SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs MANCHESTER UNITED
After the victory against Club America United moved on to San Jose for this fixture against MLS team San Jose Earthquakes with Van Gaal vowing to pursue a similar policy of playing one set of eleven players in the first half and a second eleven in the second half. The question was would he mix and match the combinations of players to test partnerships?
Van Gaal didn’t mix and match selecting the same eleven to start this game and they started in the same shape as in the previous game. San Jose started with a fairly high line in a rough 4-1-4-1 shape. Despite their high line San Jose did not put a lot of pressure on the ball though and United got into a good passing rhythm, keeping the ball well, passing the ball at a good tempo whilst showing good patience in not rushing the ball up the field quickly.
United’s team shape here was 4-2-3-1 but it was noticeable that as a progression from the Club America game there were a number of improvements. Firstly the relationship between Carrick and Schneiderlin was excellent. Notionally United were playing with a double pivot but whilst one would tend to stay deeper the other would push on or at least be more fluid in their positioning. This means that in the defensive phase there were two holding players sitting in front of the back four whilst in the attacking phase one, by moving forward effectively inverted the midfield diamond. Herrera and Scwheinsteiger did something similar in the first tour game. Now Carrick and Schneiderlin did this and the co-ordination of their movement was excellent. They player moving forward or back alternated depending on the circumstances. This movement also meant that United always seemed to have a spare man in the midfield areas helping them to beat the press. Secondly in wide areas Young and especially Mata tended to stay wider for longer. This stretched the opposition and helped United circulate the ball, so retaining possession. Mata and Young also tended to pass earlier in deep areas only running with the ball once they approached the opposition’s final third. Full back overlapping followed a similar pattern; they only overlapped the wide players in very high areas.
Early in the game San Jose looked to knock quick passes forward down the United inside left half space behind and between Blind and Shaw. United did not look secure in that area and Jones was forced to come go across and clean up on more than one occasion.
As the half wore on as a consequence of United’s possession San Jose dropped deeper leaving their front players more isolated. When the home side did win possession they tended to give it back to United cheaply as there was often little option of an out ball.
Throughout the half United created chances but it took a long time to convert one as the final pass was often inaccurate with the link up play around the box a little disjointed. But then on 31 minutes they scored. The goal came from a co-ordinated break down the left with Young picking out Mata with a cut back; again Mata had come in to a central position. He showed good composure to set himself and shoot across the face of goal into the far corner from the edge of the box. Then five minutes later they scored again. This time Depay was alert and seized onto a misplaced back pass. Again a good composed finish.
It should have been 2-0 at halftime but then United went to sleep and allowed San Jose to score. Schneiderlin allowed Salinas to run behind him and cut inside to pull the ball back. Alashe finished with a first time shot.
Keypoints of the first half
- This was a better more composed passing display from “the first half eleven”. They took some time to get going but up to the edge of the San Jose box they passed early and well at a good tempo.
- The co-ordinated of Carrick and Schneiderlin’s movement was excellent.
- In defence United looked vulnerable in their left side half space and this proved significant when San Jose scored after a well worked move down that side.
- Again Mata tended to come inside from the right and this made United’s attack lop-sided. It was noticeable that the threat from United came on the left where Young and Shaw combined well.
All change at half time with only the goal keeper Johnstone continuing. The only difference from the positions against Club America was that Van Gaal swapped Januzaj and Pereira with the Brazilian playing as the number 10 and the Belgian moving out to the left wing.
United started this half poorly and in truth that was how it continued. Passing was poor, inaccurate slow and generally sloppy. Schweinsteiger and Herrera seemed “off the pace” of the game and they rarely showed for the pass out from the back. They also rarely dropped in between the centre backs. As a consequence the centre backs were forced to run forward with the ball more often than one would have liked.
On several occasions United played themselves into difficulties and emboldened by this San Josie started to push higher and press the ball. In turn this made life harder for United whose play remained ponderous.
The only real high point of the half came from the player who should be exempt from criticism, Pereira. He scored on 60 minutes when he timed his run into the box to meet a good cross from Lingard to head firmly home. He played well generally. He was alert and full of energy.
Everything else in the second half was forgettable. Most United players were just that little bit below par and collectively that made all the difference.
Keypoints of the second half
- This was a poor second half display, sloppy being the operative word. It wasn’t a failure of tactics, United weren’t outwitted by opponents either, it was rather a case of many individuals playing below standard.
- Collectively this amounted to a poor performance; players chose the wrong pass, passed inaccurately and movement off the ball was poor. This can happen in pre-season as players look to find fitness and form so we shouldn’t be too worried at this stage.
- The co-ordination of Schweinsteiger and Herrera’s movement was poor.
- Pereira showed good promise. Full of energy and enterprise he deserved his goal.
Manutdtactics.com would like to thank Chris Vasseur for his help in producing this piece. Chris is a United fan and coach based in Northern California. He is watching both United games in the Bay area and has been able to watch United train this week. You can follow Chris on twitter @CoachVass