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What We Learned: Paul Pogba is a baller, Zlatan better than Owen

Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park in the Premier League on Wednesday evening. It was a tough match for United, who took the lead through Paul Pogba at the end of the first half, assisted by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. United then conceded in the 66th minute of the match, something which became a problem as the match could have ended in a 1-1 draw, meaning United would not have made any ground after their recent troubles, despite not losing in eight matches before tonight. Juan Mata scored what could have been the winner for United, but it was ruled out with the player being (wrongly) flagged offside, which was just another decision to go against United, but they had some in their favour against Palace also. United struck in the 88th minute of the match with what turned out to be the winner with Ibrahimovic scoring the winning goal, assisted by Pogba, the player he assisted at the end of the first half. United have made it nine matches in a row without losing and are sure to commence a run this Christmas, which after the poor period last Christmas, will be well-received.

Paul Pogba is a baller

Paul Pogba has been criticised ever since his world record transfer to Manchester United was announced. Rival fans and even some so-called United supporters have been questioning the decision to spend £89 million plus on the Frenchman, being that he is not a goalscorer or a player who can be considered as a Ballon d’Or winner as he is not Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr or Antoine Griezmann. Goalscorers are not the only players in football, they are goalscorers because of the player behind them, the same player not yet being graded as the best in the world, purely for that reason. Pogba played possibly his best match for United this evening, scoring and assisting, creating four chances, having four shots on goal, playing 91 passes and winning all of his tackles, which would not be the case should he have been a City player, being that Pep Guardiola does not teach tackling. Pogba even manager 41 passes in the opposition’s third of the pitch, which goes to show the player’s ability, but many will choose to ignore he is anything to be excited about, which suggests they just do not understand football, or choose not to. Pogba will, under Jose Mourinho and at Manchester United, become the next big thing in football and the discontent from him doing that will be great entertainment.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores important goals

Michael Owen may think he is the be all and end all to scoring goals at Manchester United, even though he managed just 17 goals in three years at the club, feeling his goals were more important than those scored by the 25-year-old Swede, but all said and done, Zlatan has scored 14 goals this season, all in the first six months of his Manchester United career. Owen may have won a Premier League title, a League Cup and the FA Community Shield at United, but he did not win anything by himself and, most of the time, was carried by the club, spending a lot of time in the injury room. The way Owen talks about things, he is the best ever player to grace the pitch – he’s not. Diego Forlan scored 17 goals for United, in two years. Even Brian Greenhoff scored 17 goals for the club, and he was a defender. In terms of picking a player, Zlatan would get my pick as he’s earned his prestige, whereas Owen never really had any. Zlatan is an important Manchester United player, he may have only scored 41% of the goals scored by the club this season, but having a striker capable of scoring twenty plus goals a season is something United wanted last season and the season before. He may be 35 but look at his physique. He is becoming an unstoppable player, scoring his eighth goal in eight games at this stage of the season.

Michael Carrick is intrinsic to Manchester United

Michael Carrick is a player Manchester United want and need. It is a shame he is reaching the end of his playing days, but adding him as a coach in the years to come, if that is what he wanted to do, would be just as good, helping players develop their game and possibly helping a player with similar characteristics perform just like him, or as good as damn it. Carrick knows what to do, controlling the tempo of the game, using his intelligent passing skills to maintain possession and create chances for United on the advance. He may not have the pace, but a quick mind can be just as good. Look at Juan Mata for instance. Carrick will be a massive loss when he leaves the club, with few able to fill the role, Daley Blind, for instance, perhaps Timothy Fosu-Mensah or even Sean Goss in the years to come vying for the role. For now, though, Carrick must be kept fit, as having him in the starting XI is a surefire way of getting what United need, whether at home or on the road. Bastian Schweinsteiger could well be in with a chance of doing the same job for United, which could help them through the busy festive period and into 2017.

Defence needs some additions

Manchester United’s defence is something that is currently on its backside. Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw are on the sidelines through injury. Antonio Valencia was suspended for the visit to Crystal Palace, which was a massive loss but is something the squad got over. Matteo Darmian is struggling to find the form he had when he arrived at the club around 18 months ago and with Mourinho using all of his four fit central defenders, he will have to travel to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday knowing that many of his players were not able to be rested, unless Shaw and Smalling are due to return anytime soon, Eric Bailly seemed to suffer another injury to his other knee this evening, managing to play the entire first half after a challenge, unable to play much more than five minutes of the second half, replaced by Darmian. United may need to pounce on some new additions in the January transfer window, as if fit, Bailly will be leaving for the African Cup of Nations, where he will be until early February. United have dealt with defensive crises before and will do so again, but it is not the best thing to be enduring at this important stage of the season, but we do not live in an ideal world.

Conclusion

Manchester United have played some great football over the past few months, aside from the visit to Chelsea and Fenerbahçe, of course. Jose Mourinho has implemented some good football at the club in sixth months, something that previous managers have failed to succeed at. The fact United know how to dominate matches could come from the possession-based football under Louis van Gaal, but the ability to press opposition and push for a goal is something we did not see under the Dutchman, mush at least. Mourinho has implemented a great attacking style of play at the Old Trafford club, which has seen its fair share of problems but has also seemingly overcome those problems. Mourinho, despite all the fickle fair weather supporters disagreeing, is the right man for the job, and a year ago, I would never have said that. I never wanted Moutinho, have never liked him, but at Manchester United, Mourinho is a different man and seems to have (so far) been tamed by the beast.

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