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Preview: Manchester United v Valencia – UEFA Champions League 2018/19

Manchester United v Valencia

UEFA Champions League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Tuesday 2 October 2018; KO 20:00 BST

Manchester United embark on what will be seen as a big fixture against Valencia in the UEFA Champions League at the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. United have played once in the elite European competition so far this season, beating Young Boys 3-0. Having both Valencia and Juventus in the group means that United will have four fixtures against big European teams, either all or some they will have to win and avoid defeat in others.

Right now though, after a 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League, a 2-2 draw which turned into an 8-7 penalty defeat to Derby County in the Carabao Cup, which was followed by a 3-1 defeat against West Ham United in the Premier League, means that United manager Jose Mourinho and his team need to find a way out of the current rut. This maybe something that continues throughout the season, or ends with little notice given.

Pre-Match Thoughts: Everything might seem barren now but it could all change at the drop of a hat…

Personally, I have not been impressed by the club this season. The failure to back the manager in the summer, who wanted an experienced central defender and an attacking player, who would play on the right-wing, a position that has been lacked reinforcement since the David Moyes season. With Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, stating that the players the manager wanted were no better than the club already had, meant the same as Sir Alex Ferguson’s “no value in the market” comments, to me.

If a club is not going to back a manager, which months before signed a new contract extension, that means the manager’s thought are not valued at the club by any of the hierarchy, most of whom have no knowledge of football, but plenty from a commercial aspect. To me, that states another of the problems the club is facing right now. It has been more than five years since Ferguson retired and Manchester United’s identity has disappeared.

The players seem to not be playing for the manager. They also do not appear to be playing for themselves, their teammates, the supporters, of which they would not have a career if they were not there, or the substantial wages they earn on a weekly basis. These player are multi-millionaires, they can never be questioned, often seem to be supported by their own fans and can’t seem to put a foot wrong. You would think it was the manager on the pitch as he is the one that is always blamed.

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The thing is, that if these players are not playing for the manager, seemingly trying to orchestrate a sacking, it will show the lack of professionalism that footballers have since the money started to pour in for them. The wages are staggering. No person on this planet if worth that amount of money each week. If workers in a warehouse, or anywhere else, downed tools for their manager, the sack would soon follow, which, in turn, would make it much harder to get a job. In football, it seems easy to move on after the sack.

Some players lack respect. Whether it be for their manager, their teammates, the fans, the club or a combination of all of those, it is wrong. We all have to do things in life that we do not want to do. It helps define what we become. Imagine if you were so set in your ways and acted so spoilt and downed tools when you did not want to do something, if everyone was doing it everywhere, it would be frustrating, wouldn’t it? It’s happening in football now. No player is bigger than the club and they should back their manager.

The hierarchy of the club makes the decisions, not the players. If you succumb to player power once, you lose your identity. If you keep succumbing to player power, that lost identity is not something that you will ever find again. Players are there to play, not control who tells them what to do. Player power in football is on the rise. It needs to be quelled sooner rather than later. The damage to come from all this will affect the players when the financial bubble within football bursts. Then who will be to blame?

Team News: Four players will miss the Valencia clash at Old Trafford…

Mourinho has confirmed that for players will be missing from the squad as his side prepare to face Valencia on Tuesday evening. Ashley Young was injured in the defeat to West Ham on Saturday with Marcos Rojo, Jesse Lingard and now Ander Herrera all being on the sidelines. Young captained United on Saturday, playing in the right-back role. This will mean that either Antonio Valencia or Diogo Dalot will replace Young in the side, the latter being more preferable.

Alexis Sanchez played no part in the defeat at the London Stadium, which could see a rested Chilean face the Spanish side at Old Trafford. It would be good to see a new formation, one which favours attacking football which incorporates to up front, which could see the best out of both strikers. Something needs to give or we are going to see a lot of frustration from the manager, the players, the coaching staff and the supporters this season.

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Predicted Starting XI: A change of formation to bring a new attacking mentality to the club. Taking risks is what needs to happen…

Mourinho is a pragmatic coach. He prefers to play it safe and defend, rather than go all out attack in matches. In the past it has been much different for him but he had teams which he could trust, at least defensively. Right now, I would not risk anything with the defence United have. So far this season, they have leaked 14 goals in nine matches, which is poor compared to last season. In the Premier League, United have leaked 12 goals. Last season, in 38 matches, they leaked a total of 28 goals.

Romelu Lukaku seems to be maligned right now and needs something to turn his disappointing season around. United need creativity and players who can find the back of the net. Playing with two strikers might change the luck with both Lukaku and Marcus Rashford leading the line with Alexis Sanchez behind them. It will either work or it will not. To try will see whether this team is capable of these changes. Supporters moan about the number of tactical changes this season, but if something is not working, what do you do?

Match Prediction: Manchester United and Valencia both needing a win at this moment in time to overturn a poor start to the season…

Manchester United need a victory more than ever right now. Technically, they have only lost one match in the last six. The defeat to Derby was on penalties and will be seen as a draw inside 90 minutes. That does not mean it is alright. The form of the team may not be great, but the results they have attained after losing back-to-back matches against Brighton and Hove Albion (3-2) and Tottenham Hotspur (3-0) have largely been positive.

United have beaten Burnley (2-0), Watford (2-1), Young Boys (3-0), drawing against Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-1). After the Derby defeat on penalties, United were humiliated by West Ham in a 3-1 defeat last weekend. It would seem that in the past three matches, United’s players were just not trying. If they were, it brings a far more worrying scenario to the club.

Valencia have had a much poorer start to their season, winning their first game at the weekend, beating Real Sociedad 1-0 away from home. They have endured five draws, one defeat and one victory in their seven opening matches of the La Liga season, also being beaten 2-0 by Juventus in their opening Champions League match. To say both teams will meet in similar scenarios may not be right, but both need to get a result in that match in order to turn the tides of their respective poor seasons so far.

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Manchester United 2-1 Valencia

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