Manchester United set up an EFL Cup final date with Southampton despite going down 2-1 to Hull City in the semifinal second leg on Thursday night.
Hull City hosted Manchester United at the KCOM Stadium in the EFL Cup semifinal second leg on Thursday night, with a sizeable task to overturn the two-goal deficit from the first leg. However, despite a spirited performance by Marco Silva’s side, the Tigers failed to reach the finals, losing 3-2 on aggregate.
Jose Mourinho started with a strong lineup, with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and David De Gea all in the starting eleven. However, despite all the talent on display for Manchester United, the visitors failed to impose themselves for large parts of the match.
So it was no surprise when Hull grabbed the lead, albeit under questionable circumstances, as Tom Huddlestone struck from the penalty spot in the 35th minute to break the deadlock in a first half when Silva’s team were easily the dominant of the two sides.
The second half saw Manchester United turn in a slightly better collective performance as they frantically searched for the leveller. And the visiting supporters, along with Mourinho, heaved a huge sigh of relief in the 66th minute when Pogba toe poked the ball into the net.
Both sides came close to scoring their second thereafter but were denied by the woodwork before Hull new boy Oumar Niasse struck from a David Meyler cross to send jitters across the United camp. The visitors hung on, though, and despite having their 17-match unbeaten run snapped, marched into the final of the league cup.
The Hard Tackle takes a look at the major talking points to emerge out of a disappointing match for Manchester United.
Manchester United Make The EFL Cup Final… Barely
Manchester United visited the KCOM Stadium on Thursday with a handy 2-0 lead in their hand from the first leg at Manchester United a fortnight ago. That proved to be the decisive factor for Jose Mourinho’s side as Hull enjoyed a rare win this season but still went out on aggregate score.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 26, 2017
However, a closer look at the events on the night would reveal that Manchester United were lucky to lose by just the solitary goal as they were completely outplayed by their hosts on the night, who played exciting, eye catching football to regularly put the Red Devils under pressure.
The likes of Tom Huddlestone, Sam Clucas and Shaun Maloney were composed in midfield, and they dominated the battle in the middle of the park to outsmart the more illustrious trio of Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick.
New signing Oumar Niasse was pacy and electric as he put the duo of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones under pressure consistently and created bundles of space for himself. The stats showed the bigger picture as well, as Hull enjoyed more possession of the ball, created more chances and had more shots on target.
So, while Manchester United set up an EFL Cup final date with Southampton for next month, it certainly didn’t come easy for Mourinho’s men.
Worrying Signs For Jose Mourinho
The performance on Thursday also brings with itself a huge cause of concern for Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, that his side hasn’t exactly been playing at their best levels in the last few matches.
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) January 26, 2017
The Portuguese manager’s side have now gone three games in a row without a win, dropping four vital points in the Premier League. But while the loss to Hull might not have hurt in the grander scheme of things, the worrying signs for the Manchester United boss is that old problems have resurfaced.
They are creating fewer chances as compared to when they did during their winning run in December and early January. More tellingly, they are struggling to finish most of the chances that they are creating, which explains the results in recent games.
With Europa League action set to return in February, the games will start piling up soon. If Mourinho doesn’t find the solutions to his side’s woes quickly, things could suddenly start going per shaped for the Manchester United boss.
Pogba The Difference Despite a Mediocre Outing
Paul Pogba is one of the most exciting young talents in the world of football, there are no two ways about that. However, despite the abundance of potential and his undoubted quality, he often comes up with performances that frustrate even his most avid supporters.
Paul #Pogba scores his 7th goal of the season in all competitions for Man Utd.
Big goal in the tie. pic.twitter.com/yCounXdNfT
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 26, 2017
On his best days, everything good that Manchester United does goes through his boots, as he links the midfield to the attack superbly, creates chances for his teammates and regularly finds himself in good scoring positions.
However, on the average days it can look frustratingly bad as the Frenchman tends to become a liability for his side. Thursday was one such night when he didn’t impact the match much and cut a rather desolate figure on the pitch.
However, he still had the most telling contribution in the match as his 66th minute toe poke sealed a second Wembley trip in nine months for Manchester United. So, a poor outing overall for the mercurial Frenchman but, he can still claim to be the difference maker for his side.
Jon Moss Turns Into The Devil Of The Game, Yet Again
The referees have been in the spotlight all through the 2016/17 season, albeit for all the wrong reasons. They have often reserved their worst for the most crucial junctures in the match, regularly coming under fire for being so inconsistent in their officiating.
Hull player runs into another Hull player who is already falling down easily? Penalty that, per the @FA‘s poor officiating & Jon Moss.
— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) January 26, 2017
Jos Moss is one of the match officials who has been criticised the most by fans in this campaign. So, it was no surprise when Manchester United fans expressed their concerns prior to the match, especially after Moss was blasted for his officiating – or the lack of it – in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Burnley last weekend.
On Thursday, Moss was at it again, as his inconsistent decision making became a big point of concern as the match wore on. Phil Jones was rightly booked for impeding Oumar Niasse’s run early in the match, but a few minutes later the referee failed to show a yellow card to David Meyler for a similar foul.
However, there were two big moments that resulted in Manchester United fans being so disgruntled after the match. Hull were awarded a penalty for Marcos Rojo’s tug on Harry Maguire, but Moss failed to penalise the hosts when Smalling was brought down by Tom Huddlestone in the Hull box.
So, another night of frustrating officiating by Jon Moss, and this time the Manchester United and manager were visibly unhappy by the match referee.
Marco Silva Is Working His Magic At The KCOM Stadium
Hull went out in the semifinals stage of the EFL Cup on Thursday, but their performance on the night showed that there are some evident reasons to be optimistic about the Tigers’ chances for the rest of the season.
Hull City are the first English team to beat Man Utd in any competition since Chelsea won 4-0 in October 2016.
Marco Silva magic. pic.twitter.com/fqjfKv5NLI
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 26, 2017
Marco Silva was appointed as the replacement for Mike Phelan, and skeptics pointed out how his inexperience would only make things worse for the Premier League relegation battlers. However, one month into the job and it looks like the Portuguese could be the one lifeline for the strugglers.
The new Hull boss has completely transformed the style of play on display at the KCOM Stadium, paving the way for an attack that shows more flair, a defence that is evidently more organised and solid and a squad that is showing character to fight through tough situations.
Hull have lost just twice since Silva’s appointment, but in both games they showed the underlying spirit that Silva has instilled into the side, making their opposition attack work harder for their goals, and becoming a constant thorn for the defence.
The changes are positive, and with a season defining relegation scrap for the rest of the campaign it looks like Marco Silva is the right man for the Hull job after all.