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West Brom 1-0 Man United | Match review

United are brought swiftly back down to earth after defeat at the hands of West Brom.

The Red Devils traveled to West Brom on the back of four consecutive wins hoping to make it five. But a 66th minute goal from Rondon brought the run to a premature end and at the same time dented United’s hopes of finishing in the top four.

United started the game brightly, keeping hold of the ball and moving it forward. But West Brom were quick to close United down, often with two players to United’s one, which made it difficult for United to create any clear-cut chances. The visitors also weren’t helped by being reduced to ten men after Juan Mata saw red in the 26th minute following a careless challenge on former United player, Darren Fletcher. Mata had also been booked earlier in the game for blocking a quick free kick.

Despite going down to ten men so early, United still managed to have a fair share of possession and did well to hold West Brom off with Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling and Daley Blind making several tackles and interceptions.

The second half began much in the same way with United still holding a decent share of possession and getting the ball forward. But this changed on the hour mark when, for a reason known only to Louis van Gaal, a defensive substitution was made with Ander Herrera being taken off for Morgan Schneiderlin. United now sat back and allowed West Brom to come at them and it only took a few minutes for West Brom to take advantage of the gifted time and space when Rondon, unmarked, controlled a cross in the box and hit the ball into the bottom corner.

Mata is shown the red card after a careless challenge on Fletcher (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Mata is shown the red card after a careless challenge on Fletcher (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Louis van Gaal tried to fight back by bringing on Memphis with 30 minutes left. But with no Ander Herrera or attacking central midfielder on the pitch, his chances to provide anything were slim. In fact, attacking options in general were limited. The game continued and finished with West Brom dominating possession and playing most of their football in the United half.

I knew, as soon as the Schneiderlin-Herrera change was made, that we would end up sitting back and inviting pressure. We have done it several times this season and almost every time we concede. And we did. Literally five minutes after the substitution.

With West Brom defending in numbers – when they had to defend! – and United having little going forward I knew the chances of us scoring were slim and that the game was as good as lost.

Louis van Gaal should not have taken Herrera off. He may not have produced anything special but he was always in amongst it and would have provided an option in the middle going forward. Then with the introduction of Memphis and that extra body in the middle, maybe we would have got something.

Rondon is allowed time and space to control and shoot putting West Brom in the lead (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Rondon is allowed time and space to control and shoot putting West Brom in the lead (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Apart from the goal conceded, our defence was solid today with Blind, Smalling and Darmian making several important tackles and interceptions between them. But, no one else in a red shirt particularly stood out. Now you can credit that to West Brom for their persistent defending or you can put it down to poor team selection and substitutions from the manager. For me it’s a bit of both.

West Brom were very well disciplined but Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis should not have been dropped from the starting line-up. Morgan has been fantastic defensively in recent games and Memphis was finding some confidence and momentum. In a game where you have to win to stay in the race for top four, you just don’t tamper with a winning formula. And making a defensive change on the hour mark when it’s 0-0 and you are away, is suicidal.

Well that’s all I have to say about this game. What did you make of it? Do you agree with Memphis and Morgan being dropped? Do you think a defensive change was the right decision? Let us know in the comment section below.

Paul’s player ratings – West Brom V Man United

David de Gea (6) Had little to do and can’t be blamed for the goal.
Matteo Darmian (7) Made some good and important tackles but needs to improve going forward.
Chris Smalling (8) Did a great job keeping Rondon quiet and made a series of tackles and interceptions as well as winning the majority of his aerial duels.
Daley Blind (6) Made some good interceptions but let himself down by being out of position, allowing Rondon time and space to score.
Marcos Rojo (6) Rarely called upon defensively. Provided support going forward but was not able to complete a successful cross.
Ander Herrera (6) Put in a shift but didn’t do anything noteworthy.
Michael Carrick (5) Struggled defensively and his passing was off.
Jesse Lingard (6) Made a few good runs but no end product.
Juan Mata (5) Some carelessness early in the game saw him get shown the red card.
Anthony Martial (6) Struggled to make an impact.
Marcus Rashford (6) Had very little service but did make one or two good runs when briefly on the wing.

If you still want more analysis then please watch The United Stand’s match reaction with Mark Goldbridge by clicking here or watching below:

Man United 1-0 Watford | Match review

A Mata free kick seals the three points in a tough game against an energetic, battling Watford.

On the back of three wins in a row, with three goals scored in each game, fans were bullish about seeing more of the same against Watford. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as the visitor’s pressed very well for the whole 90 minutes making it very difficult for United to play with any real freedom.

United started well by attacking and getting shots in at goal and winning corners, but it didn’t take long for Watford to group and start putting pressure on United and forcing them into errors. There were periods where United appeared to be reverting back to the style of football we had become used to under van Gaal, with little in the way of forward football. The half time whistle even brought groans around the stadium.

Although the first half was rather uneventful, both teams did come close to scoring. For United, in the 20th minute, Morgan Schneiderlin hit a volley from just outside the box which shaved the outside of left hand post and Watford, in the 37th minute, had a better chance when Ighalo found himself one-on-one with de Gea but the United keeper made himself big and blocked Ighalo’s shot.

Fosu-Mensah makes a strong challenge on Troy Deeney (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Fosu-Mensah makes a strong challenge on Troy Deeney (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

The second half was more of the same only with a few good spells of attacking football from United. But again, Watford afforded United very little space, stopping them from creating too many chances. But all United needed was a free kick and Juan Mata! In the 82nd minute, Anthony Martial was brought down just outside the box winning a free kick. Up stepped Mata who with great accuracy, curled the ball up and over the wall and into the top left corner. Gomes had no chance in the Watford goal.

Although the game didn’t live up to expectations raised from recent matches, United managed to get the three points and at this stage of the season, considering the current state of the league table, the points are all that matter. With City losing against Liverpool, United are now level on points with their city rivals and suddenly, top 4 look possible again.

Mata's superb free kick secured the three points (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Mata’s superb free kick secured the three points (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

There were a couple of stand out players in this match and both were from the youth academy. Timothy Fosu-Mensah played the full 90 minutes at centre-back, in the absence of injured Chris Smalling. Despite an early booking and a couple of rash tackles, Fosu-Mensah made several important and perfectly timed challenges, making a big contribution to United’s clean sheet. His strength and awareness just prove that he is a bright prospect for United’s future.

The other stand out player was, once again, Marcus Rashford. He may not have got himself on the score sheet today but his blistering pace caused Watford many problems, in particular when he was shifted to the right with Martial moving more central. Rashford’s pace and eye for goal certainly make him a favourite to be successful at Old Trafford for years to come.

Rashford forces save from Gomes after beating Watford's defenders (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Rashford forces save from Gomes after beating Watford’s defenders (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Up next for United is a trip to West Brom where another three points will further increase their chances of finishing in the top four. So what did you make of today’s game? Are you disappointed with the performance or just glad for the three points? Let us know in the comments below.

Paul’s player ratings – Man United V Watford

David de Gea (7) Made a couple of important saves when in one-on-one situations.
Guillermo Varela (6) Did enough defensively to help keep a clean sheet.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah (8) Made a series of strong and important tackles preventing goal scoring opportunities.
Daley Blind (5) A very rare off-day for Blind. Didn’t look comfortable with the ball and distribution was poor.
Marcos Rojo (6) Did enough defensively to help keep a clean sheet.
Morgan Schneiderlin (7) Picking up where he left off against Arsenal by providing support to the defence through tackles and interceptions.
Ander Herrera (6) Put in a good shift but didn’t produce anything special.
Anthony Martial (6) Was quiet for most of the game and didn’t really cause Watford any problems. Won the free kick that Mata converted.
Juan Mata (7) Held the ball well while looking for a pass. Scored a fantastic free kick to secure all three points.
Memphis Depay (6) While not a poor performance he was unable to reproduce the brilliance of the previous few games.
Marcus Rashford (8) Didn’t manage to get on the score sheet this time but his pace caused Watford a lot of problems and his defensive contribution shouldn’t go unnoticed.

If you would like to watch the United Stand’s match reaction video with Mark Goldbridge, please do so by clicking here or watching below:

Man United 3-2 Arsenal | Match review

United put the breaks on Arsenal’s title hopes after a second brace in two games from Rashford and a winner from Herrera secure all three points.

It was a game in which very few, including myself, expected United to emerge victorious. For United, outside of the top four, the squad riddled with injuries and Arsenal are up there challenging for the title, so naturally the gunners were favourites.

Then the game started. United looked bright, moving the ball around quickly and getting forward. When out of possession they pressed very well and frequently won the ball back. And then the unexpected happened. In the 30th minute United took the lead thanks to a goal from none other than Marcus Rashford! Juan Mata and Ander Herrera linked up with a little one-two (as they so often do) then Herrera fed the ball out to Varela who curled in a cross from the right hand side. The cross deflected off an Arsenal defender into the path of Rashford who drove the ball into the top right of the net.

Just three minutes later United doubled their lead. Mata, again playing an important part in the build-up, played a tidy ball out to Lingard who looked up and spotted Rashford in the middle. He hit his cross with enough pace leaving Rashford with nothing to do but direct the ball into the bottom left corner with his head for his second of the game. United were now 2-0 up and the crowd were rocking!

Marcus Rashford celebrates his first goal against Arsenal with Juan Mata (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Marcus Rashford celebrates his first goal with Juan Mata (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

United were brought back down to earth shortly before half time when Danny Welbeck pulled a goal back in the 41st minute. Mesut Ozil hit a free kick into the United box and Welbeck, making easy work of shaking off Morgan Schneiderlin, got his head on the ball to guide it past David de Gea.

At half time I started thinking that Arsenal were going to go on and win the game. I thought that the goal would rile them up and they would come at us. I also thought that we would end up desperately defending the whole second half (especially after the 3-0 drubbing in October), sitting deep and inviting them onto us. But thankfully I was wrong! Throughout the whole second half, when Arsenal had the ball, United pressed and defended high up the pitch and it made the difference.

Although Arsenal had slightly more possession, United’s defence did a sound job in keeping the likes of Ozil and Sanchez quiet. And in the 65th minute the hard work paid off as United extended their lead back to two goals with a goal from Ander Herrera! The move building up to the goal again involved Juan Mata. The Spaniard played a through ball out to Marcus Rashford on the right who held the ball up, waiting for support. He then played the ball across the ground into the path of Herrera who rifled a shot with the inside of his boot which went in via a deflection.

At 3-1 the fans were back on their feet and the atmosphere felt relaxed again. That was until the 70th minute at least when Ozil mis-kicked a volley that found its way into the top left corner. This goal set up what felt like was going to be a tense final 20 or so minutes. But it wasn’t. United defended very well, again, pressing and defending high up the pitch. They did what they had to do to see out the game and that even involved a little show boating while running down the clock, which the fans loved!

Ander Herrera celebrates his winning goal against Arsenal (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Ander Herrera celebrates his winning goal (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

It was a performance that all the players and fans should be proud of. From front to back United were solid. The defence held up well despite having two midfielders as centre backs, the midfield players all linked up well and helped to protect the defence and the attack, led by Rashford, was fantastic.

Let’s talk about Rashford for a second. A youth team player who made his debut against Midtjylland on Thursday night after Martial picked up an injury in the warm up before the game. There was no expectation, no burden on his shoulders. Just a chance to shine and shine he did. In that game and today’s, he showed his pace, his strength and his positioning and awareness. A true number 9. His second brace in as many games will fill him with confidence and belief that he can go all the way. The likes of Martial and Rooney will certainly have taken note of Rashford’s performances and rightly so.

Juan Mata also had a good game, linking up the midfield and playing a part in all three of United’s goals. Michael Carrick, despite an early yellow for a foul on former United player Danny Welbeck, also had a solid game at the back with plenty of interceptions and tackles. Morgan Schneiderlin had a very good second half cutting out passes and winning tackles. In general, the whole team performed fantastically and worked together to ensure the three points remained at Old Trafford.

The win lifts United back into 5th, just 3 points behind local rivals Manchester City [who have a game in hand] and United’s next game is on March 2nd at home to Watford. The players will be full of confidence going into this game and Watford have only won 2 of their last 10 Premier League games so I strongly believe we can win and put some pressure on a faltering Manchester City! Or maybe I am getting a little carried away?! We’ll see!

Paul’s player ratings – Man United V Arsenal

David de Gea (6) Protected well by his defence and couldn’t do much about the goals.
Guillermo Varela (6) Struggled at times with the pace of Sanchez and Monreal but effective going forward.
Micheal Carrick (8) Made several tackles and interceptions contributing hugely to United’s win.
Daley Blind (7) A calming influence on the game, always first to a loose ball.
Marcos Rojo (6) Not much to do but made a couple of good interceptions.
Ander Herrera (7) Scored what proved to be the winning goal and played his part in Rashford’s first.
Morgan Schneiderlin (8) An excellent second half reading the play and breaking down Arsenal attacks.
Jesse Lingard (7) Put in a battling performance and provided the assist for Rashford’s second.
Juan Mata (7) Fantastic work rate and played his part in all three of United’s goals.
Memphis Depay (6) Had few opportunities to shine but proved key in holding the ball and using his strength.
Marcus Rashford (9) Another fantastic performance again showing his awareness, vision and ability to score.

So what did you think of the game? Do you think it was an all round fantastic performance? Do you believe that top 4 is looking a little more realistic? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

You can also watch the United Stand live match reaction by clicking here or watching below:

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:

Midtjylland 2-1 Man United | Match review

When the draw was made for the first knock out stage of the Europa League, the question on everyone’s mind was, “Who on earth are Midtjylland?”

Well, I’m sure you would have done your research but, for the sake of this blog post, let me give you a very brief reminder.

Midtylland are a Danish club who play in the Danish Superliga and have a stadium capacity of just 12,000. They have played in European cups on several occassions but rarely passed the qualifying or play-off rounds. This season however, they made it to the group stages and despite losing 9-1 over two games against Napoli, they still progressed to the knock out stages.

With that said, you can forgive the majority of people, myself included, for thinking that even with the lengthy injury list, we should still be beating this team comfortably. Oh how wrong I was. How very wrong.

It has been said many times that this is a tournament that United never wanted to be a part of and it really was evident when looking at the players on the pitch tonight. Throughout the whole game none of the players looked like they were interested. There was no fight, no desire, no will to just go and grab the game by the scruff of the neck and sweep Midtjylland aside.

Far too many times there were gaping holes in the middle where you would expect to see Mata or Herrera. Or even Carrick. Anyone with an ounce of awareness! But nothing. No movement, no forward thinking; just stale, uninspired, dribble. And I feel like a scratched record having said this many times already this season.

There were periods in the game where Midtjylland were dominating. Not many, but there were. There was even a period where they were just toying with us. It was embarrassing to watch. Apart from Memphis’ goal – which he was lucky to score – We struggled to create any real chances. Lingard came close near the hour mark when he hit a volley against the cross bar but that was it. Midtjylland on the other hand, forced a few fantastic saves out of Romero. We could have lost that game 3 or 4-1.

Memphis and co celebrate his equaliser (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Memphis and co celebrate his equaliser (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

With Rooney being out injured and Martial moving into the number 9 role, it was a big chance for Memphis to shine and gain some much needed confidence. I was full of hope for him. He has really struggled this season and I was praying that tonight would be his night. But again he was well below par. His decision making was poor; running into defenders, taking too many touches. I’m not going to write him off just yet though. I think that would be unfair. I believe under a new manager next season (assuming LVG won’t be here) he will be given a new lease of life. You never know, maybe we’ll start seeing the Memphis of PSV.

I have singled out Memphis because he is the player I was most excited about when the season started and he is the player who, for me, has the most to prove with his price tag and reputation for scoring goals and giving defenders a nightmare.

The rest of the team cannot get off lightly. Tonight they were all equally as poor. They all worked together to lose this game and they should all take a good long look at themselves. They may not agree with the manager’s philosophy but to show no desire to win is unforgivable. Especially when fans have traveled hundreds of miles and spent hundreds of pounds on tickets, travel and most likely accommodation.

Now, although I openly criticise the players – and I must say this criticism applies not just to tonight’s game but for many, many others – the manager, Louis van Gaal does not help the situation. His “philosophy” on and off the pitch is completely lost on the players. We can all see it and I’m sure he can too. He should now do the decent thing and walk away. Because it sure as hell does not look as though the board are sacking him anytime soon.

An emotionless van Gaal looks detached from the game (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
An emotionless van Gaal looks detached from the game (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Next up for United is Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup and I will not be making the same mistake in thinking we should win comfortably. In fact, in thinking that we will win at all. Never before has my confidence in United been so low and it’s horrible.

I’ll be interested to hear how you guys are feeling right now. Are you just as fed up, frustrated and as disillusioned as I am? Or have you learned to accept such mediocrity and are now just waiting for it to be over so we can start afresh with a new manager and new philosophy? Please comment below.

Also, if you want to hear what Mark Goldbridge thought of the game, watch his match reaction right here, or by watching below.

Thanks for reading!

Sunderland 2-1 Man United | Match report

Sunderland pile more misery on United with a 2-1 win at the Stadium of Light.

United have had many games this season where they have under-performed and this was one of those games.

No one player was particularly poor. It was a team effort to lose that game. There was no focus, no concentration and no will to win.

The football was scrappy for the majority and the players didn’t look like they wanted it. It was disgusting to watch. Louis van Gaal will be pleased that this game was not being played at Old Trafford as you can bet your bottom dollar that the fans would have been booing him down the tunnel.

During the course of the game, United had approximately 8 attempts at goal in total. Comparing that to Sunderland, who had approximately 15, jut shows which team wanted the victory more.

Sunderland opened the scoring in the 3rd minute with a Khazri free kick bouncing through the United defence and trickling over the line in bottom far corner. David de Gea saw it late and couldn’t get to it. But you can’t blame him for the goal or even say he should of done better. When you have 20 bodies in front of you, you expect one of your team mates to get something on it.

Man United managed to get an equaliser late in the first half when Mata’s rebounded shot fell to Martial who delicately chipped the ball over the floored Sunderland keeper from a tight angle. Before the goal and the saved shot that came before it, United had only one shot at goal.

The second half saw Sunderland dominate the game, creating lots of chances and having several shots at goal. During this period United grew frustrated and careless, picking up a handful of bookings.

Sunderland took advantage of United’s lack of intent and went on to score the winner in the 82nd minute with a goal from new boy Kone, who got his head on the end of a Sunderland corner.

The loss means that United remain in 5th but could drop to 6th today if West Ham win away at Norwich. The gap could also increase on the top four with all of them in action on Sunday.

Premier League
United remain in 5th but could drop to 6th if West Ham win at Norwich

There isn’t really anything more to say that hasn’t been said already in terms of United’s performances and the current situation we find ourselves in. We just have to ride it out for the rest of the season and hope some personnel changes are made during the summer. I think you all know who I am referring to.

What did you make of the game? Are you fed up to the point where you no longer have any expectations and you are just going through the motions as a fan? Let us know in the comments below.

You can watch the United Stand match reaction by clicking here or watching below:

Man United 3-0 Stoke City

United score two rare first half goals in their 3-0 victory over Stoke City.

As United fans we have been treated to some fantastic football over the last few days with a 3-1 victory at Derby and tonight, a 3-0 victory against Stoke City. After the let down that was the January transfer window, United fans deserved something to be positive about and the game tonight provided just that.

United started the game at a quick tempo and created several chances in the opening minutes of the game. Rooney came close in just the 6th minute, forcing a diving save from Jack Butland but, it was academy graduate, Jesse Lingard, who opened the scoring in the 14th minute. The assist came from another academy graduate in Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. The 19-year old hit a drive low cross across the face of goal finding Lingard who finished with a low diving header to put United ahead.

Summer signing Anthony Martial also caused problems for Stoke with his predator-like runs, weaving gracefully past defenders leaving them dazed and confused. He came close to doubling United’s lead just a couple of minutes after Lingard’s opener after skipping past two Stoke defenders and powering a shot towards goal. It missed, but not by much.

Martial continued to give Stoke a hard time and in the 23rd minute doubled United’s lead with a spectacular goal. Rooney, on the right hand side of the pitch, spotted Martial unmarked out on the left just outside the box, so he played a square ball across to him. Martial controlled the ball, looked up, shaped himself and struck the ball with power curling over and around Jack Butland into the far corner of the net.

United were cruising and the crowd were loving it.

Jesse Lingard celebrates his goal against Stoke (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Jesse Lingard celebrates his goal against Stoke (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

Stoke City did, however, have a brief spell late in the first half where they had a few attempts at goal but United’s defence stood firm preventing Stoke from causing David de Gea any real problems.

The second half saw United come out looking for more as they continued to push forward searching for the third goal that would surely kill the game off and it only took 4 minutes. Only the goal was disallowed as Rooney was penalised for a push on Glen Johnson before rocketing the ball between Butland at his near post.

But that didn’t deter United. Three minutes later, Daley Blind played a ball into Mata, who turned and spotted Martial to his left. Mata played the ball out to Martial who struck a left foot cross across the face of goal finding Wayne Rooney who simply tapped the ball into the net. 3-0. Game over.

With United 3-0 up and the game won, Louis van Gaal gave some game time to Memphis, Herrera and Pereira. Memphis looked sharp, hungry and full of fight so hopefully we will see him regain some form in the not too distant future.

After the win, United remain in 5th, still 5 points behind 4th. Spurs’ win carries them up to 3rd as Arsenal slip to 4th after they only manage a draw against Southampton.

United remain in 5th but keep the pressure on the top four
United remain in 5th but keep the pressure on the top four

So United have had a good few days in terms of both performance and results. Are we about to see a turn in fortunes? Will United go on a run and power back in to the top four? Have your say below in the comments box. We would love to hear what people think.

Also, don’t miss The United Stand’s live match reaction with Mark Goldbridge. Watch by clicking here or watching below:

Man United Team Sheet

de Gea
Darmian
Smalling
Blind
Borthwick-Jackson
Fellaini Substituted for Herrera at 80′ minutes
Carrick
Lingard
Mata Substituted for Pereira at 88′ minutes
Martial Substituted for Depay at 79′ minutes
Rooney

Substitutes

Depay
Romero
Herrera
Schneiderlin
Varela
McNair
Pereira

Stoke City Team Sheet

Butland
Johnson
Wollscheid Substituted for Bardsley at 30’minutes
Muniesa
Pieters
Whelan
Afellay
Walters
Krkic Substituted for Ireland at 60’minutes
Arnautovic
Crouch

Substitutes

Bardsley
Ireland
Odemwingie
Joselu
Diouf
Shaqiri
Haugaard

Man United 0-1 Southampton | Match review

Man United slump to uninspired 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford against mid table Southampton.

After the 1-0 victory at Anfield last week many fans felt confident about today’s game at home to the Saints. It wasn’t a performance to write home about but, it was a victory, it was against Liverpool and it was at Anfield.

For many though, the confidence was shattered when the teams were announced and Marouane Fellaini’s name appeared in the starting XI.

For weeks, Fellaini has contributed very little to the squad and fans have been calling for him to be dropped. But with Schweinsteiger and Carrick injured, van Gaal may have felt he had no other option, preferring Herrera in the number 10 role.

As the first half progressed is was looking more and more like we were going to have to sit and watch another goalless draw. Nothing was happening in the final third. There was little movement and again we played the sideways passing that really gets on everyone’s nerves.

In the entire first half United only registered one shot on target and that was a 40 yard strike from Daley Blind that went straight at the Southampton keeper. There were approximately five or six attempts in total in the first half and they were all shots taken from outside the box in desperation, and none of them troubled the keeper.

At half time the crowd were lifted slightly. A cheer rang round the stadium as Juan Mata came on to replace Fellaini. The change seemed to be a positive one as United upped the tempo and began putting some pressure on Southampton, but without managing shot at goal, the positive change was short lived. An injury to Matteo Darmian meant a short break in play which took the sting out of United’s game. Southampton took advantage of this and brought the game to United.

The Saints created several chances and eventually got their winner late on in the 87th minute through debutant Charlie Austin who headed the ball past de Gea from a free kick that probably shouldn’t have been given.

The loss means that United remain in 5th but the gap between them and Spurs grows to five points.

United now trail Spurs by 5 points (Picture: BBC.co.uk)
United now trail Spurs by 5 points (Picture: BBC.co.uk)

The result has left many fans, including myself, fuming and calling for Louis van Gaal to be sacked. United have now only won to of their last ten league games and it cannot go on any longer. Something has to change and it has to change now.

Let us know how you feel after that game and what you think needs to change. Do you think the manager should be sacked now or do you still believe he can get us top 4 by the end of the season? Comment below.

Who is to blame for the poor performances and results?

  • Louis van Gaal (65%, 15 Votes)
  • The board (35%, 8 Votes)
  • The players (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 23

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Man United starting line up V Southampton (Picture: https://twitter.com/ManUtd)
Man United starting line up V Southampton (Picture: https://twitter.com/ManUtd)

Watch the United Stand match reaction here or below:

Liverpool 0-1 Man United | Match report

Wayne Rooney strikes again scoring the only goal of the game to sink the Scousers!

It wasn’t all smiles and laughter for United as in the first half Liverpool dominated and made it difficult for them to play; limiting them to just one attempt at goal.

Liverpool, on the other hand, had many attempts but lacked the quality to finish.

Their best chance came in the 30th minute when some intricate one touch passing fell to Henderson. The Liverpool captain hit a shot from an angle but dragged his shot wide.

Liverpool also came close to taking the lead earlier in the game. In the 10th minute Firmino hit a first time shot after collecting a loose ball but his shot went just past the post. David de Gea looked to have it covered.

The second half started much the same with Liverpool coming out on the front foot.

Early in the second half, Emre Can and Kolo Toure both had shots at goal saved by in-form United keeper David de Gea.

Man United appeared to be sleeping; not challenging loose balls and allowing Liverpool to win the first ball on most occasions.

The introduction of Juan Mata in the 66th minute saw the dynamics of the game change and United began to see more of the ball and start playing forward.

And in the 77th minute, Juan Mata played in a left-footed cross from the left onto the head of Fellaini. The Belgian’s header bounced off the crossbar and fell to Wayne Rooney who shaped up and smashed a volley into the roof of the net to put United ahead.

Wayne Rooney celebrates his winner at Liverpool (Picture: mirror.co.uk)
Wayne Rooney celebrates his winner at Liverpool (Picture: mirror.co.uk)

It would be fair to say that United didn’t deserve the win and it could be said that they were saved by the fact Liverpool were without a recognised striker on the pitch for the majority of the game.

Regardless, the win lifts United up into 5th in the league, 2 points behind 4th placed Spurs.

United move up to 5th after win at Liverpool (Picture: bbc.co.uk)
United move up to 5th after win at Liverpool (Picture: bbc.co.uk)

What did you think about the game? Do you think the win was deserved? Does it even matter if it was deserved? We would love to know your thoughts. Please, feel free to leave a comment below.

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

Liverpool Team Sheet

22 Mignolet
02 Clyne
04 K TourĂ© (Benteke – 81′)
17 Sakho
18 Moreno
14 Henderson
21 Lucas
23 Can
07 Milner (Caulker – 90′)
11 Firmino
20 Lallana (Ibe – 76′)

Substitutes

09 Benteke
19 Caulker
24 Allen
33 Ibe
44 Smith
52 Ward
53 J. Teixeira

Man United Team Sheet

01 de Gea
18 Young (Borthwick-Jackson – 42′)
12 Smalling Booked
17 Blind
36 Darmian
28 Schneiderlin
27 Fellaini
35 Lingard (Mata – 66′)
21 Herrera (Depay – 72′)
09 Martial
10 Rooney

Substitutes

07 Depay
08 Mata
20 Romero
30 Varela
33 McNair
43 Borthwick-Jackson
44 Pereira