Manchester United recently sacked manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before their Champions League clash against Villarreal. Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 6th UCL goal this season while Jadon Sancho scored his first ever for the Red Devils.
Sancho had last scored in the German Cup final for Borussia Dortmund but a strong performance against Villarreal resulted in Paul Scholes calling him the best United player on the night.
Regardless, the first half against Villarreal had proved familiar to most fans, considering the team’s performances since the start of the season.
Manchester United looked scared to concede in the first half with Villarreal failing to go ahead despite getting the better chances. During half-time, Ruud Gullit presented his view on why the team was struggling to create:
“I think the wrong people are getting the ball. Maguire gets the ball and McTominay gets the ball. They can't create anything. That’s the problem. They are not used to playing in this fashion. They have difficulty finding each other. In a 4-3-3 with more triangles, they should be keeping the ball more, but they can’t do that.”
Manchester United are through to the Champions League knockouts after second half goals against Villarreal
After the match, Paul Scholes claimed that the victory was nothing special. He said that the players were simply playing in their positions correctly. However, Michael Carrick will be pleased, especially with Jadon Sancho’s goal. The former City winger was goalless during his first 14 appearances across all competitions.
Additionally, Donny Van De Beek, a player who has become a bit of a meme-figure due to his lack of gametime, also started and produced a solid performance. While United are now through the last-16 of the UCL, a number of questions need to be answered in the coming weeks.
Until a long-term successor to Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is decided, Michael Carrick will be the team-manager. However, Carrick himself pointed out the similarities in his tactics that he shares with the sacked Norwegian. Additionally, multiple Manchester United players look out of form, and more importantly confidence.
Ruud Gullit pointed out Maguire’s lack of passing skills but the defender has the ability to move forward with the ball from the back. He looked very comfortable during England’s run to the Euro Finals.
While tactics and a lack of playing style are major issues, Manchester United need a manager who can lift their players to perform at levels that the Old Trafford faithful know they are capable of.
Carrick might have won his first game in-charge. However, tension can be expected to dramatically increase if they do not continue to improve over the coming weeks. Both Mauricio Pochettino and Erik Ten Hag will bring their own unique philosophies to the team.
In the game against Villarreal, it seemed as if there were two types of players who had come out for Manchester United. The likes of Alex Telles, Jadon Sancho, Donny Van De Beek and Lindelof all started and put in decent performances.
But Maguire, AWB and Scott McTominay in particular looked shaky, all evidence of the players’ shot confidence. Cristiano Ronaldo has carried United to the knockouts, and the first thing that Carrick will be hoping to achieve is to lift his players in the coming weeks.
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Manchester United fans will be delighted even if that is the only job Michael Carrick completes during his temporary tenure as Manchester United manager.