Manchester United earned a credible away draw against Sevilla in the first leg of their Champions League tie, but the manner of their performance will be a disappointment. They were reliant on David de Gea, as their goalkeeper made a number of good saves to keep the scoreline at 0-0. It was far from an assured defensive display and there are clearly cracks begin to emerge in the Jose Mourinho era.
Paul Pogba was once again centre of attention as he was left out of the starting eleven for youngster Scott McTominay. The academy graduate had a decent game, but it speaks volumes about Pogba’s current relationship with Mourinho.
Although the club will suggest the decision was made due to the Frenchman’s recent illness, the midfielder came on in the first half and was clearly fit to play. Here are three talking points from the dull game at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium:
The Paul Pogba problem remains
The past week has been filled with negative press stories regarding Paul Pogba and the midfielder was the centre of attention when the teams were announced. He wasn’t in the starting eleven, but was fit enough to take up a place on the bench and came on shortly into the match after an injury to Ander Herrera.
It wasn’t his best performance, but he added quality and offered more in the final third than the rest of the Manchester United midfield. If they can get him motivated and settled into a system, they will be a lot stronger for it.
On Wednesday, he completed five dribbles and 90% of his passes. Every time he got on the ball, he tried to be positive and United need a player like that considering their negative style of play.
At the time of writing, it appears that there is only room for one of Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford. They clash and their relationship is damaging the rest of the squad.
The focus should have been on the game against Sevilla, but it is on the friction between midfielder and player. If they don’t find a solution soon, it could ruin their season.
Joaquin Correa caught the eye
Sevilla aren’t the team they once were and the loss of Monchi has had a negative effect on the club. However, there remains a lot of talent in the squad and Joaquin Correa caught the eye on Wednesday.
Every time he got on the ball, Manchester United looked nervous and he was the player most likely to make something happen in the final third.
The winger attempted three shots, completed three dribbles and made one key pass. In a match short of attacking quality, he was a bright spark and got the home fans off their feet.
His movement was superb and there were times when the wrong decision was made in the build-up, which meant the ball didn’t arrive at his feet.
Correa seems to be a player well-liked by Vincenzo Montella and he could kick on over the next few months. His end product needs to improve, as he has yet to contribute a goal or assist in La Liga, but he has had better showings in the cup competitions. Across the Champions League and Copa del Rey, he has got six goals and two assists.
David de Gea showed his worth yet again
The world has run out of superlatives to describe David de Gea. The goalkeeper has emerged as one of the leading players in his position since joining Manchester United, if not the best.
The club’s decline during the last five or six years would have been sharper if it wasn’t for the Spanish international. He regularly bails them out and Wednesday night was no different.
During the contest, he made eight saves, including one superb stop to deny Luis Muriel. The Colombian striker should have done better, but that doesn’t take anything away from the work done by De Gea between the sticks. It was an excellent display of anticipation and athleticism as he made a save from point-blank range. Few other keepers in the world would have kept the ball out.
At the age of 27, De Gea has a long future ahead of him and he will want to challenge at the very top of the game. It remains to be seen how long he stays at Old Trafford as the team isn’t progressing at the same rate.
Only one player in their team played to their maximum on Wednesday and that was the goalkeeper. Until the rest of the team match him, United aren’t going to challenge.