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.
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.
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: