Tag Archives: Marcus Rashford

It should still be Poch…no, Ole…no, Poch

Prior to the Tottenham game this past weekend, I had decided that, whatever the result, I would upload a post claiming that Mauricio Pochettino should still be the next manager of Manchester United. However, the game, and victory, threw a huge spanner in the works…

I think we can all agree that nobody expected us to walk away from Wembley with three points. It has been widely publicised that Solskjaer’s first five games as caretaker manager of Manchester United were all games that he was expected to win. Hell, even Paul Ince claims he could have equalled Solskjaer’s start. However, delving deeper into the aftermath of Sunday’s 1-0 win has enhanced the United legends stock when it comes to taking over the reigns permanently.

Let’s be honest, the five games prior to the Spurs game didn’t really tell us a lot in regards to what Solskjaer’s style would be for the rest of the season. Sure, the attacking flair was back but we were rarely in a position where a ‘Plan B’ was needed. Tottenham was always going to be the game where we gained a measure on what could be achieved during the remainder of the season.

Billed as an audition between Ole and Poch, it is certainly the former that has edged ahead based on Sunday’s showing. United were ahead just before half time courtesy of a cool Marcus Rashford finish off the back of a sublime Paul Pogba pass and few could argue that we were not good for the lead. In fact, the first half was just like the games prior. The real test would be the second half when the inevitable Tottenham backlash began.

Tactically, Solskjaer got the second half down to a tee. Sure, we were under the cosh for long periods and, yes, De Gea was a brick wall but it is already forgotten that Hugo Lloris himself pulled off three decent saves to prevent United extending their lead. In short, Solskjaer had a Plan B. Pochettino, however, didn’t.

Tottenham switched formation at the beginning of the second half, a move immediately mirrored by Solskjaer to alleviate the threat posed by Ben Davies and Keiran Trippier. The enforced Erik Lamela change just before half time proved to be disastrous as Poch then stuck Christian Eriksen out on the wing to accommodate the more centrally-minded Lamela.

The Tottenham manager refused to make any more changes until the 81st minute, removing Harry Winks for Fernando Llorente, in what looked like a desperate final roll of the dice. Admittedly, at this stage it looked as if Tottenham were good value for a goal. However, with United tiring, the change should have come at least 10 minutes sooner. Solskjaer responded immediately by withdrawing Jesse Lingard for Diego Dalot to reinforce the defence.

Pochettino failed to make a third substitution as he, quite simply, ran out of ideas. Tottenham’s fail safe ‘Plan A’ just wasn’t working and he had no idea how to change it, despite only making two substitutions and leaving Danny Rose on the bench. Introducing Rose and his pace into the game could seriously have hurt a tiring United defence. Poch, simply, got it wrong.

David De Gea has quite rightly earned the plaudits for his Wembley heroics but Solskjaer should take just as much of the glory. He won’t, because he isn’t Jose Mourinho, but he deserves every iota of praise he has received. Not only did he out think Pochettino, he got the better of him tactically and wasn’t afraid to react instantly to what was panning out in front of him.

At this point I would say my preference would still be for Pochettino to be the next permanent manager of the club. However, not for one second would I be disappointed to see Ole be retained beyond this season.

Are We About To See Rashford Re-born?

Marcus Rashford made his name in a Manchester United shirt during a Europa League match against FC Midtjylland on February 25th, 2016.

Rashford was named on the bench for the tie. However, during the match warm-up, an injury to Anthony Martial meant the 18-year old was to make his debut in the starting XI. Continue reading Are We About To See Rashford Re-born?

Mourinho’s Big Romelu Lukaku Problem

Jose Mourinho is facing a potential problem with Romelu Lukaku that could undermine Manchester United’s season.

Despite an amazing start to the season by Lukaku the question Mourinho must answer is how do United cope without Lukaku? Injury is one potential issue but a more sensible scenario is what Mourinho does when Lukaku needs a rest? With seven games coming up in 22 days, encompassing Premier League, Champions Leauge and League cup, it would be unwise to think Lukaku will play in all of those ties. Otherwise injury really will be a factor. But how does Mourinho replace the enigma that is Lukaku?

Rashford and Martial are the obvious choices but with both young talents providing such threat and consistency down the flanks will Mourinho want to mess with a winning formula? In addition, neither Rashford or Martial are Lukaku. Both offer the pace and directness but neither come close in the power stakes. Lukaku is a bully that occupies centre backs and forces them back. Taking that out of the side diminishes the space the likes of Pogba and Mkhitaryan are thriving on at the moment thanks to Lukaku.

So how does Mourinho solve the Lukaku dilemma? In the long term Zlatan provides the power, in the short term United will have to find another way.

Discover what ways United fans desire and a potential youth option ready to stake his claim in a United shirt on Our United Stand Call In on YouTube on the link below.

Zlatan will play again!

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola says the Swedish striker has undergone successful knee surgery and “will make a full recovery”.

The 35-year-old suffered cruciate knee ligament damage in the Europa League victory of Anderlecht. Raiola emphasised that the Sweden international’s injury was not career-threatening. Ibrahimovic’s one year contract at Manchester United is coming to and end and is yet to agree an extension.

He has been a valuable asset to the United team by scoring 28 goals this season and has begun rehabilitation in Pittsburgh, USA.

After his horrific injury, there have been questions about whether the Swede would ever return to play but this news shows that the striker isn’t ready to give up on the beautiful game just yet.

Ibrahimovic celebrates for Man Utd (picture: skysports.com)
Ibrahimovic has been prolific this season for Manchester United (picture: sky sports.com)

He recently said on Instagram, “I will go through this like everythings else and come back even stronger. Giving up is not an option.”

The decision for Manchester United now is whether they should offer Zlatan a new one year contract or allow him to become a free agent in the summer. The forward has shown that he can still score goals and is also a crucial part in the development of youngster Marcus Rashford.

I think we should sign one striker in the summer and give Rashford the starting position up front. In recent weeks he has shown that he can cause problems to defenders in the Premier League as well as in Europe. With quality service I believe Rashford can become a prolific goalscorer for Manchester United.

Do you think we should keep Ibrahimovic?

If no, then who should we replace him with?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Derby day draw – Match report and analysis

Marouane Fellaini received a straight red card for a headbutt on Sergio Aguero as Manchester United defended resolutely to earn a point in a disappointing goal-less Manchester Derby at the Etihad stadium.

The Belgian midfielder had a minute to forget as he received a yellow card for fouling Aguero. Seconds later, he fouled the striker again who got up in anger and squared up to Fellaini, who lost his cool and pushed his head into the Argentinian. Martin Atkinson had no choice but to show a straight red card with six minutes remaining.

Marouane Fellaini sent off for headbutt on Aguero. (picture: the guardian.com)
Marouane Fellaini sent off for headbutt on Aguero. (picture: the guardian.com)

City created the first clear cut chance of the game as Aguero hit the outside of the post from four yards out. United could have taken the lead as Claudio Bravo was typically hesitant at dealing with a looping ball and slapped it into the path of Armenian Mkhitaryan, who fired straight into the grateful arms of the keeper.

The best chance of the game fell to the unmarked Ander Herrera who directed his header wide of the post from an in-swinging delivery from the lively Marcus Rashford.

Gabriel Jesus had the ball in the net with a couple of minutes remaining only for the linesman to put his flag up for offside. City hardly tested United goalkeeper De Gea as the Reds move to 24 games unbeaten in the Premier League.

United remain fifth, one point behind City and two points behind Liverpool with a game in hand.

Post-match reaction

United boss Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports: “We wanted to do more in terms of attacking and to explore more of the counter attack. In the first half we had good control but the second became more difficult. We had to make a decision to play for the draw and had to fight hard to take a point.

“I didn’t watch the Fellaini incident on TV but I spoke with Fellaini. I guess it’s a bit of a red card and a bit of a very smart, very experienced Argentinian player.”

Manchester United captain Michael Carrick on Sky Sports: “It’s a point gained. We thought we could catch City on the break and we did have a couple of chances. It makes things more difficult when you go down to 10 men.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola on BBC Sport: “I am satisfied. I know how difficult it is to play against Manchester United. Every game until the last game now will be a final.”

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany on Sky Sports: “We got a point. It’s not bad but we never felt like the game was difficult. Rashford and Martial have so much ability and such a bright future ahead. They are lightning quick and with a bit more experience can cause a lot more trouble.”

Analysis

United will feel that decisions went against them from referee Atkinson, as Mkhitaryan and Rashford were fouled cynically by Fernandinho and Otamendi, who both escaped without a yellow card. Herrera was also angered by a fierce challenge from Fernandinho, who surprisingly went into the interval without a booking.

It seemed to be a City tactic to disrupt the runs of Rashford off the ball, with many instances of shirt pulling going unseen by the officials. Rashford was constantly in the ear of Atkinson telling him to keep an eye out for challenges off the ball but the referee didn’t seem to spot anything.

Anthony Martial was also on the receiving end of an off the ball foul from Kompany and the tactic was hugely frustrating for the United attackers.

The red card for Fellaini is a difficult one. The Belgian does lean his head into Aguero and makes contact, and as Jose said it was very clever from the striker to get Fellaini to react. I think it was a red card and it was in the heat of the moment but we showed that defensively, we can get the job done.

Mourinho started Rashford out wide, but throughout the half the front three of United kept rotating positions. This was disrupting the City defence and it ultimately led to United’s first half chance of the game as Rashford got beyond Kolarov and laid the ball off to Herrera, who curled the ball towards the back post which Zabaleta had to turn behind for a corner. City had been given their first warning sign.

They didn’t learn and were nearly punished when Rashford outpaced Otamendi to the ball and was racing through only for the defender to get a crucial touch on the ball to send it out for a corner kick.

The interchanging of the United attackers kept the City defenders guessing and also helped out the United fullbacks defensively. Each player was taking turns in the wide role to track the attacking City fullbacks whilst the centre forward would get somewhat of a breather. The tactic worked well as United shut off the supply lines from wide areas which restricted City’s chances of scoring.

It was clear to see that United were missing the presence of Paul Pogba in midfield as we could hardly string together 10 passes in the second half. The Frenchman would have added flair in the midfield and given us more in an attacking sense. The front three put a really good shift in and their attitude was spot on throughout the game.

Pep Guardiola showed that he trusts Claudio Bravo by selecting him to start in goal but the Chilean made an absolute howler which nearly resulted in a United goal. It seemed like a deflected cross would be a routine catch for Bravo, who instead flapped the ball straight into the path of Mkhitaryan, but the Armenian fired straight into the arms of the relieved Chilean.

Ander herrera wastes a brilliant opportunity by heading wide. (picture: the guardian.com)
Ander herrera wastes a brilliant opportunity by heading wide. (picture: the guardian.com)

City had majority of the possession but could not find a way through United’s solid backline. They were limited to long range efforts which were comfortable for David De Gea. Even in the absence of Rojo, Smalling and Jones, United were solid at the back with Daley Blind fitting in perfectly at centre back.

Overall, the result keeps us in the hunt for a top 4 position, with a win in our game in hand taking us above Liverpool. United face Swansea next at Old Trafford this Sunday in a must win game.

Your thoughts

What did you think of the game? A point gained or two points dropped?

Did Fellaini deserve the red card?

Let us know by leaving a comment below, or by tweeting us @UnitedStandMUFC or my personal account @AbzMulla6.

 

 

‘Rashford is the best striker in the Premier League’ – Rio

United legend Rio Ferdinand believes Marcus Rashford has been the best striker in the Premier League since his debut back in February.

Rashford has scored 16 goals for United and England with his first coming on his debut against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League.

The United starlet has made a name for himself across the world and it’s no surprise that Rio Ferdinand Thinks so highly of him. The former United centre back had this to say:

“I think Marcus Rashford should be selected for the senior squad next week and be unleashed against Malta.

“Including his hat-trick for the U21s against Norway earlier this month, no English striker has scored more goals since he made his professional debut in February.

“I don’t care how old you are, that record warrants a place in the squad. He has been the best striker in this country since February in terms of output – the statistics don’t lie.”

With Anthony Martial yet to hit form and Wayne Rooney being dropped for the Leicester game, Rashford has a great chance to cement a place in Jose Mourinho’s starting XI on a more regular basis; providing he is afforded the playing time to do so.

Rashford earns Jose trust while derby flops will miss out

Jose Mourinho is set to axe both Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan from the starting line up for Thursdays Europa League game against Feyenoord.

Both Lingard and Mkhitaryan were subbed at halftime in the Manchester derby for their poor first half displays. Mourinho laid into his derby flops and warned them they would be dropped.

Mourinho reacted to the 2-1 defeat to City by claiming several of his team would be dropped. However Marcus Rashford will be promoted to the starting line-up after his excellent second half performance against City after which Mourinho admitted his mistake in leaving him on the bench.

“The performances are the deciding factor,

“How can I decide? Performances are the only way that I can decide.

“So if you’re asking me if they’re going to play against Feyenoord, then no.

Mourinho admitted several of the players, including Lingard and Mkhitaryan, were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the derby.

“Let’s speak, for example, about Mkhitaryan, How many big matches has he played?

“The kid Jesse, how many times has he played big matches?

“So you never know the way players are going to react, especially when you don’t know them so well. And, after only a couple of months, it’s too early to know them really well.”

Mourinho admitted he considered starting Rashford after his midweek hat-trick for the England U-21s and said that Rashford’s fearlessness means he is now ready to promote him to the starting XI and keep faith with him once there.

“For me, the next big game is against Feyenoord – and the next game he’s going to play,

“That’s the only thing I can say.

“I trust him completely. I know his future will be absolutely brilliant.

“He’s mainly a No.9. If you want to play him in different positions, we need to work on him, we need to improve him, but his big personality is there.

“Normally, people look to the football talent, but the personality at this level is very, very important and he was showing that last season — he was showing that immediately.”

After Saturdays game against City many United fans would agree that it is time Rashford was given an extended run in the first XI.

Would you drop both Lingard and Mkhitaryan for the next game and give Rashford a chance in the starting line-up? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Injection Of Youth Breathes Life Into Soulless United

Even the most avid Louis Van Gaal fan would struggle to reel off a list of things he has got right during his time in charge. It is no secret that his near two years in charge, this season in particular, has been dire to say the least but, if there is one thing that he certainly is not guilty of, it is sticking to the club tradition of blooding youngsters into the first team squad.

The more skeptical of us may believe that this is due to the squad being unnecessarily thin whilst LVG himself claims that he deliberately scaled down the squad in order to bring in youth players. Whatever the truth is, recent weeks have seen some much improved performances on the pitch, with the recent emergence of Marcus Rashford proving to be the real highlight.

In truth, the writing was on the wall from the very beginning of LVG’s tenure, having included Jesse Lingard and Tyler Blackett in his very first matchday squad in 2014. Since then, a further 12 academy players have made their debuts for the club, with some of those beginning to become a regular presence around the squad.

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, at 19-years-old, looks like he has massive potential and has recorded some steady performances within the back four this season. Tim Fosu-Mensah made his debut as a substitute in the recent win over Arsenal, before starting the subsequent game against Watford where he put in a decent shift. And then there is the aforementioned Marcus Rashford. In only three games for United, the youngster has already been sounded out for an England call-up and been touted as ‘the next big thing’.

Granted, it is far too early to claim that Rashford will indeed turn out to be a top player, we have been here before after all (Macheda anyone?), but the early indications are positive, with the well-documented doubles against FC Midtjylland and Arsenal propelling him from the unknown to household name.

The most frustrating aspect of the youngsters utilised to date by LVG is the under-use of Andreas Pereira. The 20-year-old is seen by many as the crown jewel of United’s academy but has seemingly been overlooked on occasion by Van Gaal. What is more frustrating is that the Brazilian is being overlooked by Jesse Lingard who, as another academy graduate given his debut under the Dutchman, has produced moments of brilliance and mediocrity in equal measure. It is widely known around Old Trafford that many fans would like to see Pereira given more of an opportunity over the coming months, with many sensing he could prove to be as big a loss as Paul Pogba if he was to decide his future lay away from the club.

Louis Van Gaal has always stated that when he leaves the club he will leave it in a better state than when he arrived. As recent as three weeks ago that was hard to believe. However, these claims are now becoming easier to understand. Of course, any manager could have come in and spent what the Dutchman has, and more than likely delivered some silverware, but what LVG is achieving is a squad which could be able to compete for the next 10 years. It is far too early to launch any ‘class of 92’ comparisons but the latest class could be one that helps the club begin to reach the levels that we are all used to and expect.