Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and plenty of others look incredibly tired: they got through against Copenhagen, but their fatigue could present problems ahead…
Manchester United are in another semi-final, their third of the season no less, after beating FC Copenhagen in the Europa League on Monday evening.
It wasn’t what you’d call a sterling, rampant performance, United contained by the Danes for long spells and relied on a Bruno Fernandes penalty in extra-time to win 1-0 and qualify.
But more importantly, as we’ve seen from United in the few weeks since the restart, they look pooped.
“They looked tired from almost minute one,” said Daniel Storey on The Totally Football Show: Summer Special on Monday, “so by minute 120 their players were flagging beyond belief.
“Bruno Fernandes, bless him…if you look at him over the last four or five games, he looks shattered beyond belief. He’s getting down on himself when things don’t go right. He hit the post with a great dipping, bouncing effort in the first half but the number of misplaced passes were a little bit disconcerting. Marcus Rashford looks so, so tired.”
Duncan Alexander chipped in: “Fernandes had a pass completion rate which was lower than every other United outfield player, which people have highlighted saying he plays more risky passes than the others so that will happen. Which is true, but Copenhagen had done their homework and had blocked off most of his options, most of the time.
“Rashford hasn’t quite looked on it since the restart. There was one moment in the second-half where Paul Pogba played a through-ball which was almost a very good pass, but it forced Rashford to really sprint for about 25 metres and he couldn’t quite do it.
“He looked absolutely spent, knelt ‘Platoon’ style on the touchline.”
And of course, none of this should be a particular surprise, as Daniel Storey pointed out again.
“We’ve said it before but this is the problem with having to pick your first team, and having such an obvious first team for every game in the Premier League, and now every game in the Europa League, is that players will be tired.”
Still, there were of courses positives to come from the performance, as well as the result.
“Up until around 60 minutes it was almost a perfect performance from Copenhagen, but United and particularly Anthony Martial did come more into it towards the end.
“I think we should mention Mason Greenwood, who once again belied his young years and had a brilliant performance. He had a goal disallowed in the first-half – rightly, he was clearly offside – but he has this unerring ability, like he’s the ‘Prince of Trigonometry’ he can judge angles so well.”
And they won despite a brilliant performance from the Copenhagen goalkeeper, Karl-Johan Johnsson.
“If he’d made one more save, he would have made the most saves in a game in the Europa League era,” said Duncan Alexander, pointing out that was in his top three eras. “13 saves, which is a lot of saves. He has the feel of a keeper who will be signed up by a Premier League team, have a bad game in the League Cup and everyone will be like “oh yeah, do you remember when he was really good against United in the Europa League?”
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