Red Voices Podcast - Awkward Silence

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Red Voices. Pleasure to have you with us as we dissect the first three games after the season's first international break, with United’s wins against Watford, Young Boys and whatever the hell happened against Wolves in the second half of the pod, because we haven't played it yet! Iwan and Rich on duty tonight; Rich, how’s tricks?

RICH: I'm alright, how are you?

IWAN: Good, good; we just watched United win 3-0 the Champions League game, away from home! With goals! One on the counter-attack!

RICH: It was as well; and a goal for Anthony Martial!

IWAN: I know, I know. A lovely old time - touching wood; a relatively sturdy piece of wood too, bedside table - but yes, after the Spurs game, there definitely seems to have been a bit more of a point about United. I think you look at that Watford and Burnley game as somewhat helpful opponents, essentially; once we got that first goal against Watford they did fall back a little bit. But yeah, considering how much doom and gloom - and to a certain extent, warranted doom and gloom - we were all feeling after that Spurs game, feels like things have turned around a little bit, doesn’t it?

IWAN: Yeah, I think Burnley were a good first opponent off that Spurs game, because they were in the toilet; (UNCLEAR “I had a tenner on them to go down this season”) , so with a strange start to the season, this small squad, Europa League; whatever else they might struggle, they’ve just basically become a team that's not doing any of the things they were doing, that made them so relatively successful last year. Mourinho played to our strengths against their weaknesses very well in that in that game, and I think that just gave us a bit more confidence again; I think the win against Watford was a lot more impressive in terms of the result, probably so in performance as well. And I think Young Boys are shit.

IWAN: [LAUGHS] God; well, they weren't fantastic, were they? And going after that Watford game first, that wasn't too far away from what I expected, really. You expected Watford to pose a bit of a threat; you expected them to press, and I think after that opening first half-hour… It was a similar sort of narrative in that first half-hour on both games really, wasn't it? We were coping with some high pressing, and there were the occasional attack - especially in that Watford game; great save by De Gea, to deny Troy Deeney after Fellaini was faffing around in the penalty area, which is not really a good area to faff around it in my book - but yeah, once Lukaku bellied it in from that cross, we had a faring degree of comfort, especially for the rest of that first half. It was great to get into the lead - obviously Goal Of The Game goes to Mike Smalling, for whatever the hell he accomplished from that cross just before half-time.

RICH: It was van Nistelrooy-esque, wasn’t it?

IWAN: It was, yeah; proper predatory in the box. What a lovely turn and finish!

RICH: It was; I think the key for United at the moment is scoring first.

IWAN: Yeah, absolutely.

RICH: You could see in both the Brighton and Spurs games; once we conceded, arses fell out, and so just getting the first goal in the last three games has been really important for us, I think. To get two really close together in the Watford game was really important, because we saw how they came back against Spurs; they put this similar pressure on United in the last half an hour. And United put the pressure on United in the last half an hour, as is our way when we're leading, slowly regress back towards our own 6-yard line. Just about got away with it.

IWAN: Yes; I guess the one thing you can say is that there were certainly some shades of the performance against Watford last year. We weren't necessarily firing on all cylinders before we got the first goal; we got the second - obviously last year we got the third - and then suddenly we conceded two very quick goals, and we looked like we were really struggling. At least in that game we killed it off; but you know, 2-1 up going into the final stage of that game, United’s counter-attack against Watford was so poor. I mean, second half was just really quite… I think ‘sloppy’s’ the only way you can describe it. Don’t get me wrong, it was still good to get the victory - Watford, four wins from four at the time; they were clearly on to a good thing at that point, so it wasn't the easiest test by any stretch of the imagination - but we just didn't kill the game off, and I think that's gonna be key for United in particular. That was one of the encouraging aspects of tonight - trying not to jump forward too much - in the sense that we killed it against Watford; we allowed them time and space to get back into the game, and we didn't force the issue. I don't know how much that has to do with the difference in personnel; there's definitely an element of Diego Demme to our attack on the right flank that Valencia has managed for sometime, and I've got to say it; without Sanchez in the lineup, there was definitely more threat to us up front with that front three. But regardless, we got through that game - great save be De Gea at the end - and Watford were pushing towards the end of that game. Matić with a rather daft red card, at least one needless yellow card in the lead-up to (UNCLEAR “him”) being sent off, and he's out of the game against Wolves on Saturday. I think that's a chance for (UNCLEAR “one of”) tonight's performance; so we'll jump over to tonight looking at that Champions League group, Valencia, Juventus and Young Boys. To be fair, before we actually get onto our game, biggest news of the night; Ronaldo’s managed to get himself sent off. Wonderful work; but didn't really do too much (UNCLEAR “of a problem”) for Juventus; they still won 2-0 away at the Mestalla tonight.

RICH: Yeah, Valencia have had a really difficult start to the season; they finished last year on a bit of a high, expected to do pretty good things this year, and they've really struggled. You could 10-man Juventus; I mean, I suppose Juventus are as able a side as any to grind out a game when they're down a man. I mean, in a way that result really benefits United, because Young Boys are clearly going to be the whipping boys of the group, you'd imagine.

IWAN: Come on Rich, you're better than that.

RICH: And Juventus are going to be incredibly strong - we’ll be doing very well to win either of our two games against them - so the more points Valencia drop against other teams the better, because we’re hopefully looking at second place in this group to get through. Which is fine, because it's not an easy group; I think tonight's results were a really good start for us in the group. And we can laugh at City having lost as well, just for once.

IWAN: Absolutely, against two former United players and one player that was deemed unfit to move to Liverpool; so that worked out quite nicely. You said it tonight, that was a must-win, with Valencia still posing a tricky test when they come to Old Trafford in a couple weeks time; and with two games back-to-back against Juventus, even without Ronaldo that's a bit of a tall order. They're not on quite the same level as PSG, in the sense that there is still a level of competition to Serie A as opposed to Ligue 1, so there's that element to consider; and Juve are from top to bottom, I would say, a more capable side, even if you could say that PSG have certainly got a level of quality. Even though they almost did quite well to only concede three goals last night against Liverpool, from what I heard. Anyway, great to get that win; it was important for us to start off well. I think the game started off in exactly the same fashion as I expected; Young Boys were really up for it, they really worked hard; Mbabu was just constantly buzzing around the pitch - very very useful, really pressurising us - we were getting pressed, and if there's one thing we know about United under Mourinho or anyone else in the post-Ferguson era, we don't deal well with being pressed. A couple of chances here and there; I guess against a better team you could see us conceding a goal in that first half hour, so I think it was as you said, that first goal is really key at the moment. Against Burnley, it really settled us; against Watford, it really settled us; and we again tonight after we got that first goal, hit again. One thing you can say about Pogba tonight, I got it completely wrong; he picked up that ball the edge of the area and I was thinking, “Just hit it first time”, because we all know (UNCLEAR ”Nabil”) loves to do that; but he made me look like a right twat, and what a wonderful goal to kick off proceedings this evening.

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