In another tale of two contrasting halves, where the opening one saw unrivalled ascendancy while the latter imploded in flames, Manchester United dropped back to the fifth position with West Ham pipping Watford in their latest fixture.
If the first half belonged to a travelling Manchester on a dank night which would resemble the dampened spirits of an incarcerated loner who has been left alone by his lover years ago and remains rooted to the muddy memories, the second half was a glaring example of how the Devils fizzled out into oblivion as the profligacy got more glaring.
United found the back of the net thrice in the opening half while the breather took out the sting from the Devils. They were dawdling around the corner with no silver lining while their captain was shrouded in another display of anonymity that would not stoke up the hopes of a frustrated Rangnick.
Varane opened the scoring from a peach of a free-kick whipped in by Bruno Fernandes while VAR showed that Maguire has thrown a spanner in the enterprise as he was in an offside position while impeding a Burnley defender.
However, Manchester’s counterblast was swift as a returning Paul Pogba managed to fire home a substantial piledriver with Luke Shaw and Bruno Fernandes coming in tandem to square off the electrifying Frenchman.
The visitors shortly doubled their lead as an own goal from the Burnley defence allowed United to celebrate but just for 10 seconds when the linesman pointed out that Pogba has fouled Erik Pieters in the build-up.
Jadon Sancho was unstoppable on the left wing that saw him running rings around the Burnley defenders only to be denied by United’s glaring profligacy upfront.
Cristiano Ronaldo was not in the starting lineup and that came as a shocker to the world. However, when the Portuguese sensation walked out to the pitch, the situation hardly improved after Jay Rodriguez has already restored parity and United rolled itself up in retreat mode.
This is for the second time in a week that Manchester United’s initial dominance has fizzled away into oblivion against an undercooked opposition as the change of ends has left them wobbling with no real intent. With all said and done, let us take a look at the three players who bossed the proceedings in last night’s stalemate at Turf Moor.
#1 Paul Pogba
The returning French midfielder has been in red-hot form since his return from injury. He has been pretty neat in his receives and has managed to stitch together clean passes that have allowed him to surge ahead with the team. His opener on the night had a stamp of intent written all over it. His return to the side has also allowed Bruno Fernandes to surge ahead with much less of a burden and piece together decent passes that have opened up a lot of opportunities for the Red Devils.
#2 Jadon Sancho
Even though the numbers haven’t really favoured the kid, yet, with every passing match, Sancho has been proving his worth to Manchester United. Being an absolute livewire on the left plank, he has probed the opposition defence with his runs, dribbles and long rangers. More importantly, the kid has found control after Rangnick’s arrival that seemed to be missing under the chaperonage of Ole. Maybe, it will take some time but Sancho’s dominant run down the wings will allow Rangnick to get a better grip on United’s attacking trident.
#3 Raphael Varane
One may obviously think that this probably is a shocker to see Varane on this list but ever since the game changed sides, the Frenchman was Manchester’s beacon of salvation, leading the defensive unit together in a piece. He held the centre while Maguire hardly had any clue about his surroundings. He was also instrumental in United’s incursive efforts against an ailing Burnley.