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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Is it the Final Whistle for Van Gaal?

Louis Van Gaal's run with Holland during the World Cup gave some hope to United fans. His 5-1 thrashing of the former wold champions, Spain, instilled a belief in us, fans, that the Moyes era is over and that it was possible to go back to our winning ways in due time. However it seems that all is not what it seems to be. We haven't won a single trophy since LVG has come in. It seems our best run of form comes in Pre-Season which is when no team actually turns up and is still jet lagged from their lavish holidays.

Even after spending £200+ million Louis Van Gaal has the same win percentage and same amount of point David Moyes had won over the same period of time into a season! That's an abomination! And last season when we started to see why we spent money for Fellaini, he was brought in by none other than David Moyes! Mata, another David Moyes signing is worth more to us United fans than Memphis or Darmian so far. Varela who's showed signs of becoming a great defender for us was the first ever signing of David Moyes. I'm not saying bring back Moyes, but what has Louis Van Gaal done that is worth credit? Other than the fact that he got us Champions League football (he just about got us that). And not to forget he got us kicked out in the group stages. Other teams like Arsenal who had a worse start than us in the group stages made it to the next round!?

Another problem the 'iron tulip' brings is his unique ability to always have fallouts with the players or media at every club he's ever managed. At Barcelona, he had a fallout with Brazilian legend Rivaldo. At Bayern, who didn't have he have a fallout with? Here he's pushing Valdes out, a highly rated goalkeeper who's won pretty much everything there is to win at Barcelona and was a vital part of the team during Guardiola's golden reign. In these testing times as Michael Carrick says we need 'unity' and I very much doubt the fact that LVG is the man to bring that in.

LVG also is very stubborn and this reflects in his inability to buy a highly respected centre back. Our 2014/15 was watching a badly run science experiment, where he was testing to see which defenders have the right qualities for this important role. We were constantly linked with Hummels before he shut us down. After that we were stuck with Evans, McNair and even Carrick at times. Thank God for Smallings revolutionary change! Ever since his red card at the Manchester Derby last season, he's showing real maturity which has lead to us having one of the best defensive records this season. But this begs the question to be asked: if it wasn't for Smalling then what would be of our defence? And could LVG possibly fix it? We know the answer to that: No. Especially not with our current defenders which LVG is happy with. I mean, really, is McNair the best from our wide array of young defenders? The other young players are pushed into do or die games and are expected to perform like what was asked of borthwick Jackson and Varela against Wolfsburg. Is this fair?

We've been playing boring football and we end up drawing or losing. We have so much pace in Lingard and Martial but it isn't utilised! LVG likes dominating possession but not dominating the score line. We've over payed for Memphis, he hasn't performed at all and scored a grand total of 5 goals this season… and he cost us more than £25 million. That stat speaks for itself.

He refuses to play players like Ander Herrera, who cost £29million, and schneirderlin, who cost us over £23 million, because he doesn't see where he can play them in the team and doesn't see enough space for them. Even though schneirderlin had a great season with Southampton last year, Louis Van Gaal is still clearly not comfortable with playing him in the big games, such as the Arsenal game where we lost 3-0.

When I saw the Louis Van Gaal conference where he demanded that the media should apologise to him, I felt sorry for him but after the Stoke defeat he didn't go out defending the team or the players or the club, he gave them another story to write! He said he might resign to save face! Faltering in the face of adversity. That was, quite frankly, a cowards move. He's resigned 6 out of his last 8 jobs and has been sacked twice, and rightly so by Bayern and Barcelona. In those two clubs he achieved two trophies in his first season but absolutely nothing in the second. And being the massive clubs they are and also the trophy demanding clubs they are, they had to move on. And now, so do we.

The top contenders for the job are Ryan Giggs, no introduction needed, and the recently sacked Jose Mourinho. Ryan Giggs has been under Louis Van Gaal wing and has been learning from him. Many United fans believe now isn't the time for him as he is inexperienced and one bad season as manager of the club could tarnish and forever scar his years of golden service to the club as a player. On the other hand we have the Portuguese who has been sacked for the worst title defence since 1991. According to the stats, Mourinho is guaranteed to win a trophy in the first two seasons that he is at a club for. Is that not good enough for you? He may not be a long term choice but he sure does deliver.

To conclude I believe Louis Van Gaal should be sacked and shouldn't be given the chance to resign. We should be looking at other options such as Mourinho or Guardiola, however the latter looks to be going to the lesser side of Manchester.

This all comes down to whether the board decide to sack Louis Van Gaal, if he resigns or if he sees out his contract as Manchester United manager until the end of next season. Whatever happens, one thing is certain - Manchester United need some silverware this season!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Manchester United vs Chelsea

Pre-Match Analysis:

What once would have been one of the biggest game of the season is now a game which brings all sorts of emotions in current day football. Two giant clubs, both on disappointing form go head to head in the Barclays Premier League. Chelsea who are currently 15th in the league recently sacked their manager Jose Mourinho, creating all sorts of manager rumours. Louis Van Gaal has lost all three of his last three games and United fans across the world are demanding a string of victories, and a win against Chelsea would do nicely for many.  

Chelsea drew their previous game 2-2 against Watford and won the game before 3-1 against Sunderland. Having recently improved their form after sacking their manager, Chelsea will be a lot more confident going into the clash against the Manchester giants. This will apply huge pressure on Van Gaal as many reports say his time at United is nearing an end. Whether this is the case or not, it is essential that the game against Chelsea is a win, not only to help support his career and manager, but to aid Manchester United in their fight for a place in the top 4. 

All eyes will be fixed on the screen in this vital game for both clubs. With massive pressure on Van Gaal and his club, the starting 11 will need to play at their absolute best in order secure a win. With several injury concerns for United, the game will be incredibly tough despite the decline in Chelsea's form. A strong, goal frenzy game in favour of United could without a doubt be the first step in our path back up the table in the Premier League. If there is one thing for sure, its that the game against Chelsea will be a must win.

Line-Up Analysis:

This is a very different line-up to the one that we saw at Stoke on Saturday. Finally, we have a right-back playing in right back! But, it looks like Ashley Young has been switched to left back with Blind and Smalling as centre backs. 

Our Schmidfield is finally back! No more Carrick and Fellaini, we've gone up in the world to Basti and Morgan. In CAM it looks like it will be Mata up against his former club. Lets hope he can make more of an impact than he did in the previous games. He could possibly alternate with Herrera who is probably going to start on the right wing.

Our front three has changed once again. After Memphis's shambolic performance two days ago, he has been dropped to the bench. It looks like Anthony Martial will be starting on the left wing with Ander Herrera on the opposite side. Up front we will have Wayne Rooney returning after playing well once coming on against Stoke. Lets hope he can nab a goal or two! Come on United! #GGMU 

First Half Analysis:

The eagerly anticipated match between United and Chelsea is under way. The first half as a whole was fantastic although it remains 0-0. The first 45 minutes of football saw a much improved United side, the game has had everything in it except a goal.

United started the game calmly with Ashley Young in the right-back position. Mata had an excellent shot after 2 minutes hitting the crossbar after a pass from Rooney. United have been on the front foot at the start of the game. Courtois was beaten but Mata was unlucky not to score. Chelsea have had their chances as Hazard broke through the United half with Pedro after a slip from Blind but Young saved us with a good block. De Gea made a brilliant save after Terry was allowed a free header in the box. A powerful header from Terry with De Gea tipping the ball over the bar.

The quality of football has been very good so far, a high-tempo game with both sets of players giving everything. Martial got on the ball and looked dangerous- hopefully he can start scoring regularly if he finds his form. The first ten minutes have been entertaining. Ashley Young has been particularly good so far in the early stages of the game. United have been moving the ball much better and faster- this is the United we love to see. The full backs have been getting forward too which is what we need. Darmian played a very good cross into Rooney but it just went over his head.

Martial had a very good shot, but hit the post. He was so unlucky after brilliantly going past Ivanovic. Martial has been lively and has terrorised the Chelsea defence with his pace. Both sides had clear chances in the opening 30 minutes although United have been largely dominant. There was a penalty appeal from Martial as he went down in the box but nothing was given. Martial continued to trouble Chelsea as Mikel got booked after Martial ran away from him with such pace.

United had another good shot on goal as Rooney had a long range shot saved by Courtois. Rooney has definitely improved during the first 4 minutes because the fans at Old Trafford have been cheering him on.

The presence of Schweinsteiger has certainly made a difference as he has been able to control our midfield. Every single player has performed so far which has been pleasing. A good first half of football- our tempo and passing has been much faster which has allowed us to create more chances than we usually do and dictate the game. Hopefully in the second half we can continue playing with a fast tempo and get some goals. A win against Chelsea is now looking more likely although Chelsea have hit us on the counter several times.

Roll on the second half!

Second Half Analysis:

The game finished 0-0 with both sides taking a point. It was a fair result considering both sides had excellent chances to score although United did control the first half and the majority of the second.

The second half started with a dip in the intensity that was showed in the first half. Chelsea started the second half much better as they were able to create some chances. De Gea made a fantastic double save after Hazard ran past 3 United players. First De Gea saved Pedro's shot and then the follow up from Azpilicueta. These saves were truly from out of this world.

The second half really has been end to end stuff. United then had the best chance of the game so far after Courtois made a truly unbelievable save after a shot from Herrera right on the line. What a save! The game is still 0-0. Chelsea then had an even better chance with a counter attack that exposed the United defence. It was a chance that they really should have put into the back of the net: Pedro ran with the ball and then played in Matic who, luckily for us, wastes the chance horribly.

United's tempo dropped significantly. In the first half they were dominant and on the front foot but this half Chelsea have been allowed back into the game. Chelsea made the first substitution of the game with Ramires coming on for Willian who had a good came. United made a change at left-back with Darmian who also played well came off for the youngster Borthwick-Jackson.

United continued to create more chances throughout the second half with Mata crossing the ball for Rooney who completely miskicked it although even if Rooney did score the goal would not have not counted due to it being offside. Entering the latter stages of the second half, the game had seen so many chances yet no goals. After 75 minutes, United made their second change with Mata coming off for Depay. He came on with a lot to prove after his incredibly poor performance against Stoke.

With 10 minutes left it really was winner takes all. If Chelsea scored it would have been a crushing blow considering how United played in the first half. Both sets of players upped the intensity and really did start to fight for the win. The last change for the Red Devils saw Phil Jones replace for Daley Blind who went off with a suspected injury. You could feel that if United won now it would really change the dynamics for the club since this match showed signs of improvement from the team. Our biggest issue is still our goal threat as we do not have a clinical player who can score goals week in and out. The football that the team produced today has been entertaining and lively, they really have played for each other.

Depay tried a backheel which did not work out. He really needs to become consistent and has been under criticism recently for his underperformance. United did have one final chance with Borthwick-Jackson who whipped the ball beautifully into Rooney who missed narrowly after he volleyed the ball which went over the bar. As a whole United played well with several players having a really good game. The final change of the game saw the young Loftus-Cheek replace for Oscar.

The game finished 0-0 with United earning a point. It was a cagey affair between the two teams where the ref produced 6 yellow cards. On the basis of the game alone I do not believe that LVG should be sacked. In terms of our previous games, today's one may not have been enough to save LVG's job. All we can do is look forward to our next game against Swansea.

Overall Analysis:

Overall, this was a much better performance compared to our recent matches. It wasn't perfect and there's still lots of room for improvement but at least we were taking shots, playing more direct football and creating chances. Despite the fact that Chelsea weren't attacking and were prepared to sit back and collect a point, we were much more solid defensively. 

Our biggest chance today was given to Ander Herrera (who played very well and showed Van Gaal that he deserves to be a regular starter at the club). The ball was fizzed in low across the box, and came to Ander Herrera who got there just in front of the defender. However, this effort was exceptionally saved by Courtois who spread himself wide to deny the Spaniard. Chelsea's best chance of the game came to Matic who had a 1 on 1 with David De Gea, but the Serbian blasted the ball way over the goal into row Z. 

Our captain, Wayne Rooney had a good game today. Despite the fact that he missed a few chances which he should at least be getting on target, the skipper showed a strong desire and passion for his team today. He put in lots of effort to help out his team today and raise the confidence in the dressing room. BT Sports gave him MOTM, but that probably should've gone to the two goalkeepers who showed that they are world class keepers up there with the best. 

Our two stand out performers today were David De Gea and Ashley Young. De Gea made some terrific saves to keep us in the game, including an exceptional world class double save. Ashley Young was terrific in the first half in terms of attacking and defending. We're used to seeing him not defend very well, but today he showed why he deserves a place back in the squad. In the second half, he didn't play as well with a few wasteful crosses and sloppy in possession at times but he still put in a solid performance.

Let's not forget that this is now our eighth consecutive game without a win. All eyes will still be on the manager as to whether he gets sacked, resigns or continues as manager of Manchester United. One thing that we are sure of, is that if he wants to keep his place in the dugout, we must convert these 0-0 draws into wins and finish our chances. It is vital that we turn our season around for the better in the new year!

Sir Alex Ferguson is often at Old Trafford these days to watch his former club at most home matches. However, there was something different today about his entrance. The Scot entered OT through the 'Players and Manager Entrance'. This is inevitably going to cause speculation among football fans. Read into that what you will...

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Stoke City vs Manchester United

Pre-Match Analysis:

Merry Christmas to all our readers! Let us hope that the Premier League game against Stoke City is a solid win so that we can really celebrate! Our previous three games have been very disappointing losses and unfortunately, the sad truth is that our current style of football is very poor. We do not score many goals and are now beginning to suffer a lot at the back. With this being said, United are 5th in the table and are level on points with Tottenham who are 4th in the league table. Anything can happen in the Premier League and with the January Transfer window creeping closer, it should be very interesting to see what Van Gaal does during this exciting and important window of the season. Will Van Gaal be looking for a goal scorer to aid our disheartened attack, or will he bring in a rock of a player, to command our back line? Whatever happens, the time now could undeniably make or break our season.

With a lot of speculation about Van Gaal’s career at United coming closer to the end and the recent sacking of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Van Gaal needs to pull out a stunning win against Stoke City to bring some smiles to the faces of the Manchester United fans. Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has come out and said that the squad are behind manager Louis Van Gaal despite having gone six games without a win. Van Gaal has been criticised for the style of football his club have been playing and Thierry Henry has claimed that ex-Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho would be a perfect fit as manager at Manchester United. Van Gaal is in a crisis. He walked out of his press conference just 6 minutes in, after speculation about his job was raised. There is no doubt that he is worried for his job, so the players will need to be at their best in the Premier League game. With United having fallen out of the top 4 from a 2-1 loss against Norwich, he needs to take careful consideration about how he will go about the upcoming game against Stoke City. No game this season has been easy, so the clash against Stoke will be no exception.

United have won 11 consecutive Boxing Day fixtures, so will be looking to get their 12th against Stoke City. Their current record of Boxing Day fixtures is promising, however their recent form is undeniably disheartening. With several players being injured, the game will be very difficult so the starting 11 will have to be at their absolute best throughout the game. A lot of young talent have sparked a lot of attention in recent events so could they be the players to get Manchester United back on track? This very important game against mid-table Stoke and will be one that cannot be missed.

Line-Up Analysis:

Not long left until kick-off now and the line-up looks promising. We start with our brick wall in goal - David De Gea. We have Young and Blind as full backs today with Smalling and Jones as centre backs. Hopefully this defence will be more solid than in the last two games and we'll be hoping for a clean sheet. 

Our three midfielders are Carrick, Ander Herrera and Fellaini. It looks like we will see Herrera and Fellaini switching between the CM and CAM positions throughout the game. Something that I'm sure that most Manchester United fans will be questioning is the decision to keep Schneiderlin on the bench for the second game running. Maybe he isn't match fit yet and he's just come to make up the numbers. 

Our front three is something that looks promising. It is a Christmas miracle that Van Gaal has finally benched Wayne Rooney. What clearly cost us last week was trying to accommodate Wayne Rooney into the squad. Anthony Martial is more of a goal threat up front, therefore he should be leading the attack. Van Gaal has finally seen that at last. The two wingers look to be Memphis, who will be trying his hardest to make an impact and get on the scoresheet, and Mata, who will be trying to regain his amazing form from the start of the season after a huge run of poor form. 

Lets hope that this game will be entertaining and we can manage to bring three points back home! #GGMU

First Half Analysis:

Don't know what to say really, 2-0 down after a terrible first half performance. None of our players showing passion and intent to win the game. It looks like Rooney will be coming on in the second half.

We started the game on the back foot, but there were no clear cut chances. We couldn't manage to put a string of passes together throughout the first half. We were managing to hold on until Memphis Depay made a poor decision to try and header the ball back to De Gea in an awkward position. However, the ball didn't get far at all and Glen Johnson passed the ball to Bojan who slotted it through Phil Jones's legs, who was on the goal line. This goal was coming and deserved from Stoke City,

Just as we though things couldn't get any worse for us, Arnautovic doubled the scoreline with a bullet from outside the box. He then got another chance later in the half to make the score 3-0. However, he failed to hit the target in a one-on-one situation with David De Gea.

All we could hear from the Stoke fans was "you're getting sacked in the morning!". If it continues like this, I wouldn't be surprised if Van Gaal was sacked. Throughout the first half, it was clear that the player's had no confidence in them. We were showing no passion and creating no chances. We are in fact lucky to only be 2-0 down. 

We MUST see a huge change in the second half. Our attitude needs to change as we are currently in a time of crisis. This could be the biggest 45 minutes, and maybe last of Louis Van Gaal's managing career.

Second Half Analysis:

Memphis was replaced by Rooney at half time after his shocking first half performance. We had a few chances but so did Stoke City. Things were getting even more painful to watch after Fellaini had two massive chances to score, but as usual, he failed to produce. 

For the rest of the half, Stoke continued to play us off the pitch. Herrera was replaced by Pereira who didn't have a chance to make much of an impact. Martial had a good chance but his shot lacked any power and was comfortably saved by Butland. All of the chances which we did have, were easily saved by Butland. There was no clinical finishing from us and that has been an issue for us all season. 

The game finished at 2-0. Once again we had failed to finish our chances and our defence was again shambolic. There is no doubt that our injury crisis hasn't helped our defensive situation, but there is no excuse for these poor defensive performances. 

Overall Analysis:

We are a club that has spent £250 million and have been pathetic when attacking and defending. This is the first time Manchester United have failed to win 7 games in a row since 1961. We've suffered four defeats in a row to Wolfsburg, Bournemouth, Norwich and Stoke. This is embarrassing form for a club as big as Manchester United. Us Manchester United fans are not used to feeling like this and are demanding for change.

Just as we thought things couldn't get any worse for Van Gaal, the pressure has been cranked up drastically. Wayne Rooney has said that he has been convincing the players to have faith in Van Gaal and his "philosophy" but it is clear from today's performance that the morale in the dressing room is very low. I'd be surprised if Van Gaal isn't sacked today as it is clear that the fans have lost all confidence in the manager, the players are beginning to lose all faith and now it's down to the board - if they have lost faith in the manager, he will be sacked.

One thing which we must point out is that nobody out there today played for the badge on the shirt. This is disappointing to see as Manchester United fans given the history of the club. We are not playing like a Premier League club.

Our next game is at home to Chelsea on Monday and everyone will be hoping for a performance worthy from a Manchester United team. 

Could this be the game that ends Van Gaal's managing career? Or will he be given a chance to redeem himself in two days time? One thing that we do know is that something needs to change!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Manchester United vs Norwich City

Pre-Match Analysis:

Christmas is almost upon us which means that the festive football fixtures will be coming thick and fast!

After our recent miseries in the Premier League, a football joke is exactly what all of us need to cheer ourselves up!

Question: Why are football stadiums so cool? Scroll down to read the answer at the bottom of the article!

During the week we learned about our fate in the Europa League where we have been drawn against Midtjylland, a Danish side, in the last 32. Hopefully the game today will give us some much needed confidence heading into that tie next year.

For United, our 17th game of the season sees us host struggling, newly-promoted Norwich City at Old Trafford for a 3 o'clock kick-off. United are currently fourth in the table with 29 points despite our visible form problems. Norwich are down in the relegation places in 18th with 14 points. Last week we lost 2-1 to Bournemouth which would have not been a massive shock considering our poor run of form in the Premier league. With all due respect to Bournemouth, we cannot afford to continue losing games to lesser teams and produce games that are worthy of a stadium with filled over 75,000 jubilant fans. An area of the team that looked particularly weak was our youthful and inexperienced defence due to all of our injuries. The Bournemouth players did well to expose our defensive frailties so Norwich will be hoping that they can do the same thing today. A win today will see us strengthen our chances of a top-four finish at the end of the season.

An update for our injury problems is that captain Wayne Rooney may be fit to play today, LVG stated in his press conference yesterday. If Rooney does play, then it will be his 500th game for the club. He will absolutely determined to get himself on the score sheet! Herrera and Smalling are also fit after their injuries, two key players that will help us turn our poor form around. Schweinsteiger is still unavailable through suspension.

For our team selection, the majority of players that started the game against Bournemouth should retain their places. In defence, the only change I expect to see is Smalling returning into the centre of our defence, possibly for McNair otherwise the defence of De Gea, Varela, Blind and Borthwick-Jackson will stay the same. In midfield, Fellaini and Carrick are likely to start again as CDMs after Fellaini scored the opening goal on the weekend and with Carrick providing both experience and stability in our midfield. Hererra most likely will replace Lingard in midfield and play alongside Mata. Upfront, if Rooney is fit enough to play then he will probably start with Martial and have Depay on the left wing after his good form in recent games. There is definitely quality within our team and we are not playing disastrous football but we are nowhere near the levels that are expected of our club.

Norwich drew 1-1 to Everton at home last week. They have some star players in Wes Hoolahan who scored on the weekend,  striker Cameron Jerome and England under-21 international Nathan Redmond. As a whole if their team work as hard as they did in the second half against Everton then they can cause a serious upset. Manager Alex Neil will be feeling the pressure in a league in which he knows is incredibly demanding.

For my score prediction, I think United will win today 2-1.

Make sure you send us some Powellful and Trarrific jokes- it does not Mata if  they are Old! Enjoy the game! #GGMU @_TheUniteDevils (twitter)

Answer: Because they are full of fans!
Yes, the joke is almost as bad as LVG's current tactics!

Line-Up Analysis:

To begin with, David De Gea retains his place in goal. There was speculation that Romero could be starting due to De Gea injuring his finger, but this shows that there were no truths in those comments. In our make-shift defence, we have Ashley Young and Daley Blind as full backs, with Jones and Smalling as centre backs. There are no academy players in that back line after last weeks shambolic defence, and it's good to see Chris Smalling back in the team. However, lets hope that playing him this early after his injury won't come back to haunt us!

Our two holding midfielders are Carrick and Fellaini (who managed to get on the score-sheet last week). Carrick is there for his experience and we hope to see him picking out those inch perfect balls to Memphis like he did last week in the first half. In CAM it looks like we have Mata, who will be hoping to put in a good performance after a run of very poor form. If Ander Herrera was fully fit, I'd have expected him to be in that position rather than Mata. Bastian Schweinsteiger is still absent due to his suspension.

Our front three consists of Memphis, Martial and Rooney. Memphis will hope to make more of an impact to show the boss that he is ready to fight for his place in the starting line-up. Skipper Wayne Rooney will be making his 500th appearance for Manchester United, which is an amazing achievement. Therefore, I'm sure that he'll be hoping to get on the score-sheet. A big day for another one of our forwards, Anthony Martial who was today announced as winning the Golden Boy award, being only the third ever Manchester United player to do so, so well done to him and lets hope he can bag himself a goal or two!

First Half Analysis:

Well, 1-0 down at halftime again, but what went wrong? Mata has done well this half, working hard to provide our strikers with some chances. Our problem seems to be in the final third, and not all of the blame can be put on Van Gaal for this. Our players are getting some lovely crosses from Mata and Young but we can’t convert. I don’t know, however, why we’ve gone back to the tactic of having Rooney in the middle, Martial on the wing and Fellaini hovering around somewhere near the box. It didn’t work before and it’s not working today. Although I am glad the Fellaini’s on the pitch since Norwich look to be getting physical and it’s good to have such a large presence on the field for us.

Defensively, the goal was a shocker. Jones’s tackle just wasn’t there and such a huge gap should not be allowed in between our centre backs. It was an easy goal for them and something we should have planned for - the counter attack. With the amount of possession we have, it just doesn’t do to have so little back up or players who are willing to run back and CAN run back fast to tackle (remember Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?). This is especially because this is the tactic that all teams use against us to catch us off guard.

We desperately need our injury list to decrease as I can see the selection difficulties that Van Gaal was having prior to this game - which is why I think that we should stick with the current team for the time being and focus on more of a tactical game. Martial should be switched to the middle with Rooney going in CAM and Mata in RW. We need our biggest threat to be in the main position and like it or not, right now Martial is that threat. We also need to stop relying on the cross so much and play quick 1-2’s in order to outfox them and not out muscle them as they are expecting the high ball to come in. Let’s see how the second half turns out.

Second Half Analysis:

Another day, another loss, another fan at a loss for words. When they scored the second goal, I was fuming and also dissapointed. It seems that every other day another small team breaks their own record against us. Bournemouth got their first win, and now so have Norwich for the first time in 26 years. The record at Old Trafford is being brought down every week. There are some positives of course, Martial being one of them. His goal showed just what he is capable of with some quick footwork and strength in the box. He will go on to be a great striker if given time. De Gea will stay as one of the best keepers in the world if he decides to stay - and Smalling who played well mostly today will probably go on to be one of the world’s elite defenders. Memphis played well today, but was too reliant on the tactic of crossing it in and not taking players on. Herrera finally made his first appearance since being injured, but was brought one too late to make a difference. Mata is losing some of his creativity and quick passes that we have seen him do before, and this is a result of the 'philosophy’ no doubt.

One player that is still playing really well is Carrick. I’ve been really impressed with him this season and it’s remarkable that he’s getting better when most of our players are getting worse. After Martial’s goal, Young created our only good chance as he whipped a low ball in - but infuriatingly there was no one there to tap it home. It’s disappointing that every week we play a side that seems to be the best defensive side in the world. The reason that we don’t score is that it’s the hardest thing in the world to score against a side with 10 men behind the ball. A change of tactic is needed, but I don’t know if that will happen. 

We were too predictable in the second half, and they always seemed to be one step ahead of us. Their second goal was too similar to their first goal to allow it to happen. At the end of the day, they walked away with the three points, and they deserved them due to our unwillingness to change.

Overall Analysis:

To call this defeat disappointing would be an understatement. This game was a disgrace and it sums up our season really. We started off the season with lucky wins. We weren't playing good attacking football, but now our luck has run out. Although our injuries haven't helped, it can't be used as an excuse for today's performance. We just lost 2-1 to a team that won one game in their last 11 before coming to Old Trafford. We played right into their hands and that allowed them to come to our home ground and dominate the game. 

One thing which I'd like to point out is that whilst Van Gaal was sitting back in his chair, Giggs was in the technical area trying to make a difference. I can't remember LVG being on the touchline since the World Cup. Why has he not got the same passion for Manchester United that he did with the Dutch?

To begin with, I thought it was the players' faults for not scoring. However, when I look at the players which we have let leave (Van Persie, Wilson, Hernandez and Di Maria), they have all been scoring for their teams. This has made me realise that it is the manager's philosophy which is weighing out players down and stopping them from reaching their full potential. 

We have now gone 6 games without a win, including losing 3 games back to back, two of them being newly promoted sides. I've been trying my hardest to keep positive and not lose faith in Louis Van Gaal, but after today, my patience has run out. #LVGOut #PhilosophyOut. 

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Bournemouth vs Manchester United

Pre-Match Analysis:

United are back playing in the Premier league this weekend after contesting in a crucial Champions league match against Wolfsburg.

We lost that game 3-2 and are now out of the Champions league, leaving many fans confused and questioning LVG's credibility as manager. Since then he has spoken out in his press conference stating that United fans have to prepare themselves for 'more disappointment' at the start of the year. Most of us had been optimistic at the start of the season but after the up and down form we have been in, this is hardly surprising. It is sad to think that we have now lost our 'fear factor' but it is the harsh reality that we have. We can choose to focus on the negatives however we are still the biggest club in the world with a substantial amount of footballing history. Financially we are in a strong position with a network fan base of millions worldwide. Most importantly, we are currently fourth in the league with 29 points. If we can put together some decent performances going towards the end of the year then we could find ourselves in a solid place heading into the new year. Let's not forget that despite being knocked out of the Champions league, we will now play in the Europa League. To many it seems like a complete downgrade but even if it is, this is exactly the kind of wake-up call that the club needed. If it means that we have another chance to bring some silverware to Manchester then I would be happy for us to play in the Europa League. Sir Alex Ferguson did not win any trophies in his first few seasons at United yet he went on to become the greatest all-time manager, LVG will not have the same success but he definitely needs time to implement his philosophy- we did not give David Moyes enough time so we need to respect LVG as the manager.

The rant is over but it is important to remind us fans that even though we are going through a difficult period, not everything is terrible. As I mentioned earlier, we are fourth in the league and only 3 points behind current league leaders Leicester City. Today we are having a late kick off against newly promoted side Bournemouth City at the Vitality Stadium. Confidence is pretty low with the players and the fans after the Champions league disappoint. To add to this, our injury list is growing with 9 players out injured including skipper Wayne Rooney and defenders Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling.

Our last premier league fixture saw us draw 0-0 with West Ham at home. The game highlighted our attacking problems in particular but also the fact that something is not right at the club. With Mata, Fellaini, Lingard and Martial leading our midfield and attack, we were still unable to score a goal. However, we did manage to keep another clean sheet which is a testament of how we do have the best defensive record in the league this season. The team for today probably will stay the same except for some changes in that Schweinsteiger is out suspended because of his incident with West Ham defender Winston Reid. Our team last week was not the strongest starting 11 that we have but once everyone comes back from injury hopefully we are able to push on.

In terms of a starting line up, with so many injuries we will be unable to field our strongest possible team. De Gea will probably start in goal, with Varela at right-back, McNair and Blind as centre backs because Smalling suffered an injury midweek and Borthwick-Jackson most likely to play at left-back. For our midfield, I would play Schneiderlin and Fellaini as CDMs with Mata and Lingard as attacking midfielders. Upfront, Martial and Depay should continue to play together.

Bournemouth on the other hand are 17th in the league so far with 13 points. Their defence has been under considerable pressure after conceding 30 goals in the league so far in just 15 games. They have suffered with the loss of Wilson in attack providing the goals but they have Glenn Murray who scored in the 82nd minute last week to beat Chelsea. They were the underdogs for that game but after winning they will be full of confidence and will be hoping to cause another upset against us today.

After beating Chelsea I suspect that manager Eddie Howe will not want to change his side too much. They do have some good players in Gosling, King and Murray for example so we do need to make sure that we mark tightly and not concede cheap goals.

As a prediction for today's game, given how we were knocked out of the Champions league in the week and our ongoing injury problems I think that the game will finish 2-1 today in favour of us. Hopefully we can avoid getting yet another draw and get a win. Hope you all enjoy the game today! #GGMU

Line-Up Analysis:

In goal we are starting with the man who has saved our backsides more time than we can count, David De Gea. It should come as no surprise as we have to start McNair since Chris Smalling is out with a groin injury. That could be really detrimental as he was a massive wall in our defence. We are now also starting with the two young players in RB and LB respectively. They are ones for the future and can help us in our time of need due to injuries.

We are starting with the same attacking players upfront and with all the attacking play we saw in the last game against Wolfsburg hopefully we can see that in this game too. carrick starts instead of the injured Schweinsteiger, he should add composure to our erratic midfield like he did last season.

Our attack looks frightening once again with the pace of Lingard, Martial and Memphis, and the creativity of Juan Mata. Lets hope we can bag ourselves a few goals and put in a good performance.

First Half Analysis:

1-1 at halftime, let's hope we're not heading for another draw. 

Bournemouth started well, whipping in a goal from a corner 2 minutes in as the ball curled in due to the wind. They could've gone one more up as Stanislas was one on one with De Gea, but De Gea pulled off an incredible save to keep us in the game. We had a few good chances, with the best being Martial's interception just outside their goal, however he failed to slot it in to the corner, with the ball going wide. 

Our breakthrough came when Carrick picked out Memphis’ run with a perfect ball which he controlled beautifully on his chest and shot first time, and although this was blocked by a good save by the keeper, Fellaini was there to pick up the places – as he always is. The killer partnership for us today has been Carrick and Memphis, with the long ball link always being there. Martial has worked hard and won us some chances, but failed to convert any of them unfortunately – hopefully this will change in the second half. 

We have looked weak in our defence for the first time this season, with the inexperience clearly showing. They have found gaps in between our back 4 a few times and been one on one with De Gea which will cost us unless we do something about it. On the plus side, Varela has looked like a spark and is an amazing find who has seemed to come out of nowhere, so it is exciting to see where his talent will go. Mata has been unusually quiet in the first half and needs to perk up in the second half but, I don’t think we should have any substitutions for the second half. Hopefully we can clinch the win!

Second Half Analysis:

Well, another disappointing result but again some encouraging signs. Bournemouth went ahead for the second time 8 minutes after the restart. Again it was from a corner as Blind lost his man who found himself in acres of space, and slotted the ball in the back of the net after a well worked set piece routine. 

We played some good football after conceding and found ourselves with good chances. The main problem now seems to be converting these chances into goals as we didn’t score in the second half. Martial always seems to have some excellent footwork and control in the box but gets pressured before the final shot can be taken. Our inability to finish chances wasn’t helped when Fellaini was taken off as he is our best aerial threat and it immediately took away our presence from set pieces. It has to be said that this was a very peculiar move by Van Gaal as there was still a lot of time left to be played. 

While I do believe that we are playing much better football now, the back passing still annoys me, as I see clear attacking opportunities pass by just for some security in possession. I think our pace on the passes has increased, but we need someone else up front permanently to support Martial as we just don’t have enough men in the box at times. I would like to see United take up a 4-4-2 formation when Rooney is available again. 

A big concern right now is the lack of big name players due to injury. Lingard looks to have picked up and injury, so this puts us in a big predicament for the upcoming busy Christmas schedule. With Bastian Schweinsteiger having picked up a 3 match ban – we need luck to be with us for a while and prevent any further damages to our squad.

Overall Analysis:

There's always those matches when a fan has a feeling something is going to go wrong, this was one of those matches. It could be seen before the match had even started due to the inexperience of our defence as a unit. McNair took Chris Smalling's position and it was clear that the boots were too big for him, he didn't make organise the back line like Smalling would have, and that led to mistakes. Varela had his man down and had to switch to CB with Blind towards the end due to McNair not being able to track down King or Murray. Borthwick-Jackson wasn't even a shadow of himself against Wolfsburg. Blind being the only player who wasn't half bad as he made a couple of important interceptions here and there.

Our midfield display was in shambles. Carrick during the first half played very well with his link up play to Memphis, but was poor in the second half as he couldn't instigate many attacks. I think it'd be unfair to say that Fellaini was terrible as did show dedication to get the equalising goal in the first half. However, he didn't make a huge impact in the second half. It would be fair to say that he could've bagged himself a hat-trick today. He couldn't keep the ball up and he was often sloppy in possession.

To improve we need to radically change this defensive mindset. We have been creating some chances, but today Bournemouth showed that they wanted the three points more than us. Maybe it is down to Van Gaal for not analysing Bournemouth well enough to realise about their set piece techniques, however it could also be down to the players for not picking it up. The last three goals which we've conceded have come from set pieces, this highlights a huge weakness in our play. 

It'd be unfair to blame today's loss on Van Gaal completely. We are being haunted by injuries, which is proving to be a huge problem for us and showing that after spending £250 million, we still don't have the depth in the squad that we need - maybe that is down to Van Gaal. However, I'm confident that once our players start to come back from injury, things will look brighter for us. 

After back-to-back losses, and not managing to win a single game in our last 5, I think that it'd be fair to say that we need to up our game significantly. Our next game is a home to Norwich on Saturday 19th December which is a game that we must win! A very busy Christmas period is coming up, and it's vital that we have our key players returning from injury.