MANCHESTER UNITED vs IPSWICH TOWN
23.09.2015

Having moved up to 2nd place in the Premier League United now turned their focus to the their opening game in the League Cup hoping to erase memories of an embarrassing loss at this stage last year. Despite making six changes from the starting eleven who started at Southampton Van Gaal chose a strong side. 19-year-old Andreas Pereira made his competitive first team debut.

PERSONNEL

In: Young, Valencia, Pereira, Fellaini, Herrera and Schweinsteiger.
Out: Rojo, Darmian, Memphis, Martial, Carrick and Schneiderlin.

KEYPOINTS

  • United dominated possession again and won this game at a canter; slowly wearing the visitors down they took control from the start, scored early and then added more as the visitors tired late in the game.
  • Pereira made an impressive debut. He perhaps took people on when he might have passed but this is evidence of his confidence. He was bright, showed initiative and did not look out of place. His goal was a bonus ; a well-executed free-kick.
  • United controlled this game but through Scwheinsteiger who controlled the tempo and direction of the game. A class act he is already becoming the fulcrum of the team.
  • It was notable that the two United goals which came from open play both came from runs behind the defence, something United haven’t been noted for of late.
  • An easy win maybe and United will have harder tests but job done.

FIRST HALF

Looking at the selected team before the start of the game the obvious question is whether Rooney or Fellaini would play as the central striker, presumably with the other player playing as the number 10 behind. United set up in 4-2-3-1 and it was Rooney who featured as the centre forward. Debutante Pereira featured on the left with Ashley Young as the left back. Ipswich with a much changed side set up as a fairly standard 4-4-2.

1st half  SCHWEINSTEIGER

United in the first half with Schweinsteiger as the fulcrum

United started the game as is usual now, keeping possession, moving the ball quickly with early passing, keeping the play simple and but not taking too many risks. Schweinsteiger was the focal point of this. He is so confident on the ball, his touch is so assured that he is always available to receive a pass, even in the tightest spaces. He can do this because he keeps it simple and having passed the ball immediately gets into position to receive the pass again. As is also usual in the opening stages of games now despite looking comfortable in possession they didn’t really create many chances or look like scoring.

Several players were noticeably playing well. Ipswich didn’t pose a significant threat so the defence all look comfortable but Daley Blind stood out when United had the ball. In one on ones he struggles but when he has the ball he is confident and some of his passing is excellent. Mata notionally starting on the right generally came inside leaving space behind him which Valencia ran forward to exploit. On the right Andreas Pereira looked bright and confident. Ashley Young tended to stay behind him forgoing the opportunity to overlap, presumably to provide the youngster with protection.

Having said that United didn’t really look like scoring they then scored. This goal came from a long straight pass from Blind as Ipswich pressed the half way line. This left Rooney one on one with his marker Malarczyk. He controlled the ball on the run, shielded the ball and strongly held off the defender before running on to calmly shot past the keeper. 23 minutes played, Boom! 1-0.

Rooney on the way to scoring; superb control on the move

Rooney on the way to scoring; superb control on the move

The rest of the half saw more of the same with United dominating possession, but with minimal goalmouth action. As the half wore on though more gaps in the Ipswich shape began to appear as the visitors tired.

SECOND HALF

At the start of the second half Ipswich pressed United high up the pitch and this seemed to take United by surprise. Perhaps because they had looked so comfortable in the first half they seemed to struggle to cope, struggling in fact to get out of their own half at times. When they beat the press however Ipswich looked vulnerable to a break. Unfortunately with Ipswich pressing United kept giving the ball away and the visitors forced a number of corners. Little came of this but it was clear United needed to wake up.

Fortunately though from one such break United scored and thereafter the Ipswich challenge fizzled out. The goal came from a free kick after Mata running at the Ipswich defence from a central position was tripped. Pereira stepped up to execute a perfect free-kick beating the wall and a static keeper. 2-0 after 69 minutes, Boom!

Pereira debut goal

Pereira debut goal

Van Gaal immediately made substitutions replacing Smalling and Mata with Jones and Martial. Jones was a straight swap but the introduction of Martial required a reshuffle. Martial moved up front with Rooney dropping back to the number 10 position. As a consequence of this Fellaini dropped into a pivot position alongside Schweinsteiger with Herrera who had been playing as a pivot ahead of the German moving to a narrow right sided attacking position.  Despite all this the pattern of the game didn’t change, but as the game wore on United looked more and more likely to score as Ipswich tired.

2nd half fist subs  2nd half late

United’s changing shape personnel in the second half

On 81 minutes Memphis replaced Rooney with Pereira moving centrally and Memphis taking up position on the left. As Ipswich tired they tended to be slower to react and slower to close United down. It wasn’t until injury time however that United scored again. This goal came from another piece of direct play by Martial. Spotting the opportunity he took the ball off the toes of Memphis who had been beautifully picked out by Schweinsteiger and as everyone hesitated ran on to calmly slot home past Balkowski. Boom! 3-0. Game over.

CONCLUSION

This was an easy unremarkable win for United against lower division opponents. They dominated play, but for one brief spell at the start of the second half, having 70% of possession. United didn’t really get out of second gear patiently wearing Ipswich down rather than blasting them away. Ultimately and despite winning by three goals this was a shame as a more urgent, dynamic performance could have resulted in a result which could have boosted confidence whilst sending a message to rivals.

Goals for Rooney, Pereira and Martial will be good for the morale of all these players, but sometimes you want more.