Jose Mourinho’s side failed to bounce back from their last weekend’s Derby defeat, as they lost tonight in what was their first Europa League match of the season.
The Red Devils put in a sluggish performance on Thursday night, and failed to beat Feyenoord despite retaining more possession.
Mourinho was hoping for his side to bounce back from last weekend’s Derby defeat, but the Red Devils ended up making it two losses in a row.
The Special One made eight changes to the side which started against Manchester City, retaining only Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, and David De Gea.
Marcus Rashford started upfront in what looked to be a 4-3-3 formation, as opposed to Jose Mourinho’s usual 4-2-3-1 choice.
Anthony Martial and Juan Mata started alongside Marcus Rashford in Manchester United’s front three, with Paul Pogba, Morgan Schneiderlin, and Ander Herrera starting in midfield. United’s back four comprised of Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian, and Marcos Rojo.
Rojo did a decent job in for most of the match, although he was caught out on a few occasions. But with more game time, we can expect him to make a good replacement in the absence of Luke Shaw.
Tonny Vilhena’s 79th-minute goal secured the three points for Feyenoord and ensured that Manchester United left Holland empty handed.
United lacked their normal attacking spirit, and seemed a little off throughout the whole match, although arguments can be made as most of the players didn’t have any game time prior to the match.
United’s sluggish and boring play prompted Jose Mourinho to use all his substitutes in one go. The Special One subbed on Zlatan Ibrahimović, Ashley Young, and Memphis Depay during the 63rd minute to completely change United’s front three, but there wasn’t enough time for them to pull in a goal.
Zlatan came close on a few occasions, one being a free-kick in the 90th minute, as many United fans watched, hoping for the club to recreate Real Madrid’s late comeback against Sporting CP the previous night.
Here are four things were learned from Thursday’s match:
- Jose Mourinho is still at work
The Special One was highly anticipated to take Manchester United to the top, but it is clear that the manager will still need some time to fine-tune his tactics.
Manchester United made four major signings this summer, spending a total of £150 million. It’s definitely going to take some time to integrate all the members into the squad at once.
Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimović are two players who have managed to find their place in the squad. The Red Devils even look vulnerable in attack without Zlatan.
However, the midfield is still one area in which Mourinho has to focus. The difficulty comes in as the whole midfield selection is saturated with world-class players, who are all willing to prove their worth to Mourinho.
The gaffer started tonight’s match with eight changes from his previous starting eleven. This could have been the reason behind United’s defeat, as all the players should have prepared properly prior to the match.
Mourinho confirmed in the post-match interview that many of the regulars will be available for selection next time out against Watford, including Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw.
- United need support in the attack
Marcus Rashford started the match as a striker, but failed to score a goal, despite being in a fine run of form prior to the match. He was constantly losing possession and finding himself running back to midfield to get the ball.
United’s midfield should move with the attack and support the striker. Rashford was seen yelling at teammates during the match after he found himself alone past the halfway line. Of course, Mourinho shoved him up there as a lone striker, but he still needs the support of his teammates.
Rashford was one of three players who came off in the 63rd minute as Mourinho reshaped his front three, but Zlatan was the only one in the front three who had got a few games under his belt.
Memphis Depay and Ashley Young still looked a bit shaky as the match went on, and maybe it would have helped in they started the match.
- Pogba should be re-positioned
Manchester United’s record summer signing, Paul Pogba, has been subject to criticism from many fans after the £89 million man has failed to make any significant impact on the Manchester United squad.
However, it could all be played down to Jose Mourinho’s formation choice, which at the moment looks to be a 4-2-3-1, with Pogba playing right in front of the back four – restricting him to mainly defensive duties.
But, that’s not a position that brings out the best of Pogba. During his time at Juventus, Pogba played in central midfield and could be properly labelled as a box-to-box midfield. The 23-year-old was also seen to favor the left-hand side of midfield.
At Juventus, whether the formation was 3-5-2 or a 4-3-1-2, Pogba would always feature in the center of the pitch, allowing him to aid in both attack and defense, hence the term box-to-box.
Maybe Mourinho is just easing the Frenchman into the Manchester United midfield, or maybe he is looking to completely change Pogba’s position. Only the Special One knows.
- Giovanni looks comfortable
All the credit tonight goes to Feyenoord, who stood their ground and managed to get one past the United defense.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Feyenoord’s manager, will be as proud of his team as the fans are of him.
After retiring in 2010, Giovanni spent six years with Feyenoord, learning his skills as a manager, before finally take up the job last year. He worked under both Ronald Koeman and Fred Rutten, and looks to have a bright future in his coaching career.
Last season, Feyenoord finished third in the league, and Giovanni will be hoping to improve upon that performance.
Beating Manchester United will certainly bring a lot of joy and hope to the whole Feyenoord squad. They will be hoping to go far in the Europa League, and possibly win the Dutch league this year.
Giovanni’s classic 4-3-3 formation against Manchester United proved to be effective, as the team managed to contain attacks from the Red Devils. It also allowed the attackers to make a quick breakthrough, to punish Manchester United for their defensive instability.