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What We Learned: Marouane Fellaini is not a midfield partner for Paul Pogba

The realisation that the last 90 minutes of our lives have just disappeared, never to return, will sink in soon. The only difference between tonight and the last outing in the Europa League is that United scored the late goal after 80 minutes of utter dross. This is not always an easy task, but tonight it’s just that extra bit difficult. Here is what we learned tonight against Zorya.

Pogba and Fellai-no

It purely and simply does not work playing the 2 of them in midfield. I struggle to think of two players more incompatible than Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini, neither compliments the others game even remotely. Pogba just isn’t disciplined enough to enable Fellaini to be effective in any form, and that ill-discipline ultimately affects the shape of the side and the way United play too. Fellaini isn’t anywhere near talented enough to be the one unlocking defences and offering the bridge between the lines, nor should he be expected to do so as that is unfair on him and leaves him open to criticism that is unjust when you analyse the problems around him. The decision to pick them both together potentially shows how highly this competition ranks in Mourinho’s plans.

Rojo best as cover, Fosu-Mensah impressed

Marcos Rojo is one of those strange occurrences whereby what seems like a paltry sum in today’s market (£14 million) actually comes across as an overpayment. He offers virtually nothing to the side apart from a complete inability to defend and a pretty tattoo under his ear. When he joined there were matters in his personal life that made him out to be something of a loose cannon, and that was quite exciting, but we are yet to see the neighbour-bottling madman United were sure they were signing at the time. Backup is where he belongs. On the other flank, Timothy Fosu-Mensah wasn’t outstanding (nobody was to be totally frank) but he was steady and looked moderately dangerous raiding down the right-hand side. Antonio Valencia has been consistent so far this season, but Fosu-Mensah is sturdier defensively and shouldn’t be too far behind in the managers plans this season.

Conclusion

Quite honestly I couldn’t bear to write anymore. Also, there wasn’t much else happen bar a shinned Rooney shot poached expertly by Ibrahimovic. Well, that and an exciting flourish of whistle blows by the referee and a very good save from Sergio Romero that really won the game for United. The Europa League is not the competition Mourinho should be gunning for, and quite patently it isn’t in spite of a strong starting lineup. He sets up completely differently in this competition than he does in the league, and it’s becoming clear he is of the thought that the sooner United exit, the sooner he can concentrate solely on the one that matters. Marcus Rashford was rather uninspiring this evening, as was Juan Mata. Jesse Lingard at least attempted to break in behind the stubborn Ukrainian defence but with Marouane Fellaini the man entrusted with unpicking the lock it was never going to be the most fruitful of evenings. Three weeks until the next encounter in this competition with plenty happening in between. Let’s hope Sunday’s match against Stoke City is a far better affair.

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