Champions League

Man United 0 Valencia 0: Five talking points as Mourinho faces more criticism

The Manchester United manager faced more calls for his dismissal after Tuesday night's dire 0-0 draw with Valencia in the Champions League

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Man United manager Jose Mourinho Photo: The Sport Review

Time running out for Mourinho?

Some pundits tipped Jose Mourinho to be unemployed before the Champions League clash on Tuesday night. However, the Manchester United manager was still in charge on Tuesday night to pick a strong starting XI for Valencia’s visit. The Portuguese head coach bemoaned a lack of quality in Manchester United’s 3-0 loss to West Ham. There wasn’t much on display on Tuesday night. Marcus Rashford was Manchester United’s best player in an otherwise tepid performance. Mourinho’s side lacked ideas in the middle of the park. Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez were flatfooted up front. There is little to suggest Manchester United are going to improve. The Red Devils have now lost three games and have drawn three times in their opening 10 games in all competitions.

Rashford provides Man United with spark

With Alexis Sanchez continuing to toil on the right side of Manchester United’s attack, the onus was on Rashford to produce a moment of magic. The 21-year-old has found his first-team opportunities limited so far this season. Rashford was the liveliest player in red in the first half but Valencia goalkeeper Neto denied the England striker. He continued to provide a threat with his surging runs into the box but his final product was lacking. Rashford hit the woodwork with a powerful free-kick in the 86th minute. His performance should be enough to warrant a starting spot against Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Saturday.

How to solve a problem like Sanchez?

Mourinho restored Sanchez to his starting XI following his omission at West Ham on Saturday. The 29-year-old is still waiting for his first goal of the season. In fact, Sanchez has only netted three times in 24 games at Manchester United so far. The former Arsenal striker was clearly lacking confidence. Sanchez too often took an extra touch to slow down Manchester United’s momentum. He was out of ideas and it was no surprise when Mourinho opted to substitute his January signing after a subdued performance. Sanchez was audibly jeered by a section of the Manchester United supporters when he was hauled off in the 76th minute at Old Trafford. Indeed. the Red Devils fans could be heard pleading with Sanchez to speed up his departure as the number seven slowly walked off the pitch with a cursory glance to the sky. The ovation that Anthony Martial received when the France international replaced Sanchez in the Champions League must have stung the Chilean. The Manchester United supporters appear to be losing patience with their best-paid player.

How did Valencia’s ex-Premier League stars fare at Old Trafford?

Michy Batshuayi: The on-loan Chelsea FC striker had a good chance in the second half to punish sloppy play from Paul Pogba. However, the Belgium international snatched at his shot, which flew over the crossbar. He was replaced with 20 minutes to go despite providing a threat on the counter attack. Francis Coquelin: Francis Coquelin moved to Valencia from Arsenal in the summer transfer window after Unai Emery’s appointment. The 27-year-old made his eleventh appearance on the right side of midfield. The French star’s impact was limited on the Champions League clash. Rodrigo: Rodrigo, who spent one season at Bolton Wanderers in 2010-11, showed a couple of nice touches to ensure the Manchester United defence had to remain alert. Gabriel: The former Arsenal defender looked to marshall the Valencia back line. Gabriel had a point to prove following a disappointing stint in north London. Considering Lukaku was kept quiet, the Brazilian can leave England with his head held high.

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