YEOVIL TOWN vs MANCHESTER UNITED
Having never played a competitive game at Huish Park, United went into this third round FA Cup game facing a team that had only scored 5 goals at home so far this season. Most feel that this is United’s only chance of silverware this season and with van Gaal having had Yeovil scouted three times the intent was clear.
In: McNair, Blackett, Rafael, Herrera, Fletcher and Wilson.
Out: Young, Jones, Evans, Carrick, Mata and van Persie.
- United’s wing backs were the dominant feature in the first half but couldn’t do anything with the ball.
- In the first half United’s midfield was ponderous making it easy for Yeovil to mark and press.
- Their pressing led to an inevitable tiring on Yeovil’s part and with the switch to a diamond midfield in the second half United kept the ball even better.
- United’s defence were tested in this game as Yeovil. McNair found it tough and Smalling didn’t help; having played at this level fairly recently you would have thought he’d handle it more than most.
- In the last game United lacked pace, di Maria’s return was welcome as he drew players out from their defensive shape with his forward bursts. Compare this to the more static approach of van Persie and to a lesser extent Falcao who drop deep running towards the ball.
In the early going United’s 3-4-1-2 failed to get the best of the firepower as the midfield sat too deep failing to get much ball to Falcao and Wilson. Rooney took a higher role than usual but he was ineffective.
Yeovil took a different approach than Stoke as they pressed United’s defence in an attempt to attack United’s weakest section of the team. They did this with a trident of sorts with Gillett, Moore and Foley/Edwards. This explained their long ball tactic too which put real pressure under the defence, McNair feeling it more than most. When United had the ball Yeovil pressed in midfield man for man.
United’s first chance came in the 14th minute after Fletcher pushed the passage of play on and this served to highlight that United were relying on their wing backs too much who were having no luck; Rafael in particular. United were finding it tough and often the switch ball from left to right was where the space was but this option was either not seen or the ball was too far away from the space.
Any further opportunities that United were creating came fleetingly through the middle but were being snatched at. Greater composure was needed.
Big change, injuries suffered to Shaw and Rafael. On came Mata and Evans and United shifted to a 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond. In defence Evans slotted alongside Smalling as McNair and Blackett went wide. Further forward, Rooney went left and Mata forward. This saw the reds take a grip of midfield, keep the ball and pass with more purpose something which was missing in the first half.
Despite owning the game United still weren’t penetrating; insert di Maria,eject Falcao after 60 minutes. Again it was a shame for Falcao who may have benefited from di Maria’s introduction.
Boom! Despite not being in total control United took the lead. Herrera swung and looped the ball over Steer.
United should now have take the initiative with Herrera pushing a touch higher but Yeovil still pushed on for a short time till di Maria got involved. His movement, with or without the ball, set the Yeovil back line further back. They then decide to approach him as he moved forward and pockets of space open up behind. His pace was a worry for the home side.
Boom! Such was his influence that he scored the second. An amazing ball from Rooney on the break saw him in a similar position to that he found himself in against Arsenal. This time he took his chance. Brilliant.
As the game was now won Rooney retreated and sat deeper.
A cliche but United were in a no win situation in this game. They won, unconvincingly but who cares.
The amendment to the formation saw greater control of the game yet United still struggled to land the killer blow. This was to be expected from Yeovil who were out to impress; their work rate was impressive and saw them drop off in the second half. They also missed a number of opportunities like the one Moore fluffed.
Despite the half time change it was the introduction of Di Maria which changed things. The pace was missing in the last game against Stoke, and at Spurs and the way the Yeovil defence sat back in response to this created opportunities.
Of concern are the injuries suffered which van Gaal bemoaned after the game. Cambridge next!