Ter­ri­ers profit from de­fen­sive lapses to give United a trim­ming

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - DANIEL TAY­LOR

THEY gave ev­ery­thing to see it out. They were quick to the ball, strong in the chal­lenge and ab­so­lutely de­ter­mined not to let there be a dra­matic late twist. And, fi­nally, Hud­der­s­field Town could soak in the eu­pho­ria of a win against Manch­ester United, their first since March 1952, and one of those rare oc­ca­sions when their sup­port­ers must have felt like the blood in their veins had been con­verted to red wine.

The last time they man­aged this came just a few weeks af­ter El­iz­a­beth II was pro­nounced queen, in the same year that Lon­don was cov­ered with smog and some bright-spark at the New Mu­si­cal

Ex­press had the idea of print­ing a Top 40. From a foot­ball per­spec­tive, this will go straight in at No 1 for many Hud­der­s­field sup­port­ers. They were great scenes at the fi­nal whis­tle and, on this ev­i­dence, they surely must be­lieve they have the abil­ity to make sure their first-ever sea­son in the Premier League is just not re­mem­bered as a year of sight­see­ing.

But what does this re­sult say for their op­po­nents and Jose Mourinho’s am­bi­tions of mak­ing his sec­ond sea­son with United a ti­tle-win­ning one? Per­haps it was just a one-off and nor­mal ser­vice will be re­sumed but for a team with their as­pi­ra­tions, with Manch­ester City powering on, this was a calami­tous re­sult and the kind of per­for­mance that leaves some dif­fi­cult ques­tions for their man­ager.

Per­haps the most star­tling part is that United could hardly com­plain they did not have enough time to save them­selves. The dam­age was done in a five-minute spell in the first half when Aaron Mooy and Lau­rent De­poitre pun­ished some atro­cious de­fend­ing but it was not un­til the 78th minute, when the sub­sti­tute Mar­cus Rash­ford pulled one back, that there was any real sense that there could be a feat of es­capol­ogy.

Those were the mo­ments when Hud­der­s­field’s play­ers showed a spirit of to­geth­er­ness that will be cru­cial in the com­ing months and it would be un­fair on David Wag­ner’s side if the game was re­mem­bered purely as a per­sonal or­deal for Vic­tor Lin­de­lof, United’s sub­sti­tute cen­tre-half.

Lin­de­lof came on in the 23rd minute to re­place the in­jured Phil Jones and that was the point at which the team United un­rav­elled at the back. His part in the sec­ond goal, in par­tic­u­lar, was dis­mal.

The most sur­pris­ing part was that United had kept seven clean sheets in their pre­vi­ous eight league fix­tures and ar­rived in York­shire know­ing that if they could man­age one more it would be the first time ever a top-divi­sion side had started a sea­son that way.

In­stead, they dis­in­te­grated at the back once Jones, punch­ing the floor in frus­tra­tion, had to go off and within 10 min­utes of Lin­de­lof ’s in­tro­duc­tion they had con­ceded as many league goals as they had in the pre­vi­ous two months.

Jones has rarely seemed so im­por­tant and here was the clear ev­i­dence why Mourinho has been so re­luc­tant to use Lin­de­lof — a £31m sign­ing, lest it be for­got­ten — dur­ing the early parts of the sea­son.

The dam­age to his con­fi­dence will be con­sid­er­able but it would not be fair to pin all the blame on the Swe­den in­ter­na­tional.

The list of Mourinho’s play­ers op­er­at­ing below their usual lev­els was ex­ten­sive. Ne­manja Matic had his least dis­tin­guished game in United’s colours and it was Juan Mata’s mis­take that led to the open­ing goal.

David De Gea had not been threat­ened un­til that point but United were vul­ner­a­ble as soon as Mooy dis­pos­sessed Mata in mid­field. Hud­der­s­field sud­denly had a three-ver­sus-two break­away and when Mooy slipped the ball to his left Tom Ince turned Lin­de­lof in­side out. Ince’s shot came back off De Gea’s chest and the ball fell invit­ingly for Mooy to sweep in the re­bound. De­poitre’s goal ar­rived five min­utes later and, though it was a blowy af­ter­noon, there was no real mit­i­ga­tion when it comes to Lin­de­lof ’s in­volve­ment. De­poitre could hardly be­lieve his luck, tak­ing the ball around De Gea and keep­ing his nerve to slot into an ex­posed goal.

Mourinho re­sponded at half-time by bring­ing on Rash­ford and Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan for An­thony Mar­tial and Mata. Mar­tial was the only player on the pitch, bar­ring the two goal­keep­ers, who felt the oc­ca­sion war­ranted a pair of gloves and he melted out of the game af­ter an early tete-a-tete with Tommy Smith, the home team’s right-back.

The bot­tom line was that Hud­der­s­field’s play­ers seemed ut­terly de­ter­mined not to let their op­po­nents dic­tate the tempo.

Wag­ner’s men chased ev­ery­thing. They re­fused to let United set­tle and in the early parts of the sec­ond half it was re­mark­able how com­fort­able they looked. In­deed, it was not un­til the 70th minute that Jonas Lossl had to make a note­wor­thy save and that came from Romelu Lukaku’s first ef­fort all af­ter­noon.

Lukaku set up Rash­ford’s headed goal with a su­perb cross from the right and United also had four min­utes of stop­page time. Yet Hud­der­s­field never wilted.

Hud­der­s­field Town man­ager David Wag­ner cel­e­brates his side’s vic­tory over Manch­ester United yes­ter­day

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