Story by Olawale Adigun
I was discussing with colleagues before last weekend that I thought the game of the weekend has to be the one at the Ramon Sanchez- Pizjuan between Sevilla and Atleti
Alas! I was dead wrong. It was at Stamford Bridge where Jose Mourinho was returning to his old stomping ground.
Was the game over after 35 seconds with Pedro’s goal? Of course no, because a neutral was always going to believe United will get back into the game. Gary Cahill ensured United were going to have an uphill task if they were to mount a comeback with another goal before halftime. And in the second half, Chelsea just had to invite United and hit on the break which resulted to goals number three and four. But what went wrong? Going into the game, Mourinho made just a change to the side that got a point against Liverpool. Lingard in for Ashley Young which suggested that he wanted to attack Chelsea from the get go, but as the game wore on Lingard and Rashford were acting as cover for Valencia and Blind. In the middle, if Jose still wants to excel at United, he has to dump Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian doesn’t help the United midfield cause in finding fluidity.
The biggest culprits for Manchester United has to be from the defense department. David de Gea was caught in no man’s land for the early opener. For a goalkeeper, when you venture on that journey, you have to be sure, if in doubt you stay back. He also faced 6 shots on goal and 4 went in, bad day in the office for United ‘s best player in the last two years.
Eric Bailly has impressed everyone since he joined from Villareal, but he was abject at the Bridge, to make matters worse, he suffered a serious knee injury and could be out for a long period. The Ivorian, failed to win a tackle in the 52 minutes he spent, committed to fouls and got booked. Chris Smalling also didn’t cover himself in glory, he also failed to win a tackle all game and even committed an error that led to a goal.
The dabbing master, Paul Pogba was expected to take off after getting a brace against Fenerbahce in the Europa League. Against Chelsea, he played in an advanced role but once again disappointed. The Frenchman, didn’t create a single chance all game.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic still hasn’t scored in 498 minutes, his worst goal-scoring run in 10 years and he looked shackled and deserted in the game.
Where do United go from here, next up is Manchester City in the EFL Cup, and we know how it went the last time both teams met in the league ( City were in the middle of a 10 game winning blitz), but the twist here is that City are also in depressing form ( have not won in five). In the Premier League, they’ve got Burnley, Swansea and Arsenal. The games against Sean Dyche’s Clarets and Bob Bradley’s soccer team are must win games to help build momentum for the big one against the Gunners who are in great form at the moment.
Jose also has to ring the changes, Henrik Mhkitaryan has to get a look in, you don’t buy a player with such attacking qualities and keep him on the bench, he’s had bad games, but he needs to play more. Seems Zlatan has to take a rest and afford Marcus Rashford a chance to play in the number 9 role, which should also see Anthony Martial return to the team. Juan Mata started life under Mourinho at Old Trafford a happy man, starting games but seems the spell on the Portuguese is over but Jose needs to have a rethink, the stats tell us that Manchester United perform well when the Spaniard starts. United have gotten 13 points from 15 when he starts and 1 out of 12 when he doesn’t.