Brighton 3 Manchester United 2
Sunday 19th August 2018 was a historic day in the life of Manchester United Football Club. Why? Because at 2 pm Manchester United Women’s Team made their bow into the world that is Women’s Football. In defeating Liverpool Women 1-0 in the Continental Tyres Cup they got off to a perfect start.
At 4 pm Manchester United men took the field at Brighton on the south coast of England. After 90+ minutes they lost 3-2 and the analysis and examination began in earnest.
The irony of these two results will not be lost on anyone who follows the club. Manchester United Women have been put together in the last six weeks from scratch. However, they played as a united unit and fully deserved their reward, a historic opening victory against Liverpool.
Manchester United men, however, have been put together over the last two and a bit years by Jose Mourinho and yet they played at times like they were the ones cobbled together during the summer. In this match the defence could not defend, the midfield was overrun and the attack had very little help from the midfielders.
Speaking later Paul Scholes remarked that the job of a midfield was to get the ball to the forwards, make opportunities for scoring situations. A midfielders job is to win the ball and pass it to a forward, not sideways and backwards.
Scholes added “There’s a lack of leaders in the team. We thought Paul Pogba might be the ideal candidate to be that leader but he wasn’t there today. He had another really poor game. He’s so inconsistent.”
Paul Pogba, who captained United for the second time this season to his credit once again spoke honestly after the match. Saying “his side did not have the right attitude against Brighton.” Which on the face of it is a remarkable admission two games into the new season.
The first half was shambolic with schoolboy defending by Lindelof and Bailly. In a two minute spell, Murray beat Lindelof to flick the ball past De Gea, them Bailly lack of positional sense and mistimed tackle led to Duffy putting Brighton 2-0 up. Young was beaten time and again on United’s right side where the majority of Brighton’s threats came from.
Although Lukaku headed in to make it 2-1, Bailly committed another ill-timed tackle in the penalty box, the resultant penalty was blasted home by Gross giving Brighton a 3-1 halftime lead.
As bad as United were in the first half the expectations were that after a rousing half-time team talk from Mourinho, United would find a way to up their game and perhaps even go on to win it. A pundit on MUTV, the clubs official television channel, said at halftime with United 3-1 down that “if United were to score first in the first half of the second half they (United) would go on to win”. MUTV logic at its best, however, whilst United did score from a very late penalty for a tackle on Fellaini there was no recovery and Pogba’s goal was little more than a consolation.
United now face a must-win game at home to Tottenham next week if the season is to be put back on track. Already football pundits and social media wannabees are predicting the end for Mourinho at Old Trafford. One thing is for sure if there are many more lacklustre performances by his team the end of United’s third manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired may not be far away.
Brighton & Hove Albion:
Ryan (GK); Montoya, Duffy, Dunk (c) (Balogun 20), Bong; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March; Gross (Kayal 90); Murray (Locadia 90+3).
Subs not used: Button, Bernardo, Bissouma, Jahanbakhsh
Booked: Murray (66)
Man United: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Bailly, Shaw; Pogba (c), Fred, A.Pereira (Lingard 46); Mata (Rashford 46), Lukaku, Martial (Fellaini 60).
Subs not used: Grant, Smalling, Herrera, McTominay.
Booked: Martial (45)
Referee: Kevin Friend : Attendance: 30,592