This week, the Red Thoughts team analyse the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid and discuss their concerns going into the new season.
CARL: My two big issues now are seeing Lindelof so poor again against Real, and, of all the forward options we have, Lingard starting another big game. I’m also concerned that Lukaku won’t receive enough quality crosses from the wings. Also, I don’t feel confident the set-piece delivery is going to be up to standard again. Rashford has clearly been working on his delivery, but the quality of his balls is inconsistent. I’m optimistic about what we can do this season, but those are my concerns.
BETS: I still think Lindelof will come good, but I’m not as confident as I was. On the other hand, I can’t think of a single error of any kind from Tuanzebe, and yet he just doesn’t seem to be given a chance.
EHSAAN: Lindelof was nowhere near ready to start this match. We need Jones and Bailly to step up against West Ham. Left back is a problem too and we need reinforcements. There are players around such as Lucas Digne, Sidibe, Gaya, Bertrand, Jetro Willems and Jonas Hector.
FAB: What worries me the most is Darmian, he definitely didn’t do anything right.
BETS: I am really happy with Darmian. Agreed, he doesn’t get forward like Tony V but he is quietly efficient now at LB even though it’s not his natural side. With Shaw back in training now, our options at LB are improving.
RICK: Centre back is still a problem area and Jose needs to fix that by offloading dead wood and playing those that deserve a chance. Lindelof needs more time and that may mean only playing him against lesser teams, or in cup games to begin with. I agree we also need a left back, as even though Darmian is solid, he’s not an out and out LB. Hopefully Shaw will get rid of his hoodoos and perform this season.
I think Mourinho needs to put more faith in Tuanzebe. He said Lindelof wasn’t ready, but yet played him, and he was poor. Tuanzebe has done well whenever he’s played.
REX: There were some dire individual performances. Although Casemiro was offside, did Lindelof even know he was there? It didn’t look like it. Smalling was solid in parts and his usual shaky self through most of it.
DEAN: The defence again did seem questionable, with Lindelof failing to make a impression. He seems like a fish out of water at the moment. We can’t really judge him yet, but I definitely wouldn’t consider him a starter for the first team just yet.
FAB: Lindelof is struggling and I have no words left to say regarding Smalling. This was not the best lineup, but a player that has been in this team for so long should at least know the basics. I will give Lindelof another chance, even though my heart says get Tuanzebe out there. He is more mature than Smalling and Jones put together and it would be interesting to see him start the season with Bailly.
I think that José should promote Tuanzebe, Andreas Pereira and McTominay. I am glad that José sees McTominay’s potential, and as for Pereira, the kid is amazing and needs his chance to play.
RICK: Another choice I didn’t understand, as you said Carl, was starting Lingard. Rashford and Martial are much better. Lingard is not top quality and should not have started against Madrid.
BETS: I understand he prefers Lingard over Martial or Rashford when he feels a more defensive-minded winger is needed. But Lingard was not match fit, and the conditions were harsh, so he was always going to struggle. In any case, I’m not convinced his defensive contribution is much better than the others. He just stood there as the cross went in for Real’s first goal and didn’t put in a challenge.
HEMOR: Lingard has never been a world beater and he’ll never be, but that performance was poor even by his standards. Sometimes it’s really hard to defend Mourinho’s decisions. Martial ripped Carvajal apart a few weeks ago, isn’t that enough to start him? Lingard can’t even dribble past my 90 year old grandma. Why wasn’t Martial even brought on? Same thing for Mata.
REX: In a game where our most technical and skilled players would have thrived, we didn’t even use Mata and Martial. Would Martial have scored if he got that pass from Mkhi? Or Mata even? There needs to be a balance of physicality and technicality to make this team great.
RICK: I’ve always said Lingard’s a good squad player and would need to massively improve for me to call him a United regular or first team player. Park was better than Lingard.
HEMOR: We could have used a player like Park against Madrid. Lingard is looking worse than a squad player now to be honest.
CARL: Lingard is the big problem for me. He’s used too much and the work rate thing just doesn’t cut it. I’m getting a little frustrated with so much Lingard and so little Martial at this point.
DEAN: I’ve never understood the hype about Lingard either.
RICK: Lingard occupies a position which should be reserved for star players in the squad. You shouldn’t put average players in positions where your best players should be against top opposition. Lingard just doesn’t offer enough in terms of creativity, goals and assists to warrant occupying a place in our first team, much less where he’s been put.
CARL: Lingard was dire on Tuesday. I remember the City game last year, he was dire too, along with Mhki on the other wing – but Mhki was clearly shellshocked by the pace of the league and was struggling with it at that early stage, whereas Lingard was just awful.
DEAN: 10 years ago, Lingard wouldn’t even be in the senior squad, and most likely would of been sold on by now at his age.
HEMOR: Playing Lingard in big games is like begging teams to rip you apart. It’s simple logic, to compete with the best teams, you need your best players, not your third best players.
EHSAAN: Come on guys, Lingard didn’t have a good game, but the treatment he’s been getting is unwarranted. Let’s not forget that he was playing in a position that he’s not accustomed to. And he’s been brilliant all pre-season.
CARL: It’s not unwarranted to say he’s not good enough to be considered a regular starter if we want to fulfil our ambitions to be a top European or even domestic side again. Rashford and Martial have been good all pre-season too and they’re simply more talented players, but it didn’t help them get a start on Tuesday night.
DAN: Lingard is good enough to be in the team – why not? He’s being played out of position and contributes in the majority of games he plays in. Is he world class? No, but he’s a damn good squad player.
BETS: It’s also hard to fathom how leaving Martial out is going to help his confidence, when he was so good on the tour that you could hear the crowd murmuring with excitement every time he received the ball. Let the boy loose, let him prove himself. We all know what Lingard can do. He’s not a youngster any more, he’ll be 25 in December. Martial is still developing.
REX: Perhaps Lingard trains better than most and the manager sees that and hopes he does the same on the field.
All I know is this pragmatic approach to games where we’re set up not to lose first will cost us more than what we can get out of it. Play our best boys, then see if we need to bring Lingard on to shore up after. But starting on the defence in big games just gives more and more confidence to the opposition and eventually we crack.
FAB: I am still in shock regarding José’s choice of Lingard over Martial. Lingard may be a team player and has scored important goals, but having proved what Martial could do to Daniel Carvajal, I thought that he would be a guaranteed starter. Although tactically, José had a point, as Martial still struggles in defensive work, while Jesse was better in that regard during pre-season.
DAN: On your point about service into Lukaku, Carl, you could see that we lack something on the left. Lukaku had 3 chances and took one – we do need to be giving the lad more service. It would be interesting to see us play Blind at left back, just for the service we know he can provide.
I’m confident we will give the big man service, but the others need to chip in too. Rashford and Martial have to hit double figures. We need more from Mkhi too – look at Isco in the Super Cup, he was the one they looked to – thats what we want from Mkhi.
EHSAAN: We still need attacking reinforcements. A winger is vital. I feel we have to stick to a formation, either 4-3-3 or 3-5-2, maybe even 3-4-3. Now that Bale and Perisic seem to be out of the question, we still have options like Sabitzer, Lemar and Felipe Anderson.
HEMOR: Lukaku had a good game but he messed up two chances, that close range shot and the offside. Even if he didn’t realise he was offside, running to the other side and waiting for Herrera’s pass/cross was still a better play than joining Herrera there. That’s poor decision-making from him.
I like Rashford’s energy and speed, but he needs to evolve his game. His goal sense is still poor, I know he’s just 19, but other 19 year olds like Mbappe and Dembele would have probably scored that chance and Rashford should have done far better. He did at least trouble their defence though. Plus, his set piece delivery is poor.
Mkhi needs to do better too. We need players like him to impose themselves more in big games, otherwise opponents will keep dominating us.
RICK: As for Lukaku missing a couple of chances, it happens. He still scored and will score bucket loads of goals for us this season, given the chances. My worry is Rashford, who consistently squandered chances last season and has done so in an important game again this season. He needs to work on his finishing if he wants to be talked about in the same breath as Mbappe and co. Because right now, I don’t consider him anywhere near that level and it’s also why Jose won’t play him as a lone striker.
We need our players to get quality deliveries into the box.
REX: Lukaku’s decision making cost us as well. Even with how crap we were, he should have had a hat trick. He should have left Herrera to pass it to him on the 2 v 1 against Navas, missed an absolute sitter and then finally scored but it was too late. Patience and better decision making is greatly needed from him.
Rashford is a future star but he needs to score. We need more than just ‘the kid who’s a nuisance to defenders’. To get to the top, he’s got to score. He always wants to pass it in. He always goes low and to beat the top keepers, you’ve got to be inventive, otherwise get ready for a season like last year where we get there but never score.
DEAN: United need to more ruthless and prolific in front of goal. Both Lukaku’s sitter and Rashford’s one-on-one situation are the types of chance that United need to start finishing if they want to win the big games and push for the title.
FAB: Lukaku needs a world class winger on the right to deliver crosses. Valencia is the only decent one and I have my doubts regarding Rashford. He is being given huge responsibility, free kicks, corners etc., and he still doesn’t think wisely in his shooting and movement. He needs to be more clinical, or he has no place in the team. I adore the lad, but we need goals and someone has to get into double figures this season.
REX: Madrid outplayed us. When Fellaini comes on and we look better, there’s something wrong. He’s supposed to be the muscle and he looked better than Pogba. More influence, more everything, so well done big fella! But Mourinho needs to sort it out!
BETS: Pogba is still showboating too much – e.g. the 3 against 2 break in the first half, where he went for the stupid glory shot himself rather than simply slide it to the unmarked Mkhi.
EHSAAN: Real Madrid showed us why they’re the best team in Europe. They outran and outclassed us. Pogba had a bad day. So did Herrera. But Matic was brilliant.
HEMOR: Pogba frustrated the hell out of me yesterday. With such a solid performance from Matic, what the hell does he need to be at his best? This is the kind of game where we’re supposed to see how good Pogba is, imposing himself in midfield against better teams rather than against the Burnleys of this world.
RICK: Yes, Pogba needs to step up in big games, Herrera had an off game but Pogba cannot afford to do that. He has the ability to be better than both Modric and Kroos, yet he played within himself yesterday.
FAB: Herrera and Pogba were both struggling against Real. Paul still needs to mature, and I think José was hasty in declaring Herrera fit as I had never seen such a lacklustre performance from him. If you look at the statistics, we were even in terms of scoring chances, yet everyone felt that we were outplayed by Real Madrid. Zidane might not yet be considered a great manager, but that constant switching of positions between Bale and Isco distracted our players and we didn’t have a plan B.
REX: Pogba was made to look like an old man by Modric. And I agree, his decision making is still in question. Herrera was in no man’s land as well. Ran all over but didn’t make his usual presence felt. Mkhi was OK in parts as well but completely disappeared in the second half.
As for our set piece delivery, Pereira will certainly solve that if he gets played.
BETS: Yes, what price Pereira’s classy deliveries toward the end of the game? I love Rashford but he’s poor at set pieces.
REX: We were made to look like Wigan. We ended up showing them too much respect in letting them have possession to the point where we just sat there and took whatever they decided to do to us. I hope we don’t approach all our big games the same way this season, because if that’s it, we might as well throw in the towel.
DEAN: My concern, looking at the line-up and judging by the Super Cup, is that United are still at least 4 signings short, if we are serious about challenging for the title and competing in the Champions League, season after season. A few positions in that line-up still have question marks over them and a lack of consistency in some players makes it very difficult to say what is United’s best 11 and which formation works best.
HEMOR: I’m not frustrated because we lost to Real, I’m frustrated because even after strengthening our team, we still looked far from Real in terms of quality.