Swede and Sour
The good and bad points from Saturday’s friendly against Galatasary by Philip Morrissey
It is hard at times to know what to take from pre-season. Touring squads combine an odd mix of reserves, players who perhaps know that they are not in the manager’s plans for the season ahead and first-teamers that are determined not to not get injured. Add in some fairly sub-standard pitches, hyped up local teams and long distances travelled, and you can get some games that can be quite misleading. Having said all that, here are the positives and negatives from our recent encounter with the Turks.
- It’s Zlatan time. Back in front his homeland and wearing the red shirt for the first time. The only thing that could possibly top it all would be a debut goal. And he did not let them down. Four minutes on the clock, and he met a cross with a well-timed overhead kick to open the scoring. He has just joined the squad in training and not entirely up to speed yet. He also conceded the free that lead to the equaliser so not the perfect performance. He is set to be a big part of the season to come though.
- Fighting spirit. Going in at half-time behind must have filled many with a familiar sinking feeling. Especially following a poor display against Dortmund in the previous encounter. No doubt words were said in the dressing room and two quick fire goals from Rooney put them back on track. A greater sense of urgency and pace was visible in the play that reminded supporters of former days. Rashford proved this point as substitute and he is going nowhere just yet despite what the naysayers might have predicted.
- Right back to form. It seemed at one point that Antonio Valencia was in danger of becoming just another squad player. When played further up the pitch, it seemed to result in him running straight into his opponent and losing the ball, and when employed at right-back, he was being caught out of position and gave away stupid fouls. On Saturday, it was back to some of the form when he first joined the club. Straight forward pace down the line and crossing the ball into a dangerous area. Is it possible that he might have played his way back into the manager’s plans?
However, as much as there was good points, there was also some bad ones:
- As much as the set-piece that resulted in the equaliser came from a needless foul, the fact that Sinan Gumus was allowed to get a free header, remains a bone of contention. Both central defenders watched as he stole in between them to score. Communication between whoever is going to be employed here and yet it was absent on this occasion. Too much space was also allowed to Bruma to put them ahead. We still don’t know what our best combination is going to be and this remains a major concern ahead of the season opener.
- Slacking off. The twenty minutes from when the equaliser happened until half-time, did not fill supporters with much confidence. Galatasary seized on this and began to control the game. It came as no real surprise when they scored again to take the lead. The early optimism was replaced by poor passing and mistakes being made. Where this to happen in a competitive game against a more determined opposition, the result could have been a lot different. It can, perhaps, be put down to players getting used to one another, but time is not on our side to alleviate this.
- Under pressure. Ibrahimović was not the only player guilty of poor discipline. Prior to his two strikes in a matter of minutes, Rooney was flagged up for a wild lunge. Frustration at how the game was developing is one thing, but he was lucky that it was only a friendly. Had it been league or cup game, the result could have been a sending off. This red mist that sometimes descends on our captain is something that we have told is part of what makes him the player that he is. Sitting in the stands is going to be an inspiration to nobody however. Games are won and lost by such tight margins and especially in what is set to be a tough challenge ahead.
If the game was meant to set to put in place a team for Leicester at Wembley, then it may have thrown up more questions than answers. Several departures are rumoured and maybe the new faces will not stop with Pogba. Here is hoping that it does not take long to stamp an identity on the side.