Manchester United made it to another semi-final under the tutelage of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the third time this season.
A good achievement for the manager, but nobody remembers who made it to the semis, only eventual winners are remembered. With that being said, yesterday’s performance showed again how much this team still lacks in overall quality, especially if it involves winning games from the bench.
Here are three things we learnt from the victory over FC Copenhagen…
The team showed tiredness yesterday especially upfront with the exception of Mason Greenwood. Martial and Rashford looked wary for the most part of the game, contributing very little until late in the second half; when Martial seemed to come to life.
You may want to ask where has this tiredness emanated from? Well, you can not look beyond the manager’s reluctance to rotate his squad since the restart. Yesterday’s team had Sergio Romero, Eric Bailly, Brandon Williams, and Fred as the quintet that got a run out in the team outside the usual suspects. However, Lindelof and Matic still came on at some point, depicting only two changes in the line up overall.
Bruno Fernandes and Pogba seemed at odds for the most part of the game, until the last half hour of the game where they found some sort of rhythm. It means that United’s transfer business this summer should be focused on building their squad depth.
No cutting edge upfront
It is good to have three frontmen, who can provide you with goals at intervals, but the hallmark of any great team is being able to do things a little differently. A little unpredictability or invention never hurt anyone. The more I watched the match last night, the more it seemed glaring why United are after Jadon Sancho.
You may not want to say but Man United have Bruno and Pogba; however, it’s not enough to move from also-rans to potential title contenders. Just look at the impact Mata had when he came on at extra time. Now I am not making a case for Mata, but his invention, eye for a pass in the final third made United a lot more dangerous.
Timing of substitutions
The timing of substitutions remains integral as to how games are won and lost. Managers are termed geniuses when a well-timed substitution delivers and termed novices when they hold back on such an activity.
For long periods last night, the games yearned for an attacking substitution; take out Rashford or Martial; try something different, bring on Odion Ighalo, a different type of striker. He would have worked the Copenhagen defence with his physicality and presence.
Knowing when to make alterations like this is what separates the elite managers from the average ones. The Manager always seems hesitant at making substitutes; it has happened one too many times.