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What We Learned: Creativity is an issue when certain players are not on the pitch

Manchester United were defeated 1-0 by a resurgent Basel side in the UEFA Champions League at the St Jakob Stadium in Basel on Wednesday evening. United just needed a point to qualify for the round of 16, but that was not meant to be. United should have been 5-0 up at the end of the first half, Marouane Fellaini had the chance to score three times, striking the post on one occasion. United fell on their own sword as Basel scored a late goal from close-range, meaning United would need to win or draw at home to CSKA Moscow. If United lost the match, losing by less than five goals would keep them in the competition, losing to six goals and Basel beating Benfica will knock them out of the UEFA Champions League, which is something the Liverpool supporters will be hoping for.

Jose Mourinho took Paul Pogba off in the 66th minute of the match, which resulted in the team’s creativity leaving the pitch too. United need to find a way to not rely too heavily on the Frenchman, with the January transfer window being a time United could find the extra creativity needed or the manager could make sure his side put in the effort to create, instead of relying on one particular player, which was the case in Basel. It is likely that United will reach the round of 16, but it will be the start of a tough month for United as they play Arsenal away on the 3rd December, then face CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, then five days later face Manchester City at Old Trafford in the first Manchester derby of the season.

Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind are not the right options for full-back

Manchester United need fullbacks who can maraud up and down the wing, defend when needed and attack when needed. Defensively, Matteo Darmian played well for United, but on the attack, his crosses and passes were not good enough. Daley Blind was bullied at times, and often left exposed on the left. For United to be weak in these positions will ensure they fall at the first hurdle when the big teams come into contention. United will play Arsenal and Manchester City in December, both will be tough matches and having either of these on the flank, in defensive positions will be tough to get anything from either match. Blind has the ability to play in the centre of defence, as a ballplayer, or even in midfield, but other players stand in his way. Darmian can play on the left, but he offers the same as he does on the right.

Paul Pogba is a great player, but he cannot play all the time for entire matches

Paul Pogba, for me, was the Man of the Match against both Newcastle United and Basel. Inspiring United to create, mostly done by him, and to break forward and aim to get matches in the bag as early, which against Basel could have been done in the first half alone, United falling to Basel dominating in the second half against a United team not able to take the lead, or string some creativity together. Pogba cannot be relied upon by his teammates as injury or fatigue will mean he cannot be their scapegoat. Pogba is a great player and the ABU’s are seeing why United paid £89 million for him. What they cannot see though, is United winning matches without this player being run to the ground. Some of Pogba’s teammates need to stand up and be counted as there is no place for passengers at Manchester United.

Players need to be creative and rely on themselves to win matches, not a teammate

Manchester United have always been known for having creative players with the ability to win matches on their own, but that does not mean they did it on their own. A team is not one person, in this sport, it is eleven who play at one time – with the option for three other players to get involved in the game. In the years gone by, United have had some great players who have had the ability to create something and even win the game on their own. Sunday marks 25 years since Eric Cantona signed for United and he is one of the players who could create something from nothing and win a match on his own, figuratively speaking, of course. United have not had any of these players for years and could do with so many more of them.

Conclusion

Manchester United and Jose Mourinho need to find something to get their season up and running. Manchester City are dominating, being praised by every pundit and journalist out there – they have played well this season, but the sheer fact that no other team in England is being compared to them and they are the first team, supposedly, in the league to play this swashbuckling style of football, Manchester United never did this, it makes me want to vomit. You would think Manchester City have all the history of United, winning 20 league titles, three European Cups and so on. Thing is, they don’t. United have let City take the driving seat in the five years which will have passed before the end of the season that Sir Alex Ferguson retired and it is time United stood up and were counted as the team they long to be, but clearly do not have the players with than mentality, which needs to change. Either the mentality is adopted, or the passengers are dropped off.

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