- International Games
- Van Gaal Progress Report
First things first… After the terrorist attacks that happened in France last Friday, anything we were thinking of writing about seems so trivial as the many deaths and injuries puts everything into perspective. In such moments you realise that many things we get worked up about hardly matter. At the same time, something like football brings most of the world together and keeps us going in these dark moments. So while we keep the people that lost relatives and friends so tragically in our minds, and hope those that died rest in peace, here we go with this week’s post…
Last weekend was taken over by international football, and while most countries played friendlies, others were trying to qualify for EURO 2016 and the World Cup in 2018. Looking at United players that were involved, Marcos Rojo and Sergio Romero both played in Argentina’s two games, the 1-1 draw at home to Brazil and the important 1-0 victory in Colombia, Argentina’s first win in the South American qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup; other players were involved in friendlies – Matteo Darmian played in Italy’s 3-1 defeat at Belgium, then again in the 2-2 draw at home to Romania, where he was one of the few Italian players to come out with credit; Daley Blind played the whole game in Holland’s 3-2 win in Wales (Memphis was an unused substitute); Bastian Schweinsteiger captained Germany in their 2-0 defeat in France, in which Anthony Martial played seventy minutes and Schneiderlin came on with ten minutes to go. Unfortunately this game got most headlines for all the wrong and distressful reasons; Spain beat England 2-0, a game in which Juan Mata came on after sixty-five minutes, while Rooney came on with just over fifteen minutes to play. In the same game, ‘Mike’ Smalling was taken off in the last five minutes, and Michael Carrick was stretchered off just before the end of the match. Phil Jones was the only United player to feature for the whole game.
On Tuesday, England hosted France in an emotional game where solidarity was shown towards the events that had happened on Friday. Rooney was the only United player to start for England, and scored the second goal in a 2-0 win. Phil Jones only had a cameo role this time around as he came on with just a few minutes to go. For France, Martial played for nearly seventy minutes before limping off, and Schneiderlin came off with about ten minutes to play.
After these games, we were left to rue England’s friendlies as the two United players that came back injured were involved in their games. While Michael Carrick might not be missed too much as he can be replaced by Schneiderlin next to Schweinsteiger, Martial is another matter. Hopefully his injury is not as bad as first feared, and he’ll be back playing very soon.
With no domestic football for us to talk about, it gave me a chance to do a bit of thinking (yes, I can do that too sometimes) about Louis Van Gaal and his management of the club…
After the miserable season United had under David Moyes (and his team), it was always going to be difficult for another manager to come in and steady a ship that was going down fast after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. Louis van Gaal has come in and did what was needed to first make sure that United compete in the Champions League again, and now to progress even further by hopefully challenging for trophies. He is slowly, but surely making sure that once he steps down, United will be eating at the top table again, and the next manager will have all bases covered to keep United up where they belong.
Many seem to think that United should be trashing every side that’s put in front of them, especially because Van Gaal has spent LOTS of money. Of course he has, but that was mainly to replace the many that he got rid of. The money needed to be spent to bring players of a certain calibre in, and bar the disaster that was Di Maria, who didn’t want to join United in the first place, he’s hardly brought anyone else that hasn’t worked out well (I’d include Falcao, but he was only at United on loan). The fact that he sent Robin van Persie packing, someone who he seemed to have a granddad/grandson relationship with, shows that Van Gaal has the ‘cojones’ to do what is needed for the good of the club. He also brought in a much needed leader in the Deutschland Fussball Meister, a player that is helping a lot with the younger players and Van Gaal’s philoshophy on the pitch.
Of course, we’d love it if the team is more entertaining, but if the results and points keep coming, we should be more patient and hope that the performances will improve as United go from strength to strength. Just by looking at the games played before the international weekend, both Chelsea and City had the bulk of the possession against Stoke and Villa respectively, but both failed to score, with Mourinho’s side losing their seventh game in the league. At least United got two goals and three points against West Brom, though they created many less chances than both Chelsea and City did. This doesn’t mean that all is well, as United need to be creating more chances to make sure of more convincing wins, but it seems like Van Gaal is doing a very good job as he builds from the back, with improvements to be made up front (it would help if our captain Wayne Rooney gets his shooting boots on and scores the goals that he needs to become United’s all-time highest goal-scorer).
Looking ahead, United resume their Premier league duties with a trip to Watford on Saturday (12:45pm UK time), before hosting PSV in the Champions League on Wednesday (7:45pm UK time). Hopefully United will be top of the table on Saturday afternoon, even if just for a few hours, then go through to the next round in Europe with a victory against the Dutch side… COME ON UNITED!!!