“He who awaits much can expect little…”
The perfect saying for united fans. Flashback to the summer of the 2014-2015 season when it was confirmed that LVG would be taking over the reins at united. The Fans were buzzing. Given the tremendous job he had done with the (average) Netherlands team, the only way was up my friend(s). Going through my blog archives, I happened to come across an old post titled; “Louis Van Gaal: THE RIGHT ONE.” How I wish I could pull down the post.
I am not taking away from the progress that the team has undergone. Three of LVG’s signings started the Sunday game and all three were decent; value for money, check. He has also kept with the united way of believing in our well-sung academy, which is on the decline by the way. City’s new mega academy has been poaching kids from the region and we seem oblivious to this fact. When it hits us, we will all act shocked as if we didn’t see it coming. Case in point, City’s new boy Kelechi Iheanacho. The level of the academy is also one of the main reasons Pep chose sky blue in my opinion.
Lingard’s introduction in the team has been tremendous. The 22 year old always has a fearless look in his eyes which I suspect is what caught the gaffer’s eye. His versatility in playing both wings and also ability to play as fullback has been an added advantage for us and his willingness to sort of play a free role by virtue of his desire to always cutting and position himself in an attacking position has added a new dimension to United’s otherwise lackluster attack. He also has the rewards to show for it as he has scored three goals from his last four shots on target; marksman. However he is still rough around the edges and pretty ambitious as he’s always looking for the spectacular. But he is young, so he can still alter his playing style.
With the team trying to protect a lead and Chelsea on the forefront, we needed all the defensive input we could get. It was shocking to see our short-lived match winner come off for Memphis or to be specific, the biggest fraud in the history of football. I not exactly hating as thankfully he proved me right. It was one of those rare moments that we were in a good position attacking wise. Memphis has one man to beat and one job to do. Scheniderlin was in acres of space and a simple lay up to his path would have buried the result. I could have put my nonexistent house on the line for that. However Memphis being Memphis, he misplaced a four yard pass, A FOUR YARD PASS!! Heck, my girlfriend could have made that pass. Instead, Mr Show-off gave the ball way and ultimately cost us our victory. With the current status of the team, he is not capable of benching anyone. Surely that should be the last we are seeing of the lad this season.
It’s also important to notice Cameron Borthwick Jackson. His rise has been dizzying. Had you told the 6ft Manchester born lad who turned 19 last week, that he would be heavily involved in the first team, he wouldn’t have believed you. however he has gone on to make 7 senior appearances since his debut on 7th November 2015 against West Brom and the subsequent appearances have nothing short of solid. He’s managed a couple of cleansheets and against Stoke last week; his assist to Lingard was an absolute beauty. We should not get things twisted though; CBJ would be nowhere near the first team had Luke Shaw not suffered that horrific injury, had Marcos Rojo not picked up another injury and if Daley Blind’s services were not required at centre half. However the fullback has a left foot to die for and his delivery of crosses is superb as they are always tailored to land in that dangerous area between the goalkeeper and his defenders.
Watching the team defend must have been one of the saddest moments for me this season. We panicked after Chelsea started playing as the reigning champions. Our first instinct was to tuck in and protect the lead. I get the whole result business but there’s no excitement in being seated at the edge of your seat albeit for the wrong reasons. Fearing every time a cross was whipped in or whenever Hazard or Willian had the ball. We are always the ones who are comfortable on the ball. What the hell happened to that? Defending is sort of Chelsea’s way of life, not United’s! This is where my problem with Fellaini comes in. He has very poor ball handling techniques. He can manage the occasional slip past a man but how far can his pass go? How he manages to bench Morgan is simply mind-boggling. He also gets quite leggy easily and in the final quarter of the game, he labored to keep up with the whizzing Hazard and Co. Granted, his height did help us all through that game but I feel Morgan would have done with the same and more, like doing a 30 yard pass to a team-mate free on the flanks. Again with United lacking possession, the obvious thing was for us to try to do all we could to get it back. The gaffer’s decision to leave Mata on until the final minutes was just wrong. Take nothing away from the Spaniard. He played the no. 10 role to perfection. Was always making runs to give his team-mates an attacking option. However he is not exactly the most defensive minded player we have. He also tired and with our defending not starting from advanced areas of the pitch, our back four kept being exposed again and again. Bottom line should have definitely come in ages ago once LVG would have realized the turning of tables possession wise but as usual he was in his cosy blue jacket on a warm seat. Did he even realize or did reality hit him after the final whistle? I again will insist on the sparing use of Herrera. At 26, and this being Euro 2016, it will be very difficult to see him getting the call up and the competition is really intense and he is not exactly getting the games to prove himself.
Onto a more positive note; Wayne Rooney. If ever united need leadership after the harrowing December period, Wayne certainly provided it. Rooney has been involved in 9 of United’s last 11 goals. (5 goals, 4 assists). In 2015, he took 33 games to achieve the same numbers. New Year New Roo? Well Said. He seems to have forged a decent partnership with Martial and Mata and by all means their form should continue as we seek to achieve that once again elusive top four position.
There has always been talk about Swansea being our bogey team. However the numbers tell something different and numbers don’t lie. We have managed only win in 13 premier league appearances at Stamford Bridge. One win, four draws and 8 losses. That basically translates to one win in 13 years!! Where were you 13 years ago? Cutting it short to ten years: LDLLDLDLDD. Zero wins, nine goals scored and 15 goals conceded: CHRIST.
A feisty top four clash is brewing this weekend and we are hosting a team fighting relegation. There is always the talk of such teams packing a punch but if we stay true to our style of play, Sunderland will be drawn out of their defensive lines and that is where we will hit. We should take advantage of the top of the table clash and cut the gap even further. Come On United!!!