Manchester United 0-1 West Bromwich Albion - Red Devils Match Report

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One step forward, two steps back. About 30 minutes before kick-off I suggested to a friend that this felt like a "1-0 WBA kind of day".

16th Apr 2018

Man Utd Match Report

That wasn't an attempt at a reverse jinx or a Sunday evening bout of defeatism ahead of the start of another working week, it's kind of just how this United team works. The football gods like to regularly take the p*ss too, which helped flesh out the feeling of inevitable and impending doom.

Last week's derby comeback was marvellous, but this United was the proper, soul sucking one we've come accustomed to under Jose Mourinho. The excruciatingly boring one.

The United who look lifeless and uncaring. The team that love to take your pre-match excitement, chew it up and then spit it back at you inside 20 minutes of pained play. Your brain exits through your ear-hole and your eyes glaze over, because you know for certain even after 20 minutes, that United wouldn't score even if they were here for 20 hours.

This is the weird Mourinho experience. Second in the league but despairingly crap to watch - win, lose or draw. When the salve of victory isn't there, the horribleness of the performances are thrust front and centre. Good results are literally the only thing to cling to when the football is crap. Wins are just about enough to keep people onside.....not happy.....but onside. Don't win and you are going to get it both barrels. 

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The only thing more miserable than the football on show is Mourinho's morose demeanour and ever present grimace. 

United were turgid against West Brom, eventually losing out by a single messy goal to a team that had won just once in the league since mid-August of last year.

Antonio "Turn-back Tony" Valencia was his usual non-threatening self down the right, Juan Mata provided another lessen in zero-impact invisibility, Alexis Sanchez continued to investigate every blind alley he could and Paul Pogba played like a spider on roller-skates. 

They didn't even huff and puff, United wheezed and keeled over, drawing one save of note from Ben Foster in 90 minutes. When the final whistle blew, Old Trafford had almost already emptied, though there were still enough irate fans dotted around to send anger down in waves of boos and jeers. What a way to hand the title to your neighbours. 

Worst Performers

Paul Pogba

Ander Herrera can consider himself extremely unlucky to have been hauled off at half-time instead of the Frenchman. I guess reputation counts for a lot, and a £90 million signing being taken off at half-time equals a huge story and an avalanche of questions about Pogba's future. Pogba did eventually get hauled off after an hour, which was about 59 minutes more than he deserved. Everything he did was slow and over elaborate. His shooting from distance was laughably poor. It was another day when nothing came off for him.

Juan Mata

It's now zero goals and two assists in 18 games for everybody's favourite little Spaniard. If you want to stretch it back a little further, then it's two goals in 28 appearances now for "the little genius". Both of those goals came in the same game against Leicester incidentally. His output is appalling and for a player famed for his technical skill, the number of times his control lets him down at vital moments is staggering.

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Misery is contagious 

After last week's unforgettable comeback, I'm sure I wasn't the only United fan rubbing his hands in anticipation of taking all that momentum into a home game against the division's bottom club.

A fixture against West Brom at Old Trafford should have represented the ideal chance to treat the fans to some real entertaining football. However, inside the space of a week, it looked as though the life had been sucked out of the players again.

After the Baggies defeat, a dour Mourinho was eager to push home the fact that he wasn't overly enthused about last week's win against City and that it was just "three points", saying he "doesn't celebrate points, only titles". If football teams really are a reflection of the man that manages them, then it's easy to see why United look miserable out on the pitch most weeks. 

The need for full backs 

Addressing United's problems at full back has got to be priority number one for Jose Mourinho this summer. In a system where United's wide attackers drift centrally, the onus is on Valencia and Ashley Young to provide some width and attacking thrust from full back.

Unfortunately, neither player excels in this regard, which is ironic seeing as both were converted from wingers to their more withdrawn current roles.

Often it seems like opponents are happy to pack the middle when defending against United, funnelling possession out wide, safe in the knowledge that the delivery from those areas will miss far more than it will hit.

Valencia's service from the right flank is particularly poor, with every cross the opposite of what it should be. If a near post delivery is needed it goes long and vice versa.

Generally, he just panics and either smashes the ball blindly into the first defender's legs or plays the ball backwards, ruining the momentum of the attack.

MORE: Top 6 Players That Recieved Standing Ovations From Opposition Fans

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