We were so happy a week ago as though United had another sub-standard performance they beat arch-rivals L’pool to make us walk around with a spring in our step for a few days afterwards.
Then Saturday came, and by 5pm we were back down to earth with a mighty bang after another insipid performance, this time at home to Southampton.
United’s starting eleven looked strong enough, even if Fellaini was starting in midfield again. Admittedly, Southampton had a decent side out themselves, and player for player they looked as strong as United (how the mighty have fallen eh?). Predictably, the first half finished goal-less, the eleventh time in a row that United failed to score a goal at Old Trafford in the first forty-five minutes of a game.
The second half wasn’t much better, even after Juan ‘hugs’ Mata replaced Fellaini to try and give the team more attacking impetus. If anything, Southampton looked more comfortable as the game went on, and they brought Charlie Austin on thinking they could actually nick a winner. That duly came when substitute Januzaj fouled the same Austin on the left, who was then left all on his own in the box to head in the resulting free-kick. Cue boos and anger in the stands, as once again United’s current standard was shown up by a player who not many wanted because of his weekly wage demands, reported to be around the £100,000 mark. At this rate, he already seems worth it, much more than can be said for a few of the players supposedly representing United.
The boos were at their loudest when the final whistle went, and though I would never boo whenever we go to Old Trafford, you can’t blame those that do as they’re the ones who have to watch the dross that’s been served up at Old Trafford this season week-in, week-out. Having said that, booing after half-an-hour because a player misplaces a pass can’t be helping, and fans should be a little more patient and back the team a little more.
Most of the blame for these non-performances has to be put on Van Gaal’s shoulder as he’s the one in charge of the team and he’s the one that should be changing this. The players can’t be blame-less though, as they should still be doing their best to earn their wages rather than walk about without a care in the world, then come out after the game and say “we can’t dwell on this defeat but have to think about the next game.” They HAVE to dwell on these defeats and make sure the same mistakes are not repeated in the next game.
Talking about Louis van Gaal, if he stays, he should literally rip his notepad up and loosen the shackles. At this point, the team should be given the freedom they need to play to our hearts’ content and see how that goes. If it works we’ll all be happy (though a few would still find something to moan about I’m sure), and if it doesn’t he can always say that this is why he can’t let the team play ‘proper’ football.
As for the many who want him sacked, they can’t be blamed as the football has really been turgid this season, though it’s a pity that managers aren’t given more time to try and fix things. It seems that gone are the days when managers were given a minimum of three years, and as peoples’ patience levels get shorter and shorter, everyone wants instant results, or else. I’m not trying to defend Van Gaal here, as his style and ‘philoshophy’ are clearly not working, but I genuinely don’t think things can improve instantly, especially as the club is in a shambles right now.
Football, like everything else is all about opinions, and it’s great for people to have their own. But to go on social media and actually wish death on people like Van Gaal and Woodward just because things are going down the drain? Talk about going over the top just to ‘have it your way’!
In the Premier League, leaders Leicester won 3-0 at home to Stoke to go three points clear as City could only draw 2-2 at West Ham and Champions elect Arsenal lost 1-0 at home to current Champions Chelsea; Tottenham were impressive again in their 3-1 win at Pardew’s Palace; Klopp’s L’pool won a nine-goal thriller when they beat Norwich 5-4; Everton lost 2-1 at home to Guidolin’s Swansea; Watford beat Newcastle by the same score line; Sunderland and Bournemouth drew 1-1; while West Brom and Villa played out a boring 0-0 Midlands derby.
Couple of points from these games – I saw nothing wrong in the way L’pool celebrated when they got their late, late winner. Yes it was only against Norwich, but if you can’t celebrate when you score an injury-time winner after conceding an injury-time equaliser after coming from 3-1 down, the fun in football is well and truly finished. As for L’pool’s neighbours Everton, what good is it booing young John Stones every time he makes a mistake? At 21 years of age, this is the time to be making mistakes and learning from them on the way to potentially becoming one of the top defenders England has produced in the past twenty years. Goes to show that it’s not just United fans that have become impatient, and it happens everywhere it seems.
In midweek, L’pool booked their place at Wembley for the League Cup final after beating Stoke on penalties; they’ll be meeting Manchester City who themselves beat Everton 4-3 on aggregate in the other semi-final.
United now travel to Derby for the 4th round of the FA Cup, in a game that thanks to the BBC and their ‘magic of the cup’ mantra have moved this game to Friday evening (7:55pm UK time). It’s ok though, as an FA spokesman defended the decision by saying that Derby will be getting £144,000 in TV revenues. It’s all about the money, isn’t it? Four days later, on Tuesday, United host Stoke in the Premier League (8pm UK time). We will be hoping that when we write next week’s post, United will have gone through to the last sixteen of the cup and got three important points in the league… COME ON UNITED!!!