The European football season is firmly upon us and as usual, the Super Cup serves as the curtain raiser; it pitched two of the biggest and wealthiest football clubs in World Football against each other; Real Madrid v Manchester United in Macedonia and both teams didn’t disappoint. Pre-Season is now over, so its time to get to the nitty gritty of a long treacherous season with both clubs aiming and contesting for glory on many fronts. On the evidence of tonight’s game; you have to say Real Madrid were a few shades ahead of Manchester United, that’s what you get from having stable side for upwards of three years; Manchester United on the other hand seem very much like a work in progress with their three summer signings featuring for 90 minutes.
My observations and conclusions from the game are as follows:
Mourinho still has a few questions to answer
I am quite sure Jose would be blowing up Ed Woodward’s phone tomorrow highlighting that his team is still not solid enough to match some of Europe’s elite. However, I must say that the first question he would be pondering on is Jesse Lingard, what does he actually add to the United team? Right now, at this moment nothing. I do understand why Jose favours him due to his endeavour and industry; however for a club of United’s status Lingard cannot be starting games like he did tonight.
This season it is important Jose puts his best foot forward from the start, if that best foot doesn’t get the job done you can review and look at the options available. There is no way Lingard should start ahead of Mata, Martial or Rashford. With that out of the way, Jose has got to be worried with how sloppy United were at times on the ball and the lack of coordination especially in counter attacking situation.
The season starts on Sunday for Manchester United, the window closes in 23 days; so there’s an option of going into the market or solving the problem from within.
Matic is now a Red Devil
I must ask this question, Did Manchester United just sign Matic or he has always been at Carrington? The Serbian was at home in United’s midfield and looked steady in possession, he was the only Manchester United midfielder who covered himself in any form of glory. This will then make you question Chelsea’s decision to sell him to Manchester United, he looks quite sharp for a player that hasn’t had much of preseason. This decision just takes you back to Arsenal’s decision to sell Van Persie to Manchester United in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season at Old Trafford.
I do hope they do not regret strengthening a fellow rival and contender for domestic honours.
Real Madrid need another Striker
You may not agree with me on this for the obvious reason that Cristano Ronaldo has adapted his game over the years and would comfortably fill in excellently as on of Real Madrid’s strikers. Even if this is true; I believe many will agree with me that the Benzema project has not yielded much dividends especially considering that he was outscored by a striker coming off the bench; that said Striker has moved to pastures new. Like it or not Real Madrid are short up front, forget about the excellent job their midfielders do, that was also evident in the match. Yes Benzema can be a joy to watch at times, but for a striker at an elite club such as Real Madrid, he needs to up his numbers.
For How long can this team continue to carry Karim Benzema? Something has to be done to solidify that position taking into consideration the departures of Morata to Chelsea and Mariano Diaz to Lyon this summer. Zidane may have gotten away with breathing life into the academy and bringing players through, there comes a time where a manager must prove his mantle in the transfer and I believe this is such a time for Zidane.
Real Madrid were electric
Real Madrid have enjoyed a stability over the last four years that should scare the rest of Europe; this team has been together as it is today for about three years, they are steady, refreshed by the injection of youth and are menacing with experience in every department of the game.
For most of the game, Real Madrid looked comfortable in possession, dominated the midfield with their passing and midfield with Isco dropping into pockets to join the midfield trio of Modric , Kroos and Casemiro. Isco’s readiness to inter change positions with Modric from time to time, finding space and knitting passes together, causing the United midfield and defense so much trouble.
Los Blancos look primed and ready for the new season, you would have to be very bold to rule Real out of contention for all the available trophies this season.
Pogba has to step it up this season
With the distraction of been the world’s most expensive player finally off his shoulder due to Neymar’s transfer to PSG, this is the season Pogba has to show that he can be considered as one of the top midfielders in the world and a true leader. The French International had a decent season last time around, but was roundly criticized in many quarters for some of his performances.
Pogba has to focus his game at doing the simple things right first, every other thing will fall in place,yes his numbers took a hit last season due to some bad luck, but that has to change because it pretty much seems that much of United’s transfer business was centered at getting the best out of him. Labile needs to have a big season to be taken seriously by fans, critics and other stakeholders.
**Pictures Courtesy : Telegraph, ESPN, Metro, Reuters