What We Learned: Watford 3-1 Manchester United – Premier League 2016/17


Manchester United are in a spot of trouble five matches into the new Premier League season, again defeated, this time by Watford in the Premier League; the third defeat this season, in a row in just over a week. United’s week has not been great; beaten by Manchester City, beaten by Feyenoord, Dutch opposition again a year after Luke Shaw’s devastating injury, then the first defeat in 30 years at Vicarage Road. Jose Mourinho has his work cut out in order to get this team firing like they were at the start of the season. Consistency is something United lack, but they have been consistent in not turning up in the first half of matches, and losing them. It is just not good enough at the end of the day. I don’t mind seeing my team lose if they have played well – but when they play like this, in a clueless way, it is not on. These players get paid well, whether they do well or not. Many of them are stealing a living, including the club captain.

Wayne Rooney

The guy is finished. Many have been saying it for more than a season and have been jeered at for saying something that many did not agree with. Wayne Rooney is the captain of Manchester United. He has scored and created goals this season, he is at the top of his game. No, he’s not. He is closer to the bargain basement of his game than the top of it. The guy offers nothing. He sprays passes wide of the mark, loses possession, puts more shots into the stands rather than into the back of the net. I have had enough of it. Rooney is United’s top earner, close to breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record at the club, but just does not seem hungry enough to do it. That should ask many questions of the player, which will maybe see the ones who stick up for Rooney ask themselves why they stick up for him. What do they see, or think they see, to warrant the praise they give him. Rooney is 30, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 35 and the Swede is running rings around him, yet Rooney is still the man. I was gutted to hear that Rooney wanted to leave the club in 2010 and part of me wishes that I had a DeLorean and a flux capacitor to go back to 2010 and make sure he left. You can defend him all you like, but deep down I think you all know that the ‘white Pelé in no longer.


United’s midfield leave a lot to be desired at this moment in time. Playing Rooney in midfield is poor. He offers nothing. Having the likes of Ander Herrera, Morgan Schneiderlin and Michael Carrick on the bench is not a great option for United. Against Feyenoord, United played the 4-3-3 formation with Paul Pogba, Herrera and Schneiderlin in midfield and despite seeing United lose, albeit due to an offside goal, it was working for United. It was obviously the first time that formation was used, but it looked good, United had the space in midfield to play. If that formation was used a little more, the players, providing the right ones were played, would get used to it and United could be dominating once again. Paul Pogba, at £89 million should be a player that has a team built around him, but with Rooney in the team, that is not going to happen as he sees himself as the centre of attention, even though he offers nothing. Marouane Fellaini played well against Watford, had 97% pass completion and helped in terms of clearances, putting in some key passes to advancing players and generally trying to make an impact, but when you see Morgan Schneiderlin play against Feyenoord, then dropped after a good performance, what would that say to him. Yes, he’s not played a lot of matches this season and may not be fit enough to play two matches so close together, but in the coming weeks when he would be fit enough, and this still happens, many questions are going to be asked. United need to be evolving into a great side based on the players who have arrived at the club this summer, but they are devolving.

Sacking the manager

This seems to be the option for many after a defeat, yet when United were winning at the start of the season, you saw no comments like this. Modern football is starting to become a joke as there are literally millions of supporters out there who claim they support Manchester United, yet when United lose, it is these same people who are so offended with the fact ‘their’ team had lost, they come out with pathetic things like ‘time to sack the manager’, ‘I never wanted him anyway’ blah, blah, blah. Then if you have a look at their Twitter account, you go back to May and see that they did want Mourinho, they said he would change everything and bring United back to where they belong. It does make me wonder about supporters when I see this. Why do ‘fans’ always make themselves sound like they are the master when it comes to Manchester United? They know everything, yet when push comes to shove, they sware blind that they never wanted the manager, making them feel that they are always right.

These problems with United have affected the club since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. United have struggled to adapt post-Ferguson and they are still struggling now. I saw one person say that this is Mourinho’s fault that these problems have arisen again. Logic? If the same problems have been around for three years and Mourinho arrived at the end of May, how can it be his fault that a pre-existing problem has come back. Surely the problem would lie anywhere but the manager’s fault. Could it not be a problem that arises with players who have been at the club during those three years, could that be it? No, it can’t be can it. United have lost their third match in a row, it must be the managers fault and he must be sacked. I am glad I do not have that mentality. I was not happy with Mourinho coming to the club, but I have sucked it up and got on with it and now I feel the manager needs to be afforded time to solve the problems. Sacking him leaves United in square one, three manager’s (four if you include Ryan Giggs) into life after Ferguson and still no better for it. What manager would want to come to the club that sees the ‘fans’ moan after a defeat and call for their head?


This is something I felt the need to touch on. United have many competent defenders, and many incompetent defenders, naming no names. The point I am making is that there is depth in this area, enough for changes to be made in order to keep players fresh for the onslaught of matches they will face this season, especially over the next few months with the Premier League, UEFA Europa League and the EFL Cup all coming into contention. United started the season with Chris Smalling on the sidelines through injury and suspension, meaning that Eric Bailly and Daley Blind started the season and played well as a partnership, which was surprising as the former only arrived in the summer and was tipped to be ‘one for the future’ rather than a player for now. Bailly received a knock against Feyenoord on Thursday and was a doubt for today’s match, but be played after being passed fit. Perhaps with Blind being rested on Thursday he should have partnered Bailly in defence as they have worked well with each other and the Dutchman plays a different style of football, having the vision to read the game and pass from the back, which seems to be a trait that is liked at this moment in time, especially with goalkeepers.

Not having a settled defence can be a problem. Smalling was great last season, for the majority anyway, but he did make some rash challenges which could have cost United. Also him not starting the season saw a better partnership flourish, which is a good thing. Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw as the fullbacks is great, but I feel that Shaw may be holding himself back mentally because of his injury last season, which may cost United more as the weeks progress as it is stopping him from getting involved and getting tackles in to thwart attacking players – that may be something he does get over after time, but it is a worry of mine right now. With a solid back four, a back four who regularly play together, it will make United much better with minimal changes being made in rotation. If that offends players who are not picked for various reasons, sobeit. I am talking about the likes of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo here, who don’t really deserve to be part of the club going forward. One is injury prone to the point where he could become an expert in the field of private medicine and the other is not a footballer of United’s standard, despite getting into people’s hearts with his #RojoIsRed hashtags on his tweets.


If United are to get anywhere this season, they need to get over their problems, and fast. After five Premier League matches, United are in sixth place (could be seventh of Tottenham Hotspur beat Sunderland), which will see them already six points behind league leaders Manchester City, the team they need to be bettering this season. I know it is early days, but not getting over this now could be costly in the coming months and towards the end of the season. I do think City will falter at times, as to be honest Pep Guardiola is not all the experienced in the Premier League and things have been going well for him this season. His team has had a lot of luck and when it does not go their way, as it eventually will, we will then see that the bald manager is made of. He’s managed Barcelona and Bayern Munich, teams who were already successful before he arrived and teams who were full to the rafters with talent, meaning he just guided them to glory, which will not have always been his own work. City are not as successful as Barca and Bayern and again they had many players already at the club who were doing well; Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne etc. Funny how many seem to think these are Pep signings, when in fact they are just players the bald one had inherited from previous manager’s at the club. United will get there in the end. I mean they have won three league matches in five, it is not all that bad. Leicester City headed into this season as the champions and are now languishing in eleventh place and nothing has been criticised here. The work has only just begun for Manchester United and Jose Mourinho, what he does in the coming weeks will be telling for the way the season will go. If he continues to pick Wayne Rooney over other players who will have a better game in that position, more questions will be asked. Rooney was poor last season, and has got worse this season. That is not just a temporary problem. It is much more serious than that.

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copyright: JW

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