United continued their fine pre-season form with a comfortable win over Norwegian side Valerenga and here are some of the observations made during the routine victory
Pogba’s woodwork woes continue
After hitting the wall from a free-kick, Pogba took the ball down on the edge of the box and curled a shot against the bar. The French midfielder has worryingly made a habit of hitting the frame of goal.
Look guys I can hit the bar from any position
…. but he remains impressive
The France international was by far the standout performer on the pitch. After recently declaring his intention to be a leader in the team, the midfielder appears to be going about proving his worth in the best manner possible. Often criticized last season for ineffectual displays (even against lesser opposition) Pogba has impressed in every pre-season game so far. He was at it again on Sunday producing a masterclass of a performance.
United fans will surely be hoping that his good form carries on into the campaign – and we are not witnessing an anti-climax. Should he continue to progress in such manner, then its only a matter of time till he’s truly on par with the likes of Neymar – as his manager clearly believes his has the potential to. First, he has to improve certain aspects of his game, chief among which are his shooting from range and finishing in and around the box.
united still lacking attacking cohesion
In a largely disappointing first half the red devils struggled to break down stubborn opposition much like last season. In defense of JM’s men, Valerenga are mid-season and looked sharper earlier on. United huffed and puffed but there was no real moment of brilliance to open up proceedings till Fellaini scored.
United switched from 4-3-3 in the first half to a 3-5-2 in the second, which appeared to improve the players performances. JM is keen to bring in a winger but the capture of Matic could be just as instrumental to United’s attacking play – allowing Pogba the freedom to influence the game further afield.
Fellaini shows what United MAY miss
With speculation rife that the Belgian midfielder was on his way to Turkey, he left a reminder of what he has often brought to the side. With United toiling in attack and the first half running out, the towering midfielder popped up with a typical Fellaini goal – which set the platform for a comfortable second half.
Fellaini’s goal was instrumental to United wining the Europa League – meaning love him or hate him, we owe him (in part) for our place in the Champions League. The Belgian is a JM favorite and his manager made sure to dampen any speculation about a potential transfer away following the game..
But with Matic now having arrived from Chelsea, the possibility of Fellaini sticking around will have reduced considerably. The Serbian will likely replace the former Evertonian midfielder as JM’s defense strategy against aerial bombardment – but Matic doesn’t share Fellaini’s knack for scoring.
The loss of Fellaini’s aerial prowess in attack will be mitigated by the newly recruited Romelu Lukaku, however, the midfielder’s goal is a reminder that he represents a valuable asset to the team – especially when the going is especially tough.
.. but youngsters offer promise
Talented bunch this
United’s young guns have impressed all summer, however they took their performance levels up a notch against Valerenga. Should Fellaini depart the likes of Pereira, McTominay and Fosu-Mensah have shown enough to suggest they will all be valuable options.
The classy Periera in particular arguably offers more in midfield than the lumbering Fellaini. Aerial presence aside, the young Brazilian has the skill-set to become a regular goal-getter from midfield, while potential being a creator – he picked up an assist as well for Lukaku.
The Brazilian’s wicked set piece delivery had been noted previously, and could prove an asset to United. While Pereira had previously shown glimpses of his talents under LVG, his loan stint in Spain has done wonders for his confidence – as he displays are now more assured.
McTominay has also caught the eye in preseason so far, but his performance (capped with a well taken goal) against Valerenga will make plenty sit up and take notice. The young box-to-box midfielder is another reason why Fellaini’s height in midfield may not be missed.
But should Fellaini remain, McTominay should pursue a loan deal – the regular game time will be essential for his development. With his recent performances, there should be no shortage of willing takers for the talented midfielder. One with a big future ahead.
After an impressive showing in RB against Barca, Tuanzebe played in central defense – putting in a commanding performance. While it’s appreciated that the opposition wasn’t the highest caliber, the composure he demonstrated was impressive – especially for a 19 year old.
Demi Mitchell looks a raw prospect at LB, it wasn’t his best game, yet there was a lot to suggest he could be challenging Shaw for the position in the not too distant future. Fosu-Mensah has impressed continually and should get the playing time his performances have demanded next season.
Lukaku continues to answer critics
Watch my feet
The Belgian’s third goal since signing for United was a routine header direct from a corner – ironically his first touch of the game – barely two minutes after his introduction. United have not scored many of those in recent memory – with Pogba’s goal against Leicester early on last season the most recent to mind.
The Belgian striker’s aerial prowess will be important to United, especially if Fellaini is allowed to depart as earlier noted. Asides his ability in the air and goal scoring prowess, the striker also exhibited some deft footwork – which should have caught the eyes of those questioning his technical ability.
All in all, it was a decent game for United – there will be stronger challenges ahead. Up next Italian side Sampdoria, before the big one against the Merengues.