’d have preferred to see him enter at 75 mins, so he could get in some playing time and possibly create a goal. Fred and Dalot must be really terrible in practice to be behind Matic and Young in the pecking order.
Jarron (Can’t believe someone in the mailbox suggested putting Ashley Young in to defend. Guess they have amnesia from last season), MUFC
…How dare United fans be happy !
This is a letter to all the ‘banter fans’ who find it hilarious that we are proud of a team drawing 1-1 at the Molineux:
We are sorry, we really really are. You lot have a problem when we shout out that we are a top club, and have a problem when we try to enjoy the small moments (Like a draw or a good performance) in life? What exactly do you want? Us to all be miserable, drown our sorrows in a bottle of gin and then burn down Old Trafford? Absolute joke you lot. Let the fans be happy.
I love the way we played, we are missing a lot, but the energy of the players, the fact we are able to keep decent possession is an upgrade over the last five years. Rashford and Martial are bright spots, AVB and Maguire look fantastic, and NO MORE YOUNG. We are proud to have a team with so many players coming from the academy. We are proud to finally have a team that plays for the shirt (at least most of them do). We are okay with the fact we will not win the title this season, and have a long way to go maybe. But somehow oppositions fans are not.
So we are sorry that we are not trashing all the teams and winning 7 trophies a season, sorry for being happy at getting a measly point at Wolves, sorry for supporting a club and finding joy in it when they put in a decent shift. Sorry for forgiving a player who missed a pen. Sorry we have a manager who loves United as much as any fan would. We are sorry for finding peace with our situation. Cheers to all your toxic fans, and have a good season to all 🙂
Wolves v Manchester United: Some random thoughts
I am usually a voyeur of the mailbox but perhaps through some misguided sense of self-importance, I wanted to share a few red-tinted thoughts following yesterday’s game.
1) The first-half display was one of the more dominant United performances that I can remember in recent years (albeit without creating an abundance of chances). The constant pressure from the front four or five players rushed Wolves into difficult passes which the defensive five then won back very quickly. Having watched United miserably over the last few years sit deep and wait for the opposition to make a move, it is pleasant to see a very proactive approach (similar to what City, Spurs and Liverpool have been doing for years).
2) Given our recent history, particularly against Wolves, it was worrying that we went into half time with a single goal lead. It was inevitable that Wolves would come back into the game since United do not (yet) have the fitness levels to maintain the high intensity pressing for the full 90 minutes. Indeed, Wolves had an excellent 20-minute spell where they hit the post and scored the equaliser but I believe previous United teams (including last year’s) would have capitulated further and conceded a quick second, so to leave the game thinking we should have won it represents some progress.
3) Lindelof and Maguire certainly looked far less assured than they did against Chelsea last week, with a number of hacked clearances and misplaced passes. This says a lot about the attacking quality of the opposition – Jimenez is an exceptional striker and was a constant danger, the same cannot be said for Abraham last week. Having said that, Wolves failed to create that many clear-cut opportunities I think largely due to one man snuffing out the danger before it developed…
4) AWB has quickly become my favourite player. He has a gangly almost unnatural style but his touch is clearly excellent and he always seems to pick the right pass. I imagine he is an absolute nightmare to play against, just as the winger thinks he is in the clear a rogue AWB initialled boot will sneak in from six yards back and poke it to safety.
5) Lingard on the other hand is exceptionally infuriating. I feel United as a team perform better when he plays but his definitive contributions are simply not good enough. There is a stat (unverified) doing the rounds on Twitter that save for December 2018 where he scored four and assisted two, Lingard has no goals or assists in any month since May 2018. For a club with top four ambitions, that is not good enough and his position is one that we can improve on in the next transfer window.
6) Now to the penalty miss. Pogba clearly cannot be trusted with penalties. Obviously he is a confident chap, but that doesn’t matter if you are sh*t at penalties, which he has demonstrated a number of times. Rashford has proven himself to be an excellent penalty taker and he needs to assert himself as the number 1 going forwards.
7) Rashford does however need to stop taking free kicks. Nine times out of 10 they are comically bad. Generally I think attacking set-pieces are an issue for United – what is the point of paying all that money for the most dangerous head of the WC2018 if you can’t whip a corner in with any pace? Seeing Luke Shaw step up every time to float in a harmless corner to the back of the penalty area was as sad as it was irritating.
8) I think I read Daniel Storey mention somewhere that Chelsea v Leicester on Sunday represented the battle for 6th and 7th, but with no clear preference over which way round. I would say those places are definitely under threat from Wolves. They have an established squad which NES has conditioned into an efficient, functioning unit with defensive solidity and attacking prowess. Lampard has a very tough job on his hands to match that.
9) The optimist in me thinks United will finish fourth this year. In the limited number of games this season we have looked decent defensively and a constant threat going forwards. However, this optimism is heavily predicated on keeping the first-choice attackers fit and healthy. The substitutes like Mata and Pereira do not offer the same threat and the style that Solskjaer is working hard to implement is difficult to replicate with the second string players. We cannot be expected to rely on the teenagers, no matter how promising they appear.
10) I am pleased that VAR didn’t play a large role in this game. I am sick of it already and would greatly appreciate a limited number of VAR-centric mails going forwards.
That’s probably enough.
Charles, London (typical…)
Pogba penalty talk
There seems to be a lot of hand-ringing going on over Man Utd’s penalty situation so I thought I’d add my twopenneth:
Firstly, they didn’t drop two points because they don’t have a designated penalty taker – they dropped them because Pogba missed, as he still would if he’d been the main guy and so might Rashford had he been the one. Ole’s approach doesn’t reduce his team’s chances of scoring in itself but it does open him up to criticism when it goes wrong. Maybe it’s admirable that he doesn’t care about that but it can create unwanted pressure if results don’t go his way.
Secondly, this whole debate reminds me a bit of the time when Liverpool (under Rafa, I believe) were constantly being taken to task over their stringent use of zonal marking at corners; whenever they conceded a goal from a corner, the old zonal marking debate was rolled out and pundits were unified in their criticism of the system, but nothing was ever said after the dozens of corners they defended that did NOT lead to a goal. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
It also demonstrates how quick pundits and journalists are to judge these days. The obvious thing is to reserve judgement for a few more months and assess the setup then; I have a hunch that Pogba and Rashford will score far more than they miss and this whole thing will blow over.
Another thing the criticisms possibly highlight, is how Man City’s relentlessness has put huge pressure on clubs to be absolutely perfect if they are to catch them. Every point dropped now seems disastrous; every little plan, tactic and gameplay is vital and will be pulled apart and analysed. On face value, Ole’s approach to choosing his penalty takers is really not a big deal – but if it leads to two, three or four points being dropped over the course of the season, it will be deemed disastrous.
But there are two final points about Ole’s approach that do concern me: the first is that Pogba is still part of the equation at all; four misses (three of which admittedly have not had a particularly hurtful) shows that he should no longer be in contention as a penalty taker. He’s simply not good enough – regardless of how confident he is feeling, how much he cost or how many shirts he sells. The second is that it concerns me that Rashford is okay with the situation. He’s clearly a good lad and a fantastic talent but, call me old fashioned, I like my strikers to be hungry for goals and desperate to pad out their records with penalties – like Kane, Salah or Shearer clearly are/were. Rashford’s ‘meekness’ here doesn’t convince me that he is (atleast not yet) the ruthless, killer striker we really want him to be…
Bob Stokes (scored one of three pens against John Lukic at a charity event once)
…You said Rashford converted six out of six of his competitive penalties but you are not giving Pogba’s stats a fair share.
Prior to yesterday, Pogba has taken a total of 17 career penalties but only missed 4 (3 was in the 18/19 season, other one was way before). That is a 76% career conversion rate, a quarter lower than 100% yes but also triple the sample size as Rashford.
You are also ignoring how many he has scored lately. Last season Pogba scored 8 penalties out of 11 for Man United. That is a 72% conversion rate. You say he missed the most among players – but he also took a lot and scored most of them. He took twice the amount of penalties – in last season alone – than Rashford has in his career.
Sam Allardyce has a 100% win record as England boss – but nobody cares because only led one game. Sample size is very important cos going by win record he should be managing Barcelona!
Also, why assume Rashford wanted to take it? There wasn’t an argument about it that I recall. The advantage of a team is that you can delegate and change tasks when you’re not up to it. For all we know, Rashford didn’t feel like it on the day and Pogba stepped up.
Pogba also did a good job winning that penalty in the first place – without him there wouldn’t even be that opportunity. Not saying there aren’t other legitimate reasons to wanting Pogba to go, but yesterday’s penalty wasn’t one of them.
I also want to clarify that I am not knocking Rashford here, he is a great taker so far but it is early days for him. He will get plenty more chances.
Yaru (Thank god MU drew just to take the topic off You-Know-What), Malaysia
…Ian Watson’s analysis of the Pogba-Rashford incident is harsh.
Rather than Pogba having ‘overconfidence bordering on misplaced arrogance’, maybe Rashford just had the jitters. He was having an average game, and five minutes before the penalty he took the worst free-kick of the season so far.
— 々TOR🎖 (@Kol_Mi_Tor) August 19, 2019
Both can take penalties, but Pogba looked more capable in the moment.
And from Wolves…
Just a few comments on last night’s game from a Wolves perspective:
· Slipping on my Sean Dyche hat – James dived horrible twice in the first ten/fifteen minutes, two yellow cards under the laws of the game. Now I know there’s the whole narrative around his goal last week and how much raw joy he showed etc. etc. (yawn). But he should’ve been sent off and if he’s going to dive, he needs to get an awful lot cuter at it or he’ll accumulate a lot of yellow cards. The person who compared his behaviour to Moutinho in this morning’s mailbox needs to go and sit down in a dark room for a while.
· United dominated the first half and had it gone on five minutes longer I think they would’ve got a second. The break definitely came at a good time for Wolves and Nuno was able to have a word and reset, which we did. Despite some of the rouge tinted comments, the second half was much more even, Wolves piling on the pressure for the first 15, United coming back after Neves’ bit of sexiness and finally, the two teams trading drunken punches for the last fifteen minutes. Like two p*ss heads at 2.30am on a Friday night outside of the Civic Hall, arguing over the last sausage in the Mr Sizzle van.
· I’d like to see Vallejo in for Bennett asap. The big man has made a lot of people (including myself) look silly with his performances in the premier league. But I think he’s still very vulnerable against pacey teams breaking forward.
· Jonny is going to be a big player this year. Get him in your fantasy team before the points start racking up
· Big year for Neves, while he didn’t disappoint last year, he just about hit par in terms of expectations. I think he’s got it in him to be Michael Carrick with maybe a few more goals. If he can reach those heights then Wolves won’t be keeping him for too much longer
Big night in Turin awaits
John Collins, Wolves, London
All of the isms are wrong
As a United fan for 50 years, I just wanted to express my disgust at the so called ‘fans’ who think it’s ok to post racist comments aimed at a Manchester United player because he missed a penalty! This is clearly unacceptable and in no way represents the vast majority of United fans or football fans in general come to that. These people need to be named and shamed and made to explain their actions to the player/s in question.
Whilst on the subject of ism’s, I find any kind of discrimination deplorable whether it be racism, homophobia, religion, ginger, tall, short, skinny or fat nobody has the right to make a person a target for abuse because of the way they are. While watching the game last night, I felt equally outraged that every time Luke Shaw was on the ball, thousands of Leicester fans thought it perfectly acceptable to chant ‘you fat bastard’, is this any more acceptable than racist abuse? I’m sure if you are an overweight person, being abused for it is equally upsetting (not that Luke is really overweight!)
I would be interested to hear what fellow readers think on this subject so here’s the question; if you’ve ever chanted on the terraces ‘ you fat bastard’ would you feel comfortable substituting the word ‘fat for ‘black’? And why?