Better From Van Gaal’s Manchester United

Posted: February 2, 2016 in Football, Managers, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League
Tags: , , , ,

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(Jesse Lingard takes the plaudits for his goal although he did very little else throughout the game and was extremely lucky to stay on the pitch for the entirety without being substituted)

If this is one of van Gaal’s “match-by-match” nights then he will still be in charge at the weekend.

Manchester United players played the first half as though they thought that Pep Guardiola was coming to Old Trafford rather than the Etihad. They certainly didn’t look like the players who weren’t interested in playing for their current manager just two or three games ago.

A headed tap-in by Lingard from a cross by Borthwick-Jackson opened the scoring and this was followed twenty minutes later with Martial ending an excellent move by placing a curling shot into the top left hand corner, leaving Butland spectating with the crowd.

So at half-time United, contrary to the majority of their other games at Old Trafford, had scored two goals, normally they can’t score ONE!

Hopefully Louis wasn’t going to spoil anything during his team talk such as telling Anthony Martial that he was rubbish or that De Gea only does what he is supposed to do.

Apparently not, because United continued to play well in the second half and eight minutes in Rooney finished off another nice move, this time it was a cross from man-of-the-match Anthony Martial, which he tapped in.

The game then petered out somewhat. Stoke chased a consolation goal while United were quite content to hit them on the break on the off chance that a fourth goal was available. It wasn’t, so the game finished 3-0 to United and comfortable it was too!

The fans went home happy with the team performance but these recent results seem to have come more from the team deciding how to play than van Gaal. Either that or he has been listening to the players.

It can’t be a coincidence that, since players have been playing, mainly, in their best positions United’s performances and results have improved.

In tonight’s game Juan Mata was played in his favourite number ten role, Rooney started as centre forward, although he continued to roam around looking for the ball. Both full-back positions were occupied by guess what? Full-backs, not ageing wingers. In fact, only Daley Blind was played out of position and Stoke, quite honestly, should have been better at exploiting this, but failed to do so.

Van Gaal still makes some strange selections despite this result and myself and the crowd were wondering, again, at the wisdom of picking Fellaini when Herrera and Schneiderlin were available. He didn’t play too badly to be fair but in games like these I prefer a more combative player like Herrera who will give away less free-kicks than Fellaini, which would normally be an important factor in a game against Stoke City. Jesse Lingard is being picked for no apparent reason. Yes, he scored a goal but it was laid on a plate for him. He did little, if nothing, else in the game.

Then came the substitutions. On came Depay for Martial, Herrera for Fellaini and Pereira for Mata. The actual substitutions weren’t that surprising but the timing of them was. Juan Mata, for example, rarely finishes a game these days but to bring him off after 77 minutes was hardly worth it, particularly as he was playing well. Also, as previously mentioned, Lingard was left on for the entire game when a lot of people will be wondering why he was picked in the first place!

All-in-all a good night was had by all but I will still be disappointed if van Gaal is in charge next season, as will a great many Manchester United supporters.

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Comments
  1. daparundel says:

    Lingard has, in my opinion, been a bit of a slow learner but he seems to be gradually improving. He does have the skills, and maybe LVG is hoping that things all of a sudden click for Lingard. Too often he is out of position or makes the wrong pass, which kills the attack. I’d tend to give Depay or even Januzaj a go, and see how they do if Lingard isn’t up to it. All 3 of them need to grow as team players.

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  2. dplymyer says:

    Lingard has been, in my opinion, a bit of a slow learner, but he seems to be improving gradually. I’d be equally as likely to give Depay a chance on the right side, or even Herrera, who has done well when next to Mata. Speaking of playing players out of position, Herrera is an attacking midfielder and looked lost in a deeper role. I think Herrera is one of the players who has suffered most under LVG. I would have put Mata in that category until this week, but now LVG has seen what Mata can do if allowed to play properly and said today he is going to stick with Mata at #10.

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