Not everything went according to plan for Manchester United in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game as permanent manager. Yes, while they did scrape through a win, Watford were the much better side for chunks of the match.
The Red Devils were left to be second-best by Javi Gracia’s side. While United eventually won the war, the midfield battle was thoroughly won by the Hornets and that’s certainly a worrying sign. Indeed, despite facing such a stern challenge, Abdoulaye Doucoure led Watford’s midfield amicably and showed fearlessness in midfield.
While he didn’t contribute much on the defensive end, often leaving his side vulnerable to counter-attacks, Doucoure’s work controlling possession and driving his side forward was inspiring, especially on the biggest stage in English football. He was unmoved by the likes of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic ahead of him, often breezing past them and winning the ball off them.
That’s exactly the kind of addition United need to make in their engine room. Someone not afraid to take the game by the scruff of the neck and it’s easy to see why he’s previously been linked with the Red Devils (as per the Daily Mirror in 2018) and why Paul Merson backed him as their ideal signing.
Impressively, he maintained an 87% passing accuracy while providing 2 accurate long balls and a key pass through on goal (stats via Fotmob) as well. He often took swipes at goal, but his crowning moment came late when he danced past the entire United defence to score his fourth of the season.
If that didn’t catch Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s eye, nothing will.
With United surely set for a summer overhaul and Ander Herrera potentially on the way out, Ed Woodward should shell out on Doucoure. He’s quick, assertive, inventive and has the drive the Red Devils lack right now. Furthermore, he can create a unique French connection with fellow countryman Pogba, creating a perfect blend of technique, steel, wit and drive to make United a nightmare to defend against.
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