Manchester United were beaten 2-1 in the Uefa Super Cup in Skopje as Spanish and European champions Real Madrid retained the trophy they won last season.
Goals from Casemeiro and Isco set Real Madrid on their, with Romelu Lukaku’s goal only proving a consolation.
Here are five things Manchester United need to sort out…and quickly
1. Jose Mourinho’s pragmatism will stifle Manchester United in Europe. Manchester United’s second half display
leaves you wondering…why did they sit back in the first half? The answer is simple. The manager asked them to. Tonight’s game should give Mourinho an insight into what he’s up against in the Uefa Champions League, having qualified by winning the Europa League. Barcelona, PSG, Juventus, Monaco, Athletico Madrid and Bayern Munich. You can’t sit back against these teams and expect to get results. Didn’t they tell him it’s not always about results in the short term when he studied for his badges? To win the Champions League you need a near perfect balance of defensive solidity, creativity and a killer instinct. Manchester United are far from espousing these traits. Why? Lend me a long finger and I’ll point it at the Special one.
2. Marcus Rashford would have to move from Manchester United if he wants to develop into the striker he’s meant to be. For starters he should be playing as a central striker and not on the flanks. 8 goals in 18 appearance in his debut season brought an air of optimism to Old Trafford. 53 apperances in his second season brought a paltry 11 goals. The reason was simple- Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The signing of the Swede meant that the young Englishman had to make do with a spot down the flanks. Marcus Rashford should be playing as a central striker and not out wide. He’s strong,has pace and if his first season is anything to go by he’s as good a finisher as any world class striker his age you can find. I look at him and i see Louis Saha, without the injuries of course. That’s to say that the signing of Lukaku was just as unnecessary as Zlatan’s. I believe he earned that spot with his performance in his debut season. He emerged late in the season but in my opinion he did more than enough to warrant that position. He thrives there and should have been trusted. Sadly its becoming a case of another young English player who will not get anywhere close to his potential because his manager is a pragmatist who prioritises result over the development of bright young players. What’s the figure on his release clause?
3. Nemanja Matic will be crucial for Manchester United this season. Arguably Manchester United’s best player tonight. He’s almost like Fellaini,without the wig of course, and better football brain. United fans can be optimistic.
4. Chris Smalling risks being left on the bench if he doesn’t up his game. I don’t remember I saw a solid display from Smalling. Given the level of competition for his position he might find himself on a rather comfortable seating on the sidelines or worse,in his living room watching his teammates on TV if he doesn’t up his game. He’s jittery and his lack of positional sense is akin to Usain Bolt’s position in his final 100m race. Time is running out for the English man. With options like Bailey,Rojo,Jones and Lindelof this could turn out to be a Tom Cruise epic-Mission impossible.
5. Pogbà must do more defensively to make himself indispensable. You sometimes wonder if at £89 million pounds Paul Pogbà was bought to gallop or sprint. In the most dangerous of tactical situations for Manchester United his nonchalance can annoy you to the point of breaking your TV. I hear he’s creative. I’m yet to really see it. Juan Mata is also creative. So is Henrikh Mkitaryan. I believe Mourinho sold Mata at Chelsea because in his view the Spaniard contributed nothing defensively. Everybody is fungible. And if Pogbà doesn’t step up and do some defending when need be he may well become an epitome of that phrase.
And what’s with all that height? It’s a football team for crying out loud not an NBA franchise. Research has shown that diminutive players have creative genes. Let me agree with you that the research (which I’m not has happened anyway) is flawed, there’s Xavi,Iniesta,Messi…ok those are all Barca players. How about David Silva and Sebastian Giovinco and Paul Scholes?…Yes The ginger Prince!
Get some short boys in the team. They can be exciting to watch.
The writer is the Head of Sports at Focus 1 Media
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