Colin- United’s defense was actually pretty good, and would have done better with some help from everyone else.
Manchester United spent a lot of time dealing with their own mistakes in the first half. Giving the ball away time after time in midfield as they tried and failed to find a way forward, and the twitter horde eventually levelled their sights on the constantly under fire captain once again after United conceded in the 7th minute. In fact, Maguire and co weren’t having their worst games by miles, they just kept having to deal with the pressure of a midfield and forward line that turned the ball over and did nothing with possession.
Lindelof probably shouldn’t have been playing right back, and maybe that played a part in the confusion between Varane and Maguire in marking Joao Felix, but mostly it just allowed several chances in from the right hand side. Not to take away from a great delivery by Lodi, but he wouldn’t have had the chance if United could play out effectively after stopping chances.
Bonus Takeaway: (very annoying sports talk radio voice) Maybe lets play right backs at right back from now on, okay Ralf?
Crazy how a right back came on to play right back and things improved.
- The Result is all that matters
End of the day it’s a draw and United just need to win one match at home to move on. Cup football doesn’t need to be pretty, you just need to move on. Better to play like crap and get the result than play Middlesbrough off the park and be out of the FA Cup. Obviously if they play like that again in the second leg getting through will be rather difficult but just because they played poorly today doesn’t guarantee a poor performance in March. We’ve seen this team play like shit one day and play great the next and play great one day only to lay an egg the next enough times to know that from one match to the next, it simply doesn’t matter. Forget the performance, take the result, and move on.
- Paul Pogba
Ralf Rangnick needs to either play Paul Pogba as part of a pivot or play him on the left wing. I’m not sure why he keeps doubling down on this 4-3-3 that isn’t working for anyone. Not Pogba, not Bruno, no control of the match, and certainly not for the defense. Pogba in a pivot has it’s own problems but leaving that other midfielder isolated is just not working. If you want him further up the pitch, play him on the left with two midfielders behind him.
- Anthony Elanga should be your center forward
Simply put Elanga needs to start. You can put him in there over Marcus Rashford but you’re probably best off putting him at center forward. United had zero presence up top in this match as Ronaldo spent the whole match dropping deep in search of the ball. That would be ok if someone filled in his spot and gave the center backs something to think about - but no one does that because they know Ronaldo isn’t exactly going to play a ball to pick out their run.
Ronaldo’s desire to win the Champions League usually carries him in these matches but it was hard to be less relevant than he was today. By the second half United players were taking long looks at him standing wide open before opting to pass the ball elsewhere. Meanwhile Elanga stands on the shoulders of the centerbacks one time and immediately bags the equalizer. If you can play with 11 men rather than 10 that seems like it’d be a smart strategy.