Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United: Five lessons we learned

by Sam Peoples

You can’t win anything with kids. Manchester United got off to the worst possible start going 1-0 down within five minutes. The goal was sloppy and almost a carbon copy of the equaliser we conceded against Shakhtar Donetsk with the ball bouncing off Nemanja Vidic.

For the whole of the first half, we made Sunderland look like world beaters. We created little going forward and struggled in defence.

But United came out to play football in the second and Januzaj inspired a complete turnaround. His stunning brace sealed a 2-1 victory that is exactly what United needed. Given how much pressure was on the team before kick-off, anything but a victory today against bottom side Sunderland would have been a bad result.

The performance of Adnan Januzaj. David Moyes handed the 18-year-old Belgian his first Premier League start and he didn’t disappoint. What a debut.

During the first half, he was by far and away United’s best player on the pitch. He was the only one who was confident enough to take his man on (apart from Nani on a few occasions).

And he was rewarded for his endeavour with a goal on his senior debut when he lashed in an Evra cross with his weaker right foot – but he wasn’t finished there.

Less than ten minutes later, he fired in a stunning first time volley that gave United the lead. It was textbook technique.

He isn’t the fastest player but he glides past players, has excellent balance and makes dribbling look easy. Moyes, sign him up.

Sunderland show United exactly what they are missing. Sunderland opted for a high pressing game that gave United no time whatsoever on the ball. They cut out spaces and forced us out wide.

In contrast, United offered little in terms of pressure. Sunderland were afforded too much time and space on the ball in the first half and it allowed them to control the game.

Luckily for United, Sunderland came out in the second half with a different approach and decided to sit much deeper. It allowed us to get back into the game and as soon as Januzaj got the equaliser, we pushed on and controlled it.

A high pressing tactic has been used by Moyes already at points this season and Sunderland showed just why it can be so effective when used properly.

United do have some guts. At times this season, United have looked lacklustre when the pressure was on them. Whereas we used to throw the kitchen sink at teams under Sir Alex Ferguson, we haven’t showed that sort of desire too often this season.

But against Sunderland today, we turned it around. Under real pressure to get a result, we got it. A loss today would have really let the doom and gloom set in over the international break, but we avoided it.

It was a far from vintage performance but United turned it around and that was the most important thing. They delivered the three points.

Our season starts now. It has been an extremely tough start to the Premier League for Moyes’ United but today’s result means our season can start now.

The topsy turvy start to the season can get put behind us after today’s victory. We now go into the international break on the back of a great point away to Shakhtar Donetsk and a gutsy win away at Sunderland.

Next stop is Southampton at home on 19 October.

Image: Twitter/RedMancunian

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