Friday 26 February 2016

Memphis motors and youngsters thrive but questions remain

Sumptuous skill, a devastating delivery and a top drawer end product: this was the Memphis Depay seen too rarely in a Red shirt this season that United thought they had signed.

It was his best game in a United shirt to date. 

However mediocre the opposition, the 22-year-old's performance can only be heartening for the winger and it was obvious in his post-match interview that the man of the match had enojyed himself out on the pitch. 

A player whose commitment and work rate has been challenged on a number of occasions this season, it was Memphis that turned the tide against Midtjylland.

United are famed for their youth policy but it doesn't normally involve telling the kids they're playing ten minutes before kick-off!
Marcus Rashford would not have been playing but for injuries to Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Will Keane (not to mention the departed Javier Hernandez and loaned out James Wilson).

Despite the chaotic nature of his debut, the 18-year-old Wythenshawe lad was a lesson in clinical composure on the pitch with a great celebration off it. 

While it doesn't guarantee him a glittering Old Trafford future, it certainly marks a fantastic start to his senior career at United and a significant moment in his burgeoning development. 

United may not have needed Rashford's fairytale had our midfield not spurned some of the chances that Memphis served up for them.

Juan Mata's penalty in the first half was not strong enough to leave the keeper no chance, Morgan Schneiderlin was guilty of missing a couple of very good chances and Ander Herrera headed wide in the second half with the goal gaping.

Especially with so many injuries to his strikers, Louis van Gaal would be considerably helped out if the midfield could chip in with a few goals.

Daley Blind has filled in reasonably well at centre-back after being moved there last summer when United's search for a world class partner for Chris Smalling ultimately fell flat.

Michael Carrick, too, is a very good footballer and Van Gaal trusted his abilities enough to play the England international there against Midtjylland ahead of Paddy McNair.
One lazy tackle, though and Pione Sisto had the ball unopposed in the box and from there it was academic.
A small squad can very quickly leave you trying to force square pegs into round holes and against Midtjylland United were vulnerable.

The number of injuries United have suffered seem excruciatingly unfortunate, but the impact of the emerging young players have softened the blow- as well as Rashford, Joe Riley and Guillermo Varela were excellent.

They cannot be expected to compete week-in, week-out against quality opposition though and the feeling that Van Gaal's wish for a small squad has contributed to our shortcomings is difficult to shake. 

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