It’s a new ethos that United are practicing. One in stark contrast to the ‘Attack, attack, attack!’ that we’ve witnessed over the years – crowds off their seats as an explosive counter-attack came about with Van Nistelrooy or Ronaldo providing the last-gasp finish. But, this is a different team. This is a different tenet: confusion in possession, lack of ideas, an all-embracing dependence of De Gea.
“United fans don’t care if the team only has 40% possession as long as they are watching an attacking team.” – Paul Scholes.
Of course I agree with Paul Scholes. Who wouldn’t agree with Paul Scholes? With one loss in eighteen games, it’s a wonder why most United fans are disillusioned with Van Gaal’s grand philosophy. Is it all about picking up the three points and slow progress on the table? Simple progress to FA Cup glory? Scrappy wins and last-minute equalisers? Or is it about playing attractive football? As United fans, we expect a little more. That traditional ‘swagger’ and flow has been missing for a while and there are little signs of it returning. Odd as we’re boasting an attack force of Van Persie, Di Maria, Falcoa, Rooney and Mata. It’s silly to think that we cannot set-up ideal opportunities on goal.
No, a United fan cannot be satisfied with half-hearted victories and ‘lucky’ outcomes. Maybe it’s enough for European contention next season but it’s never going to bring us anywhere near silverware with Chelsea and City looking the more formidable – especially up front. As long as LVG employs this standard, opponents are going to once again come against United and play without fear.
With United’s 3-1 FA Cup win against Preston on Monday night, it was an opportunity for the squad to rectify some wrongs and continue their progress – in a competition that remains our only real hope for silverware this season and one competition that remains missing from the cabinet in 11 years. But from appalling showings against Burnley in the Premier League and Cambridge United in the first leg of the FA Cup’s fourth round, it was definitely never a fixture carved in stone with the first half riddled with misplaced passes and hopeless hoofs to Fellaini up field. Shaw and Valencia couldn’t find a cross either. While United did respond with three goals to Preston’s opener, it was another fixture where the squad looked static. It seemed like any counter in the first half was trounced by quick organisation by Preston. It was inevitable – a run off Valencia, a stop and pass back. Luckily, Ashley Young’s speed and whipping crosses made the difference in the second.
For Scholes and fans, watching United remains a cryptic venture. What United side will show up against Arsenal in the quarter-final? Will we get a shot on target? Will Fellaini’s heroics or our Spaniard at the back save us again? Our supposed saviour in Falcoa has not showed up and with Di Maria showing small signs of form again, we need Rooney or Wilson in that role getting shots on target. Especially with the Colombian far from his best.
These are just some of the questions that we’re plagued with this season. The showmen of United are in disarray and we’re becoming more clueless as a side looking to find balance and confidence. We lack pace, lack ideas and have become all too dull moving the ball around. If United’s strut doesn’t reintroduce itself soon, the plucky wins will run out.