1) United Miss Mata
As tributes to George Best rang around the ground, United fans could be forgiven for missing the great man’s boundless flair that little bit more with what they were seeing on the pitch. Movement and creativity in midfield was severely lacking and Schneiderlin and co. looking stagnant in midfield which left many scratching their heads as to why Juan Mata’s involvement was neglected for so long. Many times this season the United number 8 has been at the heart of the team’s creative spark.
If the side are to find the key pass their at times brilliant build up play demands, the Spaniard must surely be the first name on the teamsheet.
2) Sides Not Afraid to Play Football
Gone are the days when teams travelled to Old Trafford intent on not conceding or simply keeping the score respectable. Increasingly, United’s lack of urgency and seeming contentment to avoid defeat in favour of possession compels the opposition to settle into the game and play football.
PSV are a cultured side who came to create chances and if United do progress into the next round, better sides will exploit such complacency much quicker. The same is true in the Premier League.
3) Martial misfiring
There’s not much more than can be said about Anthony Martial’s explosive start in M16 that hasn’t been said already. The teenage powerhouse bagged four in his first four games for the Reds but with only one goal in his last ten matches, Martial is uncharacteristically misfiring in front of goal.
Missed opportunities, fumbled link up play and skewed outside of the foot shots failed to flatter the Frenchman last night and it looked as if United’s £36m man had lost a little confidence when going forward.
It seems to be the first learning curve of Martial’s fledgling career at Old Trafford, and United fans must remember he is still only 19 years old. A more experienced on-field example to follow would surely benefit the youngster, but one gets the impression he may be left wanting.
4) Well-organised, continental sides cause us trouble
As was apparent against CSKA Moscow, United again struggled against a well-organised side playing with a high back four. Such tactics congest the midfield nullifying United’s passing game in the centre of the pitch and meaning any passes out to the wing with the intention of receiving the ball back in the box will likely be caught offside.
With plan B to lump the ball up to Fellaini, United must find a more imaginative, more viable change of tactics as a means to win.
5) Win in Wolfsburg Essential
Following Wednesday night’s draw, qualification is precariously balanced for the Reds. Sitting second on eight points, United are one behind leaders PSV on nine and one ahead of Wolfsburg on seven.
PSV go into their game against CSKA Moscow, knowing a win against the already eliminated Russians in Eindhoven will see them through to the next round. With a victory for the home side in Holland looking likely, United must travel to Germany knowing a win for either them or Wolfsburg will give the other qualification to the last 16. United will be hoping for a repeat of their last result at the VFL Arena six years ago when they won 3-1.
NB – Rest in Peace, George, you’ll forever be remembered for the football.