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Mkhitaryan found it difficult on the sidelines; vowed ‘this is a new start’

Manchester United beat Feyenoord 4-0 at Old Trafford on Thursday night in the UEFA Europa League in a convincing display, something which has been present over the last few matches, with results dampening down the performances. This shows that United are improving, and this display will only add confidence, meaning United will be hungry to perform and put chase on their rivals, something which Jose Mourinho has instilled at the club. Injuries have been costly, but in a way they have also allowed both Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo to show the manager what they can do, and over the last three matches, they have done well, considering. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was named the Man of the Match after a great performance in his first start since September, Wayne Rooney also scored his 39th European goal for the club, and coming within one goal of matching Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record at the club.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan speaking about being back in the team and taking chances:

“It was a pleasure to play again and to start the game. I’ve tried to do my best and I think it’s a very good result for the team.

“It was very difficult to watch the team playing from the side but you have to have passion and to work hard and try to take your next chance.

“I hope [this is a new start], let’s see.”

Wayne Rooney on his recent media slating, his goal, his record and the team performance:

“I think all that’s created by people like yourself asking questions now when people in the media are making a big deal over nothing.

“I didn’t actually even step foot into the wedding, I think it’s a shame I’m having to talk about it now after such a great victory.

“It was a good win, a 4-0 victory, we’re pleased we got four goals, I think the second goal killed the game. At 1-0 you never know what can happen so the second goal killed them off, we got a couple more goals and overall played some really good stuff.

“It’s a great feeling obviously to score goals and score goals for this club. I’m pleased, I’m sure there are more to come, I’m happy with the win first of all but also the goal.”

Jose Mourinho on Manchester United’s biggest victory during his reign of the club:

“I think it was a similar performance to the others we had at home we were dominant we controlled the first game to the last but this time we scored goals.

“People like him [Rooney] don’t need to answer anymore, just need to enjoy a few more years of his career and playing the best he can, which is what he tries to do.

“But more important than that is we just need one more point to qualify.”

Mourinho on the overall reflections of the victory:

“Yeah I’m happy, this was a performance and a result. I was saying before the match, performance without result is not good but gives you a future. A bad performance with a good result is a happy moment but it’s just a happy moment, not a happy future. And this time they played very well again with goals and it’s important for us because we always said since day one we want to do well in the Europa League. We were in a position of needing four points and now we need just one.”

Mourinho on Wayne Rooney’s European record:

“I didn’t know that [about the record]. And more important than that is the three points that we need and the performance of the team but I think when you make history it’s always beautiful, just beautiful details in your career and in this case for Wayne it’s fantastic.”

Mourinho on the return of Henrikh Mkhitaryan:

“The reception [from the fans] he deserved because he played very well. Always improving, improving, improving, improving until the moment he was really tired and I felt it was the right moment to take him off and to let him come off with a very good performance. It was important for his confidence and he will try to keep adapting and trying to replicate this kind of quality performance in the Premier League which is a competition with different difficulties.”

Mourinho on being spoilt for choice in defence, presumably after injuries:

“The problem is [more] when you are in trouble to choose. Like when I had Phil Jones injured and Marcos Rojo injured, Smalling injured and Bailly injured, that was a big, big, big problem so [selection dilemmas] are good problems.”

Mourinho on his Manchester United side facing West Ham United twice in four days:

“Honestly I don’t like it, I never like it. It has happened to me many times in my career and it’s something that I think is not good. But we have to just forget the second game and focus on the first one and go step by step.”

United have a big match on Sunday, in which they will be looking to get back to winning ways in the Premier League against West Ham United, then against the following Wednesday in the EFL Cup, where United will be looking to put themselves into the latter stages of the domestic competition, keeping their options open for the remainder of the season, seemingly with the Premier League out of reach, for now at least. With many matches still to play and form of clubs changing, as it does over the course of the season, United, providing they get into good form, push their opposition and grind the victories, could well get up there with their rivals and contend for the title this season, although that being more of a pipe dream right now. United are heading in the right direction.

Report: Manchester United beat Feyenoord 4-0 in impressive display

Manchester United beat Feyenoord 4-0 in the UEFA Europa League at Old Trafford on Thursday night in a very convincing win. Jose Mourinho’s side were on fire from the start of the match, dominating their opposition with Wayne Rooney, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and others pulling the strings. Paul Scholes made the claim that United would score four or five goals in this match, something he was right about. United have been playing like this for the past few weeks, but the result will instil the confidence in the side that never gave up. Good luck on Sunday, coin throwers!

Jose Mourinho made six changes to the side which faced Arsenal five days ago with Sergio Romero, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Wayne Rooney, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all starting. United would need a victory over Feyenoord to be in with a chance of a knockout stage berth in the UEFA Europa League this season after Fenerbahçe beat Zorya Luhansk 2-0 in the early evening kick off. United were third in the group at kick off with six points from four matches, perhaps United were lucky to still be in with a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages, but either way, this should be taken seriously, or the criticism that will follow will be thick and fast.

Ahead of the match, Jose Mourinho said that Michael Carrick would be the only positional player with five attacking players, other than the four defenders and the goalkeeper that is. United started the match lively, using their attackers to their potential, which is what we wanted and needed to see. United were playing some good football with some good attacking play against the Dutch side. Paul Pogba fired a decent effort towards goal, just off target. United were trying to find something to take the driving seat in the game, being very positive in their quest.

Soon, Feyenoord had a rare chance to get something from this game, breaking through United and getting a shot on goal, which Romero blocked, with a second chance moments later, making the save again. United seem to be up for the challenge, pressing to get what they need from this match. United, despite being on top for  much of the game, suffered a flat patch around the half hour mark, which needed to change in order for them to get back on the front foot. Minutes later, United were on the attack with Pogba and Mkhitaryan, with nothing coming of the attack. United were getting ready for some action on the build up.

In the 35th minute of the match, United found the opening goal with Wayne Rooney scoring his 248th goal for Manchester United, his 39th European goal for the club, after Zlatan Ibrahimovic assisted for the captain. United need to keep on the front foot, maintain possession and up the pressure on their Dutch opposition. United were still on the front foot, making Feyenoord look like they were out of their depth, which may change into the second half of the match. Mkhitaryan has been playing well, seemingly Mourinho’s plan has worked thus far, given the player some time to adapt, being protected by him and now raring to get involved. The first half ended with United scoring the only goal of the match.

United started well int he second half with the first notable chance coming from Rooney, but he could not catch up with the ball to cause problems for goalkeeper Brad Jones. Mkhitaryan was denied a clear foul against him by the referee after he broke through the Feyenoord defence, which possibly could have been a red card for the visitors, but yet again, another decision not given for United by another poor referee. I’m sensing a pattern here this season. United did find the net against in the 55th minute, but if was offside. United are looking to get what they need, maintaining the pressure on the Eredivisie leaders, who have so far bene played out of the match.

United were playing some good football again, things are starting to click. A second goal was a just though, or heartbreak could befit United once again. Mkhitaryan has been on fire, getting some good balls into good positions and getting involved himself on the run. Juan Mata has been one of the key players in the match too. Mourinho has got his side starting to look like a Manchester United side, which is great to see. United doubled their lead on the 69th minute with Juan Mata finding the back of the net with a Rooney assist. United had their insurance, should they concede a late goal, but another would not go a miss. United were still trying. Marcus Rashford replaced the goalscorer, Mata, moments after scoring.

United went 3-0 up in the 75th minute after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the ball in the area, crossed it short, further into the area and Brad Jones put the ball into his own net with a deflection. United were home and dry and in the running for a knockout stage berth, should they obtain a point against Zorya Luhansk. Wayne Rooney and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were replaced in the 82nd minute for Jesse Lingard and Memphis Depay with United looking to end the match on a high, continuing to pressure their Dutch opposition, who have been made to look very poor at Old Trafford this evening. United continued to dominate the match, scoring a fourth goal in stoppage time after Antonio Valencia assisted Jesse Lingard for a stunning effort on goal. United were home and dry at Old Trafford and Paul Scholes was right, United scored four goals in a pretty dominant affair.

Goals: Wayne Rooney 35′, Juan Mata 69′, Brad Jones OG 75′, Jesse Lingard 90+1′

Assists: Zlatan Ibrahimovic 35′, Wayne Rooney 69′, Antonio Valencia 90+1′

Manchester United: Romero; Valencia, Jones, Blind, Shaw; Carrick, Pogba; Mata (Rashford 70′), Rooney (Lingard 82′), Mkhitaryan (Memphis 82′); Ibrahimovic

Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Rojo; Herrera, Fellaini

CONFIRMED: Mkhitaryan, Rooney, Mata & Ibrahimovic start against Feyenoord

Manchester United face Feyenoord in the UEFA Europa League at Old Trafford this evening. Back in September, the Dutch side beat United in their first group stage match of the competition this season, something United need to get them back for this evening. United need four points from their last two matches in the competition in order to earn a place in the knockout stages of the competition this season. This is a must win match for United if they are to go into the next match with less pressure. United played well against Arsenal but ended up drawing 1-1 at the weekend, playing some of the best football on offer this season. United need to start winning matches at home, which could be a turning point for their season. United face West Ham United twice in their next two matches, both at Old Trafford in the Premier League (Sunday) and the EFL Cup (Wednesday) respectively. Come on UNITED!

Manchester United:

Romero;

Valencia, Jones, Blind, Shaw;

Carrick, Pogba;

Mata, Rooney, Mkhitaryan;

Ibrahimovic

Substitutes:

De Gea; Rojo; Memphis, Lingard, Herrera, Fellaini; Rashford

Preview: Mkhitaryan to inspire Manchester United to victory?

Old Trafford, Manchester

UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Thursday 24th November 2016 – KO 20:05 [Live on BT Sport]

Referee: Manuel Gräfe (GER)

Assistant Referees: Holger Henschel (GER) and Guido Kleve (GER)

Additional Assistant Referees: Robert Hartmann (GER) and Sascha Stegemann (GER)

Fourth Official: Christian Gittelmann (GER)

Manchester United host Feyenoord on the UEFA Europa League at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. Fresh from their 1-1 draw against Arsenal at the weekend, which felt like a defeat, United will need to turn the screws and ensure a result against the Dutch side in order to put them in contentions for a knockout stage place in the competition next year. Jose Mourinho has struggled with injury over the past month or so, which could end soon with Eric Bailly weeks away from returning, only to disappear again as the Ivory Coast play in the African Cup of Nations in January. Phil Jones has been a standout performer for United over their last two matches, the victory over Swansea City and the draw with Arsenal, starting to find his feet again in his return from his latest injury, which seems like he has been on the sidelines for the last three years.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back for United and could lead the line against the Dutch side, which could give Marcus Rashford the rest he needs to recuperate and stop a burn out happening, as he has seemed out of sorts recently. Anthony Martial needs to confidence to find his form again and starting against Feyenoord could well instill than in him ready for the double-header against West Ham United over the coming week in the Premier League (Sunday) and the EFL Cup (Wednesday). Henrikh Mkhitaryan will play some part in the match, hopefully from the start in a bit to regain some confidence after his poor start at his new club. He played against Fenerbahçe, albeit from the bench and before that he last played in the Manchester derby back in September. United will be heading into the busy festive period next week in which they will play seven matches throughout December, the busiest month of the season so far.

United, should they keep their heads like they did against Arsenal, should be able to get one over the Dutch side who helped see their start in the Europa League off to a bad start. Fenerbahçe earlier in the month did the same, which was a match United should have won, meaning they could have qualified with a win against Feyenoord, having a final match against Zorya Luhansk in the Ukraine to use players who have been on the fringes of the team so far this season. One thing is for sure, if United fail to win, their chances of securing qualification to the knockout stages will be slim.

Manchester United Form:- DWLDW

Arsenal 1-1 D, Swansea City 3-1 W, Fenerbahçe 2-1 L, Burnley 0-0 D, Manchester City 1-0 W

Manchester United need to be playing like they did against Arsenal at Old Trafford at the weekend if they are to get the result they need against Feyenoord on Thursday night. They need to find an early goal, pressure the Dutch side and then find another goal, or two in order to insure themselves against the possibility of a draw. United will be thin on the ground, especially in defence, but the addition of Henrikh Mkhitaryan being included on the squad, hopefully starting, his inclusion could give United an attacking edge and then some confidence for the player to take into the Premier League, something which he may not see for a while.

Feyenoord Form:- WLDDW

Zwolle 3-0 W, Go Ahead Eagles 1-0 L, Zorya Luhansk 1-1 D, Heerenveen 2-2 D, Excelsior 4-0 W

Feyenoord started their season well, beaten only once in the Eredivisie this season and sit pretty at the top of the league, two points clear of Ajax. At home, Feyenoord beat United comfortably and that will need to change on Thursday evening if United are to get the result they need in order to qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League, of face domestic football for the remainder of the season. Many suggested United should not take this competition seriously at the start of the season, but should United get knocked out, those same fans will be moaning.

Manchester United Top Scorers:

8 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 4 – Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, 2 – Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, 1 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling

Feyenoord Top Scorers:

10 – Nicolai Jørgensen, 6 – Jens Toornstra, 5 – Dirk Kuyt, 4 – Eljero Elia, 3 – Steven Berghuis, Karim El Ahmadi, 2 – Eric Botteghin, Tonny Vilhena, Michiel Kramer, 1 – Bilal Başaçıkoğlu, Rick Karsdorp, Terence Kongolo, Renato Tapia, Marko Vejinović

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Injuries and Suspensions: Marouane Fellaini (calf), Eric Bailly (knee), Chris Smalling (foot)

Feyenoord Squad:

Manager: Giovanni van Bronckhorst

Goalkeepers: Kenneth Vermeer, Warner Hahn, Justin Bijlow, Pär Hansson, Brad Jones

Defenders: Rick Karsdorp, Sven van Beek, Terence Kongolo, Jan-Arie van der Heijden, Lucas Woudenberg, Bart Nieuwkoop, Wessel Dammers, Eric Botteghin

Midfielders: Marko Vejinović, Karim El Ahmadi, Tonny Vilhena, Steven Berghuis, Renato Tapia, Simon Gustafson, Jens Toornstra, Emil Hansson, Gustavo Hamer

Forwards: Dirk Kuyt, Nicolai Jørgensen, Eljero Elia, Bilal Başaçıkoğlu, Michiel Kramer, Rashaan Fernandes, Nigel Robertha, Mohamed El Hankouri

Injuries and Suspensions: N/A

Predicted Starting XI:

I expect Jose Mourinho will change his squad for the Feyenoord match being that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available after being suspended against Arsenal at the weekend, he has also confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be involved in the match, and considering he has been training with the team for weeks I expect him to start. Joe Riley missed the U23’s 2-0 defeat to Sunderland on Monday evening, so he could be a contender for a place in the left-back role, which could spell trouble for Luka Shaw, should he be given the chance and impress the manager, with Shaw being criticised in recent weeks for not manning up.

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 2-1 Feyenoord

Manchester United played their best game of the season against Arsenal at Old Trafford at the weekend, this is something United need to continue into their next game, which is a must win match in order to have any hope of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition. United have two tough matches at home against West Ham United in the Premier League and the EFL Cup.

Ratings: Feyenoord 1-0 Manchester United – UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Manchester United found themselves beaten 1-0 by Feyenoord in their opening match of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night in Rotterdam. United manager Jose Mourinho made many changes to his squad for the match in the Netherlands, starting in the 4-3-3 formation with a midfield trio of Morgan Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera, and Paul Pogba, with Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford in the three-man attack. On paper, United should have had enough on the pitch to walk away the victors in their opening match, but instead left ruing a goal, which was offside, and heading back to Manchester know that they have lost their last two matches, with a tricky trip to Watford on Sunday where they will need to bounce back and return to winning ways, or face the onslaught of the media as you can see the vultures gathering to cause problem with their non-stories. United missed many players this evening; Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw and Zlatan Ibrahimovic who came on just after the hour but struggled to get much from the match despite having a few chances, including a free-kick in the dying minutes of the match which was on target but did not trouble the goalkeeper. United have some big matches ahead of them.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spaniard was largely untroubled throughout the match making a few saves here and there, but the goal, which was offside, saw De Gea exposed and beaten easily.

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Matteo Darmian

Damian had the chance to state his case for a position in Mourinho's squad this season but failed to impress as United looked short of the mark in the Netherlands, again. Defensively, he was not all that great, neither was he at getting forward to be honest.

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3 Eric Bailly

The Ivorian had a good game, at times, cutting down the space for his opposition, putting in a few challenges and generally doing what he has done since the start of the season.

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Chris Smalling

The England defender made his first start of the season, playing well at times, but looked a little rusty, which was to be expected. Gives United another option in defence, which could see Bailly and Blind raise their game to avoid being dropped.

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16 Marcos Rojo

What a poor display, again, for the Argentinian. Not a United player. Atrocious defending. Was out of position for the (offside) goal. Gave nothing defensively, although he got forward at times. Not good enough though!

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Ratings: Feyenoord 1-0 Manchester United – UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Did well in midfield, kept things ticking over, but seemed rusty and lacked anything creative. I am sure he will get better, give a run of matches.

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21 Ander Herrera

The Spanish midfielder did well one again in the middle of the pitch, but seemed to lack the ability to get forward as much as he should have. Early days get for this midfield trio, but in time it could be the start to something good. I am always suspicious if something works the first time, a bit of adaptation and this could be United's midfield set for the foreseeable future.

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6 Paul Pogba

Not his best performance, and probably not his worst. Still that will not stop the media from mocking the 'world record signing'. Needs the time to settle, needs to see himself in the role he plays the best at United. Judgement should not be made yet!

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9 Anthony Martial

Had a few moments which looked like he was on the road to finding form again, but became anonymous towards the end of the first half and into the second. Was soon replaced by Memphis.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Seemed isolated for the majority of the time spent on the pitch. Got forward, took on his man but seemed to be challenged a lot, which resulted in a few fouls against him. Good experience for him, but it didn't worker him tonight. It does not mean it will never work for him though.

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8 Juan Mata

Hardly got into the match and seemed unable to find much space in the role he was playing in. Perhaps not the best option tonight, but should have done much better with his teammates than they actually did. Replaced by Young just after the hour.

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Substitutes

Ratings: Feyenoord 1-0 Manchester United – UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Replaced Martial. Given a chance to shine - he did in stages. Had the chance to create something, but the opportunity was wasted just before Feyenoord scored.

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18 Ashley Young

Replaced Mata. Helped add something late into the match. Got into the box and aimed to get balls into the box, but his accuracy was not the best.

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10 Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Replaced Rashford. Looked dangerous after his introduction, but it did not happen for the Swede in Rotterdam. Took a decent free-kick, but the keeper thwarted his effort.

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Report: Feyenoord 1-0 Manchester United – UEFA Europa League 2016/17

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

Starting XI: Feyenoord v Manchester United – UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Manchester United face Feyenoord in Rotterdam in the first group stage match of the UEFA Europa League this evening. Last season, United started in the UEFA Champions League, sharing a group with Feyenoord’s rivals PSV Eindhoven. United’s first match in the elite European competition was away to PSV, a year to the day. United lost 2-1, also losing Luke Shaw for the remainder of the season due to a double leg fracture. United drew the home match 0-0, exiting the Champions League at the group stage, falling into the Europa League. United beat Midtjylland, albeit on aggregate after losing the away match 2-1, willing 5-1 at home, then falling to Liverpool in the round of 16, exiting the competition at the same stage they exited the competition during the 2011/12 season under Sir Alex Ferguson at the hands of Athletic Bilbao. United have never won the Europa League, this will be the third time they have participated in the tournament, the first time from the group stages.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Darmian, Bailly, Smalling, Rojo;

Schneiderlin, Herrera, Pogba;

Martial, Rashford Mata

Substitutes:

Romero; Fosu-Mensah; Memphis, Carrick, Young, Fellaini; Ibrahimovic

Feyenoord:

Jones;

Karsdorp, Botteghin, Van der Heijden, Kongolo;

El Ahmadi, Kuyt, Vilhena;

Berghuis, Jorgensen, Toornstra

Substitutes:

Hansson, Woudenberg, Nieuwkoop, Vejinovic, Tapia, Basacikoglu, Kramer

Scouting The Opposition: Feyenoord v Manchester United – UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Manchester United begin their Europa League campaign with a tough test against Dutch club Feyenoord. Currently sitting at the top of the Eredivisie and unbeaten in the league, Feyenoord will present a stern first round challenge. United will be hoping to use this opportunity to bounce back from derby day defeat at the weekend. Under manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Feyenoord were successful in the KNVB Cup last year as well as securing a third place finish in the league.  They will be hoping to build this year’s domestic and European campaign on that success and will be eager to show their quality against the tournament favourites. The club performed well domestically last season to earn a Europa league spot.  Yet they came up short in each of their meetings with teams above them, PSV Eindhoven and Ajax.  Unable to beat each home or away, Feyenoord will be looking to show that they can handle the big occasions this time around.

Manager: Giovanni van Bronckhorst

Taking over in 2015, Giovanni van Bronckhorst wasted no time bringing silverware to the club. A successful domestic cup campaign the culmination of an impressive first year. As a player, Van Bronckhorst was pivotal to both Barcelona and the Netherlands. Winning the Champions league in 2006 was the highlight of an impressive playing career. Before taking over as the manager himself, Van Bronckhorst worked as an assistant to current Everton manager Ronald Koeman. His club experience, coupled with tutelage under one of the Premier Leagues outstanding managers, bodes well for his future career in management. He demonstrated his potential by guiding Feyenoord to domestic cup success last season and maintaining a win percentage of 61.7% for the campaign. His Feyenoord play in a compact style, restricting the space in front of defence for the opposition to exploit.  Yet this often leads to a high defensive line opening up space in behind and inviting incisive balls in behind.

Form Guide

Heracles Almelo 0-1 Feyenoord

Feyenoord 4-1 Excelsior

Feyenoord 3-1 ADO Den Haag

Predicted Starting XI

Key Player: Dirk Kuyt

Feyenoord captain Dirk Kuyt is no stranger to United fans after several years on Merseyside in the red of Liverpool. With 23 goals in all competitions last season, the Dutchman was instrumental in the club’s third place finish.  He has continued his goal scoring form into this season where he is enjoying a late career bloom in his home country. He had the form for scoring against United in his Liverpool days, with a memorable close-range hat-trick in the latter days of his run in front of the Kop. His advancing years are likely to make him less of a threat this time around. The athleticism of Manchester United’s new-look back four should have the legs to cope with his high energy approach. Yet his versatility, often operating in a wide forward role or even in midfield, will make him difficult to pick up.  His determination and work-rate marked him out as a key player for Liverpool and keeping track of his movement will be no easy task. Communication between midfield and defence will be key as United seek to nullify his threat.

Score Prediction

Feyenoord 0-2 Manchester United

These two sides have might twice before in European competition, with Manchester United winning both during the 1997 Champions League campaign.  Yet times have changed for both sides and the Feyenoord that United face in the Europa League this season will be a different proposition. Van Bronckhorst’s side are enjoying a good run of form domestically and will be eager to show this on the European stage.  Conversely, United remain in a transitional phase and arrive in Holland on the back of a chastening derby day defeat. Saturday’s match showed how far United still have to go to return to title-winning form. Mourinho may see the Europa League as an unwelcome distraction from regaining domestic dominance for the red half of Manchester.

Changes to the starting eleven are likely with a league fixture against Watford on the horizon.  Mourinho has already confirmed that Marcus Rashford will play after an impressive cameo at the weekend.  Anthony Martial should also return to the starting line-up. This pace and youthful exuberance up-front should be able to exploit the high defensive line Feyenoord favour. Players with the passing range of Carrick, Herrera or Pogba should be able to cause problems for the back four of Feyenoord. United will need to defend with more conviction than during the Manchester derby but Mourinho’s experience in European competition is second to none. He should be able to take all three points home from the Netherlands.

Tactical Preview: Feyenoord v Manchester United – UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Looking for an immediate return to form after the Manchester derby, United travel to the Netherlands in their Europa League clash with Feyenoord at the “De Kuip” stadium. A hostile atmosphere will await Jose Mourinho and his men, the Dutch side is known for being loud and proud, helping their team to 14 Eredivisie titles, two UEFA Cups, and one European cup win. It will by no means an easy fixture for United but will go into the game as favourites even with Mourinho expected to change a large proportion of the squad. United’s official website writes that starts for Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera are likely and hint that there might well be other changes with squad players being tested out.

For all there might be changes in personnel, it’s unlikely Mourinho will change the formation with the favoured 4-2-3-1 to be employed again. With Rashford up front, either two of Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay, Jesse Lingard or Ashley Young getting a start as the wingers. If I was to go with my gut, Martial and Memphis will get the nod, Rooney at number 10 and Schneiderlin & Herrera as the two defensive midfielders. Memphis has only made the one appearance this season and has been working hard off the pitch getting match fit rather than bulking up. Jesse Lingard struggled in the game against City, coming off at half-time and not completing a single successful dribble in the game. Henrikh Mkhitaryan will more than likely be rested as he continues to find fitness after picking up a couple of small niggles over the international period.

Feyenoord

Feyenoord will line up in a 4-3-3 formation as they do in the league, with former Liverpool winger Dirk Kuyt playing as either a winger or more recently in the number 10 position. He is among the three real threats that Feyenoord possess, the others being wingers Steven Berghuis and the very quick Jens Toornstra. They boss a massively impressive five wins in five games this season in Eredivisie and will be looking to dominate the game on their home turf. Another familiar face, when the reds come calling, will be former Liverpool keeper, Brad Jones who is enjoying a lengthy run of games but as he proved in his vulnerability in his limited appearances for the English side.

Manchester UnitedUnited will be keen to perform well in the Europa League, even with the stigma surrounding the tournament. It’s a great opportunity to see young players perform and still an impressive title to have at the end of the season if successful. Two players who will be dying to make an impact on the game and impress Mourinho are Marcus Rashford and Memphis Depay. Rashford, of course, burst onto the scene during as a late replacement for Anthony Martial against Midtjylland in the Europa League where he scored two goals on his United debut.  His performances since have been incredible and many are calling out for more game time for the young Englishman but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in fine form, this competition is where Rashford will look to make his mark. Memphis Depay is the same, struggled under Louis van Gaal except for in the Europa League scoring five goals in 11 games last season in which he showed his true potential.

Key Battles

Marcus Rashford v Terrence Kongolo  

The pace and directness of Marcus Rashford will be a tough test for the Feyenoord defence but they do have some pace and power of their own at the back with Terrence Kongolo. The powerful centre-back will be tested throughout but has a terrific reputation. Whoever wins this one will have a huge hand in how their team does on the night.

Steven Berghuis v Matteo Darmian

As mentioned before the winger for Feyenoord, Steven Berghuis, is a quick and tricky player, he loves to dribble past players and will cause all sorts of problems if he’s allowed to settle. Matteo Darmian is rumoured to be one of the ones coming into the team allowing Valencia rest and a chance to prove himself in front of a big crowd in front of Mourinho. The Italian showed last season he has the ability to be a top right-back but truly does lack the consistency at this point of his career. It’ll be a hard night for the United defender unless he can stick with his man and not allow any room for maneuver.

Ander Herrera v Dirk Kuyt

Ander Herrera isn’t normally a defensive midfielder but played there excellently when he came on against City and will look for more of the same, shutting down attacks and providing that finesse in the middle of the park. He’ll need plenty of awareness and tactical thought as he is coming up against a veteran of the game in Kuyt who has netted three times in the league this season. He has plenty of European experience behind him with Liverpool and Fenerbahce and still has the pace to get up and down the field as well as an eye for goal.

Preview: Feyenoord v Manchester United – UEFA Europa League 2016/17

De Kuip, Rotterdam, Netherlands

UEFA Europa League 2016/17

Thursday 15th September 2016 – KO 18:00 [Live on BT Sport]

Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano (ESP)

Assistant Referees: Miguel Martínez (ESP) and Angel Nevado Rodriguez (ESP)

Additional Assistant Referees: Juan Martinez Munuera (ESP) and Alejandro Hernandez (ESP)

Fourth Official: Diego Barbero Sevilla (ESP)

Manchester United open their UEFA Europa League season on Thursday evening against Feyenoord at De Kuip in Rotterdam. This is the first time United have started the group stages in Europe’s secondary competition which was earned after United finished fifth in the Premier League last season, just behind Manchester City in fourth on goal difference. United have played in the Europa League twice before, once back in the 2011/12 season under Sir Alex Ferguson and last season after dropping out of the UEFA Champions League group stage. United have not been all that great in the competition, losing 2-1 to Midtjylland, but winning the return leg 5-1, then losing 2-0 to Liverpool at Anfield before a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, with United exiting the competition at the same stage they had under Ferguson, that time, though, they were schooled by Athletic Bilbao 5-3 on aggregate, beating Ajax 3-2 on aggregate in the previous round.

A new European campaign always brings hope and enticing odds for big teams to win the competition, but United fans will be wary – the team has not done well against Dutch opposition recently.. Last season, PSV Eindhoven were in United Champions League group. On the 15th September 2015, United were beaten 2-1 by the Dutch side, a match where Luke Shaw also suffered a double leg fracture and ended his season prematurely, incidentally a year to the date they face Feyenoord in the Netherlands. United drew 0-0 with PSV at Old Trafford in the fifth group stage match last season which all but ended their chances of making the knockout stages of the competition. United will be up for the challenge of the Dutch side, who has started the season well in the Eredivisie, winning their first five matches of the season, only defeated by PSV in the Johan Cruyff Shield on the 31st July 2016. United have had a good start this season, winning four out of five matches with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring five goals in as many games and Eric Bailly settling into his new club well with many Man of the Match performances.

Jose Mourinho has previously stated that he could not wait for September to come as it would see his side play more matches with the UEFA Europa League and the EFL Cup commence, which means he will be able to use more of his players, with many not yet featuring for their club this season. The Portuguese manager has left Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard in Manchester was a 20-man squad left for Rotterdam. Phil Jones and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were also left as there were suggestions both are currently injured, which is something you can expect of Jones, who seems to be injured all the time, despite not playing a minute of competitive football this season. Mourinho should be able to offer the likes of Matteo Darmian, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Chris Smalling, Memphis Depay, Michael Carrick, Morgan Schneiderlin and Marcus Rashford some playing time this month, with many likely to feature for United on Thursday.

Manchester United Form:- LWWWWD

Manchester City 2-1 L, Hull City 1-0 W, Southampton 2-0 W, AFC Bournemouth 3-1 W, Leicester City 2-1 W, Everton 0-0 D [F]

Feyenoord Form:- WWWWWL

ADO Den Haag 3-1 W, Excelsior 4-1 W, Heracles Almelo 1-0 W, Twente 2-0 W, FC Groningen 5-0 W, PSV Eindhoven 0-1 L

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Matteo Darmian

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Feyenoord Squad:

Manager: Giovanni van Bronckhorst

Goalkeepers: Kenneth Vermeer, Warner Hahn, Justin Bijlow, Pär Hansson, Brad Jones

Defenders: Rick Karsdorp, Sven van Beek, Terence Kongolo, Jan-Arie van der Heijden, Lucas Woudenberg, Bart Nieuwkoop, Wessel Dammers, Eric Botteghin

Midfielders: Marko Vejinović, Karim El Ahmadi, Tonny Vilhena, Steven Berghuis, Renato Tapia, Simon Gustafson, Jens Toornstra, Emil Hansson, Gustavo Hamer

Forwards: Dirk Kuyt, Nicolai Jørgensen, Eljero Elia, Bilal Başaçıkoğlu, Michiel Kramer, Rashaan Fernandes, Nigel Robertha, Mohamed El Hankouri

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Feyenoord 1-2 Manchester United

copyright: JW