Manchester United 0-0 Valencia: What did we learn at Old Trafford?

Jose Mourinho Manchester United

Coming off the back of a 3-1 defeat at West Ham on Saturday, all eyes were on Jose Mourinho.

With a Premier League title push almost already off the table, the Champions League could be the Portuguese bosses only savior.

Against a Valencia side who had lost their last four European matches on the road, it seemed like a perfect opportunity for Mourinho’s men to bounce back.

However, something that is becoming all too familiar, it was another lackluster 90 minutes from Manchester United.

A shadow of the side that Sir Alex Ferguson led to 13 Premier League titles, United could only play out a 0-0 draw against their Spanish opposition.

The Reds are also now without a win at home since August 10th.

A game that saw United outplayed for large spells, this result will only leave more questions than answers surrounding Mourinho’s future.

With boos around Old Trafford at full-time, what did we learn in tonight’s 0-0 draw?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 02: Goncalo Guedes of Valencia is challenged by Antonio Valencia of Manchester United during the Group H match of the UEFA Champions League between Manchester United and Valencia at Old Trafford on October 2, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Valencia out, Dalot in

Ditching last weekend’s 3-5-2, Mourinho reverted to United’s customary 4-3-3.

Replacing Ashley Young, club captain Antonio Valencia returned at right-back.

However, while the 33-year-old has been a faithful servant at Old Trafford, a change is needed on the right-hand side of United’s defence.

Often exploited in any chance the visitors created in the first half, winger Gonçalo Guedes constantly had the beating of his marker.

With left-back Jose Gayà also taking any opportunity to join in the attack, the duo made sure United’s skipper was constantly pinned back inside his own half.

In fairness to Valencia, he was not helped by Marouane Fellaini’s lack of mobility.

With the Belgian international playing on the right of United’s midfield trio, he was unable to offer the Ecuadorian any real protection.

Mourinho’s decision to not even name young Diogo Dalot among the substitutes was something that left many around the Stretford End frustrated.

The 19-year-old impressed in their 3-0 win over Young Boys and was arguably United’s only positive note during their penalties defeat to Derby in the EFL Cup.

A defence that looks like they could concede three every week, the calls for Dalot are getting louder.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 02: Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United reacts after the Group H match of the UEFA Champions League between Manchester United and Valencia at Old Trafford on October 2, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Lukaku is almost non-existent

While many will argue that Mourinho should have added Juan Mata to offer Lukaku some service, his lack of effort caused his teammates plenty of problems.

With no intentions to apply pressure on either Gabriel or Ezequiel Garay, Valencia’s back line simply strolled past him with ease.

Lukaku’s contribution in the first half was so minimal that he couldn’t even manage a touch in Valencia’s box during the first 45 minutes.

On the rare occasion he did find himself with a sight at goal, he didn’t have the prowess of a striker who has 22 goals in his last 42 European matches.

While one striker flattered to deceive for large spells, Michy Batshuayi led the line impressively in the opposite half.

Dropping between the lines and dragging Eric Bailly out of position, the Chelsea loanee was a huge factor in Valencia’s fluid play in the final third.

Holding up the ball beautifully and finding Guedes, had his teammate not been so wasteful after the restart he would have had a clean run at David de Gea’s goal.

VALENCIA, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 19: Marcelino Garcia Toral, Manager of Valencia CF reacts during the Group H match of the UEFA Champions League between Valencia and Juventus at Estadio Mestalla on September 19, 2018 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

The visitors look dangerous

Although all of the focus post-match will be on Manchester United’s continued struggles, Valencia do deserve plenty of credit.

Marcelino García Toral had clearly installed a game plan that his side vigorously stuck by.

On paper, their 4-4-2 would have shown signs of a side happy to defend their 18-yard line.

However, Valencia took a similar approach to the one West Ham implemented over the weekend.

Making the most of the fragile atmosphere at Old Trafford, they tried to get United on the back foot from the first whistle.

While they have now only managed five goals in their last nine games, their creativity in the final third was on show.

Guedes, Batshuayi and Rodrigo appeared to have a real understanding.

Constantly interchanging, their attacking trio made sure Smalling and Bailly did not have any time to settle.

Undoubtedly their standout performance this season, it’s hard to see how this side have managed to pick up just one win in their opening seven La Liga outings.


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