As we enter Tuesday morning, the joy has barely settled on a MONSTER win; everything is good in the world.
Well, unless you are reading Manchester United Twitter. MS Paint has been dusted off and has new relevance as United fans seek to prove that, in actual fact, a pretty clear offside was onside. Erik ten Hag went into victim mode after the game and complained about literally everything. United fans don’t need an excuse to follow suit and so they did.
I’m not really that fussed about arguing the case. The technology spotted the offside, I’m generally about 95% confident in the little lines they draw, so the noise is basically a deflection tactic because the Dutch manager has a lot of mess on his plate this morning.
How can you spend that much money on players and not be able to compete away from home?
Why were there so few touches in our box?
Why are you trying to save a game with a defender you’ve humiliated and a 34 year old from another era?
Why is Jadon Sancho writing press statements about being dropped?
Why is EtH always making excuses – is that good for his team to hear?
How is the club going to deal with another very public domestic violence issue after Brazil took action?
Those are some pretty big problems to have heading into an international break.
A look around the post-win noise, there’s obviously less histrionics because we won a game. But I’ll maintain what I said after the game. Our defending was probably worse than it was against Fulham with our more familiar back 5, but no one noticed because we won. United managed to get double the xG of Fulham but only scored one goal. United didn’t get many touches in our box, but as a team, we gave up the ball cheaply in transition, and we didn’t do a great job for the Rashford goal. Bill Saliba didn’t cover himself in glory and obviously, Kai Havertz won’t like seeing that pass in the post-game analysis session.
When you boil it down to quality of chances and quality of chances conceded – the game worked out. We deserved to concede one goal based on xG and that happened – we deserved to score three goals and that’s what the xG was.
The performance wasn’t perfect, there are lots of bits to continue working on, but against a high-quality top 4 opposition, we did the business and now everyone feels great.
Kai Havertz has a lot of work to do over the break. He needs to get a meditation app, eat some ice cream, watch boxsets of friends, then shake off the victimhood and come back a new man after the break. Channel Arteta’s courtship approach to his wife – conquer your fear in goal like you’d conquer and awkward chat at the bar with a stranger.
*On that comment. It was not surprising to see the permanently offended part of Twitter jump on the comment to make inane cultural commentary over the insidious nature of the story. Firstly, why do we always have to assume the worst in society? Secondly, the phrasing was taken badly out of context because ‘conquistar’ in Spanish means to win the heart. Thirdly, I think everyone understood the context of what he was trying to say. Arteta obviously thinks one of the biggest achievements in his life was convincing his wife he was worthy of her love – he’s allowed to think that – to turn that into an HR violation or create the impression it was a neanderthal comment is disingenuous in the extreme.
Back to Kai…
I do think that because so many people are focused on the lack of output, they missed why Kai Havertz started – he was tactically the right option. He has very strong defensive abilities, he occupies defenders, he has very strong pressing abilities, and he gives you strength in the air. Not many people have noted that a lot of the problems we’ve had so far this season have come down the right. Kai Havertz is doing a good job securing the left. We’re missing a lot of the nearly moments as well and far too many people see those misses as forever stains on his career, vs the early greenshoots of a player who is going to give us more final action output than Granit Xhaka.
This is a man who has scored goals in the Champions League final – he’s not going to air shot again this season. The players will eventually work out how to find him from corners. They’ll learn his runs and find him earlier. I’m not really that worried about the output. This is a very young player by most standards and we need to give him time. Declan Rice has been a #6 for 4 years, he’s coming in after a Euro Cup win, adapting as a #6 isn’t going to be that tough. Kai is coming in from an extremely turbulent 2 years of players mostly as a back-up #9. Adapting to that #8 position will take time but it’ll come. Don’t write him off.
Tomiyasu didn’t get enough praise in my match review post for his brilliant performance coming in at right back. His game looked better, he moved around the pitch like he was copying Zinchenko, and he didn’t make any errors. We always forget that players that are coached well get better. He looks like he’s improving. The only thing lacking with him – as ever – is his availability. Our fullbacks outside Ben White don’t seem good for many games. Is that bad luck or the nature of that position?
Finally, Perry Groves has gone on the radio to talk about his battle with alcohol. It takes a big man to admit a problem like that. We love Perry, he’s been great on our podcast, we wish him all the best on his journey. Big love from everyone at Le Grove! x
Right, I think that’s enough for today… get on Johnny’s ratings via our Patreon. We’re also doing a Q&A this week, so sign up, ask your questions, it will be answered.
See you in the comments. x
— LE GROVE (@LeGrove) September 5, 2023