Former United captain Willie Morgan gives his view after a couple of weeks which have seen Louis Van Gaal’s side widely criticised for their style of play and lack of results, culminating in Saturday’s defeat at Bournemouth.
Willie, who made 296 appearances for the club between 1968 and 1975 gives his assessment of where United’s problems lie with the club also having failed to come through a relatively easy group in the Champions League containing PSV and CSKA Moscow: “United shouldn’t be worried about anyone, they are one of the biggest clubs in the world and to be worried about anyone is ridiculous. Other teams should be worried about us but obviously with the way we’re playing, if you don’t attack it makes it easier for the other side.
“You’re unlikely to overwhelm teams if you’re defending all the time and just trying to keep possession which is crazy. We really have to attack but unfortunately we don’t have the players who can do it. That’s the problem, he’s buying players that are happy to sit in midfield all day and play the ball around the back, anyone can do that and it’s heartbreaking to watch.”
On what United need to do if they are to improve Willie says: “They need to bring back Januzaj, stick him on the left wing and let him play, because at least he’ll go forward, beat people and create chances. Wayne Rooney for me just shouldn’t be in the team because he slows everything down.
“It’s frustrating because we just don’t attack, maybe because we don’t have the players to do that but Van Gaal is so defensive minded. You don’t win matches by defending, you have to attack to score goals.”
Willie has his own memories of playing in the European Cup for United, having featured in the club’s 1968/69 campaign where they reached the semi-finals: “It’s different from when I played because then it was a knockout competition right the way through. That year we got to the semi-finals and were robbed by AC Milan and the referee.
“There was no such thing then as getting an easier team who had finished third or fourth in their league, you played the winner of the league in each country from the year before. It’s a different mentality now but United should qualify quite easily from any qualifying group, sadly it’s not been good enough and he has to change something.”
Willie maintains that whilst United aren’t too far off the pace in the league, that is only down to the decline in quality of the Premier League and English football in general: “They’re doing alright in the league because everybody else is quite bad, I think it’s arguably the worst Premier League season since it began. You only have to look at Leicester being top of the league, it tells you everything. Everyone keeps saying that the Premier League is the best in the world, it’s not and the sooner we realise that the better because it’s the reason why England has become a second rate nation football-wise.
“Coaches have ruined the game as I knew it, they should bring back managers and let people play. I feel sorry for the young lad up front, Martial because he looks like a good player, but he has no support whatsoever. I don’t understand why we gave Januzaj away for a season because he has a chance of being a very good player, it’s absolutely crazy.
“The one thing we do have is a good goalkeeper again, De Gea is a magnificent player and has been a saving grace. If he’d have gone in the summer we would have been in deep trouble.
“I don’t know what the answer is but players should be told to go out and do what they’re good at and don’t be negative. When Van Gaal leaves I hope they can get Guardiola because he will create a system that attacks and allows players to play.”