By Harry Ogilvie
- Manchester United draw for the eleventh time in the Premier League
- Eight of draws have come at Old Trafford
After the international break which seen several United stars in action, they faced a tough West Brom side sitting 8th in the league under a defensively stubborn manager- Tony Pulis.
United’s last game before the break was Middlesbrough which saw them defeat the North East team 3-1 with goals from Fellaini, Lingard and Valencia. All three goal scorers started against West Brom in what turned out to be a very gutless 0-0 draw.
This match was reminiscent of several games at Old Trafford this season which has seen them draw 8 out of 15 home games in the league. Several of those draws have come against mid table and bottom half of the table teams including Stoke, Burnley, Hull and Bournemouth.
However, it was clear from the off that West Brom (like many of these other sides we’ve drawn against) were here to park the bus and occasionally try to break us down on the counter attack.
This was no excuse as despite numerous notable absentees, there was still enough quality in the side to breakdown an ageing West Brom back-line.
United Lacking Creativity
United’s starting XI was strong and pacey, however, they did not play that way. At times in the match, there was a major lack of pace even though the likes Martial, Rashford, Mkhitaryan and Lingard were on the pitch.
The more creative players were not on their game and were shut down very quickly and effectively by the Baggies midfield.
This made United look as though they had run out of ideas, leading to many passes going astray and at times leading United to pumping long balls up to Fellaini with little success.
Mike Dean also made the game very difficult to enjoy with his constant stoppages and blowing his whistle for endless amounts of minor fouls that could easily have been let go.
The game also lacked fluidity due to the entire West Brom team taking every opportunity to time waste and frustrate United.
Mike Dean who has been criticised plenty this season and even demoted at one point looked to leave Pulis’ men to waste as much time as they liked without even providing the sufficient amount of added time at the end of the match.
Bailly And Rojo Among Few Standout Performances
It was not all negative for United as there was a few impressive performances through the team, mainly in defence. Eric Bailly despite looking shaky at times this season was back to his aggressive best alongside Marcos Rojo who also put in a strong performance.
The Argentine centre-half has been solid for Mourinho this season and consistently tenacious in every game he’s played despite facing criticism from pundits and other rival fans for his tackling at times.
Michael Carrick although playing a few wayward passes was constantly trying to find the killer ball into attacking players feet, however it was with little success. United were really lacking invention and needed intensity which no doubt would have been provided from the likes of Herrera or even Fosu-Mensah.
It was evident United were missing Ibrahimović, Herrera and Pogba. All three were key to their sides victory over WBA earlier in the season at the Hawthorns. Mourinho’s side won that game 2-0, with Ibrahimović bagging a brace.
He was exceptional along with Pogba playing his beautiful creative passes and Herrera with his brilliant endless pressing, not giving the Baggies midfield a moment’s peace.
There was also a lack of changes with only one United substitution in the full 90 minutes, which seen Rooney replace Mkhitaryan who was fairly disappointing.
Jose may have avoided making anymore substitutes due to the bench consisting of only defenders and inexperienced youngsters like Willock and Fosu-Mensah. Does this go to show Mourinho lacks trust in youth?
There still should be no excuse for yet another poor home result with Mourinho fielding a strong starting XI which featured many regular first-team players.
The Manager’s View
Mourinho was disappointed to say the least and showed his disgust when asked about both sides cancelling each other out and the game being evenly balanced.
He responded to the reporter by saying “one team crossed the halfway line once in 90 minutes and the other is for 90 minutes with the ball in the other half trying and trying and trying. And you are telling me one team cancelled the other one and each other.”
This shows his frustration and how he’s hurting at his teams inability to break a stubborn midlands defence consisting of Allan Nyom, former United player- Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley and Craig Dawson.
He also continued to voice his frustration when describing West Brom’s lack of attacking activity, the Portuguese said “De Gea was sleeping. One team had the ball, one team didn’t. One team tried to win, the other tried to draw.”
Fellaini echoed the feeling of frustration when he said “Maybe we do prefer to play away from home, because teams actually try and attack at their ground.”
Manchester United were disappointing again and lacked the quality to breakdown West Brom, but this result should be taken with a pinch of salt as Mourinho requires time to get rid of the players he feels aren’t good enough and bring in his own brand of signings.
This result definitely damages United’s top four hopes but being the eternal optimist I am, I still believe it is possible for them to sneak into fourth and hopefully go all the way in the Europa League.
We face Everton on Tuesday who will be without a couple of key players and United will have quite a few players coming back which will definitely benefit the team. Onwards and upwards for United after what was a poor home performance.
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