Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by Feyenoord in their first UEFA Europa League group stage match on Rotterdam on Thursday evening. Jose Mourinho’s side have now lost two matches on the bounce with a reaction needed against Watford on Sunday to avoid three defeats in a row. United have a team capable of winning matches on paper, but on the pitch, it seems a different story right now. I am sure the media will pick apart the result, make out this is worse than it actually is, getting their Mourinho to be sacked stories ready for later in the season, should they need them. How fickle journalism has become in the modern-day.
Jose Mourinho changes his line-up for this match, reverting to a 4-3-3 formation with David De Gea in goal, Matteo Darmian, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo in defence. The midfield has been changed to a trio with Morgan Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera, and Paul Pogba all playing together with the three forwards being Juan Mata and Anthony Martial either side of Marcus Rashford. Mourinho opted for plenty of depth on the bench with Sergio Romero, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Memphis Depay, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic available should they be required.
United started the match well, getting plenty of the ball and getting it forward, albeit to no avail. Feyenoord started to get themselves into the match, winning the ball from good positions and threatening United on the attack, but not having much threat at doing so. Shortly after the tenth minute, the home side had their first credible shot on goal, which was saved by De Gea. Feyenoord had another shot on goal minutes later, which was again thwarted by De Gea. Bailly had to have some treatment for a dead leg after thwarting a chance from being created. United managed to then get the ball forward after Bailly was back on the pitch, getting a free-kick in an advanced area which Pogba took, but Brad Jones managed to get to the ball nipping United’s chance in the bud.
The tempo of the game started to dwindle midway through the first half, with not much action taking place other than each team having the ball, getting into advanced areas then losing possession. United looked good at times but seemed to not take their chances as well as they should . Towards the end of the first half, Feyenoord seemed to have the better chances, getting some pressure on United, but not taking chances, which seems to be the story of the first half, at least. Mourinho may be looking to make some changes at the start of the second half, or at some point soon after. Their team is good enough on paper to make an impact in the game, but so far it just does not seem to be happening. The first half ended with a stalemate with the second half hopefully more telling.
At the start of the second half, no changes were made by either team but Moutinho had Ibrahimovic warming up and likely to be called upon. Mourinho made his first change of the match which was a triple change with Ibrahimovic, Memphis and Young replacing Rashford, Martial, and Mata. United started on the front foot after the changes, getting forward and threatening to break through on the attack. United still seemed to be looking for inspiration. Feyenoord, despite taking one of their better performers off, were still attacking United and threatening to find that elusive goal which seemed to have not arrived for both teams this evening, despite chances being created.
In the 79th minute, Feyenoord opened United up to score the first goal of the match putting them in command for the final minutes of the match. Marcos Rojo was out of position for the goal, which to be honest is to be expected as the player is not of United quality, despite many thinking he was. United had it all to do in order to rescue something from the match, but to be honest they did deserve to concede a goal as they had many chances to take a lead of their own, with nothing getting close enough to do damage to the home side. Despite trying in the final minutes of the match, United were just not finding the goal they needed to take a point from the game. Rojo won a free-kick outside the area with Ibrahimovic drilling it on target into the arms of the keeper. United will be looking back at that defeat thinking about what could have been. There are five matches left, but losing two on the trot is not a good position to be in.
Manchester United: De Gea; Darmian, Bailly, Smalling, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Herrera, Pogba; Martial (Memphis 63′), Rashford (Ibrahimovic 63′), Mata (Young 63′)
Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Fosu-Mensah; Carrick, Fellaini