Manchester United managed to qualify to the last 16 of the Champions League, after a 1-0 win at Old Trafford against Young Boys. It was Marouane Fellaini who scored the late winner, in the stoppage time, which sealed the qualification for the next round.
The Devils were far from good. The usual sloppiness and lack of rhythm was apparent once more, as the long spells of ball possession did not bring much to the team’s display. Paul Scholes was critical of the players after the match, saying the Devils would have lost this match if it was a tougher opposition.
Manchester United Qualify For Knockout Rounds
While that might be true – United truly were not good – the most important thing right now is that the team has qualified for the round of 16. This phase was the one Man United were unable to skip next season, after losing to Sevilla at Old Trafford. This time round, a Spanish team was not able to do something similar, as Valencia are simply far from their last season’s levels.
Man United will most probably finish second, as they are two points behind Juventus with a match to be played. This means one of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona or even Atletico Madrid or PSG could be the next rival. Though, there is a chance to get someone from a weak Group D. Before then, Man United need to fix plenty of things.
Fear Factor Is Long Gone
And one of them is the famous fear factor. While we are mentioning Sevilla from last year, that match was lost in a similar way, but this time, Young Boys were not afraid of the Devils, either. Luke Shaw put it into words nicely after the match.
“Teams used to fear Old Trafford but now teams come and think they can get results. We need to bring the fear factor back to Old Trafford that not many fear at the moment.”
And that needs to change. Performances like this – tiresome and passionless – are not an indicator of positive changes in the team, which we have seen against Crystal Palace, too.
Not A Lot From The Front Three
The front three of Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial did not bring much to the table. It was Fellaini who scored late on after Romelu Lukaku’s assist, but the Anglo-French trio was poor.
Rashford was shooting from all kinds of positions, seldom any great positions, and just one of his shots was of any kind of threat. Martial looked far from his recent form, as he was unable to get past players and create something for others. Lingard, after all, was substituted after just 64 minutes.
Mourinho’s Chopping And Changing Offers No Rhythm
Jose Mourinho is well into his third season at the club but he is still chopping and changing in a way that shows his insecurities about the team. This time it was Sanchez, Pogba and Mata who started on the bench. While that might be a good thing in terms of resting important players, it also can be negative on the rhythm of those players, especially as the squad is in a very fragile moment. It is hard building up confidence and great performances and the match against Young Boys was supposed to be such match.