With Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool drawing, and Arsenal losing, over the weekend, United knew that a win against Hull would help them close the gap on the top four.
This knowledge seemed to push them forward in the early moments; with just one minute gone, Mkhitaryan raced onto a through ball past the defence only for a superb block from Robertson to deny him a good shooting opportunity. Unfortunately, that was one of the most exciting moments of the first half.
With Hull sitting deep, with at least 10 players behind the ball, Man Utd failed to penetrate the defence. Sloppy passing and slow build-up play combined to leave Hull plenty of time to get back into position. Despite plenty of possession, United looked devoid of creative ideas, failing to create many genuinely dangerous situations. United even resorted to long balls in search of something different, and that’s how the best chance of the first 45 came about. A long ball from Rojo was flicked on with his back heel by Ibra to Pogba, who raced free into the box only for the hull keeper to produce an outstanding one-handed save.
The second half began much the same as the first, with United holding the lion’s share of possession, but still unable to penetrate the compact Hull defence. Our midfield play was stagnant, with United unable to move the ball quickly or with any true intent. The first chance of note came early in the second half, when Pogba launched a through ball from inside his own half, finding Rashford who took a delightful first touch to go one on one with the Hull keeper. However, his mis-hit shot only managed to dribble across the face of goal and roll out of play.
Midway through the second half, a dangerous free kick saw Smalling head across goal and the ball fall at Mata’s feet inside the six yard box, but this golden opportunity was wasted as Mata slammed his shot straight into the keeper.
Although the game had been slow and largely insipid, the last ten saw a livening up of the pace and chances created in the game. Hull broke quickly, and saw their shot strike the inside of the post but cannon back out. The reality that the game was meandering towards a draw or worse seemed to hit the United players and they seemed to lift their game, but it was too little, too late. Although United created opportunities in the last five, with a shot from Pogba being saved, and countless crosses cleared, they were unable to breach Hull’s defence, and the match ended 0-0.
De Gea: 6
Did enough when needed tidy with footwork. Relieved when Markovic’s shot wrong-footed him and hit the post.
Up and down pitch a lot, but his end product let him down.
Assured in defence. Probably United’s best performer before he went off injured.
Dependable yet shaky at times. Missed a good chance in the last minute.
Like Valencia, covered a lot of ground, but lacked a quality final ball.
Made some nice passes but didn’t really threaten to open up the game.
Couple of good long balls, but generally too slow in possession.
Not influential at all – hardly noticed him.
Showed glimpses of his ability, but gave away position far too easily.
Conceded possession easily, wasn’t strong enough on the ball, and was needlessly caught offside too many times.
Our only outlet in first half, offering trickery and pace, but lost the ball too often.
Didn’t have the chance to make any real impact.
Provided some zip and movement in a team devoid of ideas, but missed the chance of the match
Spread some nice passes but didn’t have the impact United needed.
3 things we learned
United need to remember the lessons of the LvG years and make their possession count.
Our crossing needs to improve, as we’re getting into good positions only to provide poor deliveries into the box.
United still need to be far more clinical in front of goal. We had some good opportunities but were unable to put them in the back of the net – a frustratingly familiar problem for the team this season.