Manchester United crashed out the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage after costly errors saw us lose 3-1 against Leicester City. An awful back pass from Fred led to Kelechi Iheanacho taking advantage of the situation to put the visitors into the lead. We got back into the game before half-time thanks to a nice finish from Mason Greenwood after Van De Beek dummied the ball through into him.
For anyone expecting that United’s performance to pick up in the second half, sadly this did not happen. We conceded another goal after Youri Tielmans drive into the goal was not stopped by the midfield duo of Matic and Fred. The game was all over when McTominay conceded a free-kick, from which Leicester scored their third.
The midfielder was caught out at the back post as Iheanacho headed into the back of the net to put United out of the competition. This was the perfect opportunity to grab some silverware at the end of the season but our focus now turns to the top four in the Premier League and the Europa League.
Here is a look at five things we learned from the game.
1. The midfield duo of Matic and Fred were out of their depth
Fred had a nightmare of a game especially in the first half. Ole probably should have brought him off at half-time. The midfielder’s back pass towards Dean Henderson fell short as Kelechi Iheanacho rounded our goalkeeper to score. To be fair to Fred, Maguire could see that Tielmans was closing in on the Brazillian, and should not have made the pass to him. Fred just handled it very badly. It was not the first mistake he had made, before the goal as he gave the ball away a number of times and signaled to his teammates his apologies for putting the team in danger.
It was the second goal where the midfield of Fred and Matic just didn’t do enough. We let Leicester’s Youri Tielmans drive right through and hit a good strike past Dean Henderson. Just moments before, Matic went forward carelessly without thinking exactly what he was doing. Matic is part of that double pivot midfield. He should have been protecting our defence much better but instead of keeping his position, cutting out spaces and passes from the opposition, he got forward without any conviction and was not able to recover to get back.
2. United making the same mistakes again
The third goal from Iheanacho was conceded from a set-piece. It just reminds all of us United fans where we have struggled all season. Fans may have contrasting opinions on this but the same problems are cropping up again and again. The mistakes we are making are the tempo we play games at, set-piece defending, and the tracking of opposition players.
There will be those who will say it is clear the areas where Ole and the coaching staff need to work on. On the other hand though, it could be argued these mistakes have been known for a while and it has not been addressed.
3. Our hopes of silverware now rest on the Europa League
When the draw was made for the semi-final of the FA Cup at half-time, we would have the confidence to get past Southampton. We had beaten them in the league cup back in 2017. However, the flat performance of the first half then carried over into the second half. Leicester City got back into the lead, which they fully deserved. They then got the third to send us out of the FA Cup.
The chance of silverware will now rest on the Europa League and finishing second in the Premier League. If we were not to achieve either of these, then it would leave us fans disappointed come the end of the season.
4. Greenwood’s hard work finally get him a goal
Mason Greenwood got his first goal for United since getting on the scoresheet back in the FA Cup win against Liverpool back in January. His form in the first half of the season had taken a dip but the quality from him in the last few weeks has seen United fans less concerned about him. It was just the case of waiting for him to finally get the goal he needed. It was a nice finish from him to get us initially back into the game. The hard work he has put in of late is just reward.
5. Will Dean Henderson become the number one?
The debate has raged all season over who should be the number one goalkeeper for United. David De Gea or Dean Henderson? At the moment, this decision is still up in the air. Henderson had the perfect opportunity to stake his claim when De Gea returned to Spain following the birth of his first child. He has good performances against Manchester City and West Ham. On the other hand, he had a hand in the error for the goal conceded against AC Milan. Though he made up for it by keeping a clean sheet in the second leg.
It could be argued that he should have recognised and other United players nearby that Fred was clearly under pressure. Henderson should have looked to kick the ball long. With De Gea now back, Ole Gunnar Solskjær will now reflect over the international break on the run that Henderson has had. It would not be a surprise to see David De Gea return to the starting eleven for the Premier League against Brighton in two weeks’ time.