Where do we go from here? (West Ham vs Manutd) – Tanmoy Banerjee
Manchester United successfully put up the most lackluster, disjointed, non-cohesive, uncharacteristic display against West Ham on Sunday. The performance was so derogatory that I might run out of adjectives to explain my rant and still fail to justify how poor they were. There are so many talking points, so many questions that its difficult to put them together with my emotions running high. Unlike my team, who failed to show up, I will give it a go and write about what’s wrong and what would it take for us to resurrect .
First and foremost what we need to see a ruthless selection of starting eleven. An eleven which will fight tooth and nail to gain possession back and contribute in faster transition of defense to attack. The team is no short of ability but the impetus to put that in to execution is what is missing very dearly. We have been vocal about this since last season, but after what we saw against West Ham, it would be an absolute CRIME to let Matic start another game. The Serbian not just has lost his pace, he has lost his sharpness and his flaws on pitch are making us pay too much now. If there was a point system his contributions against his mistakes, we might end up seeing a negative marking off him. When a player of Mark Noble’s ability gets a five yard head start and enough time to choose his man at the edge of the box, you know you are doing something very wrong. Matic standing in front of him, with hands behind his back quietly allowed Noble to create the first goal wherein, he had to charge, press and put Noble under pressure to commit a mistake. This is basic football and a player who is supposed to cover our defensive line exposed us open. As the line up was announced, most of our fans couldn’t stop but ask themselves, what would it take for Fred to prove, he is way better than Matic. If you are not willing to point out individual errors then how about considering how slow were we moving into attack. We were playing a CDM who was not able to pick a forward pass for god’s sake.
All were looking forward to the summer transfer window where United just strengthened their defense and completely overlooked two of the most important positions where we let go off star players in CM & ST role and one long standing void in RW. When Ole owned the team, I told myself, there’s no point looking what did not happen, but lets see how we can make things happen from here. But isn’t it too evident that not doing business in those areas are coming back to haunt United?
When Alexis was allowed to leave on loan, United were left thin on the number of forwards we have on squad. Supposedly it was a joint decision from the board and backroom staff led by Ole; what did we think of a resilient attacking line up? The over reliance on Rashford has got him injured. Are we saying, not 100% fit Dan James is better than Chong or Gomes? Let’s be clear about one thing, Dan James was in Swansea and yes he had a good start but are we expecting him to bail us out in every game? How does Ole vouch on a team of youngsters where he can’t put faith on them, when your first team player’s body is pleading for rest? Is that the quality of your backroom staff that you don’t realize until the player is on the field and unable to put up a show?
LVG had Wayne Rooney, Jose brought in Zlatan and then Lukaku. Regardless of how bad was his first touch or passing ability, he played a role of #9 where he knew how to play on the shoulder. Martial enjoys playing as a lone striker as he has the ability to switch on and off during the game but time and time again Rashford has been lone wanderer in that role. To ask our best player on the pitch, be out of the game and expecting him to play a role which he is clearly not best at, is Stupidity. It’s beyond my imagination why we play a formation which keeps our best player out of the game. The first half was screaming players to run and attack the box as Rashford who is in charge of leading the line was most of the time, standing at the edge of the box instead of attacking the first post. Isn’t that basic football that the number Nine would attack the first post, the Wing forward will attack the second post and CAM to seek space inside the box left by the defenders drawn by these two? Where is that play? Where is our basic? How does a player forget these when they go into the pitch?
As the club heavily invested and strengthened the back line, we have also found a leader in Harry Maguire but when you play with a bunch of kids in the forward line, they tend to get disoriented and it’s the job of the leader to keep the formation, spaces, passes, energy compact. Someone needs to talk, shout, lead by example. Who do you think we see in the pitch doing that? Well , ’No One’. The team is vying to achieve success but doesn’t know how to! Is it still a shock that we have failed to make a come back as soon as we have conceded a goal since the PSG game. We can listen to Ole talk as much as we want and appreciate him being a good orator but you got to acknowledge the biggest flaws in the team and if you are not addressing them, you are not a manager who is trying to defend his team but you are being an accomplice of one of the biggest cover up in the history of this club.
As I am trying to put a lid on to my ongoing rant, I am in tears acknowledging how far have we fallen that we are not just in back step when we approach matches, we never turn up as a team. It’s only six matches to this season but a lot of thought needs to go into how we are planning to line up here on as things are definitely not looking merry. As much as I believe, there is not quick fix to this, I also believe we need to think out of the box and play to our strengths, keep the players involved into the game rather than pushing them into certain challenges where they get lost and fails to contribute. We need Pogba back starting into the creative midfielder role. We need Mason starting as RW when Martial is available else play as ST and we need to let our youngsters run wild when our first team players are anything below 100%.