ALL’S well that ends well was a pretty successful mantra during the glory years at Old Trafford.
Who particularly cares for philosophy, playing style, or nursing academy starlets when you win?
The important thing about Manchester United‘s win at West Ham on the weekend was that they won, not that they required a last-minute penalty save.
In the same vein, did anyone care how the team actually performed back in the days when Fergie Time continually delivered the crucial three points?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not Sir Alex Ferguson though, and on nights such as this – a 1-0 defeat at home to West Ham in the Carabao Cup – the spotlight suddenly focuses on the how as much as the what.
Ultimately, the question from Wednesday night was: What was the game plan?
Come deep for the ball, get forced away from goal, and pass it back to the defence or lump it over from distance is probably not a routine taught on the Uefa coaching courses.
United’s array of reserves, two of which cost over £50million, were subsequently devoid of risk or flare.
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Jadon Sancho was immobile off the ball and crowded out immediately whenever given it to his feet – and it always went to his feet, never into space.
Donny van de Beek rarely got out of his half before giving the ball away.
Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata around him were intelligent but limited in their ability to break the line and foray forward.
The less said about Anthony Martial the better.
It was only Jesse Lingard who delivered serious impetus, running direct and into space with his head up.
West Ham’s defenders treated their former team-mate with far more respect than any other United player, perhaps flushed with memories of being terrorised in training by this fresh-legged terrier during the final months of last season.
In fact, the Hammers managed to get through their Lingard flashbacks thanks to their overall resilient defending.
Hassle the man, get a foot in, throw your body in the way if necessary.
It’s hardly a revolutionary plan, but it was at least a plan.
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