Reaction as United win to top their Europa League group
The comprehensive nature of the result didn’t seem to be on the cards in the first half. The lack of urgency wasn’t a massive problem considering United had already qualified but it was still a problem when it comes to addressing the general pattern of play in the club’s recent history. Those sort of performances ought to be blips but it is in fact the trend Solskjaer is working to reverse.
Thankfully urgency did come in the form of a 15 minute second half spell which started with fine work from Pereira and featured an inspired period from Mason Greenwood, who scored two fine goals and won a penalty.
The first of those goals would not have counted in a competition with VAR, but Greenwood deserved a bit of luck for his fine efforts. His double crowned his best evening in a United shirt; the Europa League has been great for his development, but it will be interesting to see if a loan move or more time in the first team will be better for him to continue to kick on.
Solskjaer used the healthy lead to give a chance to Ethan Laird and Tatith Chong but tonight was really about Greenwood, Garner and Tuanzebe, who all gave extremely polished full appearances.
For United overall, when it comes to this redevelopment period, any victory is not to be sniffed at, and so you have to give credit where it is due. It was a good win — against a poor opponent, but a good win nonetheless.
Ashley Young and Andreas Pereira were selected again, the former at full back and latter in midfield. In Pereira’s case Solskjaer has little choice due to midfield options but one has to consider that both options need to be upgraded in the near future. Pereira could be a passable substitute for the rest of the season whilst the likes of Fosu-Mensah and Laird should be pushing to be back up at full-back.
Young was caught out a couple of times but more concerning than that, he was quite clearly targeted – by a Dutch team in the group stages of the Europa League. If teams of this level can feel positive about exploiting that area, it’s time for Manchester United to up their game and make the bold change.
Young has been a good servant for the club and nobody wants to see him embarrassed but he has spent as long, if not longer, operating in utility roles as an emergency backup as he did in his proper position of winger.
Yes, both Young and Pereira were involved in the opening goal, and you cannot really complain when the result was what it was.
But is it worth giving these minutes to the likes of Young, Jones and Matic and not the likes of Laird? Laird came on and was eager to impress but too anxious to relax. Is the shop window opportunity worth it? In the bigger picture it’s a minor complaint from this game, but indicative of a wider issue.