Sunday, April 05, 2015

"Review on Manchester United performance V/S Aston Villa 3-1, 05 April 2015”

"Football is an incredible game. Sometimes it's so incredible, it's unbelievable." Tom Landry.

After a week of International football, finally it’s matchday for EPL. And today, Manchester United is hosting Aston Villa at Old Trafford (The theatre’s of dream), Manchester.

United Starting XI: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Blind, Carrick, Herrera, Mata, Fellaini, Young, Rooney.

United subs: Valdes, Rafael, McNair, A Pereira, Januzaj, Di Maria, Falcao.

Villa Starting XI: Guzan, Hutton, Okore, Clark, Lowton, Delph, Sanchez, N’Zogbia, Weimann, Agbonlahor, Benteke.

Villa subs: Given, Vlaar, Bacuna, Cole, Gil, Baker, Grealish.

The first half performance from Manchester United seemed like the reminiscent of old Manchester United style of playing recorded in video clips which are available on YouTube. 6-7 months ago, we were complaining the lack of penetration from this current team. And today, there is no complain except the players didn’t finish the chances they created. It is a huge turn around for Van Gaal philosophy and is starting to click every the team has the ball. Herrera is a gem and United is lucky to have him. Scoring the opening goal (1-0) in the 42nd minutes was the result of relentless attacks with pace. I thought Rooney was clearly fouled in the 4th minute. But it seems Rooney did not do enough to hold on his feet. 

In the second half, the players seems exhausted unlike the first half vibrancy. No doubt, most of the players starting the match just returned back from their respective International duty. Fellaini clearly look exhausted. In fact, he played two competitive international matches for his country. Despite the fatigue, Fellaini gave a decent performance and I'm sure he will in the starting eleven for the upcoming matches. He just need a few days of rest to recover from the fatigue. Quiet rightly, he was substituted in the 77th minutes of the match with Falcao. Unfortunately Falcao did not have enough game time to score and add in his goal tally for this season.

Although, the team still have majority of the ball possession in 2nd half, the pace of the game slowed down with couple of errors offering an opportunity to Villa’s frontline attack. The supporters ‘uh’ and ‘no’ expression were in unison when the some of the player make back passes to De Gea. It implies the supporters only want to see attacking football match minus back passes. However, slowing down the tempo was necessary for Manchester United in order to control the match. Rooney scored the second goal and it was just magical. The way he control of the ball which assisted by Maria from the width play was simply phenomenon. And then, the half volley shot into the net in 78th minutes proved that Sir Alex Ferguson was right in saying, “Rooney will always get you a goal.” Making the score line 2-0 was a key moment for United to maintain the lead. 

Lo! 60 seconds later, Villa’s Benteke scored from a corner kick ball making the score 2-1. Rooney intensity throughout the match justified Van Gaal decision to appoint him as captain. I really doubt if England will produce a player of his talent again in the future or even now.

In the defending unit consisting of Valencia, Jones, Rojo and Blind supported the team in attacking and effectively able to return to their respective base on time. Jones performance was good but he will always be prone to injury with his style of playing. I thought he need to be more technical than to be physical. If he wants to play every week for United, he need to start looking at the video clips of Paolo Maldini. Rojo should be fine; he will be good with any partner and he has the strength and the character. His attempt in the first half produced a good saves from Villa’s goalkeeper Guzan.

Blind seemed like a home grown player of United although he is product of Ajax academy. His versatility in any position is always an advantage and he links well with Ashley effortlessly. He was always a threat for the Villa’s defender as his crosses from the width area hardly missed the penalty area. Valencia performance was good except his delivery were not up to the mark. Anyway, we now know why Van Gaal prefers to start Valencia rather than Rafael. I think it is his consistency, stamina and the ability to overrun opponent full back. 

Since the beginning of the season, David De Gea have been winning match after match singlehandedly for United. Unfortunately, he committed a mistake misjudging Villa’s Benteke strike. Obviously, every best goalkeeper are not perfect and they also make mistake. The good thing about De Gea is that he doesn't let himself defined by the error committed. Instead, he will come back even more stronger. Mata, Carrick, Fellaini and Mata, dictates the flow of United’s attacks and all these four were very efficient with their passing. Although Carrick mistimed a couple of pass but his calm demeanor in the field was very important. 

Ashley Young has been very reliable from the left flank every time he starts in a match. The 2nd half substitution of Young in the 70th minutes for Angel Di Maria has nothing to do with his performance. He played very well and nearly scored a goal missing the net by a yard. If not for the injury, he is up there with the likes of Hazard, Costa, De Gea and Kane who are vying for the PFA player of the season. Van Gaal was right to substitute him in the second half and the upcoming match against Manchester City played a role with the substitution. 

Mata and Herrera are like yin and yang. They have a very good understanding of their positions as well as their vision of play. Herrera was the stand-out performer of the match. His impromptu tricks and the ability to find space are admirable throughout the match. He hardly loses the ball although his physical structure is nowhere near to Fellaini. The goal from him in the 92 minutes bolted the three points for Manchester United. The final score line of 3-1 is convincing. Without any doubt, the man of the match goes to Ander Herrera for his two goals and for the solid performance throughout the match.

Tactical wise, the formation for 4-2-3-1 is providing positive results for the team and the players were able able to speed up the tempo of the match. All it need is a consistency from the players, and I'm sure United can easily qualify for the Champions league. Of course, Van Gaal experience is vital and the substitution of Fellaini and Ashley Young demonstrated his acumen in managing in-form players.

Overall, I’m giving 3 and half stars out of five for the team performance. The upcoming match for Manchester United is on 12 April 2015 against Manchester City (Derby match) in Old Trafford, Manchester. The match will start at 8:30 PM (IST).

Thank you. Have a good night!

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