Reigning U21 champions took on Leicester on Monday night, in what really wasn’t the greatest display of football the world has ever seen. Despite 26 goals for Leicester in their seven pre-season games, this one never really took off.
United couldve had a huge chance already after three mins, when James Weir had a chance to run at the keeper, but Joe Dodoo of Leicester intercepted his run after a sloppy first touch and the opportunity faded away.
Liam Grimshaw was struggling after eight minutes, giving away possession and subsequently giving away a free-kick in a dangerous position. The former United man Tom Lawrence tried to curl it into the bottom far corner, but Pereira wasn’t really challenged. This was just a statement of how United were about to struggle, and during the opening half an hour the ball was barely at the Foxes’ half.
Different tactics, same result
Fifteen minutes into it, Warren Joyce altered his tactics, leaving the 4-2-3-1 behind and switching to a five-man defence with James Weir at left wing back, Timothy Fosuh-Mensa at centre-back and Liam Grimshaw in midfield. This resulted in some sort of a 5-1-2-1-1 with Grimshaw as the holding midfielder. This didn’t immediately pay off, although it yielded some possession in the wake of the goal – which came completely out of nothing.
Leicester going in front
Donald Love was extremely lucky to evade the booking just like Leonardo Ulloua evaded his sliding tackle after 21 minutes. Unfortunately, the problems mounted up for United, as Ashley Fletcher towered the ball into his own net on the subsequent set-piece.
Dodoo could’ve even doubled Leicester’s lead only a matter of seconds later when he drifted in between Love and Fosuh-Mensah before pulling the trigger, but Pereira was up for the challenge to deny him.
Varela in the limelight
Despite 8-1 in attempts on goal after 30 mins, the former Real Madrid Castilla player Guillermo Varela displayed some of the class making Madrid wanting him to represent their reserve side. From an indangerous position, he brought a high ball down, dribbled past the entire Foxes defence and effectively passed it into the left corner, to take United level. Undeservedly, would a neutral say.
Warren Joyce’ tactical U-turn
United switched back to 4-2-3-1 with Fosuh-Mensah in defence and Grimshaw in midfield for the start of the second half, but whatever the system was, United looked much like the first team – dependant on individual efforts rather than team play to create chances.
The opening of the latter half was kind of uneventful, and the first noteworthy incident occured ten minutes into it, when James Weir was fouled on the corner of the box, earning United a free-kick. Unfortunately, Joshua Harrop’s attempt never worried the keeper, sailing off target.
Almost immediately after, the home side could’ve scored after great passing combinations initiated by Benalouane and Dodoo, and it wouldve been ex-red Jack Barmby’s name on the scoresheet, but it never materialised. That was Barmby’s final action of the night, being replaced by Harry Panayiotou after an hour of play.
Not much happened in either box for a long period of the game, but at least Matt Willock managed to get a shot on target after cutting in from the right, finding Weir and having possession returned. The effort from the edge of the box ddin’t offer much of a menace though.
Wasteful Fletcher up-front
Ashley Fletcher could’ve bagged the winner nine minutes from time after being set up by James Weir, but the angle was a little bit tight and the defender covered well, so his powerful effort went wide of the target.
The duo combined well with El Fitouri to set up another chance for Fletcher almost immediately after, but this time Fletcher scooped it some distance over the crossbar.
The uneventful second half culminated in a Leicester free-kick on the edge of the box, but Pereira had control and the game finished 1-1 in a rather tedious fashion.
Midtable – for now
This means United steer into midtable after the opening game, but the side is still in danger of dropping to the relegation zone before the next game, as there is an entire month’s break before the fixture against Chelsea on 13th September.