Manchester United faced Watford today in their fifth Premier League match of the season, losing 3-1 to the hosts.
Goals from Etienne Capoue, Juan Zuniga, and Troy Deeney secured Watford the three points this afternoon.
United’s young starlet, Marcus Rashford, managed to get on the scoresheet, but the Red Devils failed to make much of an impact throughout the game.
This afternoon’s defeat was Mourinho’s third successive loss as a Manchester United manager. United lost at home to City, away to Feyenoord, and today at Watford – three losses in eight days.
Manchester United started the game with hopes of continuing their fine start to the season. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, and Zlatan Ibrahimović all started the match. United’s record signing, Paul Pogba, partnered alongside Marouane Fellaini in front of the defensive back four, which comprised of Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, and Chris Smalling.
Watford opened the scoring in the 34th minute after Etienne Capoue slotted the ball past De Gea. The scoreline remained in favor of Watford until the 62nd minute, when Marcus Rashford capitalized on a mistake by the Watford defense.
Rashford’s goal was widely celebrated by the United fans, who saw it as the beginning of a comeback from their team. However, Watford’s Zuniga scored in the 83rd minute to smash any hopes of a comeback.
Watford’s three points were later sealed in the 95th minute, after Troy Deeney converted from the spot.
Here are five things we learnt from United’s loss to Watford, this afternoon:
- Manchester United need tightening at the back
Manchester United looked terrible in defense this afternoon. Chris Smalling made his first Premier League appearance of the season. He started alongside Eric Bailly, who seems to have already become a fan favorite among the Old Trafford crowd. However, they couldn’t manage to contain the Watford attackers this afternoon.
David De Gea, who has been legendarily reliable for Manchester United during recent seasons, today looked off form.
He collided with Chris Smalling, giving the opposition a chance to find the net, but Ighalo failed to capitalize. De Gea can also be criticized for the manner in which he attempted to save Etienne Capoue’s shot.
De Gea bizarrely led with his feet as he attempted to block Etienne’s shot, which resulted in the first goal of the match.
And from first impressions, Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling don’t seem to partner well at all, and it seems that the Ivorian would be better off if paired up with Daley Blind.
Jose Mourinho is believed to be interested in rebuffing his defensive line-up during the winter transfer window, with Jose Fonte and Fabinho his prime targets.
- United need to re-think their midfield options
Manchester United spent over £100 million on their midfield this summer, but it seems as though it wasn’t money well spent.
Paul Pogba cost Manchester United a record £89 million, but the French International looks like he still needs to find his place in the United midfield.
Jose Mourinho has been starting Pogba in a defensive midfield position, usually alongside Marouane Fellaini. However, it is clear that Pogba needs some time to adapt to the position, or maybe he has to be repositioned altogether.
Former Manchester United midfielder, Paul Scholes, spoke after Manchester United’s Europa league defeat in Holland. He stated that Jose Mourinho should partner Pogba with a ‘controlling midfielder’ such as Michael Carrick.
Scholes also went on to say that United could consider buying Pogba’s former midfield partner, Claudio Marchisio, during the winter.
As for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the Armenian has shown plenty of promise, but his progress has been stunted by an abdominal injury.
- Marcus Rashford is proving to be crucial
Marcus Rashford broke on the scenes last year, and has shown plenty of promise as a Manchester United striker ever since.
He has already scored two goals for United this season, and he also bagged a hat-trick during his England U-21 International debut. He managed to get on the score-sheet today, but it was not enough to salvage United any points this afternoon.
The 18-year-old looks on course to become a prolific goal-scorer, but at the moment, it is important not to lay too much pressure on him.
He looks better than Anthony Martial currently, who was subbed off early today after he suffered a knock to the head.
At the moment, it looks like Rashford will nail down a starting spot in the Manchester United squad.
- Watford are looking dangerous
Many Manchester United fans were expecting this match to be an easy win for United, but Watford were eager to pull one over the Red Devils.
Watford’s summer signing Etienne Capoue could prove to be one of the bargains of the summer, after the midfielder took his season’s goal tally to four.
He has equaled Zlatan’s goal tally this season, and all from a midfield position.
Watford currently sit 9th in the Premier League table, with 7 points in total. This afternoon’s win was their second of the season.
- Wayne Rooney’s role needs to be re-thought
When Jose Mourinho was announced as Manchester United’s manager, he made it clear that he wouldn’t limit Wayne Rooney to a midfield role. However, the United’s skipper is constantly being played in an attacking midfield position.
Many United fans are calling for Jose Mourinho to drop Rooney, and instead try one of Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the attacking midfield role.
Wayne Rooney has only scored one goal in his five Premier League appearances this season. But, it isn’t only this season’s performance which is angering the United fans.
Ever since the 2012-13 season (Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge of Manchester United), Wayne Rooney’s form has been on a constant downward trajectory. He suffered an injury that season which gave Robin Van Persie a chance to step up to United’s striker role.
And throughout the years, fans and pundits have been eager to see Wayne Rooney rediscover his form.
However, the Manchester United and England skipper is now 30 years old, which could mean that there is no time left for him.
Jose Mourinho needs to reconsider Wayne Rooney’s position in the current United squad.