Manchester United – West Brom saw the Red Devils pick up all three points as — you guessed it — a Bruno Fernandes penalty kick separated the two sides in a 1-0 game at Old Trafford on Saturday.
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It was yet another dire Premier League performance from Man United, who climbed all the way up to the dizzying heights of ninth place — for the night, at least — with their narrow victory over the 18th-place Baggies.
3 things we learned: Manchester United – West Brom
1. No killer instinct from Man United: A team such as Manchester United should be brushing a side such as West Brom aside with very little trouble on 99 occasions out of 100. Alas, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side continues to underperform and underdeliver against hugely inferior sides, allowing them to hang around much too deep into games they should be winning comfortably. In short, the current Man United team lacks an semblance of a killer instinct. Ironically enough, Jose Mourinho, Solskjaer’s predecessor, appears to have instilled that very characteristic in Tottenham Hotspur as they march toward a PL title challenge.
2. Over-reliance on penalty kicks: From the BBC, Manchester United has become a penalty-merchant club…
Since the start of last season, Manchester United have taken (18) and scored (13) more Premier League penalties than any other side. Some 16 percent of their goals have been from penalties in that time (13 of 79), the highest ratio of any side to have played in both season.
3. Time ticking away on Solskjaer: If this is how they look against West Brom and another bottom-feeding sides, Man United will be nowhere near the top-four by the time the calendar turns over to 2021, and Solskjaer will not survive the season. There is no delight to be taken in someone losing their job, but Manchester United fans will soon be calling for it.
The first half was a truly poor exercise in Premier League football, with neither side able to string together more two passes around the other side’s penalty area.
Man United finally broke through in the 56th minute, but it wasn’t without the kind of controversy that will have non-United fans shouting, “They always get every call their way.”
Firstly, the Red Devils were awarded a penalty kick for Juan Mata’s shot which hit Semi Ajayi in the hand, despite the fact Ajayi had turned his back to the shot and was looking 180 degrees in the opposite direction.
If that wasn’t bad enough for Baggies (and non-United) fans, Fernandes’ eventual spot kick was saved by Man United academy product, and current West Brom ‘keeper, Sam Johnstone. Seconds later, referee David Coote was alerted to the fact Johnstone had come off his line and the penalty would have to be retaken. Fernandes would convert the re-take — his third penalty of the season — narrowly evading Johnstone’s hands for a second save.
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Callum Robinson went closest to pulling West Brom level in the 65th minute, when he smashed the crossbar from 18 yards out. David de Gea was nowhere near getting to the shot if only it had been on frame. If only.
Two minutes later, Marcus Rashford had a chance to make it 2-0 from six yards out after Fernandes found him with a clever dummy, but Johnstone pulled off a marvelous save to push the ball around the post.