Manchester United started their Europa League campaign with a 1-0 win over Astana at Old Trafford, with Mason Greenwood scoring the only goal of the night. The Devils needed a lot of time to break down the Kazakh side, but ultimately managed to do that and win the three points. With Partizan and AZ Alkmaar drawing 2-2 in Belgrade, Man United are already sitting atop of their group.
Greenwood Shines To Save The Night
Mason Greenwood was one of the youngsters to start the match and he got to be the hero of the night. It was not far from Man United failing to beat Astana, but the 17-year-old managed to score a beautiful goal and win it for his team. He saved the night and he saved his teammates from the disappointment that a draw would have been.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have straight away had to answer the questions of why his team did not win and creep in some more insecurity about the project he has started. This way, United did not play pretty, but still won and there will be just a bit more breathing space after this match.
Solskjaer Ready To Rotate
We have also learned tonight that the manager is ready to rotate and will not be afraid to do so in the future. And that is good, as we have often pointed out that he should be rotating as much as possible, but still trying not to overcomplicate things.
Probably there will not be as many rotations against other rivals in the group, but it is still good to see Solskjaer ready to give a chance to other players. That will be necessary throughout the season, as our squad is not that huge in numbers. Players like Greenwood, Gomes and Chong will be earning some valuable experience, with older guys resting.
Man United Lacking Ideas
Man United created some good chances, made a lot of shots towards Astana’s goal, but overall still did not have a lot of ideas in their display. And that is not too big of a problem right now, considering how many changes in the starting lineup there were and that many of these players have not played a lot of matches together. But it only reaffirms the pattern we have seen before, that Man United are lacking pure creators that will conduct the play either from the number 10 role, or from the base of the midfield.
Jones Should Have Followed Smalling
Phil Jones will not play a lot this season. He got his chance against Astana, he might get it again in some other Europa League or League Cup matches, but that made us thinking – was he right to stay at Old Trafford this summer? Chris Smalling left on loan to Roma where he will be getting playing time.
Jones on the other hand might get a match like this one to feature in, but that is about it. He is 27 years old and at the age when most defenders peak, he looks far from it. Maybe it would have been for his best if he had left. This way, Man United have a centre-back to rest Victor Lindelöf and Harry Maguire here and there.