Manchester United drew with Newcastle United 0-0 today.
Our conclusions, the most notable stats and match ratings.
A solid backline
Let’s start with the positives and the caveats within. And for all the negatives to follow – there will be some – let us consider this was the fourth match in a row that United were able to field the same back-line. The closest United have got to that is the three games at the start of David Moyes era with Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra.
That does not mean to say that Daley Blind (who, for the sake of making the point, was faultless again) will forever be our first choice left centre half. But we said last week that it’s his position to lose.
The only time we looked vulnerable was when we were chasing the game at the end. Of course, against better opposition (this was arguably the worst Newcastle team to come to Old Trafford in Premier League history) it may be a different matter but three clean sheets in the league at least provides an important positive and should not be lost against the doom and gloom.
The Carrick and Schweinsteiger conundrum
Louis van Gaal has talked of playing Michael Carrick from the start in games where build up can be slow from the beginning and Schweinsteiger in games where it can be fast.
So consider this. United have scored all of their goals when Carrick was playing (save for the last gasp goal against Brugge on Tuesday). But, they’ve generally played their better football when Schweinsteiger was playing. One can’t help but think this was a game that called out for Carrick to start, but, such was the clamour for Schweinsteiger to play, you understood that he had played his way into deserving that start. Perhaps, today, Van Gaal just made the wrong call.
Memphis getting the Di Maria attention already
Memphis was given close attention and starved of possession in the areas he hurt Brugge so clinically in on Tuesday. He did okay, but Newcastle paid him a lot of attention. There is little else Memphis can do, aside from hoping his team-mates will step up to the plate. As long as he doesn’t buckle like Di Maria did, he will be fine, but his team-mates need to be conscious of this on his introduction to life in England.
Januzaj some way off being a senior United player
So, with extra attention on Memphis, why can’t Januzaj shine? People have spoke of him as a number 10, so he’s had the opportunity to impress there, but, well…
Is it that he just doesn’t have the ability? Or the confidence? Or maybe too much misplaced confidence? He is offering very little on the ball; nothing in the penetration it was hoped he would provide, and this draws greater attention to his shameful theatrics which rightfully annoyed the Newcastle players.
Hernandez might have been out in the wild but can we not forget that he was an important part of the team that won United’s penultimate title and reached their last Champions League Final. He was far more positive and made a greater contribution when he came on and even though the preferred option would be A.N. Other, it’s a no-brainer to go with the far more established forward than a player who has a lot yet to prove in times of need.
One of those days
Yes, there will be criticism of Louis van Gaal’s philosophy, but United should have taken far greater advantage of the space that Newcastle’s defence presented in the first half. They didn’t, and grew sloppy in possession. By the time they had regained a focus, the visitors had developed a spirited rearguard attitude, and United grew frustrated.
Wayne Rooney was the discretion of a linesman’s decision away from scoring a goal. Chris Smalling hit the post. Javier Hernandez fired straight at Tim Krul when seven times out of ten he’d be finding the back of the net.
“We can be satisfied with the performance but not with the result – we were unlucky. We did not make the right choices in the final third but we played fantastic as a team. I like these kind of games when we work like this, but not this result. The performance was one of the best in my period but we don’t reward ourselves and there was only one club that wanted to win and that was us.”
These were the words of Louis van Gaal. Taken as they are said, in the wake of a 0-0 draw with Newcastle, then they prick the annoyance of supporters who want to see improvement. But, taken in the context in which they were meant, can anyone really disagree? United were solid, they did create chances, but were often wasteful when they did or making the wrong choices for much of the game.
These results do happen over the course of a season but in order for them to be considered blips then they have to literally be the exception to the rule and not the rule. Sounds a lot like common sense but perhaps some things have to be pointed out in black and white to instill some sense of proper perspective.
Darmian 7 (Valencia)
Shaw 7 – RetroUnited.com man of the match
Schweinsteiger 6 (Carrick 6)
Januzaj 5 (Hernandez 6)
Most passes – Schneiderlin 88, Mata 87, Blind 67 (worth pointing out that Schweinsteiger made 58 and Carrick 50, too)
Pass completion – Darmian 95.2%, Januzaj 95.2%, Smalling 94.4%, Schneiderlin 94.3%, Blind 93.7%, Rooney 90.3%, Shaw 90%
Key Passes – Mata 5, Rooney, Shaw 2
Tackles – Darmian, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Mata – 3
Interceptions – Schweinsteiger 4, Smalling 3, Blind, Schneiderlin 2
Clearances – Smalling 9, Blind 6, Schweinsteiger 3
Shots – Mata 5, Depay 4, Rooney 3
Dribbles – Depay 7, Mata 3
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 22, 2015