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|Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:44 am Post subject: Banega outshines Fellaini
|Sometimes you get what you deserve in sport. With an hour gone on an angsty night at Old Trafford, with Manchester United fumbling vaguely in front of the Sevilla defence like a man struggling in the wee hours for his door key, José Mourinho decided, what the hell, and brought on Paul Pogba for Marouane Fellaini.
Old Trafford roared itself out of its slumbers as Mourinho’s most http://www.officialdiamondbackshop.com/authentic-26-shelby-miller-jersey.html compelling midfield presence made a belated entrance. And yet half an hour later Manchester United http://www.officialbaseballgiants.com/Joe_Panik_Jersey had exited the Champions League without having at any stage made any obvious attempts to stay in it.
They did so in limp fashion, outmanoeuvred by a wonderful midfield stylist in Éver Banega, who played United off their own pitch while barely seeming to break a sweat.
There will be blame-shifting, even the pretence that United were simply unlucky, with nothing in their gameplan that requires any major revision. But this was a depressingly craven defeat for the three-time champions of Europe, a team that have had £300m spent on them in the last two seasons, and who lined up in a must-win game with an invention-free flat midfield pegged out around the spoiling qualities of Fellaini and Nemanja Matic.
All tactical preferences aside, it is hard not to conclude that this United team are better than that; they have more invention, more drive, more joy in their football than they were allowed to show over 180 guileless minutes. It should be a source of embarrassment that they looked so laboured, cocooned within the manager’s enduring defensive rage against the fifth best team in Spain.
It is hard to determine these days exactly what drives Mourinho’s manic caution, that strangely compelling desire to pre-throttle his own team, insisting only on victories that involve stifling defence. There is a theory Mourinho has backed himself into a tactical corner, so profound is his enduring dislike of the Barcelona-centred school that he insists the game be played the other way.
For Mourinho nothing has ever quite matched his defining victory in this competition eight years ago, a game at Camp Nou in which his Internazionale team overcame Pep Guardiola’s peak Barcelona playing the opposite of-possession football, kicking the ball away, defending in a deep double-bolt, bending the basic notion of what football can be to Mourinho’s annihilating will.
This, though, was Sevilla at home, the kind of occasion this grand old club likes Kelly Hrudey Jersey to suck the sweetness from. No matter what stage of the season there is a simple formal beauty to the sight of United’s red shirts lining up under the harsh flat white lights of that craning corrugated roof.
And yet for most of the opening hour it was the visitors who played with guile and drive and who possessed in Banega the most impressive midfield presence on the pitch. Time and again, as United fought and leapt, Banega could be seen tiptoeing through the trees, a genuinely high-calibre ball-player, capped 59 times by Womens Sonny Gray Jersey Argentina and startlingly calm in the middle of that midfield forest.
There is a point to this. Banega is also exactly what United do not have, an element beyond the strangulating Mourinho blueprint, trusted to purr about the pitch seeking the right place to deploy his velvet-pawed touch. Banega might not sprint or leap well at set pieces. But here he ran the game by stealth, an ambling brain in bright orange boots, funnelling possession into difficult areas and digging his fingernails into the back of United’s midfield.