Wednesday’s Matchday 1 saw Manchester United return to the Champions League in an emphatic fashion as they beat Swiss side Young Boys 3-0. A convincing win eases some pressure on José Mourinho, who has had a rocky start to the season. A brace from Paul Pogba and an Anthony Martial strike gave United an easy win. Here are 3 things we learned from United’s midweek trip to Switzerland:
1. Captain Pogba.
Paul Pogba had an incredible game on Wednesday night. A brace coupled with a sublime assist to Anthony Martial capped off a wonderful evening for the Frenchman personally, who was again trusted with the captain’s armband by Mourinho. Pogba’s first goal was a sublime top corner finish and he followed it with an unusual spot-kick.
His penalty taking technique makes an average fan really nervous, but having missed one against Burnley, he stuck to his stuttering run up and made no mistake this time. The 25-year-old then capped off a wonderful evening with an assist for Martial in a brilliantly worked counter attacking move.
2. Fine Debut by Diogo Dalot.
Portuguese teenager Diogo Dalot, signed from Porto in the summer, made an impressive debut against Young Boys. United fans have to be careful not get carried away though, primarily because Dalot has played only a handful of senior games and still needs time to adapt to the workings of a top team.
Fans would still remember Matteo Darmian’s debut which led to United fans going crazy over his performance, the result is right in front of us. What also appealed to United fans was the sight of watching Dalot and Luke Shaw bombing down the flanks. They have long been suffering watching Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia, two makeshift full backs, awkwardly crossing the ball and doing step-overs to no effect. Dalot looks technically excellent with good pace to burn and could be a great player in the near future.
3. Paper Thin Midfield
United’s three wins on the bounce has certainly added a feel good factor around Old Trafford, but it shouldn’t mislead the fans into believing the club can go all the way in the Champions League, because let’s be honest, the quarter-finals are as far as they will get. The primary reason for United underachieving would be its paper thin midfield.
Teams like Brighton and Watford have pierced through Mourinho’s midfield with relative ease, imagine the likes of Luka Modric, Busquets, Pjanic and Marco Veratti with their vision and passing ability. United’s midfield would be given a proper spanking if issues aren’t addressed ASAP. For starters. Nemanja Matic has all the weaknesses of Micheal Carrick and none of his strengths. Matic lacks Carrick’s passing, and his ability to read the game is also not at the level of the Geordie.
Having said the above things, United still are on a really good run. Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba, David De Gea all look to be hitting top form. But for United to string together a run of impressive results, players like Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford and Nemanja Matic have to step up. Topping the Champions League group and closing the gap at the top of the Premier League table would be on the agenda of the team.