Real Sociedad 0-0 Manchester United: Five lessons we learned

by Sam Peoples

Undefeated in eight. The San Sebastian stadium was rocking at kick-off in one of the biggest games in Real Sociedad’s history. The game started off slow with both teams finding their feet on a blustery night and the first half saw little action in either penalty area.

In the second half, there was action after a double substitution from United. Young and Van Persie linked up straight away with the Dutchman crashing a shot against the post and after Young won a dubious penalty, Van Persie hit the very same post.

United had more purpose going forward late on but couldn’t find a goal. It was a dull performance but away from home in Europe, they happen. Undefeated in eight? I’ll take that ahead of a crunch game against in-form Arsenal.

Chris Smalling isn’t a right back. Rafael’s absence saw David Moyes play Smalling at right-back again and although he actually put in one of his better performances there, he simply isn’t a right-back.

The full back spot isn’t something that that a centre back can naturally adapt to. It is a position that requires a player of a certain mindset who can balance attacking and defending to good effect with boundless energy like Rafael shows. Smalling has struggled in that respect.

I’d much rather see Fabio or Antonio Valencia play there than Smalling but Fabio wasn’t even part of the matchday squad and Valencia was used as a winger tonight.

Smalling is a fantastic centre back and should be used exclusively as one.

Shinji Kagawa needs to adapt. Everybody wants Kagawa to play in the hole but it isn’t going to happen with Wayne Rooney‘s form. Simple. What he needs to do is adapt to the left wing as soon as possible and take advantage of the opportunities he is given.

Sure, that isn’t his natural position but he has played there to good effect with Japan. If he wants to make a success of it at United, he needs to take his chances when he is given them, not put in half hearted performances like tonight.

Kagawa did nothing to show David Moyes that he has to start him against Arsenal. He played better when put in the hole but we can’t expect to only see Kagawa play decent when he is in his preferred position.

He is a top drawer player and quality players adapt.

Ashley Young hasn’t learned his lesson. It is an embarrassment. David Moyes was clearly angry after his last dive and told the press he had been put in his place yet he dived to win the penalty tonight. Hairdryer time.

Why was Marouane Fellaini still on the pitch? Fellaini’s red card has to be the most inevitable sending off I have seen in a long time. It wasn’t that he had played dirty, it was just that he accumulated far too many fouls.

David Moyes should have taken him off as a precaution but he didn’t. As a consequence, he is now banned for our next game unnecessarily.

Image: Twitter/SpheraChannel

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