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EUROPA TRIUMPH IS ONLY THE BEGINNING: The Mourinho Era Begins

EUROPA TRIUMPH IS ONLY THE BEGINNING: The Mourinho Era Begins

After a turbulent season that included over 60 games, 15 draws and endless amounts of frustration, Manchester United went out on a high, winning the Uefa Europa League trophy and securing Champions League football for next season.

The win also sees the Red Devil’s manager Jose Mourinho secure his third trophy in his first season at the club.

Many pundits and fans alike have had a say on what constitutes a successful season for Manchester United. It was anticipated that United could win the league title given the acquisitions of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and transfer-record signing Paul Pogba.

However, the 6th place finish in the league, while poor, does not speak of the foundation Jose Mourinho has established.

United had the highest missed chances count in the Premier league with 50 and had the 8th lowest return on goals. However,  Mourinho’s men proved very difficult to break down, conceding a mere 29 goals, only Tottenham had less, and the equal most clean sheets.  This suggests while the Portugese manager has faced challenges with injuries and form, he has instilled a resiliency within Old Trafford that appeared to leave when Sir Alex pulled the curtain on his glitter-filled tenure.

The ‘Special one’ also has instilled some accountability in the squad, shown with rotations of Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. While media outlets suggests this puts players on the outer, it appears to be a challenge from the manager to install a work-ethic and desire for winning, shown in his praise for Marcus Rashford who the Portugese states does not finish training when the rest of the squad does.

Mainstream media outlets will have you believe Paul Pogba has been a ‘flop’ this season, however, the Frenchman was ranked 9th in the league for chances created while hitting the woodwork more than any other player in the league with 9. If half of those attempts at goal go in, his statistics would read differently, however, he did open the scoring for United in the Europa league final which lead to an eventual victory.

Wednesday’s triumph secures United’s pathway into the Uefa Champions League, a minimum target set by the club which allows the Red Devils maximum potential in financial gains but more crucially, the best chance of attracting the high calibre players the club needs.

If United can be condemned and ridden-off as failures while winning three trophies, two of which were difficult cup competitions in the midst of being juggled with other games, what will a squad with Jose Mourinho a year forward with further class players coming in, be able to achieve?

The scene of the Europa league trophy being held high closes the season on a high, but for Manchester United and Jose Mourinho, this is only the beginning.

Your Aussie Red Devil,
Larry (@thelarrytaylor)

Man United win thrilling EFL Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th minute winner as Manchester United overcame a spirited Southampton side at Wembley in an entertaining EFL Cup final.

United took the lead through a powerful Ibrahimovic free-kick which flew past the diving Fraser Forster.

Jesse Lingard added a second with a composed finish from 12 yards as United looked to cruise to a comfortable victory.

But Southampton roared back in added time of the first half as Gabbiadini pulled one back with a cheeky finish through the legs of De Gea from point blank range.

Southampton started the second half on the front foot and got the equaliser through a fantastic on the turn finish by Gabbiadini again.

United were on the back foot as Southampton looked the most likely to snatch victory. Romeu came closest for the Saints as his header cannoned off the post.

But it was Zlatan who stole the show at Wembley as he powered in a header to seal the victory for United. Ander Herrera delivered an enticing cross and Zlatan converted the chance expertly beyond Forster to break Southampton hearts.

Wayne Rooney lifts the EFL Cup for Manchester United (Picture: guardian.com)
Wayne Rooney lifts the EFL Cup for Manchester United (Picture: guardian.com)

Southampton will feel angry after Gabbiadini had a goal ruled out wrongly for offside when the game was scoreless.

The win secures Jose Mourinho’s first major trophy in his first season as manager of United, a record which no other United manager has achieved.

This silverware is proof of the apparent improvement under Mourinho who has instilled the will to win into the squad, who also have the ability to grind out victories.

The absence of Mkhitaryan meant the fluidity in attack was removed, with Juan Mata being ineffective in the first half. Mourinho hauled off the Spaniard at half-time and introduced Michael Carrick for his calming presence in midfield.

Southampton created all sorts of problems for United, and can feel proud of how hard they fought against a very strong United side, but ultimately the difference in class showed as Zlatan powered in the winner.

Match winner Ibrahimovic said, “This is a team effort. This is what I came for – to win and I am winning. The more I win the more satisfied I get.”

United boss Jose Mourinho commented, “I’m a bit emotional yes. It’s not easy to win titles and so many times. Winning is always special. The day I don’t get emotional when I win is the day to go home.”

This victory will give the players a massive confidence boost to push on in our charge for a top 4 finish. I seriously think that we will finish second in the league, and of course we’re still well in contention in the FA Cup and Europa League.

How do you think this Cup final victory will impact our league form? Is a second place finish in the league too far fetched?

Leave your thoughts below!

Lingard talks Liverpool, with Liverpool

Manchester United winger Jesse Lingard has admitted to discussing the north-west derby while on international duty with England.

Lingard, 23, was picked by England boss Gareth Southgate to be a part of the England squad versus Slovenia, along with Manchester United teammates Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford and Chris Smalling, while Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson represented Liverpool.

Speaking to MUTV, Lingard said:

“Of course we spoke about it and both sets of players know that it’ll be an intense game.

“I played there last season and it was a massive feeling to be part of the celebrations for Wayne’s winning goal.

“Liverpool have been in good form so far and have scored a lot of goals, which is something we need to be wary of. It’ll be tough because they’ve got a lot talent in their group, but we know we’ve got talent in our own ranks.

“We’ll be pushing to win the game as it’s always good to get one over your rivals.”

The Liverpool V Manchester United derby is just around the corner and Lingard is correct, it will indeed be an intense match and I am sure that we will see goals from both teams.

However, I do believe that Jesse Lingard should NOT be in the starting line-up if we are to win at Liverpool. Click here to read how I think we can beat Liverpool and who I think should play.

And if you haven’t already, click here to listen to our Liverpool V Manchester United podcast special.

How do you think United will fare at Anfield? Do you think Lingard should start the match? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Manchester United Season Review 2016 – Vote Below

We want YOU! The United Stand is THE Manchester United channel that’s all about the fans, so what better way to have a season review show than to have one totally based around your opinion?

That’s right! Our United season review and awards show will be 100% about YOU! No so called expert journalists casting their vote on a club they hardly watch, no ex players demanding a fee to give their opinion to the fans who’ve paid their wages for years. We’re doing it the right way. We’re giving a voice to the only people who matter in football, the true owners of the game, the fans.

Below you’ll find a number of different polls you can cast your vote in. From best performance of the year to the most improved player, from flop of the season to best goal of the season – you can even vote for your United Stand Pundit of the year! We’ve got every category covered and the main thing is your vote will influence who ends up winning the most important awards in Manchester United’s season.

We’ll also being giving away some great prizes LIVE on air

No other season review matters as much as this one. Why? Because they’re voted for by the people who matter the most – YOU the fans.

So cast your votes below and join us LIVE at 9pm GMT on Sunday 29th May for the only Manchester United Awards show that matters.

So GET VOTING NOW!

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Let Down of the season (Slippy G Award)

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Why Louis Van Gaal was GOOD for Man United

By Larry Taylor (larrytee0)

“This club has big ambitions. I too have big ambitions. Together I’m sure we will make history.” – Louis Van Gaal.

Just over two years later, The Dutchman has left his post as Manchester United manager a year earlier than expected due to the lack of ‘huge ambitions’ being fulfilled. There’s no doubting Louis Van Gaal underperformed in his tenure, however his rein was not fruitless. They say hindsight is a beautiful thing, so with the ink barely dry on the 65 year-old’s compensation package, let’s reflect on the good work of Louis Van Gaal that leaves United in a strong position.

It is easy to forget the circumstances in which the former Netherland’s manager took over the club. Arrival after a 7th place finish under David Moyes, Van Gaal’s minimum expectation was to get the club back into the top four, and ultimately, the champions league.

Although United had an indifferent start to the season with 2 draws and a loss, you still had a feeling things were starting to change at Old Trafford for the better. After the Moyes season, the locker room lacked belief. The ability to look around you and believe in the personnel around you was virtually gone. Van Gaal responded by purchasing Rademal Falcao, at the time, considered one of Europe’s lethal strikers, and Angel Di Maria. The club ultimately finished in 4th place.
The argument here is how does Falcao, a man who scored 4 goals, and Di Maria, who was largely out-of-form, impact the conclusion of the season. The simple fact of the matter is both players came to the club with their names associated with ‘world class’ and ‘winners’. United, for all the dour football, still ended the season in a champions league place. It is not always what a player does on the field, but off it, that generates success. In form or not, if Di Maria or Falcao are playing next to you on the field, you want to be a better player.

Chris Smalling celebrates scoring in United's 4-2 win over City (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Chris Smalling celebrates scoring in United’s 4-2 win over City (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
For all the inconsistencies, Van Gaal also performed against the bigger clubs. When United really needed to rally towards the end of the season, Manchester United came out and defeated Tottenham 3-0 in arguably their best display of the season. Later in the month, United also defeated Liverpool at Anfield to complete the double over the scousers and a resounding and entertaining 4-2 victory against Manchester City. Criticise the man all you want, victories against our two biggest rivals and making the Champions League at Liverpool’s expense earns praise.

This season has been more disappointing, but I have to praise the Dutchman’s promotion of the youth. Say what you will about Van Gaal being ‘forced’ to play the youth, but ultimately, he left his squad smaller to promote the younger players.

Van Gaal stated: “It is the way I lead this club. I don’t want a big selection because when you have a big selection it doesn’t give any chance to the young players,”

The former Bayern Munich man went into the season with 21 outfield players. To add support to the argument, the former Ajax manager did in fact send many players on loan and despite many questionable decisions, it would be difficult to prove Van Gaal did not expect injuries to occur throughout the season.

Anthony Martial is arguably the most promising teenager in world football. He has scored 17 goals this season, by far the most goals in the Manchester United squad, and whether purchased for Giggs or not, ‘LVG’ still approved the go-ahead.

The find of the season is definitely Marcus Rashford. He had a stunning debut against Midtjylland, scoring a double but he really announced himself just two days later with a stunning set of goals against Arsenal.

Marcus Rashford scores v Midjtylland
Marcus Rashford scores v Midjtylland (Picture: skysports.com)
The circumstances that lead to Rashford’s debut, granted, may have been unavoidable. But the Dutchman did not have to continuously play the academy product. He had deployed Memphis at striker earlier in the season and had Januzaj, who he claimed could be a striker, available. He chose to stick with Rashford.

The Dutchman also brought Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who was nothing short of outstanding in his few appearances, to the club from Ajax last season who the Old Trafford faithful are happy to praise.

Finally, the maligned manager secured the club the F.A Cup, the clubs first trophy in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era and the club’s first trophy in 3 years. An extra-time goal by a Manchester United academy product in Jesse Lingard was celebrated by many as he lived out our dreams: To score a decisive goal in a big game for the club we love.

I will not defend Louis Van Gaal’s failures. On a broader scale, he failed to reach expectations, made confusing decisions in his squad management and had the club playing a very negative brand of football, returning the worst goal return in the club’s time in the premier league. He also failed to make the top 4, and he has paid for it with his job.

All-in-all, it is worth remembering Manchester City beat United to 4th place on goal difference. When you look at the squad of City, and all the faults of United, it is evident the red side of Manchester really is not in as bad a shape as the English press would have you believe.

But the enormity of his job needs to be acknowledged. Lots of players needed to be moved on and lots of promising players needed to be unearthed. Regardless of how it has come about, this part of the task has been completed. There’s no doubting that Manchester United has a squad to build on for the future.

Your Aussie Correspondent,

Larry – The United Stand.

See some of Van Gaal’s funniest moments below or by clicking here:

SHOW STOPPER | Lingard wonder strike wins the FA Cup

By Larry Taylor (@larrytee0)

Louis Van Gaal; dour football; underwhelming results; unhappy players – today, that does not matter. There are various questions surrounding the future of Old Trafford but Jesse Lingard gave the Red Devils’ a taste of the past as the Salford-born forward struck a wonder goal in extra time to win Manchester United the FA Cup.

The first half was a dour affair. Manchester United controlled majority of the possession and looked the more energetic of the two sides, however, conjectured little. Palace also had some moments, most notably through winger Wilfred Zaha when Daley Blind lost possession, only to be spared his blushes by Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney winning the ball back.

The second half presented much of the same and was in much need of change, which unfortunately for United, came in the form of Jason Puncheon who opened the scoring in the 78th minute, putting Palace in the lead. United needed to respond quickly and up stood Wayne Rooney.

The 30 year-old has had his critics but the striker-come-midfielder surged through midfield with precise dribbling and crossed the ball into the box, Juan Mata the beneficiary as United drew level.

Extra-time had both fans on edge and the players portrayed the same. The game looked certain to go to penalties; however, the game took a turn when Chris Smalling foolishly committed another foul and received his marching orders after a second yellow card.

The United we have come to see his season would have sat back, and played for penalties. Common sense, if anything, would suggest anything but would be a risk; a word not associated with Van Gaal’s ‘philosophy’.

Up stands Jesse Lingard. Antonio Valencia pushes forward, delivers a cross and the academy product hits the ball on the half volley and wins the game for Manchester United. It was a fitting finish that a Manchester United local had the decisive say in the result, providing fans with some hope for the future.

The F.A Cup is a wonderful achievement for Manchester United, their first since 2004, and more significantly, the first trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson retired after 26 years in charge. The win however, does not take away from what has been a disappointing season. Louis Van Gaal under-achieved this season and seems certain to lose his job, with Jose Mourinho lurking in the shadows.

But today, that does not matter. This season, United have barely dared to play football, But Lingard’s heroics provided fans with some hope going into the future. You can take the boy out of Manchester, but you cannot take the Manchester out of the boy.

Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand

Youthful Stars | Who has the brightest future at Manchester United?

By Larry Taylor

“I always wanted to know about what the pipeline of players looked like for the team we would like to select in three years’ time” – Sir Alex Ferguson.

This season has been a frustrating one; but one positive is the emergence of young talent from Manchester United.

With the emergence of young players, whether purchased or academy grown, there’s no doubt the Red Devils have abundance of youthful talent at the club.

Memphis, Martial, Periera, Rashford, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Cameron Borthwick Jackson,  Jesse Lingard — the list goes on.

With the expectation of established players coming in, which youngsters can make the cut? Who can keep a position in the United first team? And how far can each player go at the club?
Over two articles, I will investigate what the future holds for each player

Part one:

Jesse Lingard

He’s well-travelled, but the 23 year-old has made the most of his opportunities this season. Direct and pacey, Lingard has provided an outlet of attack predominantly in a wide area and through the middle.

Pros: Lingard has the ability to beat a player which is unfortunately a talent lacking in this current United squad. Lingard was rained upon with praise when he initially broke into the team when he played direct at players and attempting to go past them, usually with great effect. In what has been a struggling attack at times, it has been refreshing to see.

The Englishman also isn’t afraid to get dirty and defend. For what the Mancuncian lacks in natural talent, he makes up with it in effort.

Cons: Although he has broken into the side this season, he is 23 years old which is late in the traditional sense for a footballer to crack the first team. Given his inconsistencies, you have to wonder if Lingard can get much better than what he currently offers.

He has also been used in the middle which this journalist doesn’t like. He has been most effective in wide areas. Play him there, LVG!

Future at United? Squad player. Lingard is talented and enthusiastic but he does have a lack of quality and consistency that should be expected of a United first-team player. As a back up substitution or a player to bring in while first teamers are rested, the academy product definitely provides a very solid option.

Andreas Pereira

We haven’t seen a lot of the Brasilian but rest assured, the boy can play. For whatever reason, he has not been provided a great number of opportunities under Louis Van Gaal but he has a very large range of skills and is a player of high potential.

Pros: Pereira has an abundance of talent that most footballers would dream of. He’s a great dribbler, has a great passing range; has an effective cross and can score goals from close range or from distance. For anyone who has watched this boy in the u21’s, you know he’s too good for that level.

Cons: For all of LVG’s faults, there has to be a reason why the 22 year-old has not been given an opportunity. There was recent reports that Periera and Januzaj had a little competition with each other to see who could score a goal from a corner. If true, that is a poor attitude to have in a team sport, particularly when you are trying to crack the first team.

We also haven’t seen Pereira truly tested in the premier league. He is slight in stature and this may be a problem for the predominantly central attacker. Until he gets a genuine opportunity, we cannot judge how he will go. With expected signings in attacking areas, you have to wonder if he will get an opportunity.

Future at United?  First-team player or sold. Potentially, Pereira can be anything. If afforded the opportunity and belief, the 22 year-old will shine and show the football world what he is capable of. If Pereria doesn’t get the chance he desires soon,  the player could realistically leave the club this summer. Only time will tell!

Marcus Rashford

What a man! We haven’t had a lot to cheer about this season but the 18 year-old has dared to make the Old Trafford shadows fade into the sunlight. 7 goals since February, including a double against Arsenal, the winner against Manchester City and a goal to help United into the semi finals of the FA Cup suggests this Mancunian is just getting started.

Pros: Besides his wonderful pace and unpredictability, Rashford is a dogged attitude. Like Lingard, Rashford runs tirelessly in attack and defence and searches for the ball. For a young player in a huge team, it would be easy to get lazy but the striker has the attitude to match his talent.

Negatives: First touch can be poor at times and has shown a lack of consistency. There’s also a worry about the work he does in defence.

 

It is wonderful to see his desire but playing at a high intensity all game is reminiscent of Wayne Rooney who is now declining sooner than he should have.  This is knit-picking as he is 18 years old and these discrepancies can easily be corrected with experience and coaching.

Future at United? Crucial first-team player. When you play for a big club, it is about taking your chances. With Rooney, Martial, Wilson, Keane and Fellaini in front of him before the season started, Rashford has done very well to take his chance and grab it with both hands. He has been forced to play a lot of football games back-to-back due to a lack of options but with the expected acquisition of attacking options, I expect Rashford to have less game time as a rotational squad player to ease his development with the long-term objective to have him as a mainstay in the first team in 2-3 years time. The thought of Rashford and Martial together at their peak will be a night mare to our dreams. Bright future.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will look at:  Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Joe Riley, RoShaun Williams and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Memphis

 

Your Aussie Correspondant,
Larry – The United Stand.

Man United 5-1 Midtjylland | Match review

After going a goal down against the run of play early on, United rallied together to brush Midtjylland aside with 5 goals of their own.

Very few people would have predicted this scoreline, particularly with the long list of injuries the team has and with Anthony Martial being added to the list just before kickoff with a hamstring problem. But the team pulled together knowing that a loss at home to Midtjylland would be unacceptable.

It was the visitors who found the back of the net first, in the 28th minute. Against the run of play, Sisto found himself with a bit of space on the edge of the box and easily skipped past Carrick and Blind then slotted the ball past Romero into the bottom left corner. United were now 3-1 down on aggregate and pressure was increasing. But, they reacted very well by dominating possession, getting forward and moving the ball around quickly, as they were before the Midtjylland opener.

It only took a few minutes for United to find an equaliser. On the 32nd minute Memphis ran the ball past the Midtjylland defence to the byline and hit a driven cross along the ground which was met by the boot of Bodurov who directed the ball into his own net. Just before half time, Mata had a chance to put United ahead and level on aggregate from the spot after Herrera was brought down just inside the area but Mata’s penalty was saved by Andersen.

Sisto celebrates scoring Midtjylland's opener (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Sisto celebrates scoring Midtjylland’s opener (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

United did take the lead in the 63rd minute thanks to a goal from youngster Marcus Rashford. The move started with Herrera who floated a cross over to the back post. Mata got on the end of it with a first time cross back across goal. Using his pace, Rashford beat the Midtjylland defenders to the ball and buried the ball into the back of the net. United were now 2-1 up and 3-3 on aggregate.

The game was being played almost entirely in the Midtylland half with United controlling the play and creating lots of chances. On the 75th minute young boy Marcus Rashford got himself on the score sheet again. This time it was Guillermo Varela with the assist. Following some quick, yet patient build up play, Varela hit a cross from the right hand side which dropped to the back post. Rashford found himself in a yard of space and allowed the ball to drop and then slotted the ball under the keeper, putting United 3-1 up and 4-3 ahead on aggregate.

United weren’t ready to stop just yet and on the 88th minute, United were awarded another penalty after a Memphis shot was handled by a Midtjylland defender. This time it was Ander Herrera who stepped up and he made no mistake by rifling the ball into the top left corner. United were now 4-1 up in the game and had a two goal lead on aggregate. It was the breathing space they had been hoping for and I’m sure Louis van Gaal would have zipped up his note pad at this point.

As the fourth official announced the amount of additional time there would be, there was a sense that the game was already finished. United were as good as through and Midtjylland didn’t look like they had the legs to score two goals in as many minutes. But, Memphis wasn’t done yet and he capped off a great performance with a equally great solo goal in the 91st minute. The former PSV player ran at the Midtjylland defence forcing them backwards and when he created a gap he arrowed the ball into the bottom left corner. And that was it. United won 5-1 on the night and 6-3 on aggregate to progress to the next round.

Memphis celebrates his late goal with Herrera (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Memphis celebrates his late goal with Herrera (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

There were a few stand out players in this match and one of those was the young Marcus Rashford. He continuously proved a nuisance for the defenders with his ability to leave them standing with his quick change of pace. His positioning an ability to read the game were also proven with the two goals he scored. No better way to cap off a fine performance than scoring a couple of goals to help secure a place in the next round of the Europa League.

Juan Mata also deserves a mention. Throughout the whole game he put in 110% popping up in all areas of the pitch, linking the play between defenders and attackers, dictating play, winning back possession and getting an assist for Rashford’s first goal.

And we cannot leave out Memphis. He was poor in the first leg and against Shrewsbury Town on Monday he showed signs of improvement and a growing confidence. I said in the Shrewsbury review that he now has a great opportunity to prove himself over the coming weeks with several players out injured and he took his chance very well tonight. He had a very high success rate with take-ons, beating the defenders and getting plenty of shots in. But he wasn’t greedy by just taking shots, he also looked up to see what was going on around him and played a few key passes into the path of runners. We even saw flashes of skill from him which just indicates that his confidence is slowly returning and the goal he scored in injury time was the icing on the cake.

All in all it was a good performance from United. The team played well as a unit and as fans we can be proud of them. They are all under a lot of pressure and together with all the injuries, they need our support.

United’s next game is against Arsenal, on Sunday, at Old Trafford. This will be a real test for Memphis and United as Shrewsbury Town and Midtjylland can’t really be considered as tough opponents, but both games have done the team and Memphis some good in terms of morale and confidence. Hopefully both will carry into the game against Arsenal and we can get a result.

Paul’s Player Ratings – United V Midtjylland:

Romero (6) Was a little flaky with the ball at his feet but was rarely called upon.
Varela (7) Was good getting forward, linking up with Herrera and Lingard and provided an assist for Rashford’s second goal.
Carrick (6) Could have done more to prevent the Midtjylland goal.
Blind (6) Also could have done more to prevent the Midtjylland goal.
Riley (6) Was good going forward, linking up with Memphis.
Schneiderlin (7) A stalwart in the midfield with plenty of interceptions and winning tackles.
Herrera (7) Put in a good shift and scored a penalty.
Lingard (6) Was good going forward but lacked a killer end product often choosing to come backwards.
Mata (8) Dictated play, very high work rate, pressed well winning possession and provided the assist for Rashford’s first goal.
Memphis (9) Used his strength, pace and skill to beat defenders throughout the game, created chances for others and scored a great solo goal.
Rashford (9) Also showed great pace and strength when in possession and scored two strikers goals.

So what did you think of tonight’s game? Are there any players that you thought stood out? Would you rate any of the players differently? Let me know in the comments below.

You can watch the United Stand’s live match reaction with Mark Goldbridge by clicking here or watching below:

Shrewsbury Town 0-3 Man United | Match Review

United cruise comfortably past Shrewsbury Town with a 3-0 victory to set up a quarter final tie, at home, against West Ham United.

This was the first time in the clubs history that United have played Shrewsbury Town and the home team, including their fans, were excited for the occasion. They even fancied their chances of causing an upset based on United’s recent form and who can blame them? But it wasn’t to be thanks to goals from Chris Smalling (right footed volley), Juan Mata (cleverley worked free kick where three United players looked to have been offside) and Jesse Lingard (getting on the end of an Ander Herrera cross).

The win itself is of course something to be happy about as it sends United into the quarter final of the FA Cup, but it’s nothing to write home about considering the opposition. Typically, of a United under van Gaal, they controlled the game from start to finish having an 80% share of the possession in the first half and 75% possession overall. Also, United were reduced to long shots for most of the first half as they failed to find a way to break down a resilient Shrewsbury defence. Something else we have become accustomed to during the van Gaal reign. United did, however, finally make a break through late in the first half when Chris Smalling, staying up front when a cleared corner was played back toward the box, hit a right footed volley past the Shrewsbury keeper. Shortly afterwards, on the stroke of half time, Juan Mata doubled United’s lead from a free Kick that was awarded after Anthony Martial was brought down on the edge of the box when he was through on goal.

Mata scores United's second from a Free Kick (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Mata scores United’s second from a Free Kick (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

For the second half Shrewsbury altered their approach and played further up the pitch. This allowed United to play their game, bringing the attacking players into the fold with some much quicker football. And it didn’t take long for United to get their third goal to seal the win. The goal came from a counter attack that started with Romero. The United keeper released the ball quickly, picking out Herrera who touched the ball on to Mata on the left. At the edge of the box, Mata played the ball back into Herrera who hit a cross to the back post finding Lingard who hit it first time into the back of the net. United then took their foot off the pedal and played possession football very effectively to see the game out.

Despite the 3-0 scoreline it was a very average team performance. I’m finding it difficult to pick out any player who had a particularly impressive game. In my match review for the Midtjylland game on Thursday, I was very critical of Memphis. Today, however, despite a shaky start, he grew into the game and gained confidence; particularly in the second half. He showed glimpses of what he did at PSV by running at defenders, cutting in and getting shots at goal. An extra yard of pace and he will become dangerous again. He also linked up with players very well during attacking moves with some neat one-touch passing. What’s important now is that he carries that into the next game. He has a great opportunity, with Rooney out, to prove himself and build on today’s performance.

Daley Blind in action for United at Shrewsbury (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Daley Blind in action for United at Shrewsbury (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Another player I enjoyed watching was Daley Blind. He makes things happen. Plenty of times tonight he was able to pick out a pass from deep, finding the forward players and at the same time taking several Shrewsbury players out of the game.

Andreas Pereira also made a positive impact coming on as a substitute just after the hour mark. His positioning was on point, making sure he found space off the ball to receive a pass. When he was in possession he moved the ball quickly. He proves a nightmare for defenders with his pass-and-move football which is something United need more of.

So, United did what was expected of them and have progressed to the quarter final of the FA Cup. But the pressure is still on Louis van Gaal with the focus now on the second leg of the Europa League tie at home to Midtylland. The danish team bring to Old Trafford a 2-1 advantage, but United could progress with 1-0 victory having scored an away goal in the first leg. As with tonight’s game, United will be fully expected to win this 2nd leg with the real test being the game against Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday.

What did you make of tonight’s game? Did any players stand out to you? Was the performance good enough? Let me know in the comments below!

Paul’s player ratings – Shrewsbury V United

Romero (6) Kept a clean sheet but was rarely called upon.
Borthwick-Jackson (6) Played the long ball that led to Chris Smalling’s goal but was generally quiet.
Smalling (7) Scored the opening goal and won the majority of aerial battles.
Blind (7) Showed great vision picking out long ground passes into the forward players.
Varela (6) Fairly quiet for most of the game.
Herrera (7) Helped to control the united midfield and provided an assist for Lingard’s goal.
Schneiderlin (6) Helped protect the defense on the rare occasion he needed to.
Lingard (6) Was quiet for most of the game despite scoring.
Mata (7) Scored the free kick and played his part in the build up to Lingard’s goal.
Memphis (6) Poor start to game but grew in confidence in the 2nd half linking up well with other players.
Martial (6) Was isolated as a lone striker with several defenders around him.

Riley (6) Made his debut as a sub an wasn’t afraid to run at defenders.
Keane (6) Came on for Martial, hit the post, then left the field after just 4 minutes after picking up a groin injury.
Pereira (7) Proved a nuisance for the Shrewsbury defenders with his quick movement.

You can also watch The United Stand’s live match reaction with Mark Goldbridge by clicking here or watching below:

Man United 0-0 West Ham | Full match report

Goals evade Man United once again as their game at home to West Ham finishes goalless. Their fifth goalless draw in nine games.

Man United started the first half at a high tempo. Attacking the West Ham defence and pressing high when off the ball.

In the first ten minutes the reds had several shots at West Hams goal. The best chances involved Marouane Fellaini. In the 5th minute, Fellaini found himself running at the West Ham defence with Lingard in a very good position to his left. Instead, Fellaini decided to go it alone and have a shot. The shot was weak and drifted wide of Adrian’s post.

Four minutes later Paddy McNair curled in a cross from the right finding Fellaini at the back post, but the Belgian’s header went just over the bar.

There was a scare for Man United in the 12th minute when a Daley Blind pass fell to Noble. Noble played a through ball to Victor Moses who was one-on-one with David de Gea. The United keeper read the situation well and came out quick to save with his feet, deflecting the ball out for a corner. Zarate then headed the resulting corner wide.

Man United were next to come close to breaking the deadlock. In the 16th minute, Jesse Lingard whipped the ball in from the left toward Fellaini, who then chested the ball down to Anthony Martial. The 20 year old then hit a volley which looked to be going in but Winston Reid was there to rescue West Ham with a much appreciated block.

Winston Reid blocks Anthony Martial's close range volley (Source: Mirror)
Winston Reid blocks Anthony Martial’s close range volley (Source: Mirror)

Back down the other end West Ham hit the post twice in the space of a minute. At the midway point of the first half, Cresswell arrowed in a cross which bounced off the chest of David de Gea. Chris Smalling stretched out a leg in an attempt to clear the ball but he hit it into Zarate’s face and it ricocheted onto the post and out.

Seconds later West Ham’s Winston Reid headed a corner onto the post. Man United appeared to be hanging on by a thread.

The game settled slightly for the remainder of the second half with West Ham, on a break, managing a shot from Noble. But the veterans shot was never on target.

The start of the second half was similar to the first with Man United pushing forward looking for a scoring opportunity.

Only one came as a Jesse Lingard shot in the 50th minute went marginally over the West Ham goal.

Man United seemed to sit off a little as West Ham gained some momentum. In the 55th minute, Zarate made easy work of beating Varela down the left. The West Ham winger then cut in from the left and hit a shot from outside the box. The shot was on target but David de Gea got down and gathered the ball.

West Ham's Zarate rues missed chance against Man United (Source: Mirror)
West Ham’s Zarate rues missed chance against Man United (Source: Mirror)

A few seconds later Antonio beat Darmian with a cross into Andy Carrol. The West Ham striker touched the ball into Zarate who looked like he was clear through to slot past David de Gea, but instead miscued his shot and dragged it across the goal and out for a goal kick.

Man United’s fans became restless and boo’s were heard from the Stretford End with chants of “Attack! Attack! Attack!”.

The players reacted to the crowd and for the last half an hour really put pressure on West Ham.

During that spell United managed an approximate 10 attempts on goal. The best of these fell to Fellaini, Martial and Lingard.

On the hour mark Anthony Martial went on a winding run across the edge of the West Ham box. Reaching the byline he played a diagonal ball back to Fellaini who managed to get a foot on it. Many fans behind the goal thought it was going in but Adrian got down quickly to palm the ball off the line.

In the 81st minute, Memphis did what Memphis does by running at the defenders and cutting in. The Dutchman then played a pass into Martial who’s first time shot skimmed the outside of Adrian’s left hand post.

A minute later Jesse Lingard raced onto a loose ball and struck a shot fractionally wide.

At the full time whistle both fans and players alike were frustrated. The fans were very vocal with boo’s echoing around Old Trafford. Something which is slowly becoming commonplace.

One thing Man United can take from this match is that there was an increased amount of attacking football. Something fans have been crying out for. However, it means nothing if chances are not taken and games aren’t won.

United’s fourth draw in six Premier League games means they drop down to fourth in the table. The points United continue to drop could come back to haunt them later in the season.

Man United drop to fourth in the Premier League table after another goalless draw
Man United drop to fourth in the Premier League table after another goalless draw

What did you think of the game? Are you happy with the fact that they played with more attacking intent? Do you think Man United are heading in the right direction? We would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

You can also watch the Man United V West Ham match reaction on The United Stand’s YouTube channel by clicking here. Or by watching below.

Man United Team Sheet

de Gea
McNair (Varela – 45′)
Smalling
Blind
Darmian
Schneiderlin (Carrick – 44′)
Schweinsteiger (Depay – 73′)
Mata
Fellaini
Lingard
Martial

Substitutes

Depay
Carrick
Young
Romero
Varela
Borthwick-Jackson
Pereira

West Ham Team Sheet

Adrián
Tomkins
Reid
Ogbonna
Cresswell
Song (Obiang – 78′)
Moses (Antonio – 37′)
Noble
Kouyaté
Zárate (Jenkinson – 88′)
Carroll

Substitutes

Randolph
Jenkinson
Obiang
Collins
Jelavic
Antonio
Oxford