5 Things We’ve Learned from United’s win over Sheffield United

Man Utd player ratings vs Sheffield United: Assessing five key ...
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1. Anthony Martial has the X-factor we need

Martial picked up a true striker’s hat trick, firing three goals past Sheffield United’s keeper Simon Moore.  United has at times had trouble scoring goals and this is mainly due in my opinion, to the lack of a goal-poaching striker on the roster.  Martial was deployed in the target striker role and played with a level of confidence I haven’t seen in him in a United shirt.  Ole Gunnar Solskjær has talked about Martial scoring from “inside the 6-yard box”, and that’s exactly what Martial did on the day.  If Martial can grab hold of the striker’s role and play this confidently in the box, United may have solved its striker problem.  Martial produced two first time finishes, resisting the urge to over-handle the ball on his first two goals.  His third goal was a calm chip over the keeper at a time where a chip was the necessary shot to produce a goal.  

2. Sheffield United Needs to Find a Way to Keep Dean Henderson 

With Henderson unavailable due to the loan deal from Man United, Sheffield had to turn to backup keeper Simon Moore.  Although Moore wasn’t necessarily at fault for any of the 3 goals Manchester scored, there is something unnerving about playing with a backup keeper.  Also without their top defender John Egan due to a red card, you have to wonder if communication was a factor for the Blades?  In any case, they looked lost as a group on the backline as the Red Devils kept up a barrage of attacks that resulted in three goals. 

3. A Long-Term Partnership Between Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes Could be Beautiful

Pogba was relentless in attack, creating chance after chance for Man United.  Right on his tail? Bruno Fernandes.  Pogba completed 9 long balls on the day, which had the effect of getting United’s attack going quickly.  Fernandez took 2 shots, hitting the frame once and drew a foul on the day.  The two midfield men give opponents a lot to think about during the course of a game, and should they play more together, the results should grow exponentially. After all, this was the just first time they partnered from the opening whistle!

4. Matic Can Still Play

A bit of a forgotten man, particularly with the emergence of Scott McTominay, Matic has been an inconsistent starter for Man United this season.  Matic however was his old linkup midfield self in the match against Sheffield United. The Serbian international was brilliant in ball recovery and transitioning the club to offence during his run.  Matic coverage allowed Bruno Fernandez, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford the freedom to attack Sheffield United’s goal.

5. This Current United Squad is not the Squad that Started this Season

After a resounding victory against Chelsea to open the 2019-2020 campaign (that seems to be 25 years ago at this point), United struggled out of the gate gaining just 9 of the season’s first 24 available points; just 6 after the opening day win.  That squad did not feature the type of lineup we see now.  Aaron Wan- Bissaka was still working his way into the squad, Martial had never flashed the skill he showed against Sheffield and throughout this campaign, and of course, there was no Bruno Fernandes/Paul Pogba partnership.  The sky is the limit for this club now. 

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