Manchester United 0-0 Valencia: 5 important conclusions from the game
Manchester United welcomed Valencia to Old Trafford on Matchday 2 of the Champions League, knowing well that a win could put them in a great position to qualify for the round of 16. However, there was more to the tie than just qualification for the knockout stages. Jose Mourinho was becoming increasingly uncomfortable on his hot seat at United. Last week, his team were knocked out by minnows Derby County from the Carabao Cup and over the weekend, Manchester United lost to Wolves in the Premier League. They were now on their worst start to the season and the Portuguese desperately needed a good result in the Champions League to keep the press off his case.
Mourinho made a few chances to the team from the weekend, bringing in Valencia and Bailly to partner Smalling and Shaw in defence, as De Gea continued in goal. The midfield comprised of Fellaini, Matic and Pogba, while in the attack, the Portuguese opted for Rashford and Sanchez to partner Lukaku.
United started the game well, but never really took control of proceedings. They were good in parts but allowed Valencia to continuously peg them back in their own backyard. Both teams had their share of chances, but after an open 90 minutes, the game ended with the score 0-0.
On the back of the building pressure on the Portuguese, we look at 5 important conclusions from the game.
#5 Bailly and Rashford need to start more
Eric Bailly returned to the side after a lengthy absence and eased into the team seamlessly. He was strong and covered repeatedly for Antonio Valencia. He was fast and was never caught out of position. There were injury concerns though, in the first half, but the Ivory Coast International fought through and continued to hold the United defence together. He still does have an eccentric side to his defending, but there’s an inherent fun in that. What makes him essential for United is his desire, and United need to build on his abilities because he is still their best defender.
Marcus Rashford started only his third match of the season and looked the only attacking player with the intent on the field. He was lively from the start, and was not afraid to try, registering shot after shot on target. In the 85th minute, he hit a venomous free kick that bounced off the upright. His speed and skills kept the Valencia defence on their toes, however, he does need to work on his finishing. People tend to forget that Rashford is still only 20 years old and will need more game time to gather experiences that would make him world class. As of now, he has all the right ingredients, oozes with potential and during the game, was the only player who brought an element of excitement with him. Mourinho really needs to use him regularly.