Manchester United got a hard earned victory against the minnows Yeovil town in the third round of FA cup on Sunday night. Late goals from Herrera and returning Di Maria was enough to secure the passage through to the fourth round of the competition. Let us look at the three talking points from the match:
Back three is simply not working
As in recent times, United started the match with an unfamiliar back three comprising Mcnair, Smalling and Blackett as the three centre backs. The Reds never got going in the first half and it was mainly due to the three at the back. When an attacker or a midfielder is sacrificed for an extra defender, it is imperative for the defenders to involve in the teams passing. But, neither of the three are good with the ball distribution. Thus, United where not able to make anything useful with the ball, despite having so much possession in the first half.
By contrast the football was better in the second half after the team switched to a back four. This allowed United to have more cutting edge in the attacking third and as a result of it, the Reds scored a couple of goals in that half. The Reds this season have won just two of the nine matches in which they played with a back three. United’s second half display against Yeovil shows yet again why United need to start with a familiar flat back four instead of the back three.
Van Gaal got his changes spot on
Both Rafael and Shaw was taken off in the break and where replaced with Evans and Mata. Many thought it was the teams poor first half display which forced Van Gaal into making these changes. But, the manager was forced to do it, as both the full backs got injured in the opening 45 minutes. Van Gaal to his credit though did not try to fit the players in the same set up and changed the system to a 4-2-2-2 (diamond) formation to fit the new players. United as a result moved the ball better in the second half.
Also Van Gaal has again shown that he is not afraid to make changes anytime during the match. On Sunday night, he took off the ineffectual Falcao for Di Maria in the hour mark. Despite already making two substitutions, Van Gaal made his final substitution with over half hour left. He also made Di Maria play up front and asked Rooney to hold his position behind the front men. The move helped United score a well constructed second goal. Di Maria who played up front incidentally got the teams crucial second after Rooney picked him up with an inch perfect pass.
Di Maria is back
The Argentine after making his British record transfer move in the summer from Real Madrid, as shown glimpses of his ability so far in the season. But, his regular injuries did not help him get a continuous run in the team sheet. As a result, United fans were not able to see the best of him so far this season. However, on Sunday night the Reds fans where in for a treat, as they saw exactly what he can do when he is on fire.
After coming on as a second half substitute, Di Maria looked lively for United. Despite playing up front he was given a free role as the winger was present all over the pitch. Also once he was in the United six yard box to clear the ball off the line following a header from Edwards in a corner. The second goal in particular reminded everyone of his real abilities. After running an entire half with the ball at his feet, Di Maria still had to composure to chip the ball cleverly over the on rushing goal keeper to get United’s second. If united are to have a good run in the competition, it is vital for Di Maria to stay fit.
Image courtesy: Bleacherreport and BBC