Wednesday, 13 January 2016

FRUSTRATING THRILLER


Overdose? Of the entertainment? There's lots of Reds on social media who didn't know what to make of Manchester United's most thrilling league game in a while. A long long while! Therein the mantra of Louis van Gaal's 'boring' regime at the club, it was never the expectation that the club would be ever again involved in a 3-3 scoreline. Not since the 5-3 debacle at Leicester last season.

If last night was the first time a neutral tuned in to watch Manchester United, they'd have been asking what all the fuss is about at the club. In truth, there were many things that were not in tune with how United's season has unravelled to this point. For starters, Newcastle United, the side third from bottom in the log hogged possession against the league's best keepers of the ball. At 44%, United registered their worst tally of time with the ball all season!

It also doesn't fit in the set up we've been used to all season that United played away from home on the counter-attack! Every now and then, albeit sporadically, Louis van Gaal sets up the team in a throw-back to the good old days that keeps you wondering why he doesn't just stick with it! Whilst the Dutchman can point out that it was a lack of control of the game that cost us points, the case can also be made for United that they could've won it by six goals---something you couldn't say about many of the games we've been involved in.

 It also means that finally, the fans can come away from a game looking at the positives from an entertaining game. Value for time and money spent at observing proceedings from St. James' Park in the middle of a working week. That though, is as positive as it gets.


When you score three goals away from home, you simply have to win the game! It is yet to register to Louis van Gaal that the absence of experience within his squad and the presence of many young players with little guidance will continue to haunt United in periods of games. Consistency is not just a game to game phenomenon but also an in-game requirement.

Jesse Lingard for instance could easily be credited with a good performance but his inexperience means that he could lack the nous to fatally stick in the dagger occasionally when presented with the opportunity to kill off the game. Memphis Depay perhaps didn't think it too crucial that he got rid of the ball in an agricultural manner whilst United were defending a 3-2 lead. As such, despite having another positive impact off the bench, he will be called to book when van Gaal does a forensic on events last night.

In fairness, even the more experienced heads of Wayne Rooney and Marouanne Fellaini failed when they were tasked with getting United over the line.Then there was the Chris Smalling moment of madness that saw him wrestle Mitrovic to the ground in the penalty box! There are not many heads of raw character in the current set up at the club, and therefore games like this tend to slip away because of that limitation.

There will be those who will find plenty of irony in the fact that United have slipped further down the log after playing the United way. The real concern is whether the performance yesterday can be a foundation on which the club builds their second half of the season. They'll certainly be more points won than lost if the style remains the same. Chances are though that we shall revert to the usual as soon as the next fixture comes along.


In the grand scheme of things, it is astonishing that United could be as low as 10th after the weekend football. It would be a position that fits a run of two wins in 12 games. The kind that could yet rule out United from the Champions League places having led the league twice this season. Spurs could easily build up an 11 point gap on us over the next few days. That is the biggest indictment of United's season.

The manager has lost the trust of most fans but the club will stand by him until its mathematically impossible to achieve any of the season targets. Quite where that leaves the fans is anywhere but in a state of comfort. 

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