Manchester United are out of the Carabao Cup after suffering a 1-0 home defeat to West Ham.
Here are five things we learned from the fixture…
A team of players getting up to speed
United’s starting line-up featured four players playing their first minutes of the 2021/22 season.
It featured another two players making their first starts of the season, while another two had started just one match.
So this was always going to be a rusty performance, especially in defence, with Victor Lindelof the only one of the back four to have started a game this campaign. The early, soft goal conceded reflected this.
This was a necessary match to get these players up to speed, and United will be better for it in the long run.
It just wasn’t a night where many cases were successfully made by the players to prompt Solskjaer into giving them more regular game time.
United’s penalty wait goes on
Ludicrously, United were denied several penalty calls at the weekend. And the wait for a first spot-kick of the season goes on.
Jesse Lingard was pulled down inside the box by Mark Noble in the first half and no action was taken by the referee.
While there won’t be any sympathy from rival fans for United’s lack of penalties, it is becoming highly irritating and a bit farcical that this barren run of no spot kicks continues when the calls are so blatant.
Juan Mata seems pointless in 2021
Juan Mata actually created three chances during his time on the pitch, but it was still no surprise to see him substituted off after 61 minutes.
The second half was passing him by and United immediately looked better without him, with Mason Greenwood injecting pace into the attack.
The frustrating element of Mata’s presence and selection is that he is blocking younger talent.
Hannibal or Shola Shoretire could both have benefited from at least making the bench, and preferably getting some minutes.
A sense of duty and obligation from Solskjaer towards Mata meant the senior player got the chance, and it was a wasted opportunity.
Van de Beek good in possession, not so without
This was only Donny van de Beek’s second start of the season so refer back to our first point about rustiness. But we saw the good and bad from the Dutchman in his midfield role in this one.
Van de Beek lost his man for West Ham’s opening goal as Manuel Lanzini ghosted into the box unmarked to score. This highlighted a concern Solskjaer may have over him defensively.
In possession Van de Beek was a lot better. His passing was smooth and he linked defence and attack well.
When he was caught in possession in the final third late on it was a rarity, and Fernandes did the same moments later.
Silverware chances slimmed down
United begin the season with four available trophies to win. That is now down to three.
The team has reached the Carabao Cup semi-finals the last two seasons and this year have now suffered an early exit.
It certainly eases a bit of fixture congestion, but that should not be a concern, United have the squad to cope.
United actually played well after the early goal conceded but could not find an equaliser to force penalties. The team ended with 27 attempts on goal and nothing to show for it.
This was a disappointing defeat as one of the easier trophies to win has now gone. The margin for error has now decreased.
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