Manchester United vs West Brom: 3 Talking Points
Manchester United failure to score in their third successive game meant that Jonas Olsson’s second half goal was enough to lift West Brom points clear of the relegation zone. The visitors who came in with a clear plan of sitting deep and attacking from set pieces got their reward just after the hour mark as Chris Brunt’s free-kick was deflected in by the Swedish central defender. Robin Van Persie missed a penalty for the Red Devils and American keeper Boaz Myhill was called on to make a couple of important saves late in the game to secure West Brom’s second consecutive away win.
This defeat leaves United just four points ahead of Liverpool with three games to go. And while a top four finish is still within their grasp, any hopes that Louis Van Gaal’s side has of challenging for the 2nd spot is well and truly over.
Here are the major talking points from the game.
1. Have United been found out?
For all of the talk of United running Chelsea close this season, the last few weeks have demonstrated just why this United side are still a work in progress. Three consecutive defeats for the first time since 2001 and without scoring even a single goal emphasizes how reliant they were on Michael Carrick, who has been absent in all three games. Ander Herrera, who forays forward were a constant feature of United’s attack has been moved into defensive midfield and side’s best striker was asked to operate as a central midfielder, all because of just one injury.
While injury list is a concern in itself, the fact that they can’t seem to cope as well as they have in the past is an indicator that this squad is still in need of rejuvenation. Chelsea, Everton and West Brom sat back and asked the Red Devils to pick them apart. Unfortunately for Van Gaal, his side haven’t been able to do so and without anyone who can run at defenders and create panic, there has been a lot of sideways passing, but not much penetration in the attacking third. Angel Di Maria came on in the hope of providing just that but instead showed just why, on current form, he isn’t worth half as much as the money the club paid for him. Despite spending a lot of money last summer, it looks as though the same will be necessary this time around as well, with a top quality striker, central midfielder and defender, top on the list of priorities.