Two games in the last week for United, four points collected and Louis Van Gaal’s side now sit 3rd in the league just five points behind Manchester City. All would seemingly be well on the face of things but the underwhelming football on display has got us all concerned and there is no hiding the fact that the crowd were most certainly on the player’s backs as the half-time whistle was blown whilst leading Burnley 2-1 at Old Trafford last night.
At Upton Park on Sunday United looked toothless, keeping decent possession for chunks of the game but as per normal creating very little. We can pretend all we like but it basically took us playing route one up to Fellaini on Sunday to salvage anything from the game. The United end was far from impressed but the dramatic late scenes may have blurred the memory for some.
There is also nothing to hide the fact that last night at home to a side who sit 19th in the Barclays Premier League that it took three set pieces to overpower them and for much of the first half we looked incapable of stringing two passes together let alone having a shot at goal. Perhaps the most worrying statistic however was that Radamel Falcao failed to muster a single shot at goal, the Columbian partly to blame but it wasn’t as if the Red’s had created a hatful of chances for the striker.
Last night United looked increasingly more dangerous when James Wilson entered the fray, although in fairness there also became a wider space in which to operate due to Burnley pushing more men forward in an attempt to claw back the narrow deficit. The problem is this though, the Van Persie and Falcao partnership is not working and nor will it ever work.
Here you have two very similar players both dropping deep, both lacking pace and neither really worrying Premier League defences who last night contained Michael Keane, a player deemed not even good enough to be United’s fifth choice defender this season. In defence of the pair they are only partly to blame, the overwhelming lack of service blatantly another key issue. A video appeared online today showing Falcao make a beautifully timed run ready to go through on goal, only for Wayne Rooney to opt to pass the ball in a certain direction. That’s it, you’ve got it, sideways!
United will have to go into the market for a new striker this summer, a striker with pace, it is a necessity. You can then afford to have either Robin Van Persie or Radamel Falcao in the side as straight away a pacey Javier Hernandez style forward playing on the last man has made the opposition defence drop deeper, the second striker has then dragged the midfield higher up the pitch in an attempt to collect the ball, and then there you have it, plenty of space for your Di Maria’s and Mata’s to operate within.
United would be suicidal to part with any sort of money for Falcao in the summer. It’s easy to paint a picture in your head that this elite European goalscorer will come good but it just isn’t happening for him. His goal the other week against Leicester would have seemingly given him some confidence you would think, only for him to spurn the best chance of the game on Sunday at Upton Park shockingly wide of the target.
We should of course not get too carried away with recent events. Louis Van Gaal has done a brilliant job in making a side with a poor array of defensive players hard to beat. United have in fact only lost twice in the last eighteen games. If making us hard to beat, grinding out results and getting the very basics means we get back into the Champions League this season then so be it.
Elsewhere inside the club this week the U21’s had a brilliant victory over Chelsea on Monday night with the West London side having sat top of the table before the clash. After initially trailing the game from a Dominic Solanke goal the Red’s went on to win the game with a deflected Andreas Pereira strike and a Tom Thorpe goal. Pereira’s performance was of particular note and his inspired display may just speed up United in getting a new contract on the table for the youngster. First team players Rafael and Ashley Young also took part in the encounter with Victor Valdes also between the sticks for Warren Joyce’s side.
The Red’s now face a tasty trip to Preston on Monday night for a chance to make it to the FA Cup Quarter Final. The short trip for most has got many excited but United will face a difficult test if they are to make it to the next round. News has come out today that Daley Blind’s head injury suffered against Burnley should have healed in time for the game but Phil Jones looks set for yet another spell on the sidelines having limped off the field on Wednesday night before super sub Chris Smalling grabbed all the headlines!
There is plenty to be excited about in truth, nobody can be disappointed with the team’s league position and a mouth watering trip to Wembley seems to be getting increasingly closer. I personally have no doubt Louis Van Gaal is the right man for the job and he will eventually get it right. The Dutchman knows what he is doing, he is just doing a very good job at the moment at pretending he doesn’t.