Manchester United 1-0 Real Sociedad: Five lessons we learned

by Sam Peoples

A necessary bounce back. After Southampton, heads were down. More dropped points at Old Trafford left fans wanting more and tonight, we put in a great performance to inject some confidence back in the team.

Manchester United hit the ground running after brilliant work from Wayne Rooney led to a ricocheted own goal and the whole first half was United. We dictated the tempo and Real Sociedad were restricted to very little going forward with a brilliant free-kick that hit De Gea’s post their highlight.

However, Sociedad started the second half with a different outlook and United were forced onto the back foot for the first 15 minutes to soak up the pressure. United tried to kill the game off but couldn’t despite having plenty of chances. It didn’t matter.

United now sit with seven points atop the group and it was a very strong performance from us.

Moyes is strong in Europe. For how poor United have played at times in the Premier League, United have been extremely impressive in Europe.

We seem to adopt a high pressing game in Europe instead of sitting deep and reap the rewards. Sociedad found space and time on the ball limited because United hounded them down.

Given how effective the high pressing game has been in Europe, Moyes should start to use it in the league. Southampton showed us at the weekend how effective it can be domestically.

Killing off the game. On more than one occasion this season, United have been guilty of not killing off a game when they can and have been punished for it.

Tonight, we had so many chances to kill the game off. Jones, Kagawa, Valencia, Rooney et al, but we couldn’t finish for toffee. Luckily, Sociedad had little impetus going forward and didn’t threaten too much apart from some short bursts of pressure.

One real positive despite the fact that we couldn’t kill the game off was the fact that we attacked until the final whistle. Instead of sitting back to soak up the pressure, we kept going forward and it played to our strengths. We looked far more comfortable going forward than we would have if we sat and waited the game out.

Wonderful Wayne. Rooney was superb tonight and looked absolutely world class. His brilliant run in the first two minutes led to United’s first goal and he was relentless for the majority of the game.

He always wanted the ball and kept looking for it. He’d drop deep to pick it up but instead of looking up for the Hollywood, he was happy to keep the ball moving with nice, simple football.

Some of his touches and turns were worldly and right now, Rooney is one of the most in form players in England. Given how slow Robin van Persie has been at the start of the season, Rooney’s return to his best is well timed for United.

Shinji showed himself up well. Kagawa’s absence from the team has been well documented but he was given another start by Moyes tonight and played really well.

Despite being put out on the left flank not in his preferred position in the middle, Kagawa was involved in a lot of United’s good attacking play and his usual graceful touch was on show.

A lovely pirouette made the fans go ‘oooh’ but when he had a chance to score, he hesitated instead of shooting first time and the chance was wasted which was a shame given that he deserved a goal.

In the last ten minutes, the unthinkable happened. Kagawa was moved into his preferred central position. He looked far more comfortable and was involved a couple of lovely flowing attacks. Is it an indication that Moyes might be willing to try Kagawa in a central position soon?

Image: Twitter/tr16ia

You may also like