United & Van Gaal Do Nothing To Convince

Posted: December 26, 2015 in Football, Louis van Gaal, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League
Tags: , , , ,



So Louis gets another chance against Stoke. Judging by the team he has picked he has been listening to the supporters, which he will obviously deny. A manager listening to the supporters! What is the world coming to?

It actually might not have been a bad ploy to mention that he was bowing to incessant fan requests to drop Rooney and play Herrera. At least that way, the fans are less likely to have a go at him, whatever the result.

On Soccer Saturday, the pundits couldn’t quite believe why Rooney had been dropped for what they saw as a “must win” game. Well guys, I’ll tell you. Rooney has been the standout worst United player this season. I have watched every minute of every game and, apart from the game against Bruges, where he had three goals laid on a plate for him, he has been awful. Every time he has played it has been like United started with ten men. Why is it considered such a “big decision” to leave out your worst player? I would have thought it was one of the easiest decisions of the season.

Van Gaal appears to have realised that, in a must win game, he has more chance of winning WITHOUT Rooney and WITH Herrera. Let’s hope so anyway.

Stoke, on the other hand, are flying at present. Although they lost to Crystal Palace last week, they should have scored three or four goals and, had it not been for Wayne Hennessey in goal, they probably would have done. David De Gea may have to have a similar game for United to get anything here.

In the game studio, “Absolutely Dwight” was on hand to give his opinions and answer questions that he wasn’t asked, as usual. It appears that somebody has also mentioned his overuse of the word “absolutely” as I only heard it twice during the short time he was interviewed before kick-off.


The game started reasonably evenly but it soon became clear that Stoke could master the conditions better than United could.

As to the selection, which was a fan pleaser more than anything else. Question marks were raised, in my mind, when Fellaini was picked ahead of Schneiderlin. The usual strange positional picks were made. A defensive midfielder was played at left back and a winger was played at right back. I am sorry but, in all my years of watching not just United, but football generally, you cannot consistently play players out of position and expect to be successful.

After eighteen minutes Blind forgot he was left back and moved into midfield. Unfortunately, Depay also forgot he was a midfielder and went to left back. The ball was then played back towards Depay who headed it feebly back in the direction of De Gea. It didn’t get anywhere near De Gea and United were a goal down, thanks to Johnson crossing for a Bojan tap in.

Not too long afterwards they were two goals down. A free kick hit the wall, bounced out to Arnautavic who hit an unstoppable shot past De Gea from twenty yards.

It was at this stage I was hoping for one of two things to happen. I wanted United to score before half-time to make the second half more interesting or, I must admit, I did entertain the idea of United losing by three or four and van Gaal getting sacked after the game.

To me, United’s play was typified by a pass from Smalling. With all the time in the world he looked around, saw that Young was unmarked on the right wing and swept a long cross field ball……straight out of play!….and Ashley Young applauded! Can You imagine Roy Keane applauding a pass that goes out of play!!!?

So half-time came and United were two down and playing terribly. What else could possibly go wrong?

In a make-or-break decision, which could have career changing implications on van Gaal, it was decided that United’s worst player would come on and save the day in the second half. So enter, to a fanfare of trumpets, the great white dope.

Martial moved out to the left wing where he was slightly more ineffectual than he had been in the middle and, by doing so, added to the list of players who were not in their natural positions.

In fairness, United showed slightly more attacking intent, or should that be flair, in the second half. It got them nowhere though as Stoke defended resolutely and the best chances fell to Fellaini, who is definitely not a free-scoring centre forward.

United brought on Pereira to replace Herrera which was unlucky for the Spaniard. Not because he played well in this game but because he is expected to produce performances when only selected every three or four games. In the past, he has been man of the match in one game then dropped in the next. Such inconsistency in selection will never reap any great rewards.

Anyway, the game petered out to the expected Stoke victory. They had done enough in the first half to ensure that a toothless United team would never come back from a two goal deficit and the introduction of  Rooney had done absolutely nothing to change this. At least van Gaal picked up a record in this game. It was the first time in thirteen years that United had lost the first game after Christmas.


United are as far away now from being title contenders as they have been for a long while. Louis van Gaal has massively underestimated the strength of the teams in the Premier League. He has stated before, in his own defence surprise, surprise, that the Premier league is more difficult than any other league in which he has managed so why doesn’t he manage accordingly? He seems to think that his strange selections will win games and, by playing players totally out of position he is proving himself to be naive if nothing else. He is not winning games and is in danger of becoming a laughing stock, as are United. Time to go before any more damage is done.

Even Dwight started using his favourite word liberally after the game.

  1. Peter says:

    I like your analysis Ian, LVG has built the team to his liking, however, he still leaves out schneiderling, and he keeps playing his players out of position. I would add, taking out Memphis, will destroy his confidence, besides that I think it was better to put Rooney for Fellaini (who did nothing but miss good chances) and keep Martial up front with Memphis, Rooney and mata behind.


  2. mukesh says:

    Agree with you , squad does have good talent , the problem is with the depth available and the age of current players , either a bit raw (martial ,memphis , lingard , perrera) or over the hill (mata , rooney , schweini) ,not enough players in their prime, and yes LVG looks clueless and is responsible for this mess , i am surprised no one is considering Alan pardew , he is english , knows the league , may not be a big name like jose but he has shown he can take and improve struggling teams , with the kind of resources that United have who is to tell he cant take the next step ? !


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