Home ยป Three things we learned from Manchester United’s 1-0 loss vs. Real Sociedad

Three things we learned from Manchester United’s 1-0 loss vs. Real Sociedad

by Derick Kinoti

Manchester United suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Real Sociedad in their opening Europa League match of the season.

The Reds had a relatively quiet first half, failing to fashion as many chances as they have been creating in recent weeks. The second half was much better but the Sociedad defence proved too stubborn to break.

Cristiano Ronaldo, on his debut in the Europa League tonight came the closest, heading a brilliant cross from Diogo Dalot beyond the reach of the Real Sociedad goalkeeper. He was judged to have been offside and subsequently, the goal was ruled out.

The Spanish club opened the scoring in the second half, courtesy of Brais Mendez who converted a penalty that both the players and fans will feel was a harsh decision.

Here are three things we learned from United’s opening game of this season’s Europa League.

Christian Eriksen is United’s most important player

Christian Eriksen picked up where he left off against Arsenal, producing another masterclass against Sociedad in the 45 minutes he was on the pitch.

The Dane was one of the few players from the Arsenal victory that maintained their places in tonight’s starting eleven and it quickly became clear why this was.

Eriksen was United’s creator-in-chief in the first half and looked to be his side’s most dangerous player. On more than one occasion, the 30-year-old slipped Ronaldo in who failed to capitalize on the opportunities he was afforded.

Beyond this, Eriksen was the primary ball-progressor for the Red Devils, brilliantly linking up the defence and attack. He looked extremely comfortable in tight spaces and evaded Sociedad’s tight press several times.

His expertise was missed in the second half, as the 20-time-English champions looked devoid of ideas and penetrating passes into the final third. He is easily United’s most important player.

Ten Hag was right about Ronaldo

From his showing today, it is now more clear why Ten Hag has shown a reluctance to start Ronaldo, at times preferring Marcus Rashford as a striker over the 37-year-old.

Ronaldo, while he was by no stretch of the imagination poor, failed to show why he must start every game moving forward.

Numerous attacks broke down with the Portuguese captain, who has lost a yard of pace and seems to be unable to hold the ball and bring his teammates into play.

He had chances but most of these were either long-range efforts or attempted headers from crosses. He himself seemed exasperated with his wasteful nature on the pitch tonight.

The highlight of this took place in the 85th minute where he received a spectacular ball into the box with time and space but was bundled to the ground within a flash by Sociedad’s defenders.

On evidence of tonight, it may be that at the moment the five-time Ballon D’or winner may have to contend with a bit-part role or play second fiddle to Rashford and Anthony Martial when he makes his return.

The youth will have a chance under Ten Hag

In addition to Anthony Elanga who started the game tonight, Alejandro Garnacho and Charlie McNeill also featured.

Garnacho in particular looked sharp when he came on and had the Old Trafford faithful on the edges of their seats more than once.

Zidane Iqbal and Tyler Fredricson were named on the bench by the Dutch manager who is showing his faith in United’s young stars.

On account of tonight, many will see a viable path into the first team.

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