By Imran Kardar
Okay. So I must say that these performances and 0-0 results are testing the resolve of even the most diehard of Manchester United fan! The irrational critic would say that this is not the way Manchester United play and that there has to be a certain “brand” of football that needs to be played by the team but one could argue when was the last time United under Fergie played all gung ho style? Probably when we had Tevez, Ronaldo and Rooney and that was a while back. United have been successful since then playing a less attacking brand of football where they put wins and points ahead of performance. Current day United is a far cry from the United of old. It was understandable that after Fergie there would be uncertainty with new managers and coaches and “philosophies” at the helm. One must not forget that Manchester United had 26 years of stability. There was bound to be a shaky period after that. If you ask me I would say LVG hasn’t done too badly. He brought United back to the Champions league in his very first season in charge and in the second the team is touching distance of the top. So, why the restlessness amongst the fans? Well, the game on the weekend against West Ham showed exactly why.
United came in to the game knowing the West Ham have been on a giant killing spree by beating Liverpool, Arsenal, City and Chelsea. That somehow played on the managers and the player’s minds. That is what’s wrong, the attitude. The players must remember they play for Manchester United, the manager must remember he manages Manchester United and the fans must remember they support Manchester United. There has to be a little bit of arrogance when you step out on to the field especially at Old Trafford. Fear is to be struck in the opponents mind. Fergie was a master at this; however LVG hasn’t perfected this art.
LVG needs to be cut some slack as well. The team has been hit by some crucial injuries when the season’s momentum is picking up. Losing Shaw was a big negative for United as he was having a stellar season. There have been injuries to other players right at the time when they are needed. Like Rojo dislocating his shoulder when he was settling and performing at left back. Herrera, Rooney, Carrick, Jones, Fellaini and Valencia all have had their spells on the sidelines. Some of the blame lies with LVG as well having not recruited a striker in the summer. United were clearly short of firing power in the league and that is showing now with the lack of goals. In other leagues like Spain and Germany you might put a midfielder as a striker and get away with it but not in the EPL.
This game was again played at a slow pace. Keeping possession and moving the ball around. The crowd was calling out for the manager to sacrifice maybe 10% of possession for some fast tempo, attacking football. I believe at home you can afford that approach. The team just didn’t create enough chances in the first half. Injury to Schneiderlin didn’t help either as that substitution cost United a crucial substitution towards the end of the game. Then LVG didn’t help his cause by taking McNair off at half time and putting on Varela. With that move United were left with only one substitution and Memphis, Young, Pereira on the bench, attacking options a manager might want to bring on right at the end to force the win. So I feel LVG erred in judgment at that moment and cost United the win.
The second half was much better but the team and players lacked one crucial aspect, finishing. United had five very good chances at scoring in the second half but couldn’t finish even one of those. United would have loved to have a Chicharito in there at that time to finish off the chances that were presented. Again, bad judgment by LVG to sell him when we hadn’t bought a striker. The final whistle blew and it was met with boo’s from the crowd. Another 0-0 draw when United were the dominant team but lacked that extra oomph.
Concerning times for the club and management especially when they have an absolutely crucial champion’s league tie against Wolfsburg in midweek. LVG will need to find some important fixes and quickly however, this might not be too easy with the growing injury list. United are accustomed to making comebacks and proving doubters wrong, they will need to do so again in a few days’ time!