Europa League 2016/17 - Manchester United 1 - 0 Zorya Luhansk: 5 Talking points
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United lined up against Zorya Luhansk today, in an attempt to get their Europa League campaign up and running.
Mourinho may have cast doubts over whether a club of United’s magnitude should at all be playing in Europe’s second tier competition, but that still didn’t overshadow the fact that the home team had an important job on their hands against the Ukranian minnows, especially after slipping up against Feyenoord.
Playing at Old Trafford with a near full-strength squad, United huffed and puffed but finally managed to eke out a winning goal thanks to talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 69th minute header, and also held off the sporadic attempts of their opposition to claw back into the contest.
It wasn’t a very eventful affair by any stretch of imagination, but for what it’s worth, here are the 5 talking points from the match.
#5 Louis van Gaal’s brand of football
The Special One may have taken the reins of Manchester United, hoping to steer them to the promised land, but the shadow cast by Louis van Gaal’s turgid approach to football seems to have rooted itself deep into the team’s psyche.
The first half, although predominated in possession by the hosts, was a spectacle of sideways passing and non-existent penetration – both hallmarks of the Dutchman’s philosophy.
In part, it also had to do with the fact that Luhansk were content to sit deep and stay disciplined, letting their opponents keep the ball but never pressing high enough to allow United to exploit the resulting gaps.
United, on the other hand, can be thankful that Ibrahimovic’s goal in the second half saved them the blushes from what would have otherwise been a performance – and result – straight out of Louis van Gaal’s playbook of ineffectual football.