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In the first half-hour of the game, Braga dominated and took a well-deserved 2-0 lead. Manchester United, on the other hand, looked disjointed, lackluster, slow, tired and short of ideas.
There were three main observations about United's defence (or the shambolic remains of one) in this period. First, the defenders played like strangers on the same pitch. Second, there was no real leader in defence who could realize this and sort things out. Third, Michael Carrick never was, and never will be a central defender.
There were numerous incidents in the first 15 minutes when Carrick, Jonny Evans and Alex Büttner all converged to defend against the same attacker. This left wide open spaces for other attackers to run into and exploit.
The worst thing about this defending was that all three of them stood and watched as Alan put Braga ahead. This was despite the fact that they were all only a few feet away from the striker.
It was evident to even the most casual observer that the United defence showed a lack of understanding. Having never fielded this defence before, the situation was calling out for a leader to show his presence and organize the back line. However, this never really happened until the start of the second half, after some words were obviously spoken about this issue in the dressing room at halftime.
As far as Carrick was concerned, he did the best he could in a difficult situation. But it can be argued that he should never have started in central defence. For most of the second half, he found himself out of position too often and too easily.
Of course, the job of the defence wasn't made any easier by Braga's pacy, counter-attacking style. The diamond formation did nothing to help the United full-backs tackle the service from Braga's wings and contributed to United's defensive difficulties.