Manchester United fell to a defeat against Spanish side Valencia – a team who are currently sitting 15th place in La Liga. The biggest surprise: you’d never tell that from watching this game. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d have put my money on that it was United. Worse, as a United fan I am honestly afraid of the fact that we made it into the Champion’s League Round of 16 at all. With Young Boys shockingly defeating Juventus with a 2-1 victory in Switzerland, United could have even topped the group. All they had to do was win this one game and they'd win the group! Could they do it? … frustrating doesn’t even cover it. Here’s the fall out:
With Manchester United already qualified through to the knockout stage of the Champion’s League, Jose Mourinho decided to rotate and make 8 changes to the squad that successfully defeated Fulham 4-1. Oh how I miss those days. What happened? The side put on an all-round poor and dull performance, attempting just one shot in the first 30 minutes, with their first shot on target coming in the 72nd minute by substitute Marcus Rashford who incidentally scored our only goal against Valencia, showing how much he should be starting over certain other players.
FACT: Rashford is United’s best player currently, along with Martial.
Carlos Soler broke the deadlock coming from a horrible clearance by Phil Jones allowing Soler space to put one past Sergio Romero, opening up the scoreline. Jones later conceded an own goal to make it 2-0 (5 goal = 5 own goals by Phil Jones), which confirmed that United would finish second in the group. Man, talk about a bad day at the office for Jones.
FACT: Jones needs to be sold, Lindelof and Smalling missed, and Bailly deserves better.
Paul Pogba made a disappointing return to the starting Xl with a miss from inside the six-yard-box to make it level 1-1. You could tell he desperately wanted to make something happen, which is admirable, but he was probably the worst player of the night besides Jones. I love Pogba, but he is way too inconsistent at the moment; he shouldn’t play against Liverpool.
FACT: If I was Mourhino, it would be extremely difficult for me to play Pogba against Liverpool on Sunday. Back to the bench Paul.
Lukaku may have just played himself out of the fixture against Liverpool too. He consistently loses the ball on the attack and suffered another frustrating night when he was subbed off in the 69th minute for Jesse Lingard.
FACT: Rashford needs to replace Lukaku until he improves.
Young, Rashford and Fellaini have all been performing well lately. Rashford was the only goal scorer and Young assisted. Really, Rashford is United’s only threat going forward, whilst he’s playing in such great form, he should be regularly starting. Likewise, Fellaini made some decent tackles and tried to do something going forward, even making some good looking crosses in the box with his weak foot, and Mourinho seems to agree. Great news, he has confirmed Young, Lingard and Rashford in the starting squad against Liverpool. I truly hope Luke Shaw is fit too as I refuse to see Rojo as left back again – even a back up like Darmian in that position would be better – and Dalot MUST also start ahead of Valencia Sunday.
FACT: Don’t play Valencia on Sunday; it WILL BE BAD. There’ll be no crossing coming from the right hand side.
There’s no other option other than for Dalot to overtake Valencia. If Shaw isn’t fit, play Young, along with Lingard and Rashford. They’ll give United the threat they need going forward. And tip: if Fellaini is in the box, GIVE IT TO HIM.
Now with all that out of the way, the Champions League draw is Monday and having finished 2nd in the group, United’s possible opponents are: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG, Borussia Dortmund and Porto. We need to get our heads in the game… and fast!