Manchester United could not do it – the Red Devils have finished their season in League Cup, after a 2-0 loss to Manchester City at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side was hoping of reaching the final against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur, but Pep Guardiola’s team had shown they are the better side and deservedly booked their place for the Wembley final.
It was John Stones who opened the scoring early in the second half, when United’s defence fell asleep, before Fernandinho scored a tough, but very precise long range shot after another set-piece move. United were not good enough on this occassion and will not be taking their part in the final this coming April.
Manchester City Show Quality
Manchester City have shown their quality at Old Trafford, just about enough so they can get a comfortable win. Pep Guardiola’s side was we;; structured in possession and out of it, their midfield showed much more than Man United’s and their defence was also impeccable. It turned out that Ruben Dias, John Stones and Joao Cancelo were in good mood, stopping every United’s attack, while Fernandinho controlled the match from the centre of the park.
United Attack Through Individual Moves
There was an obvious difference in attacking patterns between the two sides. Man United maybe had their best attacking talent on display in Martial, Rashford, Fernandes and Pogba, but it was only through individiual moves that the Devils were trying to create something. It showed a lack of attacking structure in United’s moves, with Martial and Rashford usually opting for trying solo runs more than having a clear idea of how to get past City’s defence in a more structured way, with the help of teammates.
Henderson Gets His Chance
This match was always going to be interesting in seeing which goalkeeper would start in goal. Last season, Solskjaer always decided to change his cup goalkeeper, which last year was Sergio Romero, and put David de Gea in semifinal matches. That was the case in Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup and everytime United lost anyway. This year it was again the case of losing the match, but Dean Henderson can say he got his chance on the night. He was in goal and could not do much with that first goal from Stones. He did make a great diving save afterwards, keeping United in the game while trailing 1-0, but ultimately there were no goals at the other end. Henderson can see now he is part of Solskjaer’s long-term plans.
Another Trophy Gone
Manchester United are badly in need of some silverware, not only so they can say they won a trophy, but for the team to see that this team can start winning things and getting more confidence from it. This year again United were stopped at the semifinal stage, when only two wins would have sufficed to get the League Cup trophy. Sure, Man United are always aiming for the bigger trophies than League Cup, but this side is not in a position of cherry-picking. It now remains to be seen where in the remaining three competitions could United realistically get close to lifting the trophy…