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What We Learned: Herrera and Mata are great; some slack needs to be given

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Manchester United beat Manchester City in the EFL Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, making a statement after their 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Sunday. Pep Guardiola rested many of his stars, which was an unusual decision, especially in the fact his side were heading into six matches without a win, traveling to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday afternoon before entertaining Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday next week, which could very easily see Guardiola winless in eight matches, which will be the first time it has happened in his career – the same as six winless matches was a record for him tonight. Manchester City just don’t seem to be that threatening side they once were, yet criticism has been avoided as the media love City and, to be honest, who would care that they seem to be failing, especially when probably 98% of the country seem interested in reading about Manchester United.

Ander Herrera is magnificent

The Spanish midfielder was signed under Louis van Gaal two and a half years ago now and seemed to struggle to find his feet, not knowing where his best position was, with the manager having that same problem. Under Jose Mourinho, Herrera has found his feet and his favoured position. Again Chelsea on Sunday, Herrera and Antonio Valencia were the two players that could leave Stamford Bridge with their heads held high, tonight seems to be the same, although more players could raise their heads for good performances. Herrera was lively throughout the match, getting forward to try and find the lead shortly before Juan Mata found what would be the winner of the match. The Spaniard, for me, and probably for Mourinho, is the first name on the team sheet and could well be a future captain of the side for the passion and respect he has for the club and for winning. United should really think about looking at him as a candidate, especially if there is any truth in the rumours suggesting Wayne Rooney will need to leave Manchester United in order to get more game time.

Juan Mata was tipped to leave but is destined to stay

Juan Mata left Chelsea for Manchester United in January 2014 when Jose Mourinho saw him as a player that had his uses in his side but was not his first choice at the club. Mata became David Moyes’ best signing, although to be fair it is not hard to beat Marouane Fellaini in that category. When Mourinho was announced as the new Manchester United manager, Mata was the subject of much speculation suggesting he would be the first player out of the door. Mourinho gave him chances, he paid his manager back and has become one of the best players in the side. Mata is a great player. He may not be blessed with pace, but what he falls short of in that category, he makes up in the brains department. His thinking is lightning quick and because of that, he is able to read the game and get himself to where he wants to be. Mata scored the winner for United this evening, was also influential in the 4-1 victory over Fenerbahçe a week ago and when he came on against his former club at the weekend, he tried to get his team back into the match. Juan Mata, along with Ander Herrera has to have the Manchester United team built around them as they are the best players in the team currently.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic needs to be cut some slack

Back in July when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was announced as a Manchester United player, there was much excitement for the Swede. Last season he scored 50 goals in 51 matches for Paris Saint-Germain, a feat many know will not be repeated at United, but still having him in the team was a confidence booster as his mentality is great. Zlatan is a winner and has won wherever he goes. Again, Chelsea, he did not have the best of matches, much like others recently, but if you look past everything he does for his team during matches, you miss everything and therefore it is easy to start throwing criticism at him, which many Manchester United supporters on social media seem to do. Tonight against Manchester City, Zlatan was trying to set his teammates up for goals, took a lot of tackling, and saw more than his fair share of fouls against him. This man was suggested to be selfish, but since he has been at United, that is something I have not seen from him. If he knows he can get into the box and score, he will attempt that. If not, he will try and set a teammate up. Zlatan needs to be cut some slack. A great striker needs service, otherwise, he is going to try and serve himself, which will see him fail and let the team down. When Manchester United have found their feet and start to perform properly, Zlatan will be in the zone and given the service all great strikers need. Ruud van Nistelrooy would not have scored as many goals as he did, had it not been for the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes et al helping him. Think about that before you criticise him.

Conclusion

Manchester United have not really been in bad form this season, other than the three-match losing streak back in September. Before the defeat to Chelsea, United had managed to avoid defeat in six matches, which is the same amount of matches Pep Guardiola’s side have been winless. United seem to get all the criticism and negativity, even from their own so-called supporters. Yes, this is not a period of success like we had under Sir Alex Ferguson, but it has been three years now with United stuttering – three managers and if this one does not work out, United will be in an even worse position as who in their right mind would want to manage a club where the fans see their own arses after a defeat and call for the manager to be sacked. Yes, David Moyes got sacked for poor management of the club. Louis van Gaal was sacked for not leading his side to the period the club thought was coming. But to sack Jose Mourinho without really giving him a chance is pathetic. Football is a game where you win, lose or draw. That is what happens and that needs to be accepted. Many seem to have rewritten history by suggesting that Sir Alex Ferguson did not lose big matches. He did. In the 1,500 matches Ferguson was the Manchester United manager for, he won 902, drew 327 and lost 271.

You learn from defeats and constantly winning, although nice, would become so boring. The Premier League is a very competitive league, therefore one of the toughest leagues in Europe if not the world. Perhaps the fans should also give the manager a little slack. Rome was not built in a day, you cannot force it to be built in a day either. Starting again, which is what United have done by installing a new manager, will mean that you need to give the manager a period of grace. Nobody is going to come into a club like Manchester United and turn them into the best team in the world in a couple of months. Look at what has been achieved by the manager so far. United have more wins than draws and defeats, in all competitions at least, they are sitting seventh in the league just six points from the top of the table, which sees Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool all sharing the top spot with twenty points apiece. The teams above United have had some poor results which United have failed to capitalise on. That will probably happen again. United have turned their fortunes around once again, turned a defeat into a win and now head into the nest match with some more confidence. Just remember, if something is worth having, it is worth waiting for.

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