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Well, that was better! United actually attacked at Old Trafford and won a game by scoring one more than the opposition. They also managed to win by scoring one more than zero so no need to get too carried away. Being quietly optimistic I would say that the garden has one more rose than it did before.

Louis van Gaal’s theory was proved to be spot on. No one really believed him when he said that, to win a football match, you just had to score one more than the team you were playing against, but tonight his genius was demonstrated emphatically.

His decision to replace Martial with Fellaini was also inspired. Mere mortals, at this stage, thought that if a forward was to be taken off it should be Rooney, who had done very little, rather than Martial who had caused one or two problems to the CSKA defence. In fact, mere mortals wondered why, when a goal was needed, a striker was taken off for a midfielder at all! Worry not, King Louis had everything under control.

He must have realised that his strikers were not doing their job. In fact, the offside decisions against United had been for Smalling and Rojo which proves one of two things. Either they were much too far forward, or they were very slow at getting back.
It has always been a pet hate of mine that defenders get caught offside.

Anyway, off came Martial, on came Fellaini. Then the surprise. Fellaini didn’t go and plant himself at the edge of the opponent’s penalty area where he could wait for the inevitable crosses. He planted himself in midfield which, for a midfielder in a Louis van Gaal team, is not the position he should be occupying. He should be playing left wing back, or goalkeeper, anywhere but where he is effective.

The goal, when it came, had nothing to do with the substitutions made by the Dutch master, unless you count Memphis losing the ball as an assist.

When Depay lost the ball it rebounded to Carrick who played it immediately to Lingard. He volleyed it across the area to Rooney’s head. Fortunately, Rooney’s head was, for once, where it was supposed to be and he scored a goal even he would have found difficult to miss.

Credit to Michael Owen in commentary who demonstrated what a photographic memory he has when he said, “and Rooney doesn’t miss from there!” Completely forgetting that, about three minutes prior to the goal, Rooney had missed “from there.”

So United won and put themselves in pole position in the group. All they need to do now is win their remaining games and they can’t be caught. Is that too simplistic for van Gaal? I am sure he will find a way of complicating matters with philosophies and processes.

Meanwhile, in Spain, Manchester City qualified for the knock-out stage with ease. Also with games to spare. What happened?

We always knew City were capable of beating Sevilla in Sevilla. We always knew they were capable of taking a two goal lead. Normally, though, they throw away that two goal lead and either draw 2-2, or lose 2-3.

So, when they went into a two goal lead, courtesy of Raheem Sterling and Fernandinho, everybody thought, (and don’t try and pretend that you didn’t), that this game would finish 2-2. It began to look even more likely when Sevilla pulled a goal back and the sagely City fans were beginning to think that a draw away is a good result.

Then the unthinkable happened. City scored again! Wilfried Bony this time. Now what? This doesn’t usually happen, we don’t know what to think. Sevilla couldn’t score another two could they?

The answer was no, they couldn’t. Manuel Pellgrini had hit upon a system of play which could prove very successful for City, particularly when David Silva is not available, which is usually for about half a season.

He can now “rest” players if needs be, although finishing top of the group should now be his priority so every effort should be made to ensure this happens.

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Comments
  1. Will says:

    Owen was right. There is 2 inches of difference in the position of Rooney in the miss and the strike. Rooney needs to make sure he is always on the correct spot, probably using X to mark the spot. He might miss again if he wasn’t there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. samis Julius Kip says:

    This is a good analysis of the game. Good work, but where is Man U going after this win? They really need to improve further. We need moments of brilliance from individual players , entertaining and attacking football of yore. Ask SAF

    Like

  3. Van Gaal needs to stop playing with two holding midfielders. Carrick and Herrera or Schweinsteiger and Herrera in midfield would be ideal. We need pace and quicker transition from defence to attack. And its just not happening with both Carrick and Bastian or even Schneiderlin.

    Like

    • Quite right Sanchay. I prefer to see either Carrick OR Schweinsteiger in the team, with Herrera or Schneiderlin or both. That way, when one of the old men tires after an hour, the other one can come on in his place.

      Like

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