Not My Pogba Replacement
I recently wrote an article about how Marouane Fellaini has turned into a game changer at United, and I think he has, but he’s not a starter. On top of that, he is no replacement for the injured Paul Pogba. Pogba is a threat in the midfield that Fellaini will never be and it was noticed today. When United got into the final third, the usual threats we are used to seeing and loving were stifled because of Pogba’s absence. Fellaini tried his best, but he was not suited for the role.
Pogba and Mkhitaryan have been great together through the middle and have developed a good partnership. The attacking spine United has in Pogba, Mkhitaryan, and Lukaku is something defenses quiver at. Fellaini, on the other hand, has had his moments of triumph, but cannot be relied on like Pogba can. Pogba is quick, full of finesse, and technical, while Fellaini is awkward, slow, and still a liability. Pogba was gone, and it was noticeable.
Lucky Number 7
Antonio Valencia has all but sealed up the “Goal of the Year” award for Manchester United with his unbelievable strike just minutes into the game. More than just an unbelievable strike, however, this goal made Valencia United’s seventh different goal scorer this season. Something that United lacked last season was a diverse range of people who could score on any given day. Our personnel has not changed much, but their experience and confidence has. Just five games into the season, we have already had seven goal scorers in the books, and most of them have scored multiple times. It is nice to see that United’s 16 goal total is spread among many players rather than just one.
Ashley Young started the game at left-back after having an incredible game at right-back against Basel. However, his left-back appearance today was not as incredible. I will give him some credit, he worked really hard. He was up and down the pitch all game and did create a lot of width that spread out Everton’s back line, but the list of positives may end here.
Young was mediocre both in the attack and the defense. Young would press up high to attack, but not really do anything with the ball. On top of that, because he pushed so high up the pitch, he left a lot of room for Everton to create plays behind him and left him needing to play catch up. Young may be a great option for right back to relieve Valencia every once in a while, but this just showed how badly United need Luke Shaw back in the lineup.
Man of the Matić
Nemanja Matić has yet again had an incredible day in a United shirt. He was superb both defensively and offensively. On the defensive side, he spent the majority of the day breaking up attacks and regaining possession for United. For the offensive side, he was able to handle some of Pogba’s creative responsibility, assisting the Valencia goal and further setting up the Lukaku goal. Matić has been revolutionary for the Reds. He has been able to fill all the holes that United needed him to. Some doubted Matić’s ability to thrive at United, but he is back in full form under Mourinho, obtaining Man of the Match honors twice already.
The Final Fifteen
Manchester United is a goal scoring machine this season scoring 16 goals in the league thus far. Nine of the 16 goals, however, have come in the final 15 minutes of the game. Putting games away like this was something that United struggled with last season. Many of the woeful draws at home were due to United not being able finish games off like this. This change might be due to the new mentality at United, where simply winning games is not enough. Last season a 1-0 win at home would have been praised, but Mourinho’s side is not looking to win, but looking to destroy, and everyone is loving it.
Seeing a high flying United squad that is scoring goals and keeping clean sheets is something most United fans have been waiting a long time for. The post-Fergie era has been rough, but days like today show we’re moving in the right direction.