Manchester United salvaged a dramatic 2-1 win over Brentford. The result might have given their manager Erik ten Hag a lifeline, but problems persist with the team. The fact that they needed two injury-time goals from Scott McTominay to beat a mid-table team does not paint a very good picture of them.
United is still 10th in the league table with 12 points from eight matches and have the Manchester Derby coming up in a few weeks’ time. However, three points from the match will give ten Hag’s side some breathing space.
Manchester United’s forwards misfired again
McTominay turned the saviour for his team after coming in as a substitute, but the fact remains that Manchester United’s forwards spent yet another day without scoring a goal. With his brace, McTominay has probably staked his claim for having more game time. It had to be remembered in this context that he has been a prolific goal-scorer for Scotland in international football in recent times.
However, the ineptness of the likes of Anthony Martial remains a worry for them. Moreover, both Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount had to be substituted in the second half. United’s oppositions now prepare for Rashford’s runs through the inside-left channel well in advance and he continues to lack support from his colleagues.
Mount kept moving inside from the right flank repeatedly to look what exactly he is: a central attacking midfielder. However, ten Hag has played him as a defensive midfielder and now as a right winger to accommodate him into the playing XI.
Amrabat and Garnacho impressive for United
Sofyan Amrabat shunned his defensive role to a large extent and was one of United’s more impressive players with his flurry of forward passes, often into the opposition penalty box. However, it cannot be denied that he will not have such a luxury against a top team, as the pressure on United’s defense will be much more intense against such teams than it was against Brentford.
The prevalent pattern for United this season has been that they have needed support from their defensive midfielders to add impetus to their attack. If ten Hag could accommodate all of Casemiro, Amrabat and Christian Eriksen, it would have allowed his team to have the flow of forward passes from the middle third.
Alejandro Garnacho also impressed once again as a substitute with his dribbles and speed, but it remains a pity that he is not able to replicate that form while starting for the team. If he could do that, he would have given Rashford a stiff challenge for a place in the starting XI.
McTominay has thus given his team a much-needed boost that might go a long way towards saving their season and their manager’s job. However, the old problems persist for the side, which the United supporters will be wary of. Unless there is a serious improvement in their performance, a top-four finish may be out of their reach. Even a top-five finish that is required for a place in a European competition may prove to be difficult to come.