New season, same boring Manchester United
Manchester United started the 2018/219 Premier League season on a winning note but alarm bells will be ringing. Jose Mourinho pointed out the number of players he had missing and he is right. However, that cannot excuse what was a disjointed performance by his team.
The atmosphere at Old Trafford before the match had been grey and filled with little cheer. The club's shameful transfer business where little was done to add to what was already a slightly above average squad. Mourinho's constant moaning and the stories that have emerged since the window did not help the mood of the fans.
The Portuguese tactician picked a decent looking XI with Paul Pogba making a surprise start despite his lack of pre-season sharpness after his World Cup exertions. The Red Devils started well and were gifted a penalty in the 3rd minute following a ridiculous handball by Leicester's Daniel Amartey. Pogba who captained for the game confidently scored to lift the spirits of the entire stadium.
However, the expected onslaught never materialized as the team immediately switched into containment mode. This has always been a feature of Mourinho's teams; score first and shut up shop. Credit to the Foxes, they took up the attacking gauntlet and took the game to United led by new signing James Maddison. This was the same attitude that had been bemoaned by the fans last season, the staid, safety-first lifeless football.
The front three of Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford, and Juan Mata may look good on paper but in reality, few defenders would be fazed at the prospect of facing them. Rashford's unintelligence contributed in breaking down the few good moves the team made. Mata was slow and failed to affect the game. Alexis was busy and full of movement but his decision-making was poor.
For all the deep-block defending that the Red Devils did, Leicester's lack of invention let them off the hook. Too many times, the Foxes found space in-between the United defence. Too many times, Andreas Pereira and new signing Fred were simply bypassed by long balls from the Leicester midfield (where Wilfried Ndidi had a very good game).
The lack of penetration, continuously good movement and flair was an issue throughout last season. It is difficult to see that changing anytime soon even when the supposed First XI comes in i.e. the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic, Antonio Valencia, amongst others.
With Brighton up next before the first big clash of the season against Tottenham Hotspur, the Red Devils will have to get better and fast if they are to have any hope of getting silverware this season.