Monday, 19 September 2016

Watford 3-1 United: We lacked width, a playmaker, and a plan.

For a team with some of the best players in Europe, United's performance at Vicarage Road was nowhere near the level expected. 

Watford deserve credit, of course, for breaking play up and giving a good performance themselves- but United were just not at it for long periods. 

They did not look like there was a gameplan when they came forward and despite the presence of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and first half substitute Ashley Young, we lacked width because that trio were all coming inside.

That's a good tactic if the opposition are leaving space there, but Watford didn't, they were clogging up the middle of the pitch and leaving the wide areas free.

The Hornets were playing an imbalanced version of a 4-4-2 when they had the ball that became a 4-5-1 when United were in possession.

Odion Ighalo would end up wide on the left, although he did not track back so Antonio Valencia had lots of space. 
Valencia was usually picking the ball up and running from deep so it meant that the Watford left-back Jose Holebas had time to get across and cover.

If Rashford was out there, United would have had a two-versus-one situation out on the right because Ighalo did not track back but instead Valencia looked up and saw that everyone had moved inside.

United really needed their wide men to stay high and wide because by cutting in so early they were no help to their full-backs or anyone else.

That meant there was less space for Rooney or Pogba who had nowhere to go and it became easy for Watford to defend against because the United players were all occupying the same areas of the pitch.

In recent years, we've always had someone who can open up the opponents from a deeper position- be it Michael Carrick,  Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs when he played centrally. 

With a target man in the mould of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and runners like Rashford, this side have plenty of talents to benefit from such a playmaker but at Watford we did not have a midfielder with the required passing range.

Pogba has many strengths but is not much of a ball player, he is better when running on to things and taking people on.
Marouane Fellaini is quite disciplined and does not go wandering too much, he helped his centre-halves and kept the ball well but when you play for United you ideally need more than that.

With what he can offer and the way the game was going I was amazed that Carrick did not feature at any point as he makes things happen and instigates attacks.

It should not be panic stations at Old Trafford because there is plenty of talent and quality in the squad but it just so happens that City have hit the ground running whilst United have endured something of a bad spell.

But it is a long season and everyone is going to have a wobble at some point- even City. 

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