Manchester United at the World Cup Pt. 4 – Retrospective

Welp! Unfortunately Messi and Argentina have won the World Cup. It’s nothing against Argentina personally, but as United fans it’s hard to cheer for Lionel Messi. After recent events, some fans may feel differently, but most United fans are also huge Ronaldo Muppets. So, the great GOAT debate has always been part of our soccer viewing lives for over the last decade. We can still believe Cristiano is the GOAT but Messi lifting the World Cup certainly makes the debate much more of an uphill battle.

The World Cup Final in itself though, was absolutely amazing. The match finished 3-3 and went to penalties. It was literally the exact type of final you would wish for as a neutral. There was drama, fantastic goals and two of the World’s best players going toe to toe. Mbappe will fade into the background after coming out on the losing side but he was easily the best player on the field that day. Mbappe almost single handedly beat Argentina and scored 4 goals if you include his penalty in the shootout. PSG will surely do everything they can to keep him for a while but every United fan can dream of him putting on the red number 7 on day.

Lisandro Martinez

Fortunately, we can be happy for Lisandro Martinez. The Butcher is on pace to finish the season as United’s player of the year and become perhaps our best signing in years. Martinez is easily Argentina’s best centre half but the loyalty of the manager to the old guard kept Martinez out of the side for much of the tournament. Nevertheless, Martinez played outstanding when called upon and now has the experience of winning at the highest level. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take some fire out of him.

Eric ten Hag has stated how Martinez needs to be ready to come back and be ready to work for United. In fact ten Hag has even made it seem he intends to have Martinez ready to play as soon as December 27th against Nottingham Forest. The Dutchman said, “Winning the World Cup for your country is the highest you can be. But also Martinez has to accept that on the 27th the Premier League comes back.” Hopefully Martinez takes this message well and uses it to fuel the rest of the season.

Future United captain?

Raphael Varane

The French defender had a very tumultuous tournament and it has seemingly gone under the radar. Varane has always been given the benefit of the doubt thanks to his many winning years with Real Madrid but he did not have a great tournament by any means. Leading the backline for a side that reaches the World Cup final certainly earns one some brownie points but Varane was culpable for many of the goals France surrendered in Qatar.

Varane is a great defender, don’t get it wrong but this was not a good tournament for him. Granted, Varane did come into the tournament injured and only came back in the second match of the group stage. But, that’s always been one of the weaknesses in relying on Varane, his injury record. Not only did Varane come into the World Cup injured but he also leaves injured after hurting himself in the final. This may not be fair to say but it certainly appeared as if Varane was just tired and ‘gave up’ on his team.

There’s no doubt of Varane’s talents, and United will need him. But I think it’s time to stop giving Varane the pass on everything.

Varane is an all time great but he needs to toughen up.

Stand Out Performers

Martinez and Varane may have been the only United players to make the final but several other United players had an excellent tournament. Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Casemiro are the first to come to mind. Fernandes in particular was on pace to be the player of the tournament until Portugal was upset by Morocco in the quarter finals. But, Fernandes’s performance can not be overlooked.

Fernandes was integral to everything Portugal tried to do. This side was firing on all cylinders in attack thanks to the United midfielder. If only their finishing hadn’t dried up against Morocco. Fortunately for United, this unexpected World Cup exit may have only lit an even bigger fire under Fernandes. Against Burnley in the Carabao Cup, Fernandes was already back to action with United starting alongside other World Cup stars including Marcus Rashford.

Rashford stays Hot

Marcus Rashford made the most of his opportunities at the World Cup. Unfortunately for him, Gareth Southgate is a very stubborn manager. He insisted on starting Foden, Saka and Kane up top throughout the tournament. But, when given his opportunity he did not disappoint.

In his lone start against Wales Rashford scored two goals, one of which was a tremendous free kick. Had that free kick been scored in a bigger matchup, it may have been a serious contender for goal of the tournament. Every time Rashford made it on the field he looked electric. England lost to France by one goal and Southgate didn’t put Rashford on until the 85th minute. Southgate has somehow kept his job as the England boss after the tournament.

Rashford has looked to keep his form from the 1st half of the season, to the World Cup and after. Rashford scored a terrific goal preceded by an excellent run against Burnley in United’s return to action following the World Cup. Eric ten Hag has recently stated it is a priority to ensure Rashford remains with United for years to come.

Rashford seems to finally be back at his best.

Casemiro Heartbreak

Casemiro also had a stellar tournament leading the midfield for Brazil. He scored a vital goal to beat Switzerland in the group stage and was one of only two players to take their penalty against Croatia in the shootout. Brazil was expected to do much more at this World Cup but it would’ve been even less without Casemiro.

Brazil should’ve never lost to Croatia and many of their ‘star players’ really let their country down. The Brazil side is too worried about flash and fancy football. Players like Casemiro play for the team and care nothing for flash, something that needs to be instilled into other players.

Manchester United will need Casemiro to keep his form and lead the midfield if there is any hope of making the top 4 this season.

Casemiro’s goal against Switzerland was a stunner.

World Cup Reception

This was one of the strangest and most exciting World Cup’s we have ever seen. The football was fantastic but this tournament will always be overshadowed by the corruption in FIFA that gave Qatar this tournament and the human rights violations made by Qatar. After the death of a migrant worker during the tournament, one of the Qatari leaders said “People die everyday” and seemingly just passed it on. Qatar is an oppressive and ignorant country that should never have been given a World Cup.

The World Cup held record breaking viewership for the final. Hopefully the beautiful game only continues to grow. Although, many networks like Fox seem to only care about the financial profit of such an event. Fox never once mentioned all the atrocities going on in Qatar.

But, the football was great and their were some fantastic memories made. There’s no reason we still can’t enjoy the World Cup for what it was and celebrate the player. But this World Cup will always have an asterisk by it for many.

What’s Next?

Well, after a lengthy Word Cup midseason, the players must now prepare to finish out the last 5 months of their club seasons. There is real concern this will lead to many injuries by spring. Player management is going to be vital to how the remainder of the many league seasons play out.

United in particular, are waiting on Varane and Martinez to make it back form international duty. Meanwhile, almost every other player was available for the Carabou Cup match against Burnley. United will hope to have at least one of Varane or Martinez back intime for the premier league return on December 27th.

Manchester United will also look to keep busy in the transfer market this January. It is rumored United could sign Cody Gapko for under 50 million pounds. PSV find themselves in desperate need of cash. Gapko was one of the standout performers at the World Cup. With the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo United will need to add another striker to the side. The Red Devils are also rumored to be in for Enzo Fernandez of Argentina. Let’s hope United can make a signing or two this January.

United currently sit 5th in the EPL with a game in hand.

The World Cup is King (2022 Qatar ***)

Even amongst all of the political and humanitarian issues, this World Cup had some amazing moments and buckets of goals. I don’t think anyone will look back on this tournament without noting how terrible the host nation was and nor should they. But, even in the most controversial World Cup of all time we still had moments of pure bliss. The World stood together even if it was just for a second.

We can absolutely enjoy the football from this tournament but we can not let all this controversy just get swept under the rug. Terrible things transpired before and during this World Cup to make it happen in Qatar. If we forget about it all and let it go now, then it will happen again and again.

I thoroughly enjoyed this World Cup but I will never praise this World Cup, even if it had the greatest World Cup Final of all time.

Plus, don’t forget this was a ‘sober’ World Cup. That’s fucking lame.

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