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What Manchester United need more than anything is belief

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.

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By Sophie Flynn

Sophie Flynn is a freelance journalist and blogger from Anglo-Irish roots. Her obsession with United started in 1994 and she's been a regular match goer ever since. Her favourite players include Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Denis Irwin.

5 replies on “What Manchester United need more than anything is belief”

Certainly the players need to re-affirm their self belief for the battles that remain. At the same time, van Gaal needs to show the players that he has belief in them. The constant shifting of personnel, the square pegs in round holes, the bizarre substitutions, the frequently disruptive changes of tactics and ultimately the disappointing results have left this team flat and low on confidence, individually and collectively.

Now, van Gaal’s man-management skills will come under more and more scrutiny because he needs to lift this team. Under Fergie the players usually had plenty of self-belief and confidence because the manager trusted them and they responded. Privately he might not have trusted them all, but Fergie got them to believe that he did, so the outcome was the same. A team ready to go out proud and confident to represent United, intent on victory.

van Gaal needs to put down his clipboard and biro and get inside these players’ heads and tell them how he has great faith in them. If the manager believes in the players then perhaps the players will believe in themselves and also in the manager. At present, this appears not to be happening.

if falcao is a professional, he should not be bothered because he is playing in the reserves. and he should not be bothered if he gets substituted. it’s part of the job. in fact he should be happy that he is playing football. in order to get back into shape, footballers have to play. maybe he was substituted because the coaches have seen what they needed to see from his game. you don’t want to risk injuring him in a reserves game, would you?

playing in the reserves team should not damage a players confidence.
it is part of being a football player. it is a way coming back from injury or coming back from a poor form. a player’s name should not matter, a player’s body does not recover in an instant. they have to gradually come back into the game and that is what the reserve games are for. playing in the reserves is also about conditioning the body and mind for upcoming games.

That’s not my point Pat, the point I’m making is that Falcao clearly needs game time, so really if he plays for the reserves at all he needs ninety minutes. Not 72, 90. I wouldn’t care if he was Radamel Falcao or Luke Chadwick, any player recovering from injury needs to recover gradually I agree, but my issue isn’t that he’s playing in the reserves, it’s that he isn’t getting the 90 minutes of football he needs to get back to his best. In my opinion his cameo appearance for the reserves actually achieved very little, but damaging his confidence. I think that was evident when he saw he wasn’t going to get 90, because he doesn’t generally get 90 minutes for the first team either. The coaching staff at United new what they were getting when they signed Falcao, they new he was recovering from a long term injury. But they do need to seriously consider their treatment of the player, he needs games.

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