Manchester United needed just a draw from their last two games, at Old Trafford, to secure their main goal of the season. Failure to do so would require disaster. And if Chelsea could be a difficult opponent in other circumstances, that’s not the case at the moment, with an interim coach, an excess of players and a head on vacation. It took the Red Devils little more than a set piece and a well-crafted attack late in the first half to put them through the 4-1 rout that puts them in the Champions League for the fifth time in seven years.
Unlike rivals that have gone through problems in recent decades, such as Liverpool and Arsenal, Manchester United did not have an extended period away from the Champions League, one of the privileges of never having ceased to be one of the richest clubs in the world. The only time since Alex Ferguson’s retirement that he has spent two seasons outside the G4 was between 2015 and 2017, but winning the Europa League in that second year with José Mourinho was worth the qualification.
United decided to leave the brand aside and bet on a coach with clear ideas, a well-defined playing style, excellent in the training field and in the development of talent. The beginning of Erik ten Hag’s work was not perfect. He had to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo in the first few months, suffered heavy defeats, to Bretnford and Liverpool, for example, and also won the English League Cup and reached the FA Cup final. To definitely have a positive swing in his first season, he would need to secure a place in the Champions League.
She looked very well on her way. United have not left the qualifying zone since the turn of the year. However, a draw with Tottenham and defeats to Brighton and West Ham, combined with Liverpool’s sprint, put some pressure on. United have responded well, beating Wolverhampton, Bournemouth and now Chelsea in the last three games and need just a win against Fulham next weekend to secure third place.
Chelsea will have their lowest-scoring record in Premier League history because they simply couldn’t put together a team despite the most expensive ever market and only dragged themselves through the final rounds under Frank Lampard’s caretaker stewardship. Any hope that he could at least disrupt the life of a rival was dashed in the fifth minute, when Christian Eriksen took a free-kick that Casemiro headed in.
Interestingly, the visitors improved after the goal, perhaps because United felt too comfortable. Havertz appeared free between the defenders and headed wide in the 31st minute, and then Enzo Fernández left Gallagher in front of the goal. The cross kick knocked paint off the post. Of all the millionaire signings he’s signed over the past ten years, with varying degrees of success, few (if any) have made as big an immediate impact as Casemiro, and this game has kind of encapsulated his importance.
In addition to the winning mentality and the balance he provides in midfield, Casemiro is decisive in the attacking field. In addition to the goal, he made a brilliant pass to leave Jadon Sancho in the goalkeeper’s face. Just one touch to the left side, where Anthony Martial appeared to score the second goal. At the beginning of the final stage, Kepa still made a beautiful defense on top of the line to avoid what would be a great goal by Eriksen, with a kettle after Tyrell Malacia’s cross, but the match quickly went into administration mode.
There was time to make the third because Bruno Fernandes is an exceptional player. He dominated on the left wing and spun around giving a pen to Wesley Fofana, who brought him down inside the area. Umpire Stuart Attwell hesitated a little, but pointed to whitewash. Fernandes elegantly charged to extend the advantage. At a training or barbecue pace, Fofana crossed the ball in his own area, without any strength, Fernandes intercepted and rolled to Rashford, who had to tap twice before beating Kepa and pushing the ball into empty nets. As the lights went out, João Félix started from midfield at the entrance to the area and crossed the ball to score one of the least consequential goals in the history of English football. two
For what has been Manchester United’s last ten years since Ferguson’s retirement, the first season under Ten Hag has been a very good one. Even great. Some bad habits were left behind. The worst results were met by harsh reactions from the coach, including public scolding. There is a backbone, a foundation to build on, and clear room for improvement across the market – like at center forward, perhaps more depth in defense and midfield. In early June, great could become great if United manage to defeat Manchester City in the FA Cup final.
Tags: Chelsea barely scared Manchester United rout guarantees Champions League--