United fall short again

Sheffield United and Manchester United drew 3-3 in a very entertaining game today. The Premier League new boys were up 2-0 early in the second half but United fought back to get into the game and even took the lead, only to be foiled by McBurnie’s goal in stoppage time. Ironically, United conceded in what used to be celebrated as “Fergie time”, furthering the concern around the poor state of affairs at the club.

See also: United 1-1 Liverpool

United could not compete with Sheffield’s energy in the first two thirds of the game. Sheffield seemed to be jogging towards a routine win, until Brandon Williams, United latest academy graduate, stepped up and pulled one back with a great finish. Before that, United were poor all over the field. They did not occupy the space well and allowed Sheffield to bully them.

Apart from David De Gea, none of United’s experienced players can hold their heads high this season.

Today, Harry Maguire, an 80 million signing, failed to lead when the others were under-performing. Jones was abysmal, Lindelof was okay at best and provided nothing special. Fred showed he can be easily be bullied in midfield when Scott Mctominay is not on the pitch. Andreas Pereira was a no-show, although he was played in a position he is not suited for, due to injuries to Matic, Pogba and Mactominay.

Lingard did not provide much when he was introduced either. If anything, it’s the younger players who stepped up when needed. It’s hard to believe it because they have been here for a while but Martial and Rashford are still young players too. When United needed them, they stepped up.

Daniel James started getting more involved on the wings and it’s his cross that provoked the first goal, with yet another young player, left back Brandon Williams, scoring a beauty. Marcus Rashford produced a pass Kevin De Bruyne would have been proud of, leading to a well taken Mason Greenwood goal. Anthony Martial and James then combined on the left wing to set up a tap in for Rashford.

The average age of United’s scorers was less than twenty years old.

United’s young players took a little bit less than 8 minutes to come back from behind. After that, you would expect experienced players like Maguire to guide them to victory. Instead, United conceded a sloppy goal in the 91st minute, with the Sheffield player Maguire was marking getting the final goal.

Solskjaer is right in trusting the youngsters coming out of the academy but he also needs to recruit some experienced leaders who can bring stability to this United team. A central midfielder and central attacking midfielder should be at the top of his list.

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