Trambak Bhattacherjee- Safe gameplay for the win!
It was not a spectacular match but United did their bit correctly to snatch the first win from this season's Europa League. It was evident from the gameplay that Erik Ten Hag told his men, "Look, you don't have to go extensively in the attack, just do your stuff and be compact in defence."
Being a Cristiano Ronaldo fantic, I'm happy that he is finally off the mark (Phew!) and hope that he will probably get more playing time along with the goals in Premier League now that he's off the hoodoo.
Liked the way how Erik Teh Hag found his mistake from the first half during Half-Time, Sheriff guessed it right by cutting out effectively the passing lanes knowing that a 'Premier League team' rarely have the patience to recede and build again. But certainly, United had more than enough quality in the ranks to fetch the two goals.
Some may say, United were lack-lustre in attack but it was how the gameplan was set without stressing the players too much and getting the result from the Moldovan Giants who won 2-1 last season against Real Madrid (so does that mean we're better than Real now?)
Pauly Kwestel: United take care of business
There’s not much to ever learn from a Europa League group stage match. You’re typically facing significantly lower level opposition with a somewhat rotated side, and if you’re away from home you’re usually dealing with difficult travel and an even more rotated side.
United played their strongest XI Thursday with the only change being Cristiano Ronaldo coming in for the injured Marcus Rashford. That being the case their performance ranged from adequate to mildly concerning. At the end of the day, United went on the road and came away with three points. Given they’ve now had two Premier League matches postponed, winning the group and avoiding the extra playoff round in the knockout stages has taken on significant importance. Job done on that front.
FC Sheriff gave United problems for 10 minutes but after a half hour they seemingly packed it up and had no more interest in playing a football match. The second half was a glorified training exercise.
The only thing was, for the second straight Europa League match, United didn’t do much either. In the first half they generated only two really good chances, scoring on one of them and benefitting from some poor defending to gift them a penalty. In the second half, against a team that was not trying they didn’t do anything. Perhaps that was a tactical decision from Erik Ten Hag to just have the team pass the ball around and kill off 45 minutes, though when you’re playing just your second match in 11 days with no match on the weekend against a team that’s very much not trying in a competition where goal differential could become important, that would definitely be a curious decision.
For the second Europa League match in a row United looked like they were trying to incorporate more of Ten Hag’s style into their play. For the first time this season United made it a point to build out from the back on goal kicks in a game without Harry Maguire. Though what they were trying to actually do from said goal kicks was impossible to know given the horrible camera angle that didn’t allow us to see where anyone other than the defenders were positioned.
Christian Eriksen is pulling the strings beautifully in midfield as United’s first team are starting to settle in. You can see new qualities and tendencies in certain players that weren’t there before, but it’ll be impossible to even have an idea of what this team is capable of until we see Anthony Martial starting as the number 9.
As Ten Hag has mentioned seemingly after every game, there are still many things United need to work on. They’re nowhere close to where they want to be and there are still many things to be concerned about. But it’s still only September, they’ve got plenty of time ahead of them (though not much of that will be on the training pitch). Right now they’re taking care of business and that’s all you can ask for.