HULL CITY VS MANCHESTER UNITED
26.12.2013

Hull away; another part of the ‘easier’ festive match programme as United’s ‘renaissance’ sort of gets going.

PERSONNEL

In:  Fletcher and Young.
Out: Jones and Januzaj.

KEY POINTS

  • Carrick on the bench/Fletcher in the starting eleven.
  • The forced Januzaj substitution made United much more attacking.
  • Hull’s 3-5-2 – a favourite of manutdtactics.com; enjoyed during the Hoddle England stewardship showed lots of options in terms of shape, giving them solidity (of sorts).
  • Rooney played a pivotal role in terms of continuity from defence to attack.
  • Young’s form is improving.
  • Welbeck worked tirelessly up front.

FIRST HALF

This type of start wasn’t envisaged and very quickly United found themselves 2-0 down. The first goal came from what was shown as not a corner but it was the marking that let United down as Rooney lost his man Chester during the melee and the former United man headed home.

As for the second, an own goal built up following less than convincing defending which started with a lobbed ball from Meyer which Sagbo took on and as players retreated the ball ended up with Meyer fluffing his shot and had a second chance. In a half baked attempt to clear Evans nudged the ball over a despairing De Gea. Smalling and Rooney should have done more to clear the danger on the first place.

A significant change was made when, on 17 minutes Januzaj came on for Rafael as a result of an injury.

This saw United’s 4-2-3-1 set up with Valencia at right back, Januzaj ahead and as a result El Mohammady pegged back or at least being questioned on his positioning.

FIRST HALF United’s shape after Januzaj introduction

Januzaj’s introduction brought about greater fluidity in United’s play and on 19 minutes United got back into the game after Smalling scored following a Rooney free kick. Boom!

Hull sensed danger and were seen dropping to a 5 man defence when United attack to accommodate a marker who picked up either Welbeck or Rooney’s movement, which was energetic and probing.

Boom! What a terrific goal from Rooney. This was play built up from the back, but aided by the depth of Hull’s midfield and defence, as Evans launched a ball to around the 18 yard line. The fallout ended with Rooney controlling the ball and teeing himself up for a volley. Epic and United were back in it.

It was a shame to see how the tempo of play dropped after the equaliser as United had pushed their position higher up the pitch but it was of little surprise as Hull used the 3-5-1-1 to clog the zones United were effective in. Meanwhile, United were now an obvious 4-2-3-1 which at times had morphed into a 2-6-1-1 as United searched for an equaliser.

SECOND HALF

The half carried on with the same pace as first ended but we saw Sagbo move out to the left and apply some resistance to Valencia.

The first change was Fletcher coming off for Hernandez to bring greater creativity to the middle of the pitch. This was achieved by Rooney dropping to partner Cleverley and Januzaj drifted in. 

SECOND HALF United’s shape in the second half.

The game was becoming stretched with both teams enjoying opportunities and Bruce brought

Boyd on for Sagbo to bring greater penetration in the space between Valencia and Smalling as well as Valencia’s relatively high positioning.

Boom! Comeback complete. 3-2 as Chester scored an own goal following pressure from Rooney who started the passage of play. This was United taking advantage of Hull dropping deep and being overexposed in the middle as Rooney pressurised Chester following a great cross from Young.

As the game wore on Januzaj moved out right,  Rooney shifted up and Welbeck left as Moyes reintroduced Carrick following an injury layoff. Great to have the metronome back.

Welbeck showed good ball retention as the diagonal ball was used to wind the clock down despite Hull being denied an equaliser with a terrific one on one save by De Gea.

As a footnote Valencia was sent off.

CONCLUSION

Considering the mountain United gave themselves to climb after going 2-0 down this was a great result.

It’s easy to say as it occurs often but Rooney has a major impact from midfield with a great range of passing and positioning. You wonder how him playing there was pitched to him considering his public claim to want to play up front.

Young’s form is improving and this is great to see. He’s becoming more confident and throwing in greater crosses and learning to pass the ball sooner.

6 wins on the bounce is very pleasing but United need to impose themselves further and reduce the type of threat Hull showed at the end.