Starting with a 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford, United finished 2014 with a draw against the same opponent. After enduring one of the worst spells in their entire history during the first part of the 2014, Manchester United look to have improved in the second half of the year with impressive performances. Let us look at the three things to look forward from the Reds in 2015.
United defending needs to improve
Despite a slow start, Louis Van Gaal’s side look like they are starting to find their rhythm in the league. United are sitting third in the table, despite very few expecting United to achieve a top four finish. Van Gaal has certainly shown why he has been so successful over the years.
However, there is one things which he has got to improve and that is the teams defending. United lately have endured a good run of form in which they have won seven of the 10 league matches. But, many of those victories could have easily gone against the Reds if either of De Gea had not been at his best or their opponents have finished properly.
The same situation was present under David Moyes era, where the team looked very shaky at the back. Also the Reds have been facing similar problem during the latter years of Ferguson reign. United always needed to get the second or third goal under Sir Alex to ensure the victory as defending was something which the Reds have constantly ignored in his last few years.
With United’s present set of defenders Jones, Smalling and Evans are struggling to hold the mantle at the back, it is imperative for Van Gaal to buy defensive reinforcements in either January or in the summer to help the Reds improve their shape at the back.
Returning to Champions League is an absolute priority
Watching Manchester United not play in the elite European competition would have been hard to take for United supporters this season. Because of the European absence, in the mid weeks the Reds fans to their agony are forced to watch their rivals such as Manchester City and Liverpool play in the elite tournament. Hence returning to Champiosn League and playing alongside the giants of Europe is an absolute must for Red Devils in 2015.
When Van Gaal was appointed as the manager of the club last June, the minimum of all expectation was to guarantee Champions League football. Few might say a season without the Barclays Premier League crown is no good for the Reds. However after seeing the team sit out an entire season without European action, many might prioritise the return to European football ahead of winning the league title.
United are on the perfect road to land European football as they currently sitting in the third position. But, fans will not take anything for granted after seeing what happened last year. Despite winning seven of their last 10 matches, United have not played well in that period. So they know that a poor run of form is all that is required to let teh Reds slip their advantage. Van Gaal will do anything to ensure that the Reds do not get carried away by their league position.
United need to improve the away form this year
United fans are known to be one of the best traveling fans in England but, the so called noisy fans were forced to remain silent in most of the away matches in 2014 due to the teams poor away record. Throughout the 2014, the Reds won just six away games. Of which the often criticised David Moyes have four wins to his name.
Under Van Gaal though things are looking a lot worse for the Reds. United have won just two of their eleven away matches in all competitions this season. In that period, the Red Devils have lost four away games including the 5-3 thumping at Leicester and a 4-0 humiliation against MK Dons in the Capital One Cup.
The draw at Stoke on New Year’s day was United’s third consecutive away draw following draws at Aston Villa and Spurs. United to their credit have stopped losing those matches but, they are not winning them either.
Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United will not be afraid to take on any opposition on a given day. But, things have changed now as the Reds are approaching the away games with a relatively defensive approach by playing three at the back. The negative mentality as let the Reds drop many points down the road. If United are to emerge as the fierce team they once used to be under Ferguson, they have got to improve their form away from home.
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