After a fantastic start, Manchester United were utterly abject in going out of the EFL Cup to Derby County.
Jose Mourinho made changes but still fielded a theoretically strong side on paper; but one that was outplayed by the side managed by his former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.
United were lacking cohesion, spirit, intensity, quality and a cutting edge, not for the first time this season.
The reasons why are for another article, but we’ve decided to take a look at three players who should have been on the pitch last night; especially in light of the ensuing awful display…
Of course the headlines were dominated by Paul Pogba’s presence in the stands. But the situation of the man sitting next to him needs examining too.
Andreas Pereira was arguably United’s best player in pre-season and started the campaign with a delightful display at home to Leicester; in an unfamiliar deep midfield position.
Then he was hauled off after 45 minutes at Brighton with United 3-1 down, and has seemingly been jettisoned since.
That’s incredibly harsh treatment of a midfielder who can accept the ball in tight areas and get United ticking. Last night offered up the ideal opportunity to reintegrate him, but he wasn’t even in the 18.
That was an error of judgement from Mourinho.
In the second half of last season, McTominay was beginning to look every inch the ideal Mourinho central midfielder.
When Marouane Fellaini looked set to leave, on the back of Michael Carrick’s retirement, McTominay was set to be shunted further up the pecking order.
Fellaini decided to stay on and remain teacher’s pet and Fred arrived for huge money; limiting McTominay’s opportunities.
The Scottish international should have played from the start against Derby; Nemanja Matic was one-paced and Ander Herrera lacked quality. With Paul Pogba’s issues with the manager well-documented, Mourinho may find himself in need of McTominay to boost his midfield options. He can only blame himself if he’s rusty now.
Sanchez’s form has not been good enough since his move from Arsenal; that is no secret.
His arrival has clogged Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford’s opportunities out wide and Mourinho is reluctant to use anybody not called Romelu Lukaku up front.
The Belgian again showed his profligacy by missing three first-half chance to put United out of sight last night; intensifying the need for United to find a Plan B up front.
Mourinho should have fielded Sanchez as the central striker; that alternative approach would add mobility to the front line without losing goal threat.