United fail to get the best out of Cavani during half hour cameo

Edinson Cavani made his long awaited return from injury against Leicester.

The Uruguayan came on as part of a quadruple change on 63 minutes, and including injury time, he played for half an hour.

While there were hopes that Cavani could pop up and score an equaliser an winner just like he did against Southampton back in November, there was no fairytale here for him.

The veteran striker barely had a kick.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Cavani touched the ball just seven times during his cameo. For comparison. Amad managed 10 touches during his 10 minutes on the pitch.


Different positions sure, but Cavani was totally ineffective – and that was due to a combination of factors, several of which were not his fault.

What went wrong?

Firstly we don’t know quite how fit Cavani is. The good news was that he was back, but he was not deemed healthy enough to start, and United were being cautious with him. This was probably Cavani at around 75 per cent fitness.

Solskjaer told the club website: “We had a few players coming back who have not really trained a lot. They’ve not played for a while and there are others who have played a lot but lacked a little zip and energy that we normally see.”

The second factor to acknowledge was that Leicester defended really well. Caglar Soyuncu, Wesley Fofana and Jonny Evans all had good games. They were not an ideal opponent for Cavani to ease back in against.

The third, and biggest issue, was a total lack of service for the striker.

Cavani did not attempt a single shot at goal, because he did not have the opportunity.

This was not unique to him. Anthony Martial only had one attempt the whole game, and so did Mason Greenwood, his goal came from his only shot.

United missed Bruno Fernandes for the large part, but he did come on along with Cavani.

Alex Telles was taken off and his deliveries could have helped Cavani, but Luke Shaw did well himself, creating two chances, equal to Telles’ contribution.

The biggest shift in United’s game was the move to a midfield diamond, with Marcus Rashford out injured.

United have not played this formation all year, and there was a lack of cohesion and creativity. Pogba was one of the players who featured, but lacked the ‘zip’ to his game Solskjaer was referring to.

Rashford was missed more than we realised. His creativity and danger poses problems for defences and opens up spaces for others. It was his cross which provided Cavani’s last United goal, back against Everton last month.

Photo by OLI SCARFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Time to improve

Hopefully United will be able to use the international break for players to get fitter, rather than having misfortune of picking up more injuries.

The Conmebol World Cup qualifiers are not going ahead this break, meaning Cavani can stay at Carrington and work on his fitness.

Rashford hopefully will be sent home by England, although he is due to report for international duty.

We should see a fitter and stronger United after the international break, and it is important Cavani stays healthy.

He could be crucial for United’s Europa League tilt, but he needs to be fully fit, and he needs better service than any of United’s forwards got against Leicester.

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