The tactics and selection of Louis van Gaal’s have actually guided those who are writing about Manchester United gradually going for a thesaurus to find synonyms for the word boring after their latest setback in a 1-0 defeat to Southampton on Saturday.
You can pick any of these words – lifeless, dull, tame, humdrum, stale, monotonous, mundane, tedious, tiresome and stodgy. Each of these words has somewhat a different emphasis and each indicates a different angle on the spectrum of boredom that Manchester United’s current squad reflects.
Watching the whole team running around in the field has also a dull effect on the senses. They seems to be lacking the life whenever try to capitulate an opening. The repetition is again humdrum and monotonous; any United fan can say that.
The attacking movements are seldom effective, entertaining; lack of invention can be seen clearly as the players look a bit stale. The speed of passing is becoming stodgy every day, also the absence of proper intensity makes the boys feel tame, and as a result the overall effect at the end of the day is both tedious and completely tiresome.
Louis van Gaal understandably remains in a downbeat mood after loss to Southampton and even though several injuries affected his team’s remarkably poor performance, he doesn’t have the lavishness to show real excuses for United’s complete failure on their last outing but it was utterly predictable for the fans.
When speaking after the Southampton match, van Gaal looked frustrated as he said about the crowd’s vitriolic response after the final whistle, “They are right to boo. I cannot deny that, I saw the match.”
Even television viewers had no doubt about what the crowd’s felt, any amateur lip-reader could realise the intensity of the anger in the stands, and towards whom the anger was directed. The brief guest appearance of a mouse on the field was rightly one of the most entertaining moments that the match enjoyed.
If we statistically calculate an underlying effectiveness of a team’s attack in a match based on the position and types of chances, a detailed breakdown shows that Manchester United’s chances against Southampton were a likely outcome of 0.2 goals, as per the stats provided by Opta.
Statistically what it means is, the way they played against Southampton, the Red Devils would have had to play five full matches before being expected to score a goal.
MANCHESTER UNITED THIS SEASON
After the Liverpool match which United managed to win, it was suggested that Fellaini’s presence in the midfield has continuously led to lack of control over games, whoever the opponent may be. With a cruel inevitability, the same thing we witnessed in the first half on Saturday. Manchester United’s pass completion percentage was only 74 % before the break, and enjoyed 54.4 % possession in the first half (as per Opta), certainly a low number for a team who once dominated games.
Memphis Depay, Adnan Januzaj, Andreas Pereira and Juan Mata – all are creative and improvisational , but surprisingly they were pushed back on the substitutes bench as the match kicked off against Southampton, but each of the players could have strengthen United’s ability to create chances.
There was certainly a slight improvement at the start of the second half, when Fellaini was substituted by Mata, but the injury of Matteo Darmian, operating on the right side of a back three, eventually took all the wind out of Manchester United’s sails.
The decision to switch back to three defenders looked somewhat a bafflingly regressive attempt of confused van Gaal, an opponent playing with one up front, didn’t expected their attack receiving special treatment.
Playing with that peculiar formation meant Jesse Lingard was left clueless in an unfamiliar wing-back role and Darmian was also forced to operate from central defence. van Gaal with his vast experience failed to understand, placing the players on the field in more simple, natural positions could have certainly yielded better results and the Dutchman wouldn’t have find himself in such a hostile environment.
But what happened instead was further evident that Louis van Gaal is sensationally failing at Old Trafford destroying his reputation.
Despite being undefeated in four matches before the latest loss, none of those performances had been convincing enough to satisfy the United fans as they included home fixtures with a League One team and a team fighting against Premier League relegation.
The victory at Anfield was definitely sweet for the Red Devils fans because wins against Liverpool at their home are always special, but that not entertain the quality of the performance.
It’s for sure, under LVG there is not even a single sign of significant improvement, also no sign of real life in the team. It however remains a chore to watch Manchester United play, even when they win a match. In what was expected to be a season of huge improvements, even Champions League qualification next season now seems completely uncertain.
Louis van Gaal’s selection, tactics and team building are all failing one by one, he cannot have further excuses as the crowd turn on against him and the whole team after such dismal performances. The sooner van Gaal is replaced, the better for all concerned. Remember Jose Mourinho is waiting in the wings.
The Portuguese manager is said to be so desperate to replace Louis van Gaal as Manchester United manager that he has sent the Red Devils hierarchy a six-page letter explaining why he would be the right man to lead their team and how he would transform the struggling players. However his agent later ruled out this report saying that it’s completely absurd and ridiculous but if the report happens to be true then Mourinho may have made the move after closely watching a poor string of results for the Red Devils and going through the recent reports suggesting current manager van Gaal have decided to step down at the end of this season.