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Brighton & Hove Albion vs Manchester United: The things you didn’t notice
Manchester United suffered the ignominy of losing to all the three promoted teams for the first time in the Premier League when they lost 1-0 to Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium last night. They had previously lost to new sides, Newcastle United and Huddersfield, both away from home.
The match went on to prove how many problems United are plagued with at the moment with Jose Mourinho and the United faithful not expecting such an abject display weeks before the FA Cup final against Chelsea.
The match against Brighton & Hove Albion was a chance for the squad players like Fellaini, Darmian, Mata and Rashford to prove their capability to Mourinho but it is safe to say all of them failed miserably. The only two players who looked in good touch were Pogba and De Gea while the rest of them were sub-par and resulted in United losing against a team which they should have breezed past.
Here at Arsedevils, we list out some things that you may have missed from the game
The one thing which was evident from arguably the most spineless performance of the season from United was the incompetency of the wing-backs. Darmian and Young were the starters for the night but they could not perform their job to perfection even once against a lowly Brighton & Hove Albion side.
Young is usually very adventurous down the left wing, considering that he started his career as a winger and has only recently been shifted to wing-back. But on this occasion, his attacking sense seemed to desert him as he hardly got forward and when he did, no one was ready to pass it to him. Darmian on the other hand, has been really poor even when he has been given chances and was caught napping for the Brighton goal.
The usual starter on the right, Valencia himself is not the best option and Mourinho has seemed to recognise this issue as there have been various reports linking United to a number of full-backs for next season. This lack of crossing ability denies service to the forwards and is a major contributor to the lack of goals.
United have had their busiest season in years, considering that they have played at the top level in four different competitions, namely the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup. While it can be argued that all teams face this predicament but a part of the reason teams have such large squads is to last the entire season.
Players like Matic, De Gea, Pogba, Young and Smalling have started nearly every game for the past 6 months and that was clearly showing on the field as they just could not carry themselves through. Mourinho has a bit of a handicapped situation in case of Matic as he is the only good defensive midfielder at his disposal currently and he has not had a rest the whole season, playing even in the FA and League Cup games.
Considering that the season has virtually ended and the only thing to realistically look forward to is the FA Cup final, Mourinho should rest his key players and give a run-out to the youngsters of the team. This will act as an audition for the next as well as help the senior players get through the season uninjured.
While it may be easy to state that Mourinho should start his squad players for the remaining games, the question arises- are those players good enough to start and win games without the presence of the big guns? At present, the answer to that is a strict no.
These games are virtually do-or-die games for squad players like Fellaini, Mata and Rashford. But all of them failed miserably. Rashford at one point failed to spot a free Anthony Martial in the middle of the box which could have led to United taking the lead. Mourinho was visibly upset at that lack of decision-making and for sure must have given the youngster a dressing down at half-time. Mata failed to asset himself on the right wing while Fellaini, as usual could not control the midfield with his sloppy passing.
The post-match ratings of most United players against Brighton Hove Albion were below par on the night but these players need to really up their focus and help out their manager and not give him even more headaches. Their performances from here until the end of the season will define their futures at the club.
Ah, the curious case of Eric Bailly. Undoubtedly United’s best defender at the moment is the enigmatic Eric Bailly. The Ivorian has made his absence felt as United defenders struggle to contain average forwards at best while successfully closing out the big ones.
Bailly has not featured for United since the memorable victory against Liverpool, where he scored an own goal. But despite that, there is no argument that he is the best centre-back at present. His decision-making coupled with his pace and reading of the game reminds fans of Vidic. There is a certain sense of calm when Bailly is on the teamsheet, wherein you stop worrying whether or not United will concede a goal.
A couple of games in the next week will have him in perfect shape for the FA Cup final against Chelsea and if United harbour any chances of winning, the presence of that man at the back will be the key.