Man United Make The Most of Moscow’s Mediocrity

Manchester United travelled to Russia’s capital to face CSKA Moscow. The Reds would be playing in a city that holds many memories for the club and would no doubt be hoping to create more happy memories, securing another three points in the process.

United’s European campaign started with a comfortable 3-0 win over Swiss champions, FC Basel at Old Trafford a fortnight ago and Mourinho’s men will want to continue their excellent start to the season.

Mourinho’s Modifications

The Boss opted to change up the starting eleven, as well as the formation compared to the usual 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. Blind, Lindelof and Smalling all returned to the side in defence, alongside Eric Bailly and Ashley Young who retained their place from the weekend’s game at Southampton. Mourinho’s choice of defensive personnel made it clear, he was going for a more versatile 3-4-3, with players that can evolve and move into other positions if need be.

The midfield was also mildly dissimilar to the one we seen at the beginning of the season with Nemanja Matic starting, who has became a mainstay in the United team so far this season, partnered with Ander Herrera. Young and Blind were the duo selected to operate as wing backs on either flank.

We also seen a refreshed front three with Anthony Martial coming into the forward line to play with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Belgian talisman, Romelu Lukaku. All three have had a fine start to the season and will inevitably be aiming to continue their form against CSKA.

Goals Come Early

Four minutes into the game and United took the lead, through none other than Romelu Lukaku, who has recently been the subject of much debate over a song about him that is rightly deemed offensive and racially stereotypical. The man has done himself no harm, deflecting the attention away from the drama and back to his unbelievable goal-scoring ability.

The former Everton striker’s goal came from an exemplary floated ball in from Martial, which allowed the on-form number nine to get up and put the ball past Russian national team captain, Igor Akinfeev. Manchester United doubled their lead shortly after when Mkhitaryan was brought down by a rather poor tackle from CSKA wing back, Georgi Shchennikov and won United a penalty. Martial stepped up and put the keeper the wrong way, in his usual ‘cool as you like’ manner.

The sensational start continued with a third goal for United and a second for Lukaku. The Lukaku-Martial combination was prominent again, as the 21 year-old whipped in another dangerous cross, which Berezutski failed to clear when he completely missed the ball, allowing United’s most expensive player of the summer to score his tenth goal in nine games.

However, despite all the goals going in at one end, David De Gea was also forced into action a few times. The best of the lot came from an effort from Vitinho, who hit a shot from the edge of the box which looked certain to be going in, until the Spaniard leapt up and got a hand to the ball to tip it over the bar.  

This was probably the perfect opening half for Manchester United away in Russia which was expected to be a tough fixture, nonetheless United made it look easy and rolled over CSKA Moscow. The Russian side may have been shocking at times defensively but caused their fair share of problems for the Red Devils’s defense, yet it was the latter who troubled more and took their chances.

The Second Coming

The fourth goal came in the 57th minute after yet another astonishing run which resulted in his shot being saved, only Mkhitaryan to follow up and strike the ball home. This Jose Mourinho’s side 4-0 up and sailing, allowing the Gaffer to make his changes. Lingard came on for Mkhitaryan, Darmian replaced Young and Rashford entered the fray in place of a hobbling, Martial.

CSKA Moscow grabbed a late consolation through 19 year-old, Konstantin Kuchaev who finished well, after a ball over the top fell to the youngster who slotted the ball through the legs of David De Gea, who was great across the course of the ninety minutes overall.

United’s Star Men Step Up!

Manchester United were near-perfect, with more or less all of the game’s best moments seeming to feature Anthony Martial. The boy from the suburbs of Southern France was spectacular from the first minute to the last, involved in almost every attack his side has in the 72 minutes he played.

Martial was key to all the goals United scored; assisting two, scoring one and going on a jinking run through the Moscow defence before firing shot that was saved and fell to Mkhitaryan to fire in. He completed six dribbles, created five chances, in addition to the contributions mentioned above.

The midfield duo was also crucial to the result United earned. Herrera and Matic controlled the game and simply dominated the midfield. The pair retained the ball efficiently whenever United lost it and kept it effectively whenever they were in possession.

Matic moved the ball with beautiful accuracy and purpose, while Ander Herrera appeared to have regained his sharpness, moving the ball with pace and playing it through to the attackers, allowing them to strut their stuff.

Another obvious pick who impressed many was Romelu Lukaku, who was as mentioned before already in great form and continued it in this game, scoring after four minutes. He then bagged a second after CSKA’s defence faltered and he pounced to tap the ball home.

The Antwerp-born forward bagged his ninth and tenth goal in nine games. This statistic is simply astounding considering United legend, Sir Bobby Charlton bagged nine goals in his first nine games.

Lukaku looks to be in the form of his life, whilst not only being amongst the goals but also appears to be pivotal in link up play. He has also surprised a few with his work rate and his tireless running upfront when closing down, which is a nice change for United fans after a season of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

David De Gea was also in tip-top form, making some eye-brow raising saves which most would not expect him to make. Despite conceding the late goal, the Spaniard should be void of criticism after the saves he has made in recent games. It is clear he wants the title of best goalkeeper in the world and will certainly want to be in with a shout for the golden glove at the end of the Premier League season.

What Does This Mean For United Now?

Manchester United can celebrate another great performance despite leaking in the dying moments. They now have six out of six points, scoring seven in the process and conceding only one. Mourinho will be subtly satisfied despite putting on a dim facade to the public. However, he will have spotted United’s late defensive vulnerability and will want to patch that up as soon as possible.

Reds around the world will be delighted with the form shown by their side, scoring 29 goals in 10 games overall this season which compared to last season is breathtaking progress. It took MUFC 19 games last season to score the same amount. The progress is there for all to see, but will it be enough to earn United a place in the latter stages of the Champions League? The upcoming games will tell us more…

Follow @UnitedScotsman on Twitter for more news, views and opinions on all things United related.

 

Advertisements

Valencia Screamer Sets United On Way To Rout

Manchester United 4-0 Everton

By Harry Ogilvie

  • Valencia, Mkhitaryan, Lukaku and Martial all net in 4-0 win
  • Three points see United level on points with City

Manchester United set up to play their third game in eight days. Against against a seasoned yet unsteady Everton side managed by former Southampton manager, Ronald Koeman.

Jose Mourinho would be sure to want to beat his Dutch counterpart after failing to win against a side managed by him since he came to England.

The United boss opted for a rather attacking side with Valencia and Young at full-back and Fellaini over a more defensive option in Ander Herrera.

The front four consisted of Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata on the wings with Mkhitaryan operating in the number ten role and former-Evertonian, Romelu Lukaku. Everton’s team also featured former United player and legend, Wayne Rooney.

This would be the Englishman’s first appearance back at Old Trafford since rejoining his boyhood club.

As Mourinho said prior to the game. Rooney would get the reception he deserves and rightly so after all he done during his time at Manchester United.

However, as the game kicked off and the minutes ticked by, it became evident as to why United had let their club record goalscorer go. He appeared way off the pace physically and could not move the ball at the pace required.

Valencia Screamer Sets United On Way

The whole Everton side did not start particularly well as United dominated possession and in the third minute they took the lead through a devastating hit from Antonio Valencia.

Nemanja Matic swung the ball across the field. It sat up nicely for the Ecuadorian who rocketed the ball past Jordan Pickford through sheer power.

This put Manchester United 1-0 up with a very long period of the game still to go.

Valencia’s goal would make Everton come out and attack United. Leaving space and areas further forward for United’s attacking players to take advantage of.

After the goal Mourinho’s side maintained the pressure.

Wave after wave of attack with Lukaku coming very close to making it 2-0. The Red Devil’s dangermen continued to look threatening with Mkhitaryan and Rashford constantly finding themselves in promising positions with little end product.

The blue Merseyside men came close once in the the first half, with Cuco Martina finding space out wide and cutting the ball back for Rooney. Who placed his shot inches wide of the post.

Apart from this well worked opportunity, Everton created very little.

United went in the more happy of the two sides with a 1-0 advantage despite missing chances and wasting opportunities in promising positions.

The Blue side of Liverpool may also have felt fortunate to only be 1-0 down.

Everton Start Second-Half The Better

Koeman’s men came flying out the blocks in the second half and looked to be playing with far more purpose compared to their first half performance.

They appeared to be closing the ball down much faster and came close a second time, through Rooney again.

Everton’s confidence was clearly improving as they came into the game, keeping possession more effectively and moving the ball with more speed.

Despite not doing much with possession, they were clearly keeping the ball better than United.

This provoked Mourinho to make some changes with Lingard coming on for Rashford to help Young out defensively down the left and Herrera on for Mata to regain possession and dominate the midfield again.

Lingard was right into the action, winning fouls, getting into good positions as well as getting into strong shooting positions.

The United youth product also had penalty appeal waved away after a risky challenge from Ashley Williams.

Mkhitaryan, Lukaku and Martial Put Gloss On Win

In the 83rd minute, United doubled their lead, as the Lukaku received the ball on the edge of the box and neatly slipped in Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who finished expertly.

This was a typical Jose Mourinho side performance. Winning despite not playing particularly well.

Romelu Lukaku went from creator to goalscorer, after his free kick hit the wall and fell to Matic. Who crossed the ball in. Lingard then flicked the ball on to the back post where Lukaku finished comfortably to put his new side 3-0 up. Before pedalling away to celebrate.

Two minutes later, United broke away on a counter attack after an Everton corner.

Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial were the pair leading the charge. Martial cut inside, causing former red, Schneiderlin to slide in and in doing so, the Frenchman’s hand stroked the ball. Causing Marriner to point to the spot.

Manchester United had gone from struggling to hold on to their 1-0 lead to winning 4-0 with a minute left of added time. This game was similar to the Swansea game this season. Where there was another late flurry of goals.

Matic Impresses Once Again

The best performance of the game came from Nemanja Matic.

The Serbian international covered every blade of grass. He bagged an assist, completed 72 passes and was the one player who was brilliant throughout the whole game.

His positioning, defensive contribution and work rate was flawless from the first minute to the last.

The holding midfielder was seen in both boxes repeatedly throughout the game, creating chances in and around Everton’s box and breaking up attacks on the edge our box.

The Manager’s View

Jose Mourinho said his side were “ultra dominant” and if we were two or three up inside the first half an hour, it would have been a clear reflection of the “fantastic football” played.

When asked about Paul Pogba, the boss said “I don’t know if it is twelve weeks or twelve days honestly, so any rumours are clearly wrong.”

He was also asked about why Martial took the penalty: “The penalty taker today was Juan Mata, but he was out so I let the players take the decision. It is nice for Anthony Martial, fine for me, no problem.”

Match Reflection

Ultimately, the scoreline flattered a largely underwhelming displayed from Manchester United despite a breath taking early strike from Antonio Valencia.

Having said that, the side deserve credit for their mentality. They refused to give up and kept applying pressure when in good positions.

Eventually this paid off and after the Mkhitaryan goal, the pressure and worry of conceding an equaliser was lift. This allowed them to go out and take advantage of the spaces Everton were leaving when going forward.

Another game. Another 4-0 win from Mourinho’s men and of course, another quietly excellent game from Nemanja Matic.

Follow @UnitedScotsman on Twitter for more news, views and opinions on all things United related

Another Three Goals, Another Three Points

Manchester United 3-0 FC Basel

By Harry Ogilvie

  • United open Champions League campaign with three goals and three points
  • Fellaini, Lukaku and Rashford on the scoresheet
  • United loose Pogba to suspected hamstring injury

Manchester United were back in the Champions League for the first time in what feels like forever. As the Champions League song rang around the ground, the camera panned along the United starting team.

Jose Mourinho opted for a completely new back four to the Stoke game on Saturday. The defence consisted of David De Gea, Daley Blind, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young and of course, Victor Lindelof.

This was the Swede’s first appearance of the season since the Super Cup final against Real Madrid. Lindelof was partnered by Smalling against a Basel side United fans knew little about.

The two holding midfielders remained the same as the weekend: Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic. The front four featured Mata, Mkhitaryan, Martial and an on-form, Romelu Lukaku.

This was as predicted a strong, attacking side which is no less than what United fans were expecting. Manchester United from the first minute looked comfortable, confident and purposeful.

The best opportunity of the opening exchanges came from Mkhitaryan who hit the post from close range then had his rebound saved.

It was a beautiful move from United, with Lindelof starting it with an elegant floated ball into the chest of Lukaku who knocked the ball inside for Mkhitaryan.

Pogba Departs, Enter Fellaini

The chances continued to flow until the game stopped when Pogba appeared to go down holding his hamstring. This was a sight all United fans would undoubtedly feared to see before the game. However, this was very much a reality.

The lanky Frenchman ended up hobbling off the pitch and straight down the tunnel. He was replaced by another tall, French speaking baller, Marouane Fellaini.

Pogba’s replacement quickly made a nuisance of himself by getting on the end of an inch perfect cross from Ashley Young to make it 1-0 United.

One of the few players remaining from the Fergie era. This was Young’s first start since Swansea last April and was an impressive one.

The sides went in 1-0 at the break with Manchester United very much the dominant side.

The play appeared to be quite comfortably controlled by the United midfield and chances being made regularly by the front four despite the loss of Pogba.

Lukaku Makes It Two

United began the second half, just as they finished the second, with clear attacking intent. Romelu Lukaku quickly doubled their lead less than 10 minutes into the second half.

Blind, who has recently been criticised for his poor delivery, whipped in a sublime cross which left Lukaku to power the ball home from close range.

The clinical Belgian nearly grabbed his second goal of the night in the 63rd minute when he had another header saved by Basel keeper’, Vaclík.

Basel created very little themselves, however United’s sloppiness, gave them their first good opportunity to shoot at De Gea’s goal. Fortunately for Mourinho, De Gea came to the rescue to parry the ball over the bar.

United appeared to take their foot off the gas as the clock hit the 70 minute mark.

Mourinho’s men continued to dominate the ball and both sides began to make their changes with Rashford and Lingard coming on for United, to replace Mata and Martial.

Rashford Wraps Up The Three Points

Substitute, Marcus Rashford quickly made it 3-0 five minutes after coming on. The youngster scuffed the ball into the roof of the net after a incisive ball from Lukaku, through to Fellaini who knocked the ball inside for Rashford to finish.

“Our Kid” has now scored on his Europa League debut, Premier League debut, FA Cup debut, League Cup debut, England under 21 debut, England senior squad debut and now his Champions League debut.

This is an exceptional feat that few players can boast.

Impressive Performers

After Paul Pogba went off, United required a big performance from Marouane Fellaini when he replaced him. Mourinho needed him to go on and dominate the midfield, the way Pogba has done this season.

Thankfully, Fellaini played a blinder and proved anyone who doubted him wrong.

The 31 year old was brilliant once he got on, causing havoc in the box, controlling the midfield with Matic as well as winning the ball in the air and making 2 successful interceptions.

Fellaini scored arguably the most important goal of the game, breaking the deadlock and forcing Basel to come out and attack United, allowing his side to find more space in promising positions.

Romelu Lukaku was another who had a fantastic game. Fellaini’s fellow Belgian did everything that was asked of him: scored, held the ball up, brought others into play and considering it was his Champions League debut, he had an all round great game.

It is obvious Lukaku has worked on his game to ensure he can play at the level of previous world class number nines. The striker has evidently improved his close control and passing, in addition to keeping his clinical finishing sharp and accurate.

Victor Lindelof was another making his Manchester United, Champions League debut. Lindelof’s distribution is what impressed me most, attempting 75 passes, completing 93% of them.

The centre back also played one key pass, in addition to the several aerial battles he won and clearances he made.

Ashley Young also deserves a mention after a solid performance in his first appearance of the season after picking up an injury late last season. The Englishman swung in a sublime cross for the opening goal.

Did everything required of him defensively and put in several dangerous crosses after the Fellaini goal.

The Manager’s View

Jose Mourinho appeared pleased with his side’s victory saying “three points are important when you start the group phase at home. Until 2-0 we were very stable and played with confidence.”

However, he was not entirely pleased by any means. “After 2-0 we stopped playing, we stopped thinking on the pitch and could have put ourselves in trouble.”

“We made bad decisions and played fantasy football, playstation football. I don’t like that, it is a gamble.” Reflecting on the game he said “Overall the performance was solid.”

The boss admired the performance of Fellaini saying: “He is a player with special qualities, he gives me multiple areas of cover and philosophy on the pitch.” “He is one of my most important players, even if he doesn’t start every week.”

He followed this up with praise for Young: “Ashley gave us what Antonio would give us. I felt he could do the job perfectly and he did it.”

When asked about the Pogba injury, he said: “I haven’t spoken with the medical department, this is why we have a squad, we won’t cry about injuries.” There will be “No Paul on Sunday.”

Match Reflection

Another game for Mourinho’s men, another win and another clean sheet. This would have been the perfect start to Manchester United’s Champions League campaign, had star player, Paul Pogba avoided injury.

This will definitely make this victory less satisfying for most United fans especially considering the amount of fixtures United have coming up. Despite this, Mourinho will expect his side to pick up wins in all their upcoming games with or without Pogba.

Everton on Sunday without Paul Pogba will be Manchester United’s next test of the 2017/18 campaign. Reds should still be confident with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan available for selection.

Follow @UnitedScotsman on Twitter for more news, views and opinions on all things United related.

Perfect Beginning

Perfect Beginning

By Harry Ogilvie

  • Manchester United start the season with a perfect record
  • three wins, ten goals scored and none conceded

As we endure the dreaded International break. I will take a look back on United’s opening three fixtures and analyse their start to the 2017/18 Premier League season.

The side appear rejuvenated compared to last season and fans seem to sense something special happening at Old Trafford.

The signings of Lindelof, Lukaku and Matic. Manchester United seem to have recaptured what was lost when Sir Alex Ferguson left.

Jose Mourinho’s men have had the perfect start to the season. His side has played three, won three, scored ten and kept three clean sheets.

Pace Is Key!

They finally seem to have found the pace, power and penetration United’s attacks used to be renowned.

The speed and ability in the side is quite simply remarkable. Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and even Jesse Lingard can all be superb assets to the side. Especially for counter attacks.

Mourinho is also blessed with some brilliant creativity to compliment our forward players with Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Nemanja Matic.

All the players mentioned can thread a pass through the eye of a needle and will be crucial to Manchester United’s attacks and have been so far.

The two additions that have been given their chance in the league so far have done nothing but impress.

Matic and Lukaku have been fantastic. Lukaku exploded on to the scene scoring two on his debut against West Ham and then another against Swansea. Putting him top of the goalscoring charts.

Matic Proving An Important Addition Already

Matic is the other signing who’s made a massive impact since signing for the club. Many reds were underwhelmed when Matic was announced. With United were previously linked with the likes of Fabinho and Eric Dier.

However, all fears and doubts were vanished after his performance against Real Madrid. Where he kept possession and moved the ball with ease and composure.

The Serbian has also proved to be a vital part of United’s perfect league start. He has been the player that has allowed Pogba to roam forward and offer his creativity and goal scoring ability when United are attacking.

This has already been made evident. As the Frenchman has bagged two goals and one assist in the three games we have played.

Last season, Paul Pogba was required to sit back a lot more and was unable to take up his free role, where he can roam forward as he pleases as United did not have a Matic-esque player (when Carrick was not playing).

Mkhitaryan Proving His Worth To Mourinho

Mkhitaryan is another player who has had an excellent start to the season, bagging 5 assists in 3 games. The Armenian has came to life in the final third with his vision and weight of pass.

He is one player who looks fresh and more threatening than ever. This is a refreshing sight for all United fans considering his lack of goal contributions in the league last season.

Manchester United have a number of serious attacking assets and now are looking like a real threat.

After four years of failed title challenges and dropping as low as 7th in the league, Mourinho finally has a United side looking capable of winning the league.

Jones And Bailly Looking Solid In Defence

In addition to striking the right balance in the attacking side of the team, it also appears the gaffer has found the perfect centre back partnership.

In the first three games, we have started with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones at centre back and they have more than repaid Jose’s faith in them.

The pairing have had a flawless start to the season, getting a clean sheet in every game so far.

The only question marks that may come up with regards to the centre back duo is injuries.

Phil Jones is known for picking up long term injuries especially when he hits a bit of form. Bailly is another who was slightly troubled by injuries last year. The Ivorian hobbled off in the 4-0 drubbing at Stamford Bridge and was out for six weeks.

However, that being said, if these two can remain fit Manchester United will have a terrific centre back partnership with the likes of Victor Lindelof, Axel Tuanzebe, Chris Smalling and even Marcos Rojo (when he returns from injury) available to come into the side if injury, suspension or loss of form does occur.

Strength Of Squad Will Be Needed

The depth in this squad is simply extraordinary. The centre back position is one with a clear amount of depth (shown in the above paragraph).

Centre midfield is another position where there are options aplenty with the likes of Pogba, Matic, Herrera, A. Pereira, Fellaini and of course, Michael Carrick.

There is also a vast array of attacking options especially after the addition of Romelu Lukaku and the extension of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract.

Manchester United have options in almost every position, which will be very important in an inevitably long season.

Left-Back May Be A Worry

Despite all the positives of the current United squad, there is still a clink in United’s armour.

This clink being the full back position. There may be a fair few options in each full back position but there are questions over the quality of these options considering how important these positions are in the modern game.

Antonio Valencia is a solid, reliable option at right back but in the game against Leicester, it was clear his crossing needs major work.

The Ecuadorian is perfectly capable at almost every other part of his game and if his crossing can improve, he could be a real threat. Darmian and Ashley Young are the other two options at right back.

As for the left back position, this is definitely United’s weakest area.

Daley Blind has been the player that has started there so far this season.

But he appears to lack the athleticism and crossing to be really effective at full back.The options for left back consists of Luke Shaw, Rojo (when fit), Demetri Mitchell and both Darmian & Young are also capable of playing left back.

Luke Shaw is an intriguing case. The player is only 22 years old and is clearly a talented full back but seems to be riddled by injuries.

Shaw appears to have had fitness problems for years, even when he was back at Southampton. But if he can get fit and firing, he would be a massive coup for United considering the lack of pace and attacking ability Blind possesses.

Title Challenge Is On But It’s Only A Start

Ultimately, it is clear Manchester United are very much in contention for the Premier League title after an excellent start.

There is still 35 games to be played but United have started as they mean to go on, scoring goals galore, keeping clean sheets and back to playing the frightening attacking football that they were once known for.

The fear factor is back at Old Trafford. And with Mourinho at the helm, United fans believe anything is possible.

Follow @UnitedScotsman on Twitter for more news, views and opinions on all things United related

Super Subs Rashford And Fellaini Seal Three Points

Manchester United 2-0 Leicester City

By Harry Ogilvie

  • Lukaku misses chance to open scoring from penalty spot
  • Rashford, Fellaini and Lingard all make impact from the bench

On the back of another 4-0 win against Swansea City after a late flourish of goals. Manchester United faced a tough Leicester City side.

Leicester came close to getting a result against Arsenal on the opening day of the season but just missed out. Losing 4-3, before beating Brighton 2-0 last weekend.

Jose Mourinho opted largely for the same side that earned him two big wins in the first two games of the season.

The one change he made was Rashford out for Anthony Martial. The Frenchman had been very dangerous and effective when coming off the bench, scoring against both Swansea and West Ham.

However, Marcus Rashford may feel hard done by as in a rather lacklustre first half against Swansea. He looked to be the only threat despite not having the cutting edge to finish his one-on-one chance against Fabianski.

But many reds still believe Martial was getting the start he deserved as he looked terrific in the minutes he played.

The rest of the side remained the same. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku all retaining their places after strong starts to the season.

The back four also remained the same. Made up of Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Daley Blind with Matic and Pogba in the holding midfield role.

United Control Possession

United appeared comfortable and confident in possession in the opening 20 minutes. With Pogba going close with a couple of shots and Mata having a goal disallowed after a Schmeichel save from a powerful effort from Lukaku.

Although United were getting plenty chances, the sides went in 0-0 at half-time.

As the game restarted. United continued to dominate possession.

Leading to Martial firing a cross off the hand of Danny Simpson to win a penalty. Lukaku’s penalty was saved well by Kasper Schmeichel, son of United legend, Peter Schmeichel.

The Reds eventually broke the deadlock, thanks to Marcus Rashford who came on for Juan Mata. The goal came in the 70th minute, from a Mkhitaryan corner as the Leicester defence left Rashford unmarked to volley home.

The second goal came 12 minutes later from another substitute, Marouane Fellaini who came on for Mkhitaryan in the 74th minute.

The goal came from a Jesse Lingard cross, which allowed Fellaini to stick his thigh out and send it goal-wards to put United 2-0 up.

Jose Mourinho’s men saw the game out comfortably and continued to create chances after the second goal.

Many fans of the club will no doubt have been worried after the Lukaku penalty miss and painful memories of last season’s game against Bournemouth.

But the Portuguese manager’s substitutions made the desired impact with both Rashford and Fellaini scoring and Lingard supplying the assist. Hence why the boss deserves plenty of credit for today’s result.

Bailly And Jones Impressive Once Again

First mentionable performance came from the centre backs again. Who continued their fine start to the season, earning themselves their third clean sheet in three games.

Eric Bailly was as brilliant as ever. Using his athleticism and strength to deal with Jamie Vardy upfront as well as using his more technical abilities to build attacks from the back by constantly playing intricate passes forward.

Phil Jones partnered the Ivorian and was equally as good. The pair dominated Leicester and countered any of their attacking threats perfectly.

The Englishman made a few marauding runs forward. In addition to all his great defensive work including several interceptions, tackles and headers.

Pogba, Mata And Martial Put In Strong Performances

Paul Pogba also deserves a mention after another strong performance in the middle of midfield with Matic.

The French midfielder was especially good in the first half, Making superb runs that allowed him to be available on the edge of the box to fire shots at the Leicester goal.

Despite no attempts going in, the intelligence to find the space deserves credit.

Juan Mata was also impressive constantly looking dangerous and creative. The playmaker always appeared to be trying to create something and make the forward pass, rather than playing the simple sidewards pass.

Martial is another player who deserves a mention after a great first half which saw him create four chances. More than anyone else.

The winger also kept possession effectively and his decision making ensured he rarely lost the ball. This is an area Mourinho has clearly worked on with the 21 year old.

Substitutes Changed The Outcome

The three substitutions also deserve credit for obvious reasons, predominantly for earning their team the result. Rashford added some much needed pace to the side and eventually bagged a goal after a decent instinctive finish.

Fellaini came on and constantly made forward runs to put the Leicester backline under pressure.

Fellaini’s determination to go forward also paid off after Lingard’s cross found him and allowed him to score.

Lingard added width, movement and energy to the side which is something that was also lacking beforehand.

The Manager’s View

Jose commented on the performance, saying his side “played very well”.

He continued saying “The result was open at 0-0 , the blue wall was very well organised, I give credit for that”, even after the penalty miss he says he “saw a confident team”.

The Portuguese said the “one word I can think to describe my team is solid.”

He continued to praise his substitutes saying “my players are on the bench waiting for the chance and they broke the wall, a very good wall.”

The boss also commented on his side’s progress since end of last season saying “the difference between last year is the quality of our football. We have the ball totally in our control.” He said he now likes his team “very very much”.

Match Reflection

Manchester United should be very pleased with their excellent start to the season. Mourinho clearly has this team fit and firing.

The Reds have won three games out of three, Earning three clean sheets and scoring ten goals in the process. As well as brilliant performances from certain individuals in the side every game.

United fans will be hoping their side can push on after the international break. And increase the gap between them and their rivals.

If all United players come back fit from the break then there is no reason they cannot push on. And really fight for the title with Mourinho at the helm.

Follow @UnitedScotsman on Twitter for more news, views and opinions on everything United related.

Late Three Goal Blitz Seals Win

By Harry Ogilvie

  • Jose Mourinho names an unchanged team
  • Bailly, Lukaku, Pogba and Martial net for United

Manchester United travelled to Wales to face a weakened Swansea City side. After star man, Gylfi Sigurdsson left to join Everton earlier this week.

The Icelandic international who has regularly been a thorn in United’s side joined the Merseyside club for £45 million.

Jose Mourinho opted to stick with the same starting eleven that defeated a poor West Ham team 4-0. This meant despite coming on and grabbing both a goal and an assist, Anthony Martial would start on the bench.

This was probably down to the impressive performances from Mata, Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford.

The boss would also be hoping the centre back partnership of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones would produce another solid performance and continue their good form.

The midfield duo of Matic and Pogba would also retain their places to keep the spine strong and physical as ever.

Bailly Nets First United Goal

Manchester United started the stronger of the two teams, dominating possession for the most part and passed the ball fluently.

However, apart from hitting the bar, chances were few and far between until Daley Blind whipped in a corner which Pogba headed off the bar, only for Bailly to tap the ball in for his first United goal.

The goal came at the perfect time, just before half-time and after a strong performance against West Ham, it was nothing less than the Ivorian deserved.

Bailly follows up to give United the lead after Pogba header tipped against the bar

It was exactly what United needed after a frustrating first half which seen Pogba being booked for a kick out and Rashford voicing his frustration as he felt he was being fouled regularly and the referee was doing little to protect him.

In the second half, Swansea appeared far more troubling as they kept possession a bit better and attempted to create more chances and threaten United’s backline.

The Swans looked especially dangerous from set pieces which surprised reds considering the size of the United team.

Three Goal Blitz Seals The Three Points

However, United took advantage of Swansea’s wasteful finishing as they showed exactly how to be clinical, scoring three goals in four minutes to put United 4-0 up.

Lukaku put United 2-0 up when Mkhitaryan played the ball through for the Belgian to finish comfortably.

The third goal came from Paul Pogba after another great assist from Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The French £89 million midfielder finished perfectly as Fabianski rushed out allowing Pogba to put the ball over his head and into the net.

Pogba then proceeded to grab an assist as he played through Anthony Martial who dribbled his way inside and stuck the ball right in the corner.

The young winger has once again staked his claim to a starting spot. He now has two goals in two games, as well as an assist. United saw the game out after a jaw-dropping last 10 minutes.

Bailly And Jones Impress At The Back

The best performance of the game came from Phil Jones, who despite being linked with a move away at the beginning of the summer has began the season with some unbelievable performances.

The Englishman has made himself undroppable with his impressive defensive showings. He’s proven himself to be reliable and exceptionally solid as he has done everything asked of him in recent games.

Eric Bailly is another player who deserves a nomination for man of the match for his defensive showing.

The 23 year old has been a sensational find from Mourinho and he looks like he is going to continue his form from last season.

Bailly, like Jones did everything asked of him as well as scoring the first goal at a crucial time in the game. This was the former Villarreal centre-back’s first goal in professional football.

Martial Impresses From Bench Once Again

The showing in opening eighty minutes was not particularly great but in the closing ten minutes, United really came to life and a big reason for this was Anthony Martial.

As soon as the Frenchman came on, United looked far more threatening.

The substitute was involved in nearly all the goals after he came on. He gave the ball to Mkhitaryan who laid the ball off for Lukaku’s goal, in addition to scoring a goal himself.

He made a massive impact after he came on and looked very dangerous. Martial definitely deserves a starting place after his performances against West Ham and now, Swansea.

Martial capped an impressive performance from the bench, scoring the fourth goal

Paul Pogba also appeared to come to life in the last 15 minutes; controlling possession, playing incisive forward passes and dragging the side forward with his trademark marauding runs.

His pass for Martial’s goal allowed the winger to control the ball comfortably and take on the defenders in front of him.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan also deserves a huge amount of credit for his start of the season, grabbing two assists against both West Ham last week and Swansea this week.

The Armenian only got one assist last season. He already has four assists this season. This has led to claims he could break Mesut Ozil’s record of 20 Premier League assists.

The Manager’s View

Jose Mourinho said there were “differences” in the performance compared to West Ham, but thinks “the same kind of consistency, confidence and discipline” were there.

But he said there was “obviously, a period where they created chances. They brought emotion to the game. But it was always in control.”

When asked about the way his side were playing, he said “maybe, (happy) is not the right word. But I like the confidence.”

The former Chelsea boss also showed that he now trusts his side by saying “after the second goal, we wanted to score more, not shut the door.”

This shows he now trusts his side’s defensive ability and will allow them to go for the throat when possible. He said he decided to “let the horse run freely” and that “they were magnificent”.

Mourinho is clearly very pleased with the performance and rightly so after yet another big win.

Match Reflection

After yet another flawless performance, United and Jose Mourinho deserve massive credit; scoring 8 goals and conceding none.

This Manchester United squad looks like the first since Fergie’s era to be capable of a serious title challenge. There is finally a superb spine to the team, along with decent depth in almost every position.

Jose will of course be looking to ensure his team continue the fine form but everyone knows what he is capable of achieving in his second season.

He has successfully won the league at every club he’s managed in the second season. This is a statistic that bolds well for United fans everywhere.

Although, we should not expect a 4-0 win every week, reds have every right to be excited.

But we should also remember that we are yet to play any of last season’s top six and we are only two games into 2017/18. Having said that, United should expect to be right up there.

Follow @UnitedScotsman on Twitter for more news, views and opinions on everything United related.

United Send Out Opening Day Message

By Harry Ogilvie

  • Lukaku at the double
  • Martial and Pogba join Belgium striker on scoresheet

After every other Premier League side had played, Manchester United faced a refreshed West Ham with several new faces.

Jose Mourinho would sure want to send out a statement after a disappointing Super Cup result and after some of the top six dropped some potentially important points.

Jose’s mindset was reflected in his first team selection. Starting both Juan Mata and Mkhitaryan, as well as Lukaku and Rashford.

This choice sure would have excited United fans. However, some may have been left disappointed hoping to see Anthony Martial start.

This had little effect on the result. As he came on and staked his claim for a starting spot with some superb contributions despite not being in the starting eleven.

Some players making the first appearance of the season included Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Juan Mata. Who all missed out on an appearance against Real Madrid in the Super Cup.

Lukaku Bags First League Strike For United

Manchester United looked rejuvenated and began the game well. Dominating possession and playing some great football.

It was not until the 33rd minute that United took the lead through summer signing, Romelu Lukaku. Who also scored against Real the week before.

Nemanja Matic, another summer signing was also heavily involved in the goal.

He efficiently dispossessed Pedro Obiang in the middle of the park and gave the ball to Marcus Rashford. Who played the incisive pass through to Lukaku who smashed the ball off the post and into the net.

Manchester United continued to threaten after the goal but went in at half-time only 1-0 up.

Their efforts paid off in the second half. When the Belgian powerhouse bagged his second of the game with a glancing header past Joe Hart to put the Reds 2-0 up.

United were playing some of their best football since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club. The Red Devil’s were finally playing some seriously scintillating, exciting football which had been missed in recent seasons.

The football pleased United fans as the team continued to press for more goals despite being 2-0 up.

West Ham collapsed in the dying minutes as Martial raced through on goal after a flowing move from United and tucked the ball past Joe Hart.

Three minutes later Paul Pogba would score a fourth, bending the ball around the England number one.

The scoreline hardly flattered United as they were the dominant side throughout the game.

They could easily have scored another two or three with Lukaku nearly scoring a hat-trick. Rashford cracking the post and Mata squaring the ball instead of tucking it away.

Matic Amazes In The Middle Of Midfield

The Serbian midfielder looked terrific on his Premier League debut for Manchester United.  Stroking the ball around with speed and purpose, in addition to the running and dribbling he did. Matic ran over 11km in 90 minutes.

A big part of that running was when he won the ball and played Rashford forward and then took the other defender away to allow space for Lukaku to run through a bury his second goal.

The way he kept the ball and showed such composure and elegance on the ball was brilliant. Based on his appearances for the club so far, many believe he could be “signing of the summer”.

Both Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte and Chelsea fans were not left best pleased when the deep lying midfielder left the club.

His partnership with Paul Pogba was also something to be admired today. The pair looked to be completely unphased by whatever faced them.

Both sprayed the ball around comfortably and looked to pass forward whenever possible, which is something United struggled with last year.

The Belgian Bags A Brace

Romelu Lukaku was the other Premier League debutant and impressed many with his performance and link up play.

The 24 year old looked dangerous from the first time he got the ball. Nipping in front of the West Ham defender on the halfway line and proceeded to sprint down the line and win a corner.

The finish for his first goal was nothing short of exceptional as he hit the ball with power and precision off the post and in after some excellent work from Matic and Rashford.

He earned praise from former Arsenal star, Thierry Henry and Manchester United legend, Gary Neville.

Henry described his start as “amazing” and Neville was quick to echo the Premier League legend’s thoughts saying he was “outstanding”.

Martial Impresses in Short Time On Pitch

Other performances worth mentioning came from Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Phil Jones. And of course, the ever consistent, Antonio Valencia.

Marcus Rashford constantly looked dangerous with some great take ons, passes and shots on goal.

His best contribution was obviously his defence splitting assist for Lukaku’s second goal. But he also hit a superb shot after beating the defender and cutting in to bend a near perfect shot off the post.

Fellow Englishman, Phil Jones also deserves praise after consistently putting his body on the line with some solid challenges and tackles. As well as, making an effort to read the game and break up several lacklustre West Ham attacks.

Anthony Martial may not have started but he definitely staked his claim for a starting berth in the next game.

He only came on in the 80th minute and was instantly involved in the action. Managing both a goal and an assist before the final whistle.

The build up play for his goal was accurate and incisive. Before his cool, calm and composed finish beyond the ex-City goalkeeper.

Martial also played the pass inside to Pogba that led to his goal and looked to be heavily involved in all that was good about United in the closing 10 minutes.

Valencia Key Player For United

Antonio Valencia was also unsurprisingly good, doing what he does best. Getting up and down the wing at great speed with great power.

The Ecuadorian fired in some threatening crosses and never looked like losing the ball whenever in possession. Using his strength to hold off any immediate pressure.

Ultimately though, man of the match had to go to Nemanja Matic despite every United player putting in a performance worth at least a 7/10 rating.

Matic was everything Mourinho wanted and needed from a player playing his role. This was quite simply a flawless debut from the former Chelsea man.

The Manager’s View

The Boss was gracious in victory saying “I don’t think the game was 4-0 but you score the third and you breathe and relax and play with more confidence. It was a difficult game for us.”

He also critiqued his side’s performance saying “We didn’t start especially well, maybe we were a bit nervous, but then we had a quality performance, good personality and word which I like: confidence.”

Jose said he “was happy” and said “it was a very positive performance”.

However, he was quick to point out the fact he would not get carried away when he said “the fact we start with a win and are top of the league means nothing. Last season we were top after the first match so it means nothing,”

Although, the current league position means “nothing” to him, he did say “the level of performance means something” to him.

The gaffer also pointed to the progress his side has made since last season saying “we lost two points against West Ham last season” in this same fixture “and had lots of similar matches where we were dominant but didn’t score enough goals. Today we did and we got three important points.”

Match Reflection

It may only be the first day of the season, but today’s match definitely feels like a statement from Mourinho to the rest of the league after Liverpool and Chelsea failed to win and other members of the top six stumbled to victory.

I think Jose Mourinho wants to prove the world wrong and show Manchester United will reach the top again.

I definitely think should United bring in a full back and/or a high quality winger, the league is definitely within range. And even if we do not, I think we are still capable of challenging with our depth and range of tactical options.

Follow @UnitedScotsman on Twitter for more news, views and opinions on all things United related.

European Champions Prove Too Much For Mourinho’s Men

  • Lukaku, Lindelof and Matic all named in starting line-up
  • Lukaku notches second-half goal

Manchester United faced Real Madrid in their final preparation game ahead of the Premier League kick-off. The two sides contested the European Super Cup after winning Europe’s two elite competitions last season.

Real came into this game lookin827774746g to add another European Super Cup to their cabinet and successfully defend the trophy.

While Manchester United were contested the Super Cup for the first time since 2009. Despite the game being for a trophy it will be viewed by many as United’s final pre-season game.

Mourinho Named All Three New Arrivals In Starting Line-Up

Jose Mourinho fielded a strong team against the current European champions. His side included all three of the reds’ new signings: Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Serbian defensive midfielder, Nemanja Matic.

The Portuguese boss also opted for the formation 3-5-2 with Lingard and Valencia operating as wing-backs. Mkhitaryan and Lukaku were in the most advanced roles with United’s strongest midfield three behind them. This three consisted of Matic, Herrera and of course, Paul Pogba.

Mourinho opted for a back three of Darmian, Smalling and Lindelof due to the suspension of Eric Bailly after his red card in the Europa League semi final.

Phil Jones was also suspended for verbally abusing a doping officer after being told to come for drug tests after the Europa League final, when United players were paying tribute to the victims of the Manchester terror attacks.

The Boss’s selection left a very strong bench of players for him to choose from, should the game be going against his side. Some of the players on the bench included Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford.

Real Madrid also appeared to have fielded their strongest team minus Cristiano Ronaldo. Who would start on the bench after being involved in the Confederation Cup earlier in the summer and only returning to training a couple of days ago.

Real Take Control

The game began fairly evenly despite the fact Zidane’s men had the majority of possession.

Both sides looked dangerous when attacking with United looking the more shaky of the two defensively in the opening exchanges.

Jose’s side appeared to be dealing with the threats of Isco and Modric in the opening twenty minutes. However, as the game progressed. Isco began to find pockets of space allowing Real to dominate the midfield and comfortably keep possession.

This eventually led to the deadlock being broken from a debatably offside goal from Casemiro after an exceptional ball over the top from Dani Carvajal. When he found an abundance of space to delicately lob the ball into the box.

From the twenty minute mark onwards, Real dominated, creating chances regularly with classy passes and forward play. Despite this, United appeared to come out slightly more positive and fired up in the second half.

Although, United were keeping the ball better and looking threatening, Real Madrid were still creating chances.

They were made to pay for their lack of defensive stability when Isco played a beautiful, incisive one-two with Gareth Bale before slotting the ball into the corner past David De Gea.

romelu-lukakuThe reds retaliated in sixty second minute when Lukaku pounced on the loose ball after Keylor Navas failed to grasp a powerful effort from outside the box by Nemanja Matic.

Unfortunately, this goal was not enough to change things for Jose’s side as Real expertly ran down the clock, getting fouls left, right and centre.

Impressive Performers

The best performance from any man in a red shirt definitely came from newcomer, Nemanja Matic. The holding midfielder appeared unfazed and composed when in possession and played several neat passes. As well as retaining the ball and tracking back effectively too.

matic

The 29 year old displayed exactly why Mourinho brought him to United. There was vast amounts of praise for the former Chelsea man on social media, hailing his performance as a “standout” and “absolutely brilliant”.

 

Matteo Darmian was another very impressive performer playing as the left centre back in the three. This game very much highlighted his versatility and his ability to put in a quality performance no matter where he plays in defence.

The Italian is clearly an asset to Mourinho and his squad. It is safe to say if he was to leave. He would be a bigger loss than most realise. The other two centre backs: Lindelof and Smalling also looked in good form with both making several blocks and clearances.

The Swede also appeared composed when passing out from the back despite looking shaky when defending at times.

Spanish shot-stopper, David De Gea also looked in fine fettle making a series of superb saves. The ex-Atletico keeper’s best save came in the ninety third minute from Marco Asensio who struck the ball well. Only for De Gea’s superb reaction save to tip the ball over the bar.

Match Reflection

Real Madrid really showed their quality and highlighted the fact United are still a fair distance away from their level. There was also some promising signs including the debutants performances. Lukaku’s goal specifically even if he did not play his greatest game.

Jose Mourinho will also learn plenty from tonight’s game and help him realise where the team needs to improve before the Premier League opening game on Sunday against West Ham.

This test highlighted the fact the United hierarchy need to be dipping into the transfer market again for a goalscoring winger and a dynamic full back.

The most worrying element about the match was the fact we are still struggling to be clinical and take our chances. Which was the main reason for our disappointing league campaign last year.

However, I also believe Mourinho will have a plan to improve this, hopefully including Anthony Martial who is always a major goal threat on his day.

Looking towards the West Ham match. I can see a fair few changes being made with the likes of Bailly, Mata and Martial coming into the side to freshen it up.

Although the result was not particularly positive. There are still quite a few reasons to be optimistic. Especially considering the fact we were playing the best club side in the world.

Follow @UnitedScotsman on Twitter for more news, views and opinions on everything United related.

Wayne Rooney: A Tribute To A Legend

The end of an era has finally dawned. Wayne Rooney has left Manchester United after 13 years at the club. The man who beat Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record of 249 goals for the club has left to re-join his boyhood club, Everton.

Everton were the side that supplied Rooney with the platform to become a superstar.

He first burst on to the scene for the Merseyside club against Arsenal when he came off the bench score the winner with a 25 yard screamer and end Arsenal’s unbeaten streak.

His impressive performances fired him to stardom eventually getting him a move to the Manchester United, for a fee of £24 million. The fee would later prove to be a bargain.

White Pele

Rooney hailed as ‘the White Pele’ by United fans has had a tough time in recent years but in his prime, he was one of the best players in the world and only once he retires will people recognise the brilliance of Wayne Rooney.

The 31 year-old who joined United as an 18 year-old wonderkid has created an endless stream of good memories for both club and country with a lengthy series of impressive goals and performances despite the odd bad moment.

The highs of his Manchester United career were out of this world and far outweighed the lows. These memories include his sensational debut hat-trick in the Champions League against Fenerbahce in which he scored a superb free-kick along with two exceptional finishes.

Although he may have had some anger issues in his early years at the club, those slip ups proved to be minor incidents in the bigger picture as he supplied reds around the world with some of the best moments in United’s history, more specifically in the Premier League era.

A Manchester United Legend?

He may also never be held in the same regard as the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Sir Bobby Charlton because of his two failed attempts to get out of the club but personally, I think this is wrong.

He deserves to be put up on a pedestal close to those of Giggsy’s calibre as when he played in the shirt, he gave his all and did some truly amazing things. Even the greatest make mistakes.

Favourite Rooney Memories

My favourite Wayne Rooney moment was his celebration after he scored the gravity defying overhead kick against Manchester City.

The reason I say the celebration and not the beautiful goal itself is because you could see how much the goal meant to him. The way he raised his arms and closed his eyes, you could tell it was a moment of pure joy, a massive release of emotion.

Another unbelievable Wayne Rooney memory was that match winning performance against West Ham. United were 2-0 down when Rooney came alive. He scored a second half hat trick which resulted in him celebrating by shouting expletives down the sky cameras. This eventually led to a suspension.

This showed how much passion he had for the game and club. This display also showcased how his ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck and win it on his own even when his side looked to be down and out.

These little moments and individual games add up to make a very impressive scrapbook of highlights. The amount of highlights that feature in these ‘scrapbooks’ show the difference between the good and the great.

There is more than enough Rooney highlights to fill out several scrapbooks, even just a montage of his greatest goals would be the guts of half an hour.

One Of The Greats!

Wayne Rooney deserves to go down as one of the greatest strikers in Premier League history. He deserves to be held in the same bracket as the likes of Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry and Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

Rooney is the second all time top scorer in the Premier League with a sublime tally of 198 goals and counting.

He could yet go on to bag another twenty in his time in the premier league should he get plenty game time at Everton in the next couple of years.

Although he would still be a fair distance off the remarkable tally of Shearer, to have scored that amount of goals in one of the best leagues in the worlds is sensational.

Timing Is Right

I, myself, like any other Manchester United fan is gutted to see Rooney leave but I would also admit that the timing is right.

He has been in decline in the last year or so but that in no way should discredit what he has done for Manchester United and what he has achieved. The man has had a career in football that most players can only dream about.

He went from being a teenage sensation at his boyhood club, Everton to becoming a superstar at the biggest club in the world and eventually winning everything there is to win including the Premier League several times and a Champions League.

Only to return to his boyhood club 13 years later to hopefully see out his career the same way he came into it, scoring goals.

Rooney Feats May Never Be Repeated

What Wayne Rooney has done for Manchester United, the Premier League and England is unlikely to be repeated any time soon.

He has won everything there is to win at club level. Became the record goalscorer and captain for both club and country, as well as becoming the second highest goalscorer the league has ever seen.

Ultimately, I believe despite his recent flawed and flat performances Wayne Rooney should be hailed as a Manchester United and Premier League legend.

There is few players that will ever achieve what he has and done what he has within the game.

I believe I speak for the majority of United fans when I say we will miss Wayne Rooney and want to wish him the best of luck after all he has done for our great club.

Finally, I would also like to say thank you to Wayne. Thank you for the passion you showed when wearing the shirt. Thank you for the spectacular goals. Thank you for the world class individual performances. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for everything Wayne.

Follow me on Twitter @UnitedScotsman for more news, views and opinions on everything United related.

The Kids Are Alright

 

Manchester United faced a Crystal Palace side safe from relegation after beating Hull City  4-0 the week before.  However, United on the other hand were coming into the game in shocking form after losing to both North London sides and drawing with an average Southampton side on the Wednesday.

Debuts for United Youngsters

Although, United’s form has been woeful in recent weeks, the relevance of their form was thrown out the window as Mourinho opted to field a starting eleven with the majority being kids or players in need of minutes. There were 8 players starting for Manchester United from their academy, including Pogba and Lingard.  Four players got their first ever starts for United; Josh Harrop, Scott McTominay, Demetri Mitchell and Joel Castro Pereira.

United decided to give this handful of youngsters a start due to the fast approaching Europa League Final and worries over injuring any more first team players. There was also five prominent first team players starting the match; Phil Jones, Eric Bailly, Wayne Rooney, Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba. The bench was also filled with United juniors, four of seven were academy graduates; Kieran O’Hara, Zachary Dearnley, Matty Willock and of course, 16 year old prospect, Angel Gomes.

Jose’s Juniors Shine

Manchester United started fast, winning a corner straightaway and playing plenty fast paced football. An example of the high tempo football is summed up beautifully in the third minute when Fosu-Mensah is caught out and Palace are pretty much through on goal but he races back in a matter of seconds to put in a terrific challenge to win back possession. The inte18580478_315702458861438_6129956948973453312_n(1)nsity of the game reflected the youth of United’s sides.

The pressure and pace of the game benefitted United as Paul Pogba found space to play a sensational outside of the foot pass to put Josh Harrop through on goal. The 21 year old duly obliged with a brilliant finish after cutting inside Martin Kelly. United scored a second almost straight after, when Jesse Lingard ran 50 yards up the pitch and played a neat through ball to Pogba who smacked the ball through the legs of Wayne Hennesey. This put United 2-0 up, which was also the final scoreline.

How Did They Get On?

The kids showcased exactly why Mourinho should not fear selecting them for fHarrop Shirtuture games. They showed commitment, discipline, determination and will to win and the quality of football complimented the mental attributes of each youngster perfectly. The one player I believe encapsulates everything Jose Mourinho likes his players to have is Axel Tuanzebe. These traits include composure, intelligence and ability in abundance as well as potential future captain qualities.

Demi Mitchell was another who impressed displaying plenty skill and work rate at left back. The teenager who has previously played in the number 10 role and as a left winger, showed his versatility and his technical ability when taking Palace players on. Joel Pereira in goals was solid and did everything required of him with no problems at all. Despite having little to do throughout the game, when called upon he was there and ready to respond.

Josh Harrop was another debutant in the United starting team and arguably the best of the lot, scoring 15 minutes into the game and providing an attacking threat down the left hand side throughout. He looked comfortable in possession, passed the ball well and his distribution was superb. Angel Gomes another headline-maker as he came on in the 88th minute and became the first player born in 2000 to play in the Premier League. Even though he was only on the field for a few minutes, he looked good in possession, displaying comfort and confidence.

Other younger players on the pitch included Fosu-Mensah and Scott McTominay. Fosu-Mensah at right back and showed confidence, determination and plenty of commitment. He went into each and every tackle strong and fair and faced up to the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Van Aanholt comfortably. Scott McTominay was also impressive, despite not makng any headlines, him, Pogba and Tuanzebe controlled the midfield superbly. The Lancaster born midfielder’s distribution was great and he read the game well too.

One other performance stood out, that performance came from Paul Pogba. The Frenchman returned after the death of his father in fantastic fashion. He quickly imposed himself on the game by getting an assist 15 minutes in and then scoring the second two or three minutes later. Most would expect this from him but this was a great performance even by his high standards.

Good Way To End The Season

This is an impressive, positive way to end the season and put a smile back on a lot of previously unhappy United fans’ faces as there is not much better than seeing young players come through and produce good performances and results. Despite not effecting the league position at all, it increases their momentum going into the final in Stockholm.

This can prove to be the difference as going 4 or 5 games without winning can really affect a team’s mindset but now they’ve got that win under their belts, players can grow in confidence at a crucial time and really go for it. This game in Sweden defines United’s season and possibly even impacts potential signings in the upcoming transfer window.

The Last 24 Hours

I would like to get on record my full support for everyone affected by the recent tragedy in Manchester and I would also like to praise Manchester for their ability to unite in the face of adversity. I hope this unity inspires Manchester United and spurs them on to win the game for their city.18581410_1916746841901163_1957585779291062272_n

Finally, I would like to express my deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones and to those who have lost their lives, rest in peace.

Follow @UnitedScotsman for more news, views and opinions on everything United related.