I have listened to a lot of different opinions in the aftermath of United’s FA cup exit. There has been the usual negativity flooding out of the British media; apparently Angel Di Maria is a flop and Danny Welbeck is the new Pele, no bias there then. Manchester United fans have been analysing the manager’s tactics, his bizarre half time substitutions and even United’s finishing. But when you truly analyse the match neither team can say they played to their full ability and the game itself was practically a repeat of the clash at the Emirates earlier in the season, except with the reverse result.
When you hear the criticism of United this year it’s always been that the club spent £150 million in the transfer window and they are floundering in 4th position. Alan Shearer’s MOTD comments were seemingly ABU and let’s face it the bloke could criticise a rock if it was painted red. But in part his comments are right, United did spend a lot of money in the summer and it’s not really worked out for Falcao or Di Maria. There are a number of factors having contributed, many of which Shearer failed to mention, the main one being injury, both players picked up knocks at exactly the wrong time, Di Maria was on fire for United before his injury and Falcao has not had the game time to ever look genuinely fit since his arrival from Monaco. I think the tabloid media has done everything in their power to unsettle Angel Di Maria since he arrived at the club and to top it off he gets burgled, which hasn’t exactly helped his transition from Real Madrid.
What United’s first team are lacking more than anything is belief. It’s blatantly apparent to see. I tuned into the reserves on Tuesday night and Falcao was given a run out and yet he was substituted in the 72nd minute, I can not understand why, nor why the coaching staff are too blind to see that they are damaging his confidence. This is a world class striker who is off the pace at the moment, United should be doing everything in their power to install confidence in the Columbian, not mocking and damaging his confidence even further.
Manchester United face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday with a win now vital in their quest for Champions League football next year. When Sir Alex Ferguson was at the club he shielded his players from the media, he also had a unique way of installing confidence in the most under appreciated of his players. This ultimately kept him in the job for such a long time, well that and winning the odd trophy, or two. Since Ferguson left United the media have had a field day and the negativity and pressure has got to the squad.
Louis van Gaal has done his best to reinvigorate the squad this season and those who were seemingly written off under David Moyes have excelled. But if Van Gaal truly is as great as his record states, if he really is a great manager, he must lift his team and he must lift the fans, who after two seasons of negative football are at the end of their tether. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Van Gaal’s side must come out fighting and they must find the belief that they had in abundance at the start of the year. The football they are playing must be played at a higher tempo, because only then will they break down their opposition with sharp, clinical football.
I’m not sure where it went astray, but maybe Louis has thought too much about the physicality of the premier league and needs to get back to the basics that saw the team excel in pre season.