Monday 9th March 2015 – Old Trafford – approx. 9:40pm. United fans stream out of Old Trafford after witnessing another (but familiar) underwhelming performance from the reds of Manchester – which resulted in a 1-2 defeat in the FA Cup quarter final against Arsenal. No silverware will be adorning the Old Trafford mantelpiece this season, but lets be honest in the bigger picture this season is getting fourth or higher in the Premier League is key for the 20 time top flight champions of England. However this is no given as the race for Champions League places is so tight. But WHAT I want to look at is where is it going wrong at the Theatre of Dreams. Last season players, pundits and so called experts (titter titter titter) were quick to blame David Moyes for all of Manchester United’s problems – yes he made mistakes but there were major issues behind the scenes at the club in my opinion especially with Ed Woodward spending most of the time in communicado doing nothing. Fast forward to now – LVG (the so called saviour) is not fairing much better and some of his decisions are seemingly hampering their attempts to get back to where they think they belong.
Tactics – I think we can all agree that they have been rather bizarre and on occasion not very decisive. He played pre-season with 3-5-2 – won a few games but when the season started (and opposing teams actually gave the requisite effort) things this not pan out as he might have expected – two pts after three games a case in point. He moved to a back four then back to a back three – then back to a four as we stand at the current time – see what I mean by a lack of decisiveness. What surprises me is that on far too many occasions the players don’t seem to know what they are doing – which is a strange from my point of view as its not if they have had many midweek games due to no European football and an early League Cup exit – so what is actually happening on the training field!!!!!!! Not a lot by the looks of things.
Selections – these again at times have been a tad strange – to be fair to LVG initially in the season he had a tremendous amount of injuries to deal with and still managed to keep United in contention for a top four place. However since he has had a fully fit (or as close to) squad to pick from – he has still chopped and changed and whilst getting some results the performances have been poor usually taking the form of a garbage first half followed by improvement – usually after going a goal down. You would hope a manager of his quality could get the selection right from the start. Following on from this his substitutions do not always make sense (well to the watching public) – he will leave strikers on the bench when he needs a goal (especially Falcao) bring players on very late on which does not always allow them to influence the game and on Monday versus Arsenal he made two half time substitutions (admittedly it was reported one was for injury) – but by making two he only had one more permitted change – which is never helpful when at the time they were chasing the game. To be fair to the Louis he has made subs to influence games for the better, noticeably his use of Marouane Fellaini and James Wilson.
In my own opinion the only thing that LVG has improved within Manchester United from the Moyes era is the team spirit – which is important as they have shown signs of a never say die attitude in matches despite the lack of quality being seen on the pitch. However after a 150miliion + pound spend that is not good enough and I’m sure the Dutchman thinks exactly the same. He quickly needs to get his troops ready to fire with a huge (and difficult) run of fixtures to come for the fallen champions starting with fellow chasers for a Champions League spot, Tottenham Hotspur, visit to Old Trafford this Sunday (15th March) with a trip to Anfield the following weekend before the International break. Matches against Manchester City and at Chelsea and Everton follow further down the line, not to mention a quite crucial last home match of the season against cup conquerors Arsenal on the weekend of May 16th – and to add to that any game in the Premier League is tough and you have to put in due diligence and earn the right or you will come a cropper.
Few can argue against the fact that the self styled Iron Tulip has a fantastic managerial record and I suspect that we will see the best of this team next season but his legacy is on the line and questions will continue to be asked if his team keeps on faltering this season – especially if a Champions League spot is not secured (i.e. FAILURE!!!!!!!). We will now see how good a manager he really is especially as he has been given everything he asked for unlike Mr Moyes – time will tell.
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