Manchester United haven’t played for a week, now won’t play again for two and a half years, and couldn’t have had a more relaxing evening outing than their 2-0 Europa League win over Sheriff.
You would never expect a lot of pats on the back They won 2-0 in the group stage of the Europa LeagueBut for Manchester United it was a very satisfying evening.
For one thing, a game that sat alone, in the context of this season, was a huge chasm of emptiness. They have not played since last Thursday’s defeat to Real Sociedad and will not play again this month. Of course United don’t, but it’s a fact that doesn’t store any end to trouble for the future. And on a basic level, given the way the atmosphere around the club has improved in recent weeks, it was a pity that such a long break could have gone into relegation.
Obviously, the win gives them a springboard in this group. It was almost a better evening, as Real Sociedad looked like they might drop a few points at home against Omonia Nicosia until the 80’s.The tenthThe winner of the minute Alexander Sorloth. Looking at the list of matches Manchester United will face in October, November and after the World Cup, they could actually win this group and save themselves another two games.
But then again, Sociedad’s win this week was not what Manchester United did. And what United did was very professional against Sheriff’s side that eventually beat winners Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage last season, but they have never threatened to do anything like that here despite a rather bright start.
United could play better but there is still good news to be found other than the result in the competition which offers a good chance of ending the increasingly unacceptable cup drought and the fact that the whole thing happened in second gear due to the workload that awaits (eventually).
Obviously, Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first goal as well as the 699th goal. Even without an early start to the season, you wouldn’t normally expect Ronaldo to take that long for him to slip off the season mark with what was also a ridiculous 699th goal for the club in his hilarious career.
More importantly for United’s team and manager, it would have been the opening goal. It was well taken and repeated in Jadon Sancho’s current form after a day which may have been a surprising touch, Failed to bring back Gareth Southgate’s England team.
Christian Eriksen played one of those passes that he himself was a pro at, simple and clear passes even though they put defenders behind and the wrong foot and give dangerous players a chance to pounce. Any enthusiastic observer of the Premier League watched Tottenham score scores of goals this way. It was reminiscent of the kind of target Dele Alli used when he was still a Dele Alli.
Sancho’s finish wasn’t exactly clean, but his left-foot swing was just right enough to send the ball exactly where he intended it to go after clever touches that earned him half a yard of space in the penalty area.
That was the obvious high point of a performance full of energy and purpose, and even in the face of the match with limited opposition, it was something you still hoped there was hope for the World Cup so far.
Ronaldo’s goal was the most generous gift from the hosts as Patrick Capuzzo found himself in an inexplicable but tangible panic and swinging his boots into Diogo Dalot’s leg inside the penalty area for reasons he might not fully absorb like Anthony’s murky sands. – The return wedge pass appears to bounce away harmlessly.
A penalty cut right in the middle made Ronaldo run, and while the pitch of FC Zimbro Chisinau wasn’t the great man’s first choice for his 700th goal, there was no effort from him to find him. That bewildering prospect was, in fact, all that really gave the second half a lot to recommend with Sharif lacking the tools to hurt United and United enough to go out during the second half.
With a double header against Omonia to come in October, United should be at least second in this group by the middle of the month with the sixth round of Sociedad debuting as a penalty shootout. This game, in fact, requires little more effort from United than the barren two weeks that surround it.
But if the fate of the Europa League live is crystal clear, October will be a month that tells us a lot about how high the Premier League goals can be. Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea are among the nine matches curtailed in the month, but at least for now United can rest easy to fight the bigger battles before they are satisfied with life.