For the Man United fans; me included, who grew up watching the team under Sir Alex Ferguson tear up the Premier league and Europe, it was a never ending high. The weekends always took forever to come and we most especially hated the international breaks because not only was it a barrier between us and ninety minutes plus of great football you knew the team was guaranteed to play, there was always a chance an important member of the team could come back injured!
Even when we lost, you itched for the next game to come and almost felt sorry for our next opponents because you knew with certainty that they were going to feel the brunt of our last defeat! Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United era was so remarkable because he for a better part of his later years at the helm, United tormented the EPL with a relatively average team; a great feat given the competitiveness of the Premiership and the spending power of our direct rivals. He was a genius and sadly his ingenuity is still heavily missed today as those days are now a thing of the past.
The last fifteen months have being the worst that I have had to endure as a Manchester United fan; to describe it as a disaster would be stating the obvious! Losing home and away in the 2013/14 season to City and Liverpool; our greatest rivals, losing games at home more than any time I can recall in history, culminated in Man United missing out on a Champions league spot, finishing seventh; 7th and having the manager canned; the first time in the clubs recent history. I have never wanted to crawl into hiding more than I did last season, with each defeat or insipid display by the team, the jokes by rival fans became more cruel, more creative and colourful, more provoking but deep down I kept thinking “this is United and if there is any team in the world that could turn this tide around it was them”. That would never happen and as they say the rest is history.
With the dawn of the Louis Van Gaal era, many fans saw this as the beginning of a new era, the vanquishing of what was a depressing David Moyes era. Here was a man known for his no nonsense philosophy and on the back of an excellent showing at the World cup, where he reached the Semis with a budding, albeit average and aging Holland team, he looked like the right man to steer the ship in the right direction and out of stormy waters. Much fanfare greeted the appointment of LVG and an exciting pre season which saw United win all but one of their games, Mancunians the world over were itching for the start of the season. Manchester United had found another conqueror.
That sweet feeling would soon turn bitter as United lost its first game at home and so far it hasn’t being the fairytale we all have hoped for, four loses including last Sunday’s to Man City and the humiliating loss to Mk Dons in the Capital one cup, three wins and four draws have brought Man United’s point total this year to a misery 13, four worse than Moyes at this stage last season.
So does this make Moyes a better manager than LVG? No, but it does beg the question, what would Moyes have achieved had he had the same financial backing as LVG? I guess we will never know. But unlike Moyes, LVG has an impressive track record/CV, having won the league in both Spain and Germany, but is that enough to succeed at a club like Man United? Apparently not! LVG came into the premier league with a swagger and a pomp but that has since being knocked out of him, like an analyst said, he underestimated the premier league, under estimated the task ahead of him, thus the club’s current situation. Personally I think the Louis Van Gaal led United team are playing way better football than that under Moyes, but the only problem is that they have failed to turn the attractive football and possession into goals and goals win you games not possession.
I am glad LVG is a learning man, after not too impressive results, he ditched his favoured 3-5-2 formation for our traditional 4-4-2, which he has sometimes alternated to a 4-5-1 formation, with Robin Van Persie at the top of the diamond. Which brings me to the question why RVP has played more minutes than every other United striker and hasn’t contributed much in terms of attack, save for a few goals here and there?! Why does he get the nod ahead of Falcao to spearhead the attack? Yes some would argue that Falcao is injured, but against WBA he started from the bench, which the manager put down to fatigue, but Aguero travelled almost the same distance and scored 4 goals against a decent Tottenham side.
In the game against WBA RVP was lethargic and that is putting it nicely and our attack was as blunt as a rusted knife, yet we spent 150m in the summer recruiting attacking minded players, some of whom were on display in that game! Against WBA, we didn’t start ticking till the introductions of Falcao and Fellaini; the reject, I am glad he is beginning to prove me wrong. I love RVP as much as the next Manchester United fan but he is in his early thirties and should be used sparingly as SAF used Giggs in his later years. RVP has become wasteful in front of the post; throwing away chances he would have buried with his eyes closed in his first season at the club, maybe it is time RVP is allowed to make his impact from the bench and time to allow Wilson try out his legs properly on the big stage.
Sometimes I question LVG’s decision making, like playing Januzaj against a physical City side, he had a decent game against Chelsea but a second week of playing against a top side was too much ask for a nineteen year old. That is my opinion. LVG has used 31 different players this season and his tinkering isn’t helped by the incessant injuries that seem to befall us at every turn. That said he needs to find his first 11 fast, as the three month grace period he asked for is slowly winding down. Chelsea’s form is basically down to the fact that Mourinho doesn’t tweak the squad as much, he has selected the players he knows can do the job and supplements them with players he trust to cover when injury or suspensions strike. Even the legendary Didier Drogba is called once in a while from the bench to come help the team, same goes for Cech and I’d like to LVG employ the kind of ruthlessness that has seen Petr Cech relegated to the bench.
When he came on, he asked for 3 months to implant his ‘philosophy’ into the club and players and United fans and indeed the EPL were glad to give him that, but like Scholes said, there hasn’t being much progression at the club. Honestly we have added pace to the team but the goals are still not there! And you gotta wonder why. Yet we are shipping in goals by the number, belittling David De Gea’s excellent work between the posts. Many people will agree that he has being the only positive thus far, he and of course Fellaini whose goal against WBA was voted MUFC best goal of the month!
I want to believe LVG is the answer to our prayers, but if he doesn’t start to get the right results soon, the rumbles in the stand that characterized the David Moyes era would soon begin to rise. The game this weekend’s game against Crystal Palace is a great opportunity for LVG to begin to steer the direction most Man United fans want to see the club facing, to the top.