Wednesday, 25 November 2015

United's tactics again lack clarity in European stalemate

The sight of Chris Smalling as United's playmaker- driving out from the back to ping  60 yard passes into the channel to be chased said it all about the tactical set-up on Wednesday.

Mike was man of the match for another rock solid showing at centre-half and although his distribution has improved tenfold, he surely should not be relied upon to make things happen going forward. 

Especially not with a world class playmaker and number 10 on the bench in Juan Mata. 

Make no mistake, PSV deserved credit for a disciplined, well-drilled defensive showing but we simply did not stretch them enough and only when Ashley Young came on did our crossing into the box begin to look even remotely threatening.

Even then, Young again ended the game at right-back when Juan Mata came on (with only seven minutes to go- really??) but, after a bright start to the match, we seemed to run out of ideas and in the end PSV comfortably held on for their draw.

Quite why Mata was dropped for this match I'm not sure- granted he did not have his best game at Watford at the weekend but neither did his performance merit a demotion to the bench.

Mata's presence in the side against PSV may not, of course, have guaranteed the win but it would surely have given us that creative spark we needed and provided that touch of magic required to unlock the visitors stubborn rearguard.

Captain Wayne Rooney started in Mata's number 10 position before dropping into midfield- eventually reverting virtually to left back- with substitute Marouane Fellaini again thrust up front as LVG's Plan B.

We can see from these players playing out of position that there was again no real tactical plan- indeed that was the case at Watford, with the players' sheer grit, instinct and willpower dragging them through on that occasion.

From switching to a 3-5-2 at Watford- which led to defensive uncertainty that almost cost us a point- to the confusing and round-peg-in-square-holes gameplan tonight, the last couple of matches have left Reds supporters scratching their heads in puzzlement.

 It feels like that as soon United  threaten to build a run of form, we suffer a disappointing dip.

PSV are no mugs and a 0-0 draw against the Dutch champions may not seem such a bad result on the face of it- but, although LVG's job is not on the line, United fans are a demanding lot and may soon turn on the Dutchman should we see many more tactically toothless performances like Wednesday's. 

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