Tag Archives: champions league

VAN GONE | United dent Top 4 Hopes

By Larry Taylor

Attack! Attack! Attack! United came out of the blocks, displaying offensive intent as they hosted Leicester, who with a win, would secure the Premier League title.

The Red Devils’ were rewarded in the 8th minute when Anthony Martial was on the receiving end of an Antonio Valencia cross, placing the ball under Leicester ‘keeper Schmichael, giving United a 1-0 lead.

The Reds’ were in the ascendency and had a glorious opportunity to extend their lead in the 14th minute when Jesse Lingard had a shot thudded away by Schmichael, maintaining the pressure and having the United faithful applauding the antics.

To their credit, Leicester fought back and got a goal back when Morgan out-muscled Marcus Rojo and head the ball in to bring the game level. Unfortunately for United, they never recovered and outside of a header by Chris Smalling in the closing moments of the game, Manchester United never looked like scoring the goal they needed.

With Leicester needing a mere two points to win the league pre-game, the Foxes were happy to sit back while counter attack where ever they could. Leicester came for a draw and given United’s struggles to break teams down, it was no surprise they got the result they came for.

But this meant more for United. Considering a top 4 spot was touching distance and Manchester City had lost against Southampton later in the day, fans sat in anticipation of the proverbial kitchen sink to be thrown.

Sir Alex on the touch-line pulls off a defensive midfielder for a striker, tells Rio Ferdinand to push forward and give the opposition nightmares until we got the desired result. That’s Manchester United; that is what that emblem represents – or at least, represented.

Now, with 7 minutes remaining, Blind and Smalling interchange in passes while Herrera and Memphis are given 16 and 8 minutes respectively to make an impact. It is illogical and is the type of complacency that should see Louis Van Gaal lose his job at season’s end.

The Dutchman’s team selections were again maligned. Fellaini has played well in the last few weeks and probably deserved his spot; but he was ineffective; slowed play down and was an elbow graze away from a red card.
You also have to question why Argentinian international Marcus Rojo continues to be picked. The defender was at fault for the goal and struggled against PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez. He packs the composure and pace to be a consistent left back at Manchester United and is terribly out of form. Considering his bright performances and great crossing ability, it is surprising Cameron Borthwick-Jackson has not been afforded an opportunity as of late.
As it stands, Manchester United still have a mathematical chance to make the top 4. Realistically, Manchester United would need Arsenal to beat Manchester City with the hope they will drop points in their last two games. Even so, given Van Gaal’s 50% win rate and the inconsistencies, I sadly cannot see it happening.

Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand.

Angel Di Maria and Louis Van Gaal Exchange Verbal Blows

Last week, Angel Di Maria opened up on his time with Manchester United, and it didn’t make for pretty watching for Louis Van Gaal. Speaking to the BBC, Di Maria claimed that his ill-fated spell at Manchester United came to an end for an array of reasons.

“I started a game in a position, and then the next one I would be in another.”

“I scored goals playing in one position, and then suddenly the next game I was picked to play in a different position.”

“It’s more that they didn’t let me settle properly than I couldn’t settle. I left a team that was out of the European competition and far away from being champions of the Premier League. I don’t think it was my fault or the fault of my teammates.”

The Argentine then added that he left the club “not only to be happy, but to win things.”

In his weekly press conference, Louis Van Gaal retaliated in a manner similar to that when he verbally attacked Paul Scholes for criticising him and his team.

“I have never seen players who look at themselves, who look to the way they have performed here, and that is always the fault of the manager.”

“So he is one of the players who are in the row of players who have no self-criticism. Unfortunately, it is also my life as a manager. It is always like that.”

The aftermath on social media was pretty critical towards Di Maria. I, however, decided to mull his comments over. Was he, after all, so wrong in what he said? He was played out of position. During his time at Manchester United, he operated as a winger, an attacking midfielder, a number 10, a playmaker and a striker.

His form at United was erratic, of that there can be no mistake. His first couple of months were electric, as he was played in his favoured position, and he thrived. He will remembered for his breathtaking goal against Leicester City, probably more so than the fact Leicester actually won the game 5-3. As the season progressed, injuries and break-ins caused his form to suffer, but he was continually played out of position, Van Gaal using his hefty price tag as an excuse that he has to deliver wherever he plays.

And that is nonsense. Let’s use Rio Ferdinand as an example here. He cost £30 million when he joined United from Leeds in 2002, but would he have realistically have been expected to perform in a position that he was not familiar with? Of course not.

Then there is the Argentine’s comments about moving to France to win trophies. This was a comment that angered many a Manchester United fan. As for me, I totally got what he was saying. If this season has shown us anything, it is that the club are miles away from winning the Premier League. When Manchester United are struggling to make top four, not least challenging for the title, in a league where Leicester City are the frontrunners followed by Tottenham Hotspur, serious questions need to be asked.

“Winning trophies in France doesn’t count” was one Tweet I saw. Again, nonsense. Why doesn’t it? Because it’s France? Because Paris Saint Germain are the only team capable of winning Ligue 1? Let me ask you this, does that same rule apply to Germany? Bayern Munich will this season win their fourth successive Bundesliga title. Same as PSG this year. Are French teams competitive in Europe? As a whole, no. Perhaps they are in Germany, but the domestic competition is almost a non-event, just like in France.

Had he, for example, headed to Greece and joined Olympiakos I could understand the criticism. At Olympiakos he would win endless trophies. Afterall, they have won 17 of the last 19 Greek Super Leagues. However, they are miles away from competing outside of Greece. PSG, in comparison, as a complete squad, ooze class. They have knocked Chelsea, England’s current champions, out of the Champions League in each of the past two seasons. It is completely possible that they will continue that run in the upcoming quarter-final tie against Manchester City. This is a team that contains genuine world class players. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura, Marco Verratti. The list is almost endless. By comparison, he left a Manchester United side that Marouane Fellaini is almost the first name on the team sheet.

And Di Maria has thrived since. His form at PSG has been what United fans only saw glimpses of. 14 goals and 13 assists. He was a world class player when he joined Old Trafford, and he is a world class player now in Paris.

Angel Di Maria didn’t fail Manchester United. Manchester United failed him. Louis Van Gaal has been quick to try to shift the blame back to the player but it once again exposes his frailties. He took a player who was Man of the Match in the Champions League final as Real Madrid recorded their tenth European title, and turned him into a player who struggled against Yeovil.

It used to be said that no player could recover from leaving Manchester United, that their career was only downhill from there. Di Maria has proved the contrary, and, for me, that is down to Louis Van Gaal and his ego.

Michael Carrick Set For New Deal?

Fresh off the back of Sunday’s 1-0 victory over bitter rivals Manchester City, long-serving midfielder Michael Carrick has revealed that he is confident that negotiations over a new contract will begin shortly.

After the win, the 34-year-old was quoted as saying “I am not sure yet to be honest. I haven’t heard anything just at the moment, no. Hopefully some time soon. I have been here a long time, I have had some great times here and I love the club. It’s a great place to play. Playing games like against City keeps you having that buzz and enthusiasm to play for longer.

“I am not making a big deal of it, to be honest. I will just have to wait and see what happens. I am quite relaxed about it.”

If Carrick was to sign a new contract, it would coincide with a tenth year at the club having signed from Tottenham Hotspur in July 2006 by Sir Alex Ferguson for a reported £14 million. The England international has been pivotal in the club’s success ever since, the highlight being a starting berth in the Champions League victory in 2008 over Chelsea.

Manchester United fans have long admired the attributes that Carrick brings to the squad, having been a stalwart at the heart of the midfield during some of the club’s most successful years. He was a key member of the squad which won three successive Premier League titles between 2007 and 2009 and, with over 400 games for the club to date, sits within the top 25 appearance makers for Manchester United. His 34 caps for England to date show no reflection on his talent and it could easily be argued that Carrick has been vastly underused at international level.

Voted Players Player of the Year in 2013, Carrick has won five Premier League titles, one League Cup, one Champions League, one World Club Cup and five Community Shields in his time in Manchester. Whilst clearly in the twilight years of his career, a one year extension to his current deal would represent a huge positive for the club.

Wolfsburg 3-2 Man United | Full match report

Man United crash out of the UEFA Champions League after a dramatic game at Wolfsburg in which the hosts won 3-2.

Both teams played good attacking football for the majority of the game but it was Wolfsburg who were the more fortunate in front of goal.

Man United opened the scoring through Anthony Martial in the 11th minute. Daley Blind played a long pass with pin point accuracy to Juan Mata, the Spaniard then turned and played a quick through ball into the path of Anthony Martial. The United number 9 found himself one-on-one with Benaglio and cooly slotted the ball past him into the bottom right corner.

Anthony Martial celebrates putting Man United ahead (Source: Mirror)
Anthony Martial celebrates putting Man United ahead (Source: Mirror)

The lead only lasted three minutes before Naldo hit a simple volley, from a Rodrigues free kick, past David de Gea at the front post.

Wolfsburg then went on to take the lead thanks to a Vieirinha goal in the 29th minute. The goal came about after some quick one-touch passing including a one-two between Draxler and Kruse. Draxler, on the return pass, selflessly squared the ball across the six-yard box to allow Vieirinha to slot past David de Gea.

On the stroke of half time Man United thought they had equalised when Jesse Lingard’s cross beat both sets of players, including Benaglio and bounced into the far bottom corner of the net, but the goal was ruled offside as Juan Mata was adjudged to be interfering with play.

Time was running out in the second half for Man United to get something and in the 82nd minute they were handed a lifeline in the form of a Guilavogui own-goal. Fellaini headed the ball down to the penalty spot from a corner and the bounce was misjudged by the Wolfsburg player who headed the ball backward, over his own keeper and into the back of the net.

As in the first half, United’s lead didn’t last long. Two minutes after the own-goal, Wolfsburg won a corner and Naldo beat the United defence to the ball and nodded it in at the back post.

Man United players look dejected after Naldo scores Wolfsburg's third (Source: Mirror)
Man United players look dejected after Naldo scores Wolfsburg’s third (Source: Mirror)

Man United continued to push for an equalizer having shots saved or blocked in the dying minutes. Had they scored it would not have mattered as PSV Eindhoven beat CSKA Moscow in the other Group B match. CSKA took the lead in that game which at one point meant Man United would still quality despite being a goal down.

There are positives to take from the game with youngsters Varela and Borthwick-Jackson both playing very good games at a high level and Man United providing an attacking threat that has been missing for some time.

The loss means Man United drop out of the Champions League and into the Europa League. Wolfsburg and PSV Eindhoven progress to the last 16 of the Champions League.

Man United miss out on place in Champions League last 16 (Source: BBC)
Man United miss out on place in Champions League last 16 (Source: BBC)

What did you think of the game? Do you think it was a disgrace? Do you think we were unlucky? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

You can also watch the Wolfsburg V Man United match reaction on The United Stand’s YouTube channel by clicking here. Or by watching below.

Wolfsburg Team Sheet

Benaglio
Träsch
Aparecido Rodrigues
Dante
Rodríguez (Schäfer – 16′)
Draxler (Caligiuri – 85′)
Guilavogui
Vieirinha (Klose – 78′)
Arnold
Schürrle
Kruse

Substitutes

Bendtner
Schäfer
Klose
Caligiuri
Dost
Jung
Casteels

Man United Team Sheet

de Gea
Varela
Smalling
Blind
Darmian Booked (Borthwick-Jackson – 43′)
Schweinsteiger (Carrick – 69′)
Fellaini
Lingard
Mata (Powell – 69′)
Depay
Martial

Substitutes

Carrick
Young
Romero
Powell
McNair
Borthwick-Jackson
Pereira

LVG: We are not good enough to win Champions League

Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal says the red devils are not capable of winning the Champions League this season.

Manchester United secured only one point at old Trafford when they faced West ham this Saturday. This is United’s fifth goalless draw over the past nine matches. They have to face a tough challenge vs Wolfsburg this coming Wednesday and it’s likely they will have to secure three points if they wish to see themselves in the round of 16. But van Gaal does not believe in his squad’s ability to win the competition.

“I don’t think that we are able to win the Champions League now,” Van Gaal said on Saturday.

He added, “And we have proven that already, also in the Premier League. But normally we are not good enough to win the Champions League. You can win, and when we are there we shall try to do everything but you also have to be realistic. I’m happy with my squad now but we can strengthen the selection still in [certain] positions, for example the left-back position is not so [well] covered.”

Van Gaal has some hopes that his side can grab a win against the Bundesliga side as they have already secured three points in the home fixture. He believes Manchester United have created more chances in Champions league matches than in the premier league matches.

Towards the end of his talk, Van Gaal spoke about concerns regarding United’s poor finishing. He said, “We have to play against a very good team. I am convinced we can do it but we do not have any luck. Also, we have to be more composed in that situation — especially when you miss chances three metres in front of goal.”

After receiving criticism from football pundits and fans, Louis Van Gaal surely has many things to prove. After United’s scoreless draw against the hammers, many fans are now praying for PSV Eindhoven’s defeat in their clash against CSKA Moscow. PSV’s defeat will surely Book Manchester United’s place in the round of 16.

Read the full article here at the ESPN’s official website.

What do you think of Louis Van Gaal’s tactics? What are the areas in which we should work on to improve our game play? Let us know your opinions in the comments section below.

Champions League: Manchester United pair return for CSKA trip

Manchester United’s Sergio Romero and Antonio Valencia return to the squad for match day three in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

The pair were rested for Saturday’s trip to Goodison Park following their return from World Cup qualifying duty for Argentina and Ecuador.

Jesse Lingard will also join the 20-man Champions League squad, while Ashley Young and James Wilson miss out.

Read the full article on the Sky Sports website here.

How do you think Manchester United will fare in Russia? Should key players be rested from Champions League duty in preperation for the Derby? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.