You don’t need to watch any of Manchester United’s recent games to guess that their brand of football is not all too exciting. They have only scored 7 goals in 10 home games this season. Even Van Gaal has admitted that he has been “very bored” during some games this season, and saying that is an understatement. Yes, United are through to the FA Cup fourth round but by beating a League One side at home through a stoppage time penalty, emphasis was still very much on the manager’s tactics.
Van Gaal – bored
Paul Scholes, pundit and ex-Manchester United midfielder, rightfully slated the Dutch manager, claiming this United side lacked attitude. He told BBC Sport:
“There’s nobody having a go at each other, there’s no smiling, there’s no entertainment.”
You cannot argue against him, this weekend’s first half blank against Sheffield United was their 12th of the season in all competitions. Van Gaal’s side have scored just twice in the first half at Old Trafford, and one of those goals was Kyle Walker’s own goal in the opening game of the season. Yet the Dutchman came out this week to tell fans they should be happy with the current form of a side that plays in such a conservative and lathargic style that it is a wonder why a player full of flair in Memphis was signed in the first place.[video:https://youtu.be/8H4epQI9Wk0]
The Dutch winger is somehow out of the first team picture right now and Ruud Gullit has blamed that on his flamboyant off-field lifestyle which has distracted him from the game. And you can see that the winger is not fully focused on his football, and his reluctance to get stuck in has led to a lot of criticism from Match of the Day’s Alan Shearer.
But Van Gaal has not helped. Memphis thrived at PSV Eindhoven because of the quick, counter-attacking and attractive football they played, but Van Gaal continues to play a laborious style whereby his players would not roam from their positions. If United are to succeed again, attacking football has to be a necessity with the players they have in that squad.
I do not believe for one second that the United attackers are playing to their best ability, they are not. The forwards Martial and Rooney are nowhere near each other when they attack, and Van Gaal seems to be restricting a potential world class partnership to certain areas on the pitch. How a team with Mata, Young, Ander Herrera and Depay cannot break a team down like Sheffield United or Bournemouth down is too suspicious to blame on form. This is a system that doesnt suit Manchester United.
It is hard to see the reasons behind Van Gaal’s game plans in his recent run of eight games without a win, his players are constantly behind the ball and make little effort to play the ball through the lines into the final third. It is safe to say when your game plan doesn’t work against a League One club, and you are a Premier League giant, perhaps it is time to give it up. This FA Cup game was another that restricted movement on United’s flair players and if they continue to perform in this nature they wll find themsleves slipping away from the Premier League title race and the top four.