5 things learned as Manchester United draw 0-0 with Newcastle: Substitutes, youngsters and tactical problems
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Manchester United hosted Newcastle United at Old Trafford following their last-gasp win against Omonia in midweek.
Manchester United started the game stronger than their opponents, coming close to opening the scoring several times.
However, it was the visitors who made the biggest clear-cut chance in the first half. A free-kick attempt from Kieran Trippier ricocheted off the United wall and the Englishman sent the ball onto Joelinton who’s waiting inside the box.
He cushioned a header that hit the post, came back into his path, headed it for a second time, and amazingly hit the post for a second time. That specific passage of play seemed to shift the momentum of the game, with Newcastle seeing more of the ball from that point on.
United tried to make their mark on the game, with Antony in the heart of their attacking moves but the first 45 ended all square.
United came out of the locker room like a raging bull, displaying a more intense pressing game compared to the second half. United even managed to put the ball in the back of the net twice, both through Cristiano Ronaldo.
On the first chance he linked up well with Jadon Sancho, went past Nick Pope and slotted in a nice finish which was ruled out for offside. For the second, the Portuguese pounced on a Newcastle dead ball which seemed like a live ball because a kick was already made. However, referee Craig Pawson gave a no-call and booked Ronaldo instead.
Going for the win, Erik ten Hag called upon Marcus Rashford’s number to replace Ronaldo. The main man was unsurprisingly disappointed to have been taken off. Rashford’s presence was immediately felt as he produced two late chances for United.
After beating the offside trap and Nick Pope, Rashford put the ball on the plate for Fred. However, the Brazilian failed to finish from close range. During the dying embers of the game, a delicious ball in from Casemiro found Rashford in a prime position to score. Unfortunately, he cushioned the ball wide to put an end on such a disappointing game.
Here are five things UtdDistrict learned from the 1-1 draw against Newcastle United:
#1 - United can’t play out from the back
Most possession-based teams in the world all have one thing in common, they play out from the back to initiate all their attacks. It was Ten Hag’s philosophy at Ajax and it’s evident he wants to replicate it at United.
However, it is truly clear to see that this current set of players can't do it. For starters, David de Gea is not a ball-playing goalkeeper, Varane is adept but not comfortable on the ball. Meanwhile, the full-backs Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot did not show enough conviction on that aspect of the game today.
That leaves Lisandro Martinez as the one who led United’s ball-playing attempts on his own, making it quite easy for Newcastle players to pounce.
#2 - The first phase was non-existent
In the summer, United were strongly linked to Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong. Had he signed for United, his main role for the team would be to receive the ball from the defenders and distribute it to the attackers.
So far this season, Christian Eriksen has often been deployed deeper in order to fulfil this task. With the Danish out of today’s game due to illness, it was clear to see that no one else on the team could do the same task.
The long term solution to this issue is to play young Zidane Iqbal, who has shown flashes of brilliance in that role. But for now, the Old Trafford faithful can only hope for Eriksen to be back soon.
#3 - Lack of attacking pattern
During his Ajax days, Ten Hag’s teams liked to work the ball into the box, shift it wide to the wide men and played deadly cut-backs into the box for simple finishes. That has not been consistently seen at United this season, apart from the goal Fernandes scored away at Southampton, courtesy of a Dalot cut-back.
In today’s game, United players were left frustrated with Newcastle’s physical and organised backline and kept passing the ball back. Without a clear attacking pattern, it was truly difficult for United to find a way through Newcastle’s defence.
#4 - Not enough substitutions
With his team struggling to score, Ten Hag subbed in Rashford and he immediately made a difference in play. As such, it was quite confusing that he was the only sub United made in the game. Up until Rashford’s introduction, it was clear that Newcastle’s defence was resolute and some unpredictability from United’s youngsters might be useful to break the deadlock
#5 - The youngsters will have to wait
Before the game, United fans were delighted that young Kobbie Mainoo had made the bench. He has been a standout player for United’s academy and his call-up to the first team is well-deserved.
However, the failure of the senior players to break Newcastle down means Mainoo and the likes of Iqbal, Pellistri, and Garnacho will have to wait for the chance. The manager said that the youngsters are there to contribute, not just merely an experiment. Hopefully their time will come soon.