Preston 1 Man United 3: Three talking points Red Devils fight back
Gregor Vasconcelos takes a look at three talking points as the Red Devils book their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals
Where’s Manchester United’s cutting edge?
Despite having nearly 71 per cent possession in the first half, Manchester United failed to notch up a single shot on target. That stat becomes more ridiculous when you consider the array of attacking talent at United’s disposal, playing against a side two divisions below them. Wayne Rooney, Radamel Falcao, Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera all tried and it didn’t even take particularly strong resilience from Preston to deny them. Di Maria and Herrera saw a lot of the ball, but showed little imagination. The two forwards looked rusty and never really threatened. United’s ideas were simply reduced to crosses into the box, even more so when Marouane Fellaini was moved upfront after the removal of Falcao. It worked once again, but how long can they keep getting away with this?
When will enough be enough for Falcao?
Once one of the finest forwards in the world, Falcao was once again one of the worst players on the pitch for Manchester United. It speaks volumes that the £200,000-a-week forward was withdrawn in less than hour played to be replaced by a winger in the shape of Ashley Young. In truth, it seems like Falcao has never really recovered from the knee injury that kept him out of the World Cup. He’s now immobile up front and runs as if he’s got an anvil strapped to his leg. His predatory instinct also seems long gone as he twice missed decent opportunities in the first half as he failed to read them. The decision on whether to keep him beyond the end of the season is being made easier for United after each performance like this. He needs to pick up soon, or his time at Old Trafford will be much shorter than he hoped.
Are United ever going to play well?
It is now only a single defeat in the last 19 games for Manchester United, an impressive record by anyone’s standards, but in how many of those games have they actually played well in? This was another lucky escape, make no mistake about it. There were hints of offside in Herrera’s goal which broke Preston hearts and resilience to turn the game. The penalty at the end was debatable at best. It wasn’t until Young and introduced and Fellaini moved upfront that United even remotely threatened. For a team that has had over £200m shelled out at them in summer transfers, none of that shows on the pitch. There is no creativity on show and when a team with the creative talents that United have at their disposal has to regularly resort to playing Fellaini as a forward, you know there’s something wrong.