Newsletter: De-pressing rather than gegenpressing, Marcus Rashford body language

An excerpt from the latest Stretty Newsletter.

We knew that Middlesbrough were waiting in the fourth round before kick-off last night, so beating Aston Villa meant an easier tie next time around.

But United continue to disappoint against weaker opposition – teams we should be putting away – ultimately because the midfield can’t hold its own over 90 minutes.

Victor Lindelof was lucky not to be at fault for a goal last night, as Watkins hit the crossbar, but Villa also had two goals disallowed.

Here are five talking points I took from the game:

Reliant on Dave

Manchester United had David de Gea to thank once again.

The Spaniard endured another busy night between the posts and when called into action he stood tall, with one of his best saves preventing Matty Cash from scoring in the second half.

It’s good to have a goalkeeper that you can call upon, but ultimately this has been the story of our season. That is why Rangnick commented on the amount of saves De Gea is being forced to make during games.

Still, the manager was left waxing lyrical about his goalkeeper’s display, saying:

“We have to develop the team into a clean sheet team and that was another one today but still David de Gea was outstanding again for me today.

“I would have wanted him to have less saves in total, I think we had four or five shots on goal but again we can still improve even in that area.”

What midfield?

United don’t have a strong core through the middle and that is evident when you see teams bypass our midfield due to shite positioning, which leaves the defence and goalkeeper exposed.

The midfield is the most important part of the team and it’s time for United to address that.

Rangnick spoke highly of McTominay’s energy in the middle, which I agree is an impressive trait of his, but the midfield duo still left holes for Villa to create chances.

“He is an academy boy, his energy is amazing. He now also starts scoring goals and also with some leadership skills.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if in a couple of years he would be the captain of this team.”

Fred was also credited with the assist for McTominay’s goal, but United got away with giving up a number of chances last night. Thankfully Villa couldn’t put the ball into the back of the net.

In regards to needing a new midfielder, let’s not pretend the transfer window isn’t open.

What is wrong with Rashford?

Marcus Rashford was expected to flourish after his shoulder surgery but his performances and body language is a million miles off.

This is the season when Rashford would finally be pain-free, not held back by his niggling shoulder problem, but we are waiting to see the true benefits of having him back in the squad.

If anything, Rashford seems less able than every before and has gone 11 matches without a goal. That is his worst run since 2016-17 when he was breaking into the first team as a teenager.

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