Manchester United began the game against West Ham quite positively, with Anthony Martial testing Lukasz Fabianski after just three minutes.
This attacking intensity was not sustained and United played poorly. In the end a 1-1 draw was about the fair result.
One of United’s biggest problems was the way Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic approached the game.
They sat too deep and played this match without taking any risks, like it was an away game.
Perhaps this was a clear instruction. United could not afford a defeat, and a draw was almost as good as a win, on the basis that it still means a point away at Leicester on the final day of the season will be enough to qualify for the Champions League.
Yet if you are looking at the reason for United’s failure to specifically win this game, then the contribution of Pogba was a big reason, and to a lesser extent Matic.
Not involved with the attack
Pogba’s handball was the moment which hurt United, but Solskjaer’s side still had plenty of time to put this one right.
Instead there was no urgency and Pogba and Matic, who spent too much time in possession in their own half and in midfield.
In total the pair had a combined 210 touches between them (Matic 113, Pogba 97), and created just one chance.
It was Matic who created that chance, with Pogba ending the match with 0 key passes.
They were not exactly overwhelmed defensively either. Pogba made one tackle and Matic two.
Instead there was a lack of ambition from Pogba particularly, which left Bruno Fernandes too much to do, amid his own battle against fatigue.
Marcus Rashford had a very poor game out on the left. Yet his game also was impacted by having two of United’s three midfielders sitting so deep.
Best combination but not ‘at it’
Matic in particular put a lot of effort into this game. He worked hard and had more touches of the ball than any player on the pitch.
Together with Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, the trio are United’s best balanced midfield.
But when Pogba is sitting so deep, it creates an imbalance, and Fernandes becomes isolated.
Perhaps a Fred or Scott McTominay would have been more effective in this one. Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing.
This kind of performance from Pogba and Matic may be repeated on Sunday at Leicester. We would almost expect that though in a tricky away fixture.
So it was just a little odd to see United’s midfield approaching this very winnable home game like an away match, and not committing Pogba further forward to really try and take the game to West Ham.
The United attacking onslaught we hoped for never came, and after Mason Greenwood equalised in the 51st minute, we did not create enough chances.
To end the game with just four shots on target was incredibly disappointing and summed up United’s lack of ambition and penetration in this one.
Paul Pogba is capable of far more, and while a draw was a point gained in the grand scheme of things, hopefully we do not look back on this game with regret and wish we had really gone for it.
- Next Manchester United manager: Four replacements if Solskjaer is sacked
- Cristiano Ronaldo sends message to Manchester United fans after defeat
- David de Gea sends strong message to Manchester United fans
- Jesse Lingard clarifies what happened with Manchester United fan
- Bastian Schweinsteiger reacts to Manchester United’s defeat to Liverpool
- ‘Paul Scholes was right’… United fans react to Liverpool defeat
- Solskjaer reacts to United’s 5-0 defeat to Liverpool
- Harry Maguire reacts to United’s 5-0 defeat to Liverpool
- Manchester United’s three worst players against Liverpool
- Sir Alex Ferguson fumes as Manchester United hammered by Liverpool