Football Features

“Kortney brought the Hause down” – Five things learned from Aston Villa’s shocking streak-busting win over Man Utd

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:10, 25 September 2021

In an incredible afternoon of football, Aston Villa upset the odds and beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford.

The win is Villa’s first against United in the Premier League for over a decade, and is the Red Devils’ third defeat in their last four games across all competitions.

What did we learn?

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1. Emi Martinez is a bad man (and we love it)

When Manchester United were awarded a last-minute penalty against Aston Villa, many fans would have feared the impending equaliser. Anyone who watched Emi Martinez play for Argentina this summer, however, would have been somewhat confident.

And sure enough the Argentine ace was playing his traditional mind games, joining in the scrum around Bruno Fernandes and repeatedly begging Cristiano Ronaldo to take the penalty. Many expected the No. 7 to take spot-kick duty from Fernandes and with that no doubt playing on Bruno’s mind as he placed the ball on the spot, Martinez was amping things up.

Sure enough, it worked. Fernandes is superhuman from the spot but, in a panic, blasted the ball over the ball. Martinez celebrated in front of the Stretford End in his usual good taste, and while he didn’t make the save he absolutely forced the miss and should reap the plaudits.

2. The double jinx

The concept of “jinxing” is, on the surface, quite ridiculous. However, you can’t help but make a sharp intake of breath when you see someone tempt fate the way that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did prior to this match. First, his comments on Man Utd not conceding from set-pieces, where he said: “we do spend a little bit more time than what we would normally do” had the inevitable result of them conceding a set-piece.

Then Solskjaer’s quotes about penalties, or rather his mention of Jurgen Klopp’s quotes about how Man Utd are awarded more penalties than others. Solskjaer has been vexed this season as the Red Devils have been denied what seem fairly obvious spot-kicks. But of course, as soon as Solskjaer vocalised it then United did get a penalty, which they missed!

Unlucky, Ole. It’s really not been your week.

3. Cristiano gets a taste of his own medicine

For years and years, Cristiano Ronaldo must have been an infuriating and exhilarating team-mate. On the one hand his relentless goalscoring has helped his teams win major trophies, and when he’s on you’re never really out of any game.

But on the other hand he shoots. All the time. Like, even when there are team-mates in better positions that he can pass to, he’s gonna get his shot off. And on some level you understand why he is that selfish, but it must be annoying for his strike partners.

Well, on Saturday Mason Greenwood gave him a huge taste of his own medicine. Greenwood’s movement against Villa was supreme and he constantly found himself in spaces where he could shoot; however, Ronaldo was often standing within passing range in an even better position to shoot and score. Yet Greenwood ignored him every time and let fly himself. It was absolutely hilarious to watch Ronaldo flail about as he didn’t receive a pass from young Greenwood, mainly because he really should have received a pass from young Greenwood.

You have to admire Greenwood not always deferring to Ronaldo as weaker-minded players may be tempted to do, but when a player is in a better position you do need to get your head up and pass to them, no matter how funny it is when you don’t!

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4. The Long Wait is over

In December 2009, Aston Villa beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford with a goal from Gabby Agbonlahor. Then, for the next 11 years, every time the teams met in the Premier League, Villa couldn’t get that win. They could only manage four draws, the other 14 games were defeats!

In September 2021, Aston Villa beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford with a goal from Kortney Hause. An incredible performance where they carried a massive amount of threat on the break and could have possibly won it before they actually did. For what it’s worth, Hause was only playing because Axel Tuanzebe wasn’t allowed to feature against his parent club while on loan, and the defender made Man Utd pay for that with a decent defensive display and then brought the Hause down by powering one hell of a header into the back of the net to win it.

5. A strategic failure from Solskjaer

After the final whistle, #OleOut began trending on Twitter as Man Utd fans lamented their miserable recent form where they have lost three of their last four games, while their lone victory came courtesy of a late goal and baffling penalty miss from Mark Noble. They’ve not been playing well despite their massive talent and fans are blaming Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The common refrain about Solskjaer’s managerial skills is that he’s a poor tactician, and he’s not great, but he often gets away with it because he is excellent at developing a strategy for his team. He uses specific players in specific ways to get specific results and usually makes the right calls. Which is why it was so odd that he absolutely failed to do that against Villa.

It became pretty clear early on that the game against Villa was going to be open, with Dean Smith’s men forcing a high tempo to suit their own style and having the better chances as a result. However, the Man Utd XI seemed to have been picked to break down a packed defence, but hey, everyone can get a starting XI wrong so it’s about how you react. Solskjaer usually does well.

Except on Saturday he didn’t. Late in the game Man Utd would regularly stream forward into masses of space with one or two attackers and not really have the legs or instincts to fully take advantage of the situation, hence Mason Greenwood always shooting.

Marcus Rashford would have thrived in a game like this, but okay he’s injured. Jadon Sancho isn’t though, and the game was crying out for a player like him. The winger has had a rough time so far in Man Utd red but his talent is obvious and the way this game was flowing made it ideal for him to come in and recreate his Borussia Dortmund form.

Injuries to Shaw and Maguire meant that Man Utd only had one tactical sub available, and rather than use it to bring Sancho on, stretch Villa wide and use the Englishman to wreck them on the break with Ronaldo staying centrally to attack crosses… Solskjaer brought on Edinson Cavani, making Man Utd narrow and their attacks easier to defend.

A lucky penalty call (as Cavani forced a header goalward that struck Kortney Hause’s arm) aside, Man Utd did not look as potent after the change and Villa were able to see the win out. Bruno Fernandes created a massive 10 chances in the game but none of them were really good looks at goal as he was trying to conjure something from nothing. Perhaps if he had Sancho to work with, he would have been able.

Is Solskjaer good enough to manage Manchester United? Maybe, maybe not. What is certain, however, is that his strength of using his squad and his subs strategically has more or less deserted him lately and, without that, there’s not much else for him to fall back on. Things are going from bad to worse for Solskjaer.


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