Preston 1-3 Manchester United: Talking points including Falcao, Herrera and Young

by Ben Topliss

Slow first half

Manchester United have made a habit of starting games slowly in recent weeks. Against Burnley, United were lucky to go in at half time with a 2-1 lead following a period of sustained period of pressure from Sean Dyche’s men.

It was similar tonight as United made a sluggish start to the match. Joe Garner had a good chance for Preston after getting onto the end of Paul Gallagher’s free kick and he might have easily put his side in front.

It’s almost as if United need to warm up and settle into the formation for a while until they feel comfortable in the match. It is a worrying feature of United’s play and one that they will need to shake off with tough fixtures coming up in March and April.

Radamel Falcao is in shocking form

Wayne Rooney started up front for United after a long and disappointing spell in midfield and he immediately showed why fans have been clambering for him to play there with a lively showing. Bright and full of movement, he constantly stretched the Preston defence. His display really reinforced just how poor Radamel Falcao has been this season.

Much was made of Falcao’s failed partnership with Robin van Persie and his interplay with Rooney was equally as disappointing. The question for Louis van Gaal is whether Falcao’s form is down to confidence, luck or just a lack of quality. The Colombian was hauled off after an hour by van Gaal and he is quickly running out of time if he is to earn himself a permanent move at Old Trafford.

Hello Ander Herrera

Ander Herrera finally got his long-awaited start under Louis van Gaal and he didn’t disappoint after putting in an assured performance having warmed to the game after a slow start. He grabbed United’s vital equaliser and he generally brought a calmness to midfield that hadn’t been apparent in recent games

It wasn’t a barnstorming game from Herrera but in the end it didn’t have to be. What he did bring was some balance in midfield – defensively he was on the edge of his box clearing the ball at times and up the other end he scored United’s equaliser.

Herrera did well and has certainly played his way into van Gaal’s thoughts.

Game changing Ashley Young substitution

Van Gaal took Falcao off, pushed Fellaini up front and brought Young on as a natural winger. From that point onwards, United were in complete control of the game.

Young as an outlet on the flank gave United a real option and his balls into the box caused Preston’s defence all sorts of problems. With him in the side, United were far more fluid.

It’s a testament to Young just how well he has done to turn his United career around and he showed with his cameo just how influential he can be in this United side.

Can you be negative about a winning pattern?

Man United are consistent at the moment. Poor first half performances are followed by stronger second half showings and more often than not, United win, or at least don’t lose.

There’s a dilemma going among fans – you can’t argue with the results but the performances are leaving a lot to be desired. Yet, until the results change, there’s not much to complain about in reality is there?

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