Manchester United’s Workmen Amaze Us


Januzaj wears black boots. It is quite the oddity, mind you, particularly in this era of the overly flamboyant look-at-me footballer, and that in itself is quite refreshing. What’s even more refreshing? Seeing a young player who puts his head down, decidedly unflashy, void of the dyed hair tips, and choreographed swagger most commercially driven young stars adopt as they embark on their perpetual campaign to cuddle attention. Not Adnan.

The young Belgian has been virtually frozen out of the first team since his histrionic rise to the fore during the underwhelming reign of David Moyes. In spite of the slim opportunities to showcase his silky trade, Januzaj has stayed the course with admirable professionalism and plodded along in virtual silence. He is a modern day representation of the anti six-pack-selfie player that Roy Keane famously bemoaned as the core content at the Emirates Stadium.

This work-like attitude seems now like an epidemic at the Old Trafford outfit. United, admittedly, look unspectacular but very solid – fantastically solid at times. They remind you more of a Mourinho team than a Ferguson team, for some of the red devil fans still cursing the decision to shun the petulant Portuguese manager, well now you have his football if not the man.

Louis van Gaal is building a formidable side at United with fierce competition at most positions.

In his place, a far better man, Louis van Gaal has created a symphony of texture and pattern with sumptuous triangular playing patterns forged with steel from his team defense schema. It is industrially beautiful, especially for those who see the eloquence of suffocation as being equitable with the excitement of goal bombardment.

Adnan Januzaj scores the goal that settles the contest with help from a Clark deflection.

Juan Mata provided the telling assist. The Spaniard put in a man of the match performance after a shaky start.

There is feeling the balance in this side has not yet been secured as of yet with Memphis, and especially his captain Rooney, not currently flying out of the blocks. 3 total shots at goal in 180 minutes of football does make for dire reading, the mind can only wonder what kind of force will emerge when United get into attacking gear. Memphis failed to reward a beautiful through pass from the Mata School of football wizardry, seeing his shot attempt go agonizingly wide when a player with his promise is expected to deliver in those moments.

But steel will do for now, the sight of Morgan Schneiderlin pushing and pressing everywhere, absolutely everywhere. Januzaj must have felt his eyes were failing him when he saw the No 28 shirt sped past him up front to press the Villa defenders, Schneiderlin was so high up the pitch it’s a wonder he didn’t get a nosebleed. He is the singular reason you should never hear a red mention these two words again – Paul Pogba.

Schneiderlin was at his destructive best putting in 5 successful tackles. Only Darmain was better with 7.

The defensive line, all of them, Darmain, Smalling, Blind, and Shaw have been resolute in their duties, and have acquitted themselves with the utmost concentration to their tasks and admirable determination, even though Darmain attempted the Heimlich maneuver on Micah Richards in the penalty box just before he had politely pointed out that the Villa captain was bleeding on the cheeks. Richards was graceful at the end, admitting that he has held on to a few people in his time and he would have been disappointed if it were him that got a penalty call for the incident.

Januzaj shrugs off the attention of Villa defensive midfielder Gueye.

It was Adnan’s intelligent run building up to his goal that decided the contest. He showed considerable tenacity to avoid the abrasive attentions of Gueye (Gana), brushing the Villa midfielder off with some silky running, and then cleverly switching the ball to the Memphis on the wings. Memphis conceded the ball to the excellent Mata, who delightfully roamed from his false right wing position all game. Mata with wonderful vision spotted the young Belgian’s positive movement in the box and delivered a searing pass to Januzaj who purchased a dummy from the account of Micah Richards. Unapologetically leaving the Villa skipper sprawled out on the grass, before dispatching the ball to the far side of the Villa goal. The ball found the net with generous help from a deflection off Ciaran Clark.

Infographic: Man of the match stats for Juan Mata. Sourced from WhoScored.com

Januzaj who freely confessed to not being match fit as of yet, will want to sharpen up his ball retention as he was harried off the ball, and lost possession in passages of the game. He even drew the ire of his disciplinarian manager Van Gaal, who correctly identified Rooney and Memphis of being guilty of same violation. Mata was by far the better player in that position, actually in any position. The Spaniard was all action against Villa, even putting in 4 tackles, 1 less than Schneiderlin and 2 less than Darmain – Mata was both creative and disruptive force, his assist, delightful through balls, and 2 interceptions highlight the balance he found on the pitch against the Villans. Amidst the unwanted side stories surrounding internal dressing room goings on, United seem to be humming along like a well-oiled machine.

Bastain Schweinteiger and Luke Shaw go to battle - yellow boots galore.

Schweinteiger graced proceedings with the, now, obligatory swap with Carrick, and birthday boy Ander Herrera also made another cameo. Both midfielders, particularly the former restored better control in the second half after some careless episodes from United. There is not much to complain about at United nowadays, except maybe the issue with Luke Shaw, another solid young player with a business like attitude much like Januzaj. Only that, you see, Shaw wears yellow boots.


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