Leicester City played against Manchester United at King Power Stadium on Saturday, with none of the managers enjoying life excessively at the moment.
Brendan Rodgers’ side went into the lower half of the table, while Ole Gunnar Solskear was under pressure as United had one draw and three losses in their last four games.
To generate additional interest, the bookmakers had chosen the current Leicester manager as a favorite to be the next manager on the hot seat should there be a change at Old Trafford.
Youri Tielemans was immense in Leicester midfield.
Source: Alamy Stock Photo
Rodgers made no fewer than five personnel changes on his Leicester team. He also changed form when they said goodbye to the 4-4-2 they showed in their previous game against Crystal Palace and opted for a 5-3-2 instead.
Solskjaer also announced the changes and made five of their own, but stuck to their usual 4-2-3-1 form. This would result in both teams clashing 3v3 in the middle of the field, with the battle between the box-to-box players on the two sides, Youri Tielemans and Paul Pogba likely to have a huge impact on the course of the game would.
Seldom has there been a more complete winner in a match between two players who is considered to be similar. On Saturday, Tielemans offered the kind of all-round show United fans desperately want to see from Pogba on a regular basis.
The gap in intelligence and above all the desire these two players showed both in and out of possession was amazing and has certainly proven beyond a doubt that Pogba is in no way back at the center of the field for Man United Their “bigger” games can be used.
Below is the first example of this from the early game. Pogba does a reasonably decent job at first to get Tielemans close, but then lets him run away, pick up the ball a little lower and spin.
When he tries to close it, Tielemans has already raised his head and is pushing one Ball between Pogba and Matic to find James Maddison in a good position.
When Maddison spreads it wide on Kelechi Iheanacho, Pogba appears to have retreated into a position that allows him to pick up the Leicester attacker, but it then fails in its run. Iheanacho returns the pass to Maddison, who is now the Pogba goalkeeper but can’t quite get it out from under his feet, and finds Jamie Vardy at the back post.
Later in the half we see a similar situation. Again Pogba starts in a decent position, but Tielemans’ movement takes him away from him and this allows him to open up and launch an attack.
Three passes later, Tielemans picks up the ball further up the room and pushes it again between Nemanja Matic and Pogba (who managed to run into the referee!) just not finished.
Shortly after his brilliant equalizer, which we will come back to, Tielemans caused exactly the same problem again. </ He pulls away from Pogba to take the pass and then pushes the ball on to Boubakary Soumare before the French can get to him.
At this point, Pogba seems to be giving up the idea of closing it even more , and withdraws into his own half.
But that too is too slow and Tielemans finds Maddison again by shooting a ball between Matic and Pogba. A desperate interception by Aaron Wan-Bissaka barely stops Maddison from putting Vardy on goal.
Next, it was Tielemans and Maddison’s turn to switch roles when Matic is turned upside down again while Pogba watches from afar.
Maddison comes over and plays a one-two with Tielemans. The Belgian international then sees his chance to move forward, and now it’s Maddison’s turn to return the favor and find him with a through pass to Matic.
Tielemans carries the ball and then passes to Iheanacho, whose shot just missed the right post.
After Tielemans had shown in the first 45 minutes what he could do with the ball, he showed in the second half that his game was even better.
During the match was in limbo, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work defensively.
In the first minute of half, Tielemans awaited Luke Shaw’s pass to Jadon Sancho and moved in to close it. He bundles Sancho to the ground and brushes the ball away before giving Iheanacho another shot that saves David De Gea.
The Tielemans show was almost at its peak when the game went into the 75th minute. When Matic ran the ball towards Soumare, Tielemans left to help his teammate and intercepted an attempted pass.
When the ball broke, Pogba looked favorite to pick it up, but the Belgian showed again more hungry and snatched it away from him. While Pogba complained to the referee, Tielemans sped off, striking his shot brilliantly, only to see De Gea somehow managed to get him down on the post.
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Three minutes later United wouldn’t be as lucky and it’s hardly necessary to say who was decisive again.
When Harry Maguire heads to the ball, Tielemans closes Pogba again to make sure he cannot receive it in space.
But when the ball is helped to Cristiano Ronaldo, he sees the opportunity to get back in, challenge him and toss the ball to Jonny Evans.
Leicester launches an attack that ends with a shot by substitute Patson Daka, forcing De Gea to make another great save, but at the expense of a corner.
But Tielemans wasn’t done yet. Just two minutes later, he again showed the energy and desire that constantly shook United and Pogba in particular.
When Timothy Castange lets go of Ayoze Perez on the left, Pogba is almost ten meters on the Belgian’s side of the goal. But only seven seconds later, when Vardy lifts his head to pass, Pogba is playing to catch up again.
That Tielemans then had the change to choose a player who is not even shown in this picture was just that further proof of his day.
Pogba’s disinterest in the defensive side of the game is hardly news to Man United fans or their manager, but it is not often that his direct opponent highlights these shortcomings as clearly as he does here .
If Tielemans had worn Pogba’s shirt for that game, would Manchester United have lost the game anyway? I doubt it.
Other problems were abundant and shouldn’t be ignored either. Matic wasn’t an event. The center-back pairing couldn’t handle having to mark a front two. Ronaldo snorted and puffed but was ultimately unsuccessful.
Could we see new Manchester United coach Brendan Rodgers sack Pogba to PSG and sign Youri Tielemans as his replacement in the January transfer window?
It it’s going to be an interesting year-end at Old Trafford, that’s for sure.
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