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Report: A frustrating evening at Old Trafford with a team lacking desire, leadership and determination

Manchester United had the chance to overcome the obscurity against Valencia at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening, only able to get a draw in a game which was lacking desire, largely from the United players. The team, if you can call it that, seemed to be on its knees and shouting for a change, no matter what that might be. The chance to end the speculation and spin some positivity was long gone against the Spanish side.

Jose Mourinho showed his passion in his programme notes ahead of the match, stating that the crest on the front of the shirt is more important than the name on the back of it, which is correct. Also suggesting that his team needed to work much harder during their matches. The media had suggestions that there were 34 blocks of tickets still to be sold for the match, which was not quite true with Old Trafford full of passionate supporters ahead of kick off, despite a slight delay to the game because of traffic.

United started the game in fine fettle, seeking an early goal. Marcus Rashford seemed the most likely to score in the opening stages, playing well and getting himself into the advanced areas of the final third at the Theatre of Dreams. Paul Pogba nearly created something for his side in the ninth minute of the match, touching the ball slightly to get it to Romelu Lukaku, who was flagged offside, which might have been the wrong call by the linesman.

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Rashford had a great chance to open up the scoring in the 15th minute of the match after a sublime run, on the ball. However, his shot was narrowly wide of the target with Valencia seemingly getting away with it. United were still trying to settle in the game at the half way stage of the first half, with the tempo of the game dropping, slightly. Valencia were doing well to keep United on their toes at times with commentary on BT Sport suggesting there were much better than they actually were.

United had lost intensity in the game and everything was being down slowly, seemingly at walking pace. There are positives to be seen though, especially from the last three matches, which all ended unfavourably for United. However, there was still bags of room to grow and improve, which is all we want to see this season. With the matches coming up for United, getting into some sort of form in majorly important.

United had a chance to gain something from the first half after Pogba won a free-kick after being fouled by Michy Batshuayi. Alexis Sanchez took the free-kick, which was dealt with by the Valencia wall, headed away comfortably, which is something United failed to capitalise from, at this stage in the game. There was a stoppage with ten minutes of the first half to go after Eric Bailly seemed to be elbowed in the throat, going down looking in trouble. Victor Lindelof was then warming up on the sidelines.

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Bailly was able to continue but gave away a foul minutes later after taking Batshuayi out with United on the advance in Valencia’s half. After some end to end football in the final few minutes of the first half, Bailly won a free-kick, in his own half, after Batshuayi fouled him on the edge of United’s box. United, from the free-kick, rushed forward and aimed to score before half-time. The ball was put out of play and Pogba through his side should have earned a penalty, which would have been the wrong decision.

There were three minutes of added time at the end of the first half. United seemed to pick up the pace looking for something to have the edge on the Spanish side during the break. However, that was not something that was going to happen. There will probably be some words said in the dressing room during the break with Mourinho looking to see something from his side in the second half, something to earn a much-needed victory which would help turn the tables on the disaster with was last week for United.

The second half started with no changes for either team. It was more of the same from United though. Lacklustre football, boring in fact, nothing being strung together and another show that United’s team was nothing of such, just a conglomeration of players who may have big names but do not possess any sort of desire to win for the club that pays their wages or the supporters that help bring the money into the club to pay the said wages.

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United won a corner in the 53rd minute of the match. Rashford took the said corner, which headed straight into the arms of Neto, Valencia’s goalkeeper. The likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, and Nicky Butt were all at Old Trafford to witness this match, none of them looking thrilled to see the way this team is playing, or at least trying to. It does not seem like this club has any professional players on the books right now.

United won another corner in the 58th minute of the match, Rashford stepped up to take it again which was put behind for another corner, thanks to Geoffrey Kondogbia. The second corner came to nothing, just like all the others. United won a free-kick in Valencia’s half, Pogba stepping up to take it with Sanchez rushing into the box. The shot, seemingly directly towards the goalkeeper. United has a succession of chances to get something on target, ending with nothing other than a Valencia free-kick.

United had an opportunity to break the deadlock in the 71st minute after Lukaku was set free but his shot, which was from some distance, at an angle, was on target but not a threat to Neto. Mourinho made his first change in the 77th minute, bringing on Anthony Martial for Sanchez, which was a much-needed change with Sanchez offering very little, seemingly looking like a mistake the club should have let City take the risk on.

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United won another free-kick in a dangerous area, the third in this game. Lukaku took the set-piece, which was dealt with by the Valencia wall with United seemingly back to the drawing board to try and win this game, which was looking increasingly unlikely at this stage. Martial was fouled on the edge of the box in the 85th minute of the game. The supporters wanted a penalty, a free-kick was given. Was this the time for United to get the goal they needed, no matter how scruffy?

Rashford took the set-piece and slightly grazed the crossbar from his great technique. United won a corner, which was taken by Luke Shaw, connecting with Lukaku in the box, who headed towards goal, which was straight over the crossbar, not threatening Neto. Three minutes of added time were to be played at the end of the second half, with enough time for either team to grasp a victory in what has been a lifeless match, from both teams.

Marouane Fellaini reacted well in the box from a free-kick, unable to find the back of the net, but winning another corner. It was enough to add some pressure at the end of the match but not enough to find something to win the game for United. The game ended with a draw, a lacklustre draw at that. There were boos from the crowd, which suggested the Old Trafford faithful were not too happy with what they had endured. This one will surely play out for another few days before Newcastle United rock up in town on Saturday.

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Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Shaw; Fellaini, Matic, Pogba; Rashford, Lukaku, Sanchez (Martial 77′)

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Darmian, Lindelof; Fred, Mata, McTominay

Bookings: Romelu Lukaku 86′

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