Friday, March 31, 2023

Analysis: What Went Wrong For Manchester United When They Took On Watford?

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Rainar Angelo
An ardent follower of Manchester United who in his spare time likes to unravel mysteries of football and music. He also believes in continuously interacting with people in order to view things from a different perspective.

With three losses on the trot, Manchester United look to be struggling as they failed to defeat a high-flying Watford who, in all sincerity, deserved their win. The game has clearly outlined some talking points including Rooney, lack of natural wingers and the imbalance in midfield.

The players that formed the starting XI for their teams

Brief layout of teams

Pereyra was the man behind Ighalo and Deeney, which in the end turned out to be destructive for United. Rooney was supposed to be the creative force from midfield, accompanying Pogba but that didn’t work out well. To be fair, it didn’t work out at all. Rashford and Martial’s pace was supposed to be the driving force for United from the wings but Capoue ended up wreaking havoc from the midfield for Watford.

Where did it go wrong for United?

The first goal, as many say, was the result of a foul on Martial not being given. Now, this is no excuse for having conceded that goal. De Gea should’ve used his hands instead of his feet and I believe United should’ve paid more attention to Capoue in not giving him the freedom to shoot in the first place. The midfielder has been in red hot form for Watford and a goal from him was not surprising.

The defence, on the other hand, was shambolic as Watford ran circles every time they managed to penetrate the wings in the final third. One might note that the way Capoue is utilised by Watford is what United must do with Pogba.

Midfield mess

It’s ironic that the most slated man, Fellaini, has arguably been the best midfielder for United so far this season. The Belgian who was entrusted with the role of a holding midfielder was more creative than both Rooney and Pogba combined and his only error was that tackle that conceded the penalty. Nonetheless, it was pretty obvious that the game was killed by then.

Fellaini was United’s most inventive Midfielder

Jose Mourinho needs to realise that if he needs to see any progress he has to stick to one formula. If that formula is a 4-2-3-1, deploying Mata in the number 10 role will be more effective. If the formula is a 4-3-3 pairing Herrera and Pogba with Schneiderlin or Carrick in the holding role is the most effective mantra possible. The lack of genuine wingers is hurting United and the absence of Mkhitaryan is an obvious issue.

Watford’s second goal was pure class

Zuniga, the Colombian just rammed in a wonderful pass, with class like no other. De Gea couldn’t do much about it and the ball in from Pereyra was nothing short of damaging. This was a move strung with fluidity, trust on teammates and a touch of good fortune.

Pereyra drilling the pass to Zuniga sealed United's fate
Pereyra drilling the pass (blue) to Zuniga sealed United’s fate

Lack of wing-play

United’s two brightest prospects from last season, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, had a horrific performance on the wings. Limited passes, lack of activity, deficiency of overlapping with the fullbacks was all but evident. Rashford looked much better after Mata came on but was a disappointment for the entire first half. Martial too looked off colour, partly due to his collision with Janmaat but there was no better performance as such prior to the incident. The presence of Prodl for Watford ensured there was no silly business by United inside the box as the defender managed to deny everything United could offer.

These passes were the best United could get out of their 'uprising' stars.
These passes were the best United could get out of their ‘uprising’ stars.


United need to set their heads straight, Jose Mourinho needs to take some bold decisions by benching the likes of Wayne Rooney and if horrible form continues, Pogba too and give the likes of Carrick a chance. Working out a method to utilise Depay will be appreciated as the Dutchman can prove to be the damage opponents can’t handle on a consistent basis. The lack of fluidity is hurting bad and one simply cannot afford to lose games with star players like these at disposal.

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