Manchester United were held to yet another frustrating at Old Trafford against Hull City last night.
The Red Devils showed attacking intent throughout the match, but Marco Silva’s Hull City stood resolute until the very end. It was a frustrating result for United after their recent good form, but the result was their own doing.
Jose Mourinho was visibly angered after the game and walked out of his post-match press interview abruptly, with United fans audibly frustrated at the draw. Many questioned Mourinho’s tactics and substitutions after the game and it is clear that Mourinho’s team still have work to do if they want to qualify for the Champions League.
Manchester United did stretch their unbeaten run in the league to 14 games but that will provide little consolation to the Red Devils as the gap between them and Manchester City – who put in a hugely impressive performance to thrash West Ham 4-0 – increased to four points.We take a look at the key talking points from the game.
We take a look at the key talking points from the game.
Eldin Jakupovic put in the performance of a lifetime
Eldin Jakupovic was the hero of the night after he made several brilliant saves to keep the Red Devils out. The fact that Zlatan Ibrahimovic said that the goalkeeper made saves “for the camera” after the game just goes to show how much he frustrated the United players.
Whether or not Zlatan’s words have a hint of truth to them, it is clear that the keeper was the main reason that Hull managed to grab a precious point at Old Trafford last night. Jakupovic made a whopping six saves last night.this save in particular in the 72nd minute, when United
This save stands out in particular, a 72nd minute stop when United were starting to pile on the pressure.
— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) February 1, 2017
Zlatan Ibrahimovic criticised once more
Zlatan Ibrahimovic failed to get on the scoresheet, despite having several chances to do so, and Manchester United paid the price. The Swede took a total of four shots out of which only two were on target. He came very close with his first effort only to be denied by a brilliant save from Jakupovic.
It wasn’t just his profligacy that infuriated United fans though. At 35, Ibrahimovic is still in astonishing physical condition and can be explosive when he chooses to be. That Zlatan preserves himself in order to save his energy for attacks is not unreasonable, but United fans were still critical of his workrate.
Ibrahimovic made zero successful tackles, zero interceptions and only attempted 1 tackle all game. He was also dispossessed thrice and did not show too much of an effort to retrieve the ball upon losing it. United fans are quick to point this out whenever the Swede does not get on the scoresheet.
Anthony Martial’s exile continues
Jose Mourinho said before the match against Hull City that Anthony Martial had earned his place on the bench, but still had a lot to do to command a starting position. Despite United desperately needing a goal and Martial being on said bench, Mourinho opted to bring on Wayne Rooney instead.
In a game that needed an injection of direct running and energy, Rooney was the wrong option. Martial has shown that he can be very effective from the wing, and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic not moving from that centre forward position, United might have been able to force a goal if the Frenchman was brought on instead.
Still cannot believe that Rooney was picked to go on ahead of Martial, a player that this game was crying out for. Rooney’s been pointless.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) February 1, 2017
The 21-year old was one of United’s best players against Wigan in the FA Cup, picking up two assists as United ran riot. Many could not understand why he was dropped to the bench once more and the Frenchman is surely thinking the same thing, even if reports have claimed he is happy at United.
Mourinho’s tactic and antics coming into question once again
Jose Mourinho was constantly agitated on the touchline as Manchester United’s struggles on the pitch continued. The Portuguese tactician was seen remonstrating with the fourth official on several occasions and said after the game that he was asked to sit down or be sent off, taking a dig at the treatment Jurgen Klopp received in a similar situation.
Mourinho was terse in his post-match interview and refused to go into details about his team’s performance, and walked out abruptly.
Mourinho already has a reputation for getting into trouble with referees and he is doing himself and his team no favours with these comments. When asked about what the referees got wrong he chose to walk out, but not before accusing the interviewer of “not knowing about football.” He has definitely not done himself any favours with this behaviour.
Champions League qualification looking more difficult, but not impossible
Manchester United lost further ground to Manchester City after last night’s result and are now four points behind their rivals. United are in 6th place and Champions League qualification looks like it might be an uphill task, but it is still not impossible.
There are plenty of reasons for United fans to be negative, but there have also been several indicators this season of why there can be positivity as well. United – for all their profligacy – did show some attacking intent last night and managed to create chances in a much more convincing fashion than under their two previous managers.
They have drawn far too many games this season, but to be fair, everyone faltered over the weekend bar City and perhaps Chelsea. If United manage to go on a run of form like the one they did in December – when they won five and drew one game all month in the league – they could yet qualify for the Champions League.