The media can be very knee-jerk in its reactions and, on the face of it, a draw isn’t necessarily cause for alarm bells.
But Manchester United seem half asleep at the moment and their result against PSV generated some very interesting comments.
The usual ire-tinted response came from Roy Keane who said:
“You got the impression the players were waiting for something to happen, rather than going and making it happen. Wayne [Rooney] was on about lack of composure and quality, but I think he was as guilty as anybody. He needs to step up to the plate.
He doesn’t look sharp, he looks awful.
“Mentally he doesn’t look really sharp, physically he doesn’t look in great shape. He needs to have a look at himself.”
We have to agree with that one.
Paul Scholes ruined Anthony Martial after the game by saying:
“Martial, for me, has still got a lot to prove goalscoring wise,” Scholes added. “He isn’t a centre forward like you two [Lineker and Michael Owen] where he lives for goals. He’s a player who likes to come out the box, he likes to drift to the left wing.
“He doesn’t really look bothered if he misses a chance, not bothered if he scores a goal, whereas as a centre forward all you live for is scoring goals. All you want to do is score goals and he doesn’t look like that type of player to me. Maybe they need to go into the transfer market in January for one of them.”
Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy was in the stands to see two his old teams battling it out and he focused on the performance of Memphis – one of several who is struggling for form under Louis van Gaal. Asked this week if he thinks Memphis is good enough to succeed the great United number 7s he said:
‘Memphis has the quality and ability to do that but I understand your question at this moment in time,’ Van Nistelrooy said. ‘To make a difference at United, it means being really brilliant and being decisive in big games. He is not yet ready for that quite yet.’
And to the players. Wayne Rooney said this of the really muted performance which leaves Manchester United in trouble in The Champions League.
“I think we need to score more goals as a team. In the first half, if we get a goal it’s a completely different game: we can control the game and they have to come out and attack, but it didn’t happen. They then sit back and try and hit us on the break, which they’ve nearly done a few times. It’s a learning curve for us but we can’t stay on a learning curve; we have to start converting these games into victories.
“It’s a game we knew we were capable of winning. I thought we played some good stuff in the first half and created some chances. I thought we were unlucky not to go into the break ahead, and in the second half we showed a lack of composure and put ourselves under pressure a few times. The second half wasn’t great but in the first half we should have gone ahead, so overall a draw is a fair result. We’re disappointed we didn’t win this game.”
And Chris Smalling, who has been one of the few positives this campaign, remained optimistic when asked if he thought United could still qualify:
“I think we can. Ever since the first result against PSV, we’ve turned things round [in the group].
“We can go there with hope because we’ve beaten Wolfsburg already, here at Old Trafford. But coming into the Champions League games, we saw it as probably the toughest one so we’ve given ourselves a lot of hard work to do.”
And to the manager himself, who had this to say about a game where Manchester United produced pathetically little in terms of genuine chances:
“I think the first half was a reasonable performance. We have created three open chances and three other chances and we give only two chances away against a very defensive opponent. But then the second half was not great and I think it is a miracle that we didn’t give chances away in the second half – only one, I believe.”
“Our midfielders had to give an angle to our central defenders, to Daley Blind and Chris Smalling, because they were playing against one striker, De Jong. So in the first half that was not always the case, but in the second half, this happened less in spite of my changes. Normally when I change it goes better but today it was not like that, so I was also very disappointed that my changes didn’t give an improvement. I thought that with this line-up, we had the best chance to win and you never know whether that would have happened if Mata had played from beginning.”
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