Tag Archives: louis van gaal

Victor Valdes Departs Club On Loan

Today, the club confirmed what everybody already knew as Spanish goalkeeper Victor Valdes headed to Belgium after agreeing a loan move with Standard Liege until the end of the current campaign. It has been a case of ‘not if, but when’ Valdes would leave the club after his well documented fall-out with Louis Van Gaal, although the destination has been unknown until now, with the likes of Liverpool, Newcastle United and Fenerbahce all rumoured to have been in the running for his signature.

Louis Van Gaal confirmed the spat between the pair had become irreparable during the pre-season campaign after the manager claimed that Valdes had refused to play for the under 21’s last season, something furiously denied by the goalkeeper. Of course, we all know that Valdes did indeed feature for the under 21’s, a fact backed up on his personal Instagram account, leading to speculation that there may be more than meets the eye.

Van Gaal, of course, is no stranger to fall-outs, having clashed with the likes of Rivaldo, Johan Cruyff, Mark Van Bommel, Robin Van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to name just a small few. All of come with an interesting back story but, from the outside certainly, the Victor Valdes fall-out has been handled in an atrocious way. Forced to train on his own, the 34-year-old wasn’t even allocated a squad number this season, let alone a club suit, as Van Gaal continually ostracised the World Cup winner. Rumours that the club’s Spanish players were becoming increasingly frustrated with the situation began to circulate, with Juan Mata and Ander Herrera allegedly at the forefront of expressing their anger.

A fact that cannot also be ignored is that, despite his alleged refusal to appear for the under 21 side, Valdes did indeed end the last campaign as the number one following an injury to David De Gea, despite the fact the Anders Lindegaard was available to play, and did start the game against Hull City on the final game of the season on the bench. If Valdes had indeed refused to play for the under 21 side, surely Lindegaard would have been the preferred option in that game.

Anyhow, Valdes has become another high profile name to leave the club under Louis Van Gaal, even if all he was ever supposed to be was an understudy to David De Gea. His heartfelt goodbye, posted again on his Instagram account, shows a level of professionalism and respect that maybe a certain manager could learn from.

Goodbye Victor Valdes, and good luck!

Adnan Januzaj – Could He Be The Man To Answer LVG’s SOS?

Adnan Januzaj…remember him? You know, the 20-year-old Belgian wonderkid. Yes, of course you do. Well, he’s back, and ready to answer Louis Van Gaal’s SOS (Save Our Season).

It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for Adnan Januzaj since he broke into the first team squad in 2013. An unused substitute in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game for the club, the youngster became the one major plus point of David Moyes’ ill-fated reign the season following, with some even claiming that he could be the new Cristiano Ronaldo (well, that was me). However, it is fair to say that since Louis Van Gaal took over at the club his progress has been, well, mooted at best.

Used sparingly during Van Gaal’s first season in charge, Januzaj actually began this campaign by starting four of the opening five fixtures, scoring the winner against Aston Villa in the second game of the season. However, after a disappointing 45 minutes against Club Brugge in the Champions League Second Leg Qualifier, LVG decided to let the club’s new number 11 leave on loan and he headed to Germany to join Borussia Dortmund (despite much Premier League interest). Later, Van Gaal admitted that he would have preferred it if Januzaj had stayed in England, hinting that had he joined a ‘lesser club’, his opportunities may have been more frequent. As it turns out, on this occasion, he was right.

It is fair to say that Januzaj’s time in Dortmund has been a disaster. With only three starts, all of which came in the Europa League, United have made a collective decision that recalling the attacker would be the best option, and it could prove to be a timely addition. After all, Januzaj is a favourite amongst the fans having risen through the ranks and it is no secret that the club likes to see ‘one of their own’ go on to achieve success.

Januzaj can be one of those frustrating figures. It is plain to see that he has bags of potential, potential that could see him turn into a truly great player if he is nurtured right. Arguably, LVG halted that progress last season with his reluctance to utilise him. However, it is no secret that attacking options are at an all-time low right now, with Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney the only experienced attackers in the squad. Currently, Juan Mata is the man preferred on the right wing, with Martial on the left and Rooney playing down the middle. Mata, in my humble opinion, is wasted on the right with a lack of pace and a natural instinct that often sees him drift towards the middle. Januzaj, however, on the right wing, coupled with Marital on the left, would offer pace on both flanks.

Currently, United have scored only 24 league goals in 20 games. Januzaj may not score bags of goals (although he can certainly chip in), but he can create. I, for one, applaud the decision to bring him back to the club. I only hope that he is given the opportunity to elevate himself and this weekends game against Sheffield United could be the perfect stepping stone.

Pep Guardiola Announcement Should Act As Wake Up Call

This afternoon saw confirmation of the world’s worst footballing secret as outgoing Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola stated his intention to move to England, and the Premier League, once his contract ends with the German champions this summer. The news immediately sent Twitter into a frenzy as the world debated the Spaniards next destination, with Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and, of course, United the front runners.

With cross-city rivals Manchester City viewed as the early favourites for Guardiola’s signature, Sky Bet make them odds on, it must surely be seen as another gaffe if United were to let this opportunity pass them by once again (remember Guardiola was available at the time of David Moyes’ appointment). Immediately, this comment will draw criticism from some quarters as being negative. In fact, it is quite the opposite, and here’s why:

Whilst many claim that it is the ‘The United Way’ to give managers time to achieve success, it is worth noting that Louis Van Gaal was never in it for the long haul. By his own admission, his intention was, and more than likely still is, to retire at the end of his contract in the summer of 2017. Three years was always going to be the most United were going to get out of their preferred choice to succeed David Moyes.

Cutting short this three year tenure to poach arguably the best club coach in the world cannot, in whichever way one spins it, be viewed upon as negative. Imagine Guardiola in charge of City, or Chelsea, with a blank cheque book at his disposal…scary isn’t it? Now imagine Guardiola in charge of United with that same blank cheque book…get it?

Guardiola is a coach which fits in with the profile of ‘The United Way’. Attacking, exciting football? Check. Promotes and believes in bringing in youth? Check. Proven track record of winning trophies at the highest level? Check.

Yes, Louis Van Gaal at least ticks two of them boxes, but it is plain to see that his best days are now behind him. Let’s think of this from a players perspective for example. Hypothetically, Lionel Messi is available and potentially wanting to join the club but it must be at the expense of a 36-year-old club legend. Would you stick or twist?

Claiming that replacing LVG with Guardiola (who, let’s not forget, has at least shown signs in the past that Old Trafford is one of his favoured future destinations) is not intended to promote any kind of hostility. No, quite the opposite. It is the sensible thing, and the right thing, to do and, if the opportunity is there, it is one that must be grasped with both hands.

LVG one of many recruitment mistakes

Let’s lay out some of the facts. Manchester United have picked up a mere 3 points from a possible 18 in their last 6 games. This includes no wins and only 3 goals. That poor form has led to Manchester United having their lowest points total in their  Premier League history. Ever lower than the famous David Moyes season. Even then the club was still in the Capital One Cup and into the last 16 of Europe. Neither claim can be made by Van Gaal and his men.

The poor results have left the Dutchman with a win ratio of less than 50%.  These games have not come against top sides. Leicester was the only side in that group with realistic Champions league ambitions. With all this in mind it would be very easy to point the finger at Van Gaal for everything. While he must take the blame for the boring style of football and questionable team selections. One problem has persisted at the club for many years now. It goes back as far as Sir Alex Ferguson. That problem is recruitment. What many fans may find shocking is that Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal are all to blame.

Van Gaal and his coaching staff look on.
Van Gaal and his coaching staff look on

The ironic twist to all this is that if Manchester United had done half as well over the last 5 years in the transfer market as they have in the commercial one the club would be walking away with the current Premier League title race. The poor judgment includes selling too many players, selling the wrong players, letting talented players leave for nothing, buying poorly and overspending. If you were to grade the clubs transfer activity since the day Paul Pogba walked out for nothing you would give them a D+ at best.

Sadly losing a talented youth product is not an isolated incident at the club any more. The poor judgement of players goes back as far as 2007 with Gerard Pique. The now World Cup and Champions league winner was sold for £6 million while Sir Alex decided Jonny Evans who moved to West Brom last summer was the better prospect. While in more recent times two former strikers who came up from the clubs academy have come back to haunt the club in the form of Josh King and Danny Welbeck. While few would argue King was a loss to the club many fans still feel disgruntled at the sale of England international Welbeck. While the club has brought in a younger striker in Martial, his goal return ratio so far would not back up the theory that Welbeck was surplus to requirements.

Welbeck scores the winner at Old Trafford
Welbeck scores the winner at Old Trafford

Before Manchester United fans could always argue that any player who left the club never achieved as much at their new club as Manchester United was achieving. This even includes the loss of big names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Everywhere was a step down from Manchester United. This has changed in recent seasons, even if we look at the last two seasons  Former players Danny Welbeck, Patrice Evra, Rafael Da Silva, Angel Di Maria and Javier Hernandez are all at clubs that have reached the last 16 of the Champions league. There is now life after Manchester United and it’s very enjoyable for many. The club has let go of many players that are still capable of playing at the highest level, while not bringing in enough replacements. A problem made evident by the sheer lack of numbers in the squad.

The Mexican now has 17 goals in 14 games in Germany as Manchester United struggle for goals.
The Mexican now has 17 goals in 14 games in Germany as Manchester United struggle for goals.

The club has also bought poorly in recent years. While some players have been successes such as Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin the problem can be shown to its full extent with a few comparisons. In 2010 Manchester United signed Bebe for £7.4 million. Sir Alex Ferguson later admitted he had never seen the player play. Little wonder when he only signed his first professional contract a few weeks previous. Had Sir Alex seen Bebe play he surely would not have made the purchase. While mistakes happen, in recent weeks Manchester United have been linked with a multimillion pound move for Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriquez. In the same summer that Bebe went to Manchester United, Porto signed Rodriquez, for just £5 million despite the fact he scored 5 goals in 7 for Banfield in the Copa Libertadores which is the South American equivalent to the Champions League. It was almost like the club was determined to prove they were smarter than  everybody else by finding a gem nobody had heard about while ignoring a prospect attracting the attention of many of Europe’s leading powers.

The signings of Marouane Fellaini and Nick Powell a little closer to home come as the more obvious examples. In the summer that the club signed Marouane Fellaini for over £27 million, Tottenham bought Christian Eriksen another “Number 10” for just £11 million.  While Fellaini is used as a scapegoat by many United fans, Eriksen has gone onto be one of Tottenham’s leading men as they compete with Manchester United for a top 4 spot. Which player fits into the philosophy of the club more? Manchester United have also wasted millions on big names signings such as Di Maria, Falcao and Zaha.

Could Wilfred Zaha have provided more pace than Juan Mata out right this season?
Could Wilfred Zaha have provided more pace than Juan Mata out right this season?

As mentioned above the final example I will mention is of Nick Powell and Deli Ali. If any two young midfielders have made an impact in the football in recent years it has been these two. While it seemed like a good signing at the time, Nick Powell one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signings has failed to deliver. Problems with injuries on the pitch and discipline off it have meant that the one – time prodigy like so many others seems to have missed his chance. While on the other hand Ali has impressed consistently for Tottenham so much so he looks set to be a major part of England’s plans for the European Championships in France next summer. What makes it worse was that Manchester United could have signed Ali soon after Van Gaal arrived at Old Trafford. The boy had a chance to impress and he did just that, dominating the Manchester United midfield as the MK Dons beat United 4-0 in the Capital One cup. The talented young man who would be scoring goals in the Premier League 12 months later, ripped United apart in front of their very eyes and yet they did nothing about it. A far cry from the days, when Manchester United made a move for Cristiano Ronaldo, just hours after he had impressed in a pre – season game. How no coach or player spoke up and said something similar about Ali is only a mystery. But in reality fans can say the same thing about many of the recruitment decisions at Old Trafford in recent times.

Mourinho: why “the special one” is the only one

With 2015 coming to an end, it would seem that the long awaited prophecy that Jose Mourinho would one day be appointed as Manchester United manager will be fulfilled. Ever since his Porto side won at Old Trafford knocking Manchester United out of Europe in 2004, the charismatic Portuguese has looked destined to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor.

With the Red Devils struggling for form and identity under the rigid Louis Van Gaal, the personality and more importantly the track record in both England and abroad of the Special One may be exactly what Manchester United are crying out for.

With Jurgen Klopp now at Liverpool and Carlo Ancelotti going to Bayern Munich next summer the managerial merry-go-round at Europe’s leading powers has cleared up as we go into the Christmas period. Should Manchester United choose to sack Louis Van Gaal, their options are running out quickly. Why the move has not happened already is a mystery to many with the problems piling up at Manchester United like the presents under a Christmas tree – should you be so lucky.

It is true that Manchester United have the most clean sheets in the Premier League and that stat has been thrown out a lot in defence of LVG but ever since that faithful night in Wolfsburg the so called unbeatable defence has been beaten again and again. Sadly this sacrifice has not come with the award of more attacking football and goals for Manchester United fans to feast on. The feeling summed up by the fact that captain Wayne Rooney has averaged a mere 0.3 goals per game under the Dutchman. And to add insult to injury Manchester United’s brightest attacking spark this season, Anthony Martial, spent more time tracking Norwich left back Martin Olsson, than he did in the oppositions box, despite scoring a goal.

United manager Louis van Gaal's job is in danger (Source: The Guardian)
United manager Louis van Gaal’s job is in danger (Source: The Guardian)

For LVG, many of the problems have gone beyond the 90 minutes themselves and most noticeably involve team selections. From the constant switching of positions of players like Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian, Ashley Young and Anthony Martial to leaving certain players out altogether, in particular Spanish speaking players, like Victor Valdes and Ander Herrera, very few would feel settled under the former Barcelona manager.

Players such as Angel Di Maria and Javier Hernandez who are now doing well at their respected clubs have made their negative feelings very clear towards Van Gaal. The other main concern many have with Van Gaal is the constant selection of Marouane Fellaini and in particular Wayne Rooney. Both have been consistently selected despite a string of poor performances in comparison to fan favourite Ander Herrera and Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin.

On the eve of Christmas and possibly Van Gaal’s most important game during his reign at Old Trafford, captain Wayne Rooney has come out in support of the manager saying “We are working hard, we are fighting with the manager to try and get the results and turn this season around.” It is clear that at least some parts of the dressing room are behind the manager. Ironically it was been widely reported that Jose Mourinho had lost the dressing room at Chelsea in recent months. So why is it a perfect fit?

Well it’s not. No manager that is still in the game can say that they, like Sir Alex, have won the Premier League, Champions League, plays attacking football and promotes youth. The one near exception being a certain, Arsene Wenger. But Jose does tick many of the boxes, most importantly a winning mentality. He has won league titles in Portugal, Spain, Italy and England. Unlike Van Gaal he has achieved this in recent years and not in the 90’s.

It has been said that Jose does not play attacking football. This is not entirely true. It is not the swash buckling football we have seen down the years at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ but it is a style based on power, pace and moving the ball up the pitch quickly. Sides like Leicester have shown this season that tika-taka, for all its worth, is not the only way of doing things in
the modern game. In fact in the season Real Madrid won La Liga under Mourinho, Real Madrid outscored Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side when they were arguably at their strongest.

Jose Mourinho celebrated winning the Premier League with Chelsea in 2015 (Source: Eurosport.com)
Jose Mourinho celebrated winning the Premier League with Chelsea in 2015 (Source: Eurosport.com)

When Mourinho is at a club that demands attacking football he can deliver. While his style at Chelsea has shown that with no pressure to play in a particular manner, he will play a defensive game, but his time at Madrid has shown that the ‘Special One’ will adapt his natural defensive philosophy. It goes without saying this is a far cry from the man he may potentially replace. Fans can only hope that Mourinho would also be willing to adapt to the idea of bringing through youth in the same way Van Gaal has. Fingers crossed the club will receive the rewards of Van Gaal giving players like McNair, Valera, Periera and many more chances in the first team. Whoever the manager may be next week, month and season.

Like Van Gaal (to a point) and Sir Alex before him, Mourinho would bring a personality to everything he does from shouting on the touch line to finding new ways of making other managers lives a misery. Mourinho is one of the villains of football but, maybe that is exactly what the red devils need to regain their fear factor. A game against Manchester United has become an opportunity that many feel they can take advantage of. As Thierry Henry recently said on Sky Sports, the big teams in England need to stand up for themselves and take control of the league. And for this, Mourinho is perfect.

If he could bring the mentality he had at his previous title winning sides to Manchester United from now to the end of the season it may actually be enough to win the league with nobody in the league currently showing any sort of consistency. The big question is will the board take that plunge?

By Diarmuid Gillingham
Follow me on Twitter: @Diarmuid_MUFC

GUEST BLOG: It’s “Glazers out” that should be trending

Back in 2005 Manchester United were a sitting duck. The ‘richest club in the world’ was snapped up by a murky opportunistic businessman known as Malcolm Glazer.

Malcolm Glazer had made a career of corporate takeovers and buying a football club from a few wealthy businessmen who were in it for the profit was as easy as pie. His world record £790m buyout was about 300p a share, a whopping 10 times more than the trading value of around 30p. An eye watering amount in the sporting world at the time but common place amongst the leverage buyout scene. Fans taking up a stake was mooted however, the amounts involved made it prohibitive.

The financing behind the deal was engineered by one Mr Edward Gareth Woodward, who was with JP Morgan. Malcolm Glazer utilised the same shock and awe tactics with his successful $192m bid for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – a record for a sports franchise at the time. Following which he put his three children in charge and they promptly saw to recouping their investment. A new stadium was constructed – paid by the taxpayers – to ensure a steady stream of cash to the Glazers.

The venture reached its zenith with the Super Bowl success in 2002. From then onwards it has been a yo-yo season, one after another for the Buccaneers with insignificant success. If the Glazer family are unable to dominate a sport familiar to them through a club in their home state how do you expect them to replicate success across the Atlantic with the biggest sporting team on the planet?

The investment made to purchase Manchester United PLC was more than the total wealth of the Glazer family at the time. The loans taken by the Glazers were to be transferred to and repaid by Manchester United. WTF right? Such is the world of Investment Banking; where money talks, while morals and ethics are unusual.

Promptly after the takeover we went from signing the best young talent in England for a record price to signing Park Ji Sung and Edwin van der Sar for peanuts. Although interestingly, these thrifty signings along with Evra and Vidic in January were perhaps the most astute signings under Fergie and Gill. They were the cornerstone of the successes to come. Fast forward to the final few years of the Fergie era.

Young talent after young talent were snapped up by the nouveau riche and other better managed clubs. We failed to identify needs of certain attributes which were lacking in the squad. Most fans were aware of the dearth of quality in the midfield department yet we persisted. This poor squad management was made obscure by Fergie’s mastery epitomised by the signing of a hungry Robin van Persie to fire him to his swansong title.

The departure of Gill meant the investment banker (Woodward), who in an interview at the start of the season, came across as someone who knows little about football let alone being passionate about Manchester United would be in charge. From securing signings, hiring management, managing the club except on the pitch, youth set up, the commercial side, everything really. He is the overlord at MUFC. The Glazers were indebted to him for his scheming during the buyout. The Glazers have exclusively dealt with him even when David Gill was in charge.

The appointment of David Moyes was commonly attributed as a goodbye gift to SAF, however in a company the CEO would have the final say and that man is Ed Woodward. After handing the reigns to him any chance of continued success diminished when he removed Rene Meulensteen and Mike Phelan and replaced them with his own people. Manchester United should not have allowed that. It was equivalent to culling that Goose in Aesop’s Fables. These men were crucial to on field tactics and training ground work.

Rene Meulensteen was relieved of his duties when David Moyes took charge (Source: 101goals.com)
Rene Meulensteen was relieved of his duties when David Moyes took charge (Source: 101goals.com)

Compounding this was the atrocious transfer market activity. One of the first things done by David Moyes was to tweak the scouting system. Years of lackadaisical work and Fergie power had probably led to a limp team involved in identifying talent, yet Ed has his team were clueless to it. This culminated in the signings of Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata. In a squad that lacked a proper midfield, pace and had an aging defence. We sign two players who solve nothing.

What about the botched signing of Ander Herrera? Dealing with a club that is known to only sell their players when their buyout clause is met. Clearly illustrated by the well-publicised sale of Javi Martinez! Wayne Rooney and Luis Nani getting exorbitant new contracts. The fruitless pursuit of the best players in the world seem to characterise Ed Woodward.

Enter Louis van Gaal. One of the best coaches in world football. Perhaps on the decline but his fundamental work almost ensures an easier job for his successor. Probably the best thing Ed Woodward has done for the club football wise. Woodward pushed through the signing of Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw and communicated it to LVG prior to sealing the deal. LVG is a coach more than anything. His time at Ajax Amsterdam, FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich meant he didn’t have Fergie like power in making signings. He had an influence perhaps but these are these are three of the best managed clubs around. They do their homework and have excellent youth and scouting systems in place.

Manchester United meanwhile has a stuttering youth development program and a scouting and deal execution team which signed two unnecessary players at exorbitant rates. LVG goes on to sign Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and controversially, Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao. The latter both having an agent who has healthily enriched himself from MUFC since the Cristiano Ronaldo deal – Jorge Mendes. You put super-agent Mendes and clueless Ed Woodward on the negotiation table you know who is coming out on top. Falcao wanted out of A.S. Monaco and a move to Real and Jorge granted him his wish. PSG and di Maria wanted each other and Mendes used MUFC and naive Ed to get the deal done. This is a man on the top of his game.

It would seem that LVG had ordered signings of Blind and Rojo based on the World Cup in Brazil. Both players shone however Rojo was not too sparkly outside the World Cup. That is the job of the scouting team to gauge compatibility of the players to the team. On the field RVP still seemed bemused and Chicharito was not involved in the game enough for LVG and both players were rightly gone by the end of the season. Performances were mixed but demolition jobs on Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool F.C. seemed to be a hopeful sign of things to come. I would like to include Trasfermarkt.co.uk stats on spending as well. It shows £136.75m spent and £34.76m recouped, giving a net spend of £101.99m. A whole lot of dough for fourth place in the league.

Season 2 under LVG. The previous campaign showed us among other things that the squad needed pace upfront, Rooney a fast fading force, Smalling and Jones as injury prone as they have been throughout their tenures, de Gea not signing a contract extension, Falcao and Di Maria huge flops on the pitch, the midfield needing steel, a lack of physicality on the field through the lack of speed, athleticism and power being noticeable. LVG probably handed Ed a list of players he felt the squad would be better off without.

Angel Di Maria struggled with life at United and was sold to PSG (Source: caughtoffside.com)
Angel Di Maria struggled with life at United and was sold to PSG (Source: caughtoffside.com)
MUFC makes prompt signings of Depay, Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin, and Darmian. All great signings on paper, Midfield steel, check. Winning mentality in Bastian and Depay who also brought with him pace, shooting ability as well as being a set piece threat. Darmian is Italy’s first choice fullback and is equally comfortable at right back and left back. Then after a decent pre-season, the club decides to get rid of the excess players. Selling prior to buying is like showing your hand in poker. Deals to purchase replacements were clearly not in place. Then we go on another round of Ed Woodward’s hapless pursuit of unlikely signings such as Sergio Ramos and Thomas Muller.

The consensus was that we still needed another striker, a pacey winger who hugs the touchline and definitely a solid centre back or two. The transfer market closed with the ‘expected’ failure for MUFC to sign any of those ‘unsignable’ players Ed craves but, we were somewhat placated by signing the young talent that is Anthony Martial albeit for an absurd amount of money. There were ample young talent out there to fill gaps however we seemed only interested in those superstars of world football. Fergie once said the best signings are those under 24 and rightly so. They can grow in the club ethos and improve. We seem to have strayed from that.

We made a decent start to the season although the first two defeats were the first time I have seen LVG outfoxed tactically both by Gary Monk through Ayew exploiting the space in the left channel left vacant by Shaw and by Santi Carzola luring Bastian out of position. The Arsenal game was an omen of what was to come. One chance one goal.

When the two CMs are not protecting our defence they seem to be not able to stop anything. As much as he has improved, Smalling is still not a dominant defender. A proper CB needs to boss his duels. For someone 194cm tall he still lost 35% of his aerial duels and is often overpowered by forwards most recently by Cameron Jerome down United’s left which led to him scoring a goal. Winning duels is chief to winning games. Dominating the air ala Vidic shreds the confidence of opponents. The same with winning tackles and dribbling past defenders. It breeds doubt in opponents and creates confidence in our team. That is something that we lack in our squad right now. The Fergie legacy players – Rooney, Carrick, Young and Valencia – supposedly able to continue the assiduity of dominance have failed us and the Ed Woodward-Moyes signings are proving a hindrance to LVG.

The bottom line is a lot of the blame for what is happening on the pitch is down to the club and how it is run. The Glazers who are only interested to profit from the club are well represented in the sense that we are more than decent in increasing revenue, disinterested in investing in Stadia and our youth set up, little interest in clearing the debt, raising funds on the stock market which go straight into Glazer pockets.

MUFC is a cash cow and that’s how the Glazers would like to keep it. Top four and a few games in the cups are sufficient for the Glazers. They are not bothered about the legacy of Manchester United only the flow of funds into their pockets. The worst thing I’ve heard from MUFC fans is that the Glazers need to open their cheque book to sign players. Hello? We make money, enough to sign Gareth Bale every season and a few duds. Look at our balance sheets. We make money, pay the Glazers to sit on our board, pay the Glazers loans and pay the interest on those loans. It’s all funds generated by Manchester United. Ed Woodward himself said selling the ‘United’ brand is like selling diamonds.

Replacing LVG is not going to lead to success when the fundamentals of the club are wrong. A new manager is going to face the same hurdles faced by LVG, Moyes and Fergie. The moment the Glazers came in they’ve shaken things up negatively. A winning team needs to be ahead of the curb, always looking to improve and to innovate. Young players, the best sports science is sport, the best scouting, the best people to seal the deal, the best commercial arm, the most socially responsible club. That should be the hallmarks of this great club. We are dithering and that is causing our rivals to streak ahead.

The Glazers are building a castle on sand. They couldn’t be bothered. Realistically we can’t boot them out and they won’t be going anytime soon. Nonetheless, we cannot be ignorant to these facts. We need to let these people know that we are aware of their exploitation of our beloved club. We need some sort of civilised disobedience – #GlazersOUT trending instead of #LVGOut, banners and online chatter ridiculing these opportunistic thieves, effigies of the Glazers and their banker boy pawn Ed Woodward in and around Old Trafford.

What for you might ask? They need to know that we know their deceptive tricks. Focusing hate on LVG doesn’t change that. Focusing hate on Rooney, Fellaini, Memphis et al. doesn’t do anything apart from erode what little confidence that they have left. Continuous hate on the Glazers could possibly lead to them giving in to more serious involvement to the footballing side of the football club.

United fans show their feelings toward the Glazers (Source: BBC.co.uk)
United fans show their feelings toward the Glazers (Source: BBC.co.uk)

Running a club is not rocket science, if you allocate the right amount of funds to the right sections of the club we can easily regain our place at the zenith of football. There is so much money in football that I see it as impossible for us not to return to dominance and line the Glazers pockets at the same time. The Glazers are imperturbable because most fans don’t care and don’t know the real reason behind our decline which began as a club on March 2003, when Malcolm Glazer bought 2.9% of MUFC Plc. Since then he has done nothing except shackle the club while our competition takes to the skies. Remember Love United, Hate the Glazers.

– By Casey Baumer

Stoke City 2-0 Man United | Match report

Man United suffer their fourth consecutive defeat as they slump to a 2-0 loss away at Stoke City.

It was all Stoke in the first half as they dominated possession and played with intent, continuously playing the ball into the forwards and putting Man United on the back foot.

Stoke’s Bojan opened the scoring in the 19th minute after a poor back pass from Memphis fell to Glen Johnson. The former Liverpool right back pulled a cross back to Bojan near the penalty spot who slotted the ball past David de Gea.

The Potters doubled their lead just 7 minutes later. A Bojan free kick was deflected by the Man United wall and the loose ball fell to Arnautovic who drilled the ball into the United goal from outside the box.

In the 36th minute, Arnautovic had a golden chance to put Stoke 3-0 up when he found himself one-on-one with David de Gea but he dragged his shot just wide of the post.

The half time break saw the introduction of Man United’s Wayne Rooney. The substitution seemed to lift United and give them a little more bite but they could only manage one real goal scoring opportunity.

In the 64th minute, Fellaini had a chance to pull a goal back for the visitors. From the right hand side of the Stoke box, Wayne Rooney hit a ball across the 6 yard box which fell to the Belgian’s feet. With only the keeper to beat, his first time shot was too weak and Jack Butland was able to get down and gather the ball easily.

United manager Louis van Gaal cannot watch as his team are beaten 2-0 by Stoke (Source: The Guardian)
United manager Louis van Gaal cannot watch as his team are beaten 2-0 by Stoke (Source: The Guardian)

Man United are now without a win in 5 Premier League games and the loss against Stoke means that the red devils slip down to 6th in the league. They could end the day in 7th if Watford win away at Chelsea this afternoon.

Man United slip to 6th in the Premier League (Source: BBC Football)
Man United slip to 6th in the Premier League (Source: BBC Football)

What did you think about the game? Did the players give all they had to relieve the pressure on Louis van Gaal? Were Stoke simply too good? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments sections below.

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

Stoke City Team Sheet

01 Butland
08 Johnson
17 Shawcross
26 Wollscheid
03 Pieters
20 Cameron (Adam – 75′)
06 Whelan (Van Ginkel – 45′)
22 Shaqiri (Diouf – 65′)
14 Afellay
10 Arnautovic
27 Krkic

Substitutes

11 Joselu
12 Wilson
15 Van Ginkel
16 Adam
18 Diouf
19 Walters
29 Haugaard

Man United Team Sheet

01 de Gea
18 Young
04 Jones
12 Smalling
17 Blind
16 Carrick
21 Herrera (Pereira – 82′)
08 Mata
27 Fellaini
07 Depay (Rooney – 45′)
09 Martial

Substitutes

10 Rooney
20 Romero
28 Schneiderlin
30 Varela
33 McNair
43 Borthwick-Jackson
44 Pereira

Louis van Gaal bows to player pressure

Louis van Gaal bows to player pressure in a bid to save his job as Man United manager.

At the start of this week a meeting was held between United boss, Louis van Gaal and senior players such as club captain Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Chris Smalling and Juan Mata.

Although the boss still has the full support of his players, he has realised that a change is desperately needed after a string of poor performances and results have led to him being in danger of losing his job.

In an attempt to turn things around, Louis van Gaal had allowed the players to set their own Christmas training schedule. Instead of the players attending the Carrington training base between 1pm and 5pm as planned, the players trained in the morning and spent the afternoon with their families.

Strict meal conditions and meal times have also been relaxed, allowing players to sit where they like and eat at times that suit them.

It is also understood that the players are not about to throw the towel in against Stoke in a bid to have the manager sacked, something we have seen recently at Chelsea. The players are thought to be impressed with the way van Gaal has handled himself amidst all the talk in the media regarding his future.

The players were also impressed with van Gaal’s Christmas speech and admired his decision to leave the pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

It’s a different story with the fans though with the majority not happy with the manager and desperately seeking a replacement.

If you would like to read the full article, please visit the Daily Mail website here.

It’s all good relaxing a few rules at the training ground to raise a little morale, but will these changes have any affect on how the players perform on the pitch? After all, it is on the pitch that games are won and points obtained. We would love to hear what you think. Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Van Gaal is a Dead Man Walking

Van Gaal is a Dead Man Walking

Amongst the boos and jeers at Old Trafford following the shambolic defeat to Norwich, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. This was the day that Louis van Gaal lost the majority of supporters who are still baffled as to what his famous “philosophy” actually is.

The body language the Dutchman displayed as he made his exit from the pitch suggests he knows he’s a dead man walking.

To grant him more time to turn things around would be ludicrous, simply because there have been no signs of a big improvement since the days that David Moyes was sat at the helm with his Manchester United mouse mat, and he didn’t spend £250m.

Out of the top 4, out of the Champions League, out of the Capital One cup, why continue to let the rot set in? It makes no sense at all? Some climb above their high horse and claim he needs time?

Others say we’re not a sacking club and point to the time it took for Sir Alex to turn things around. The wonky nosed Dutchman is halfway through a 3 year contract that he has no intention of extending, thankfully! So why back him financially again when he’ll be gone after next season?

Some spout about us requiring a manager with longevity, someone to build a dynasty, basically, another Sir Alex Ferguson. Stop living in the past, football has changed. All the top European sides change their manager to freshen up the ideas of team. We were lucky that we had a manager who spoilt us for 26 years. Ultimately it’s a results industry, and if you’re not succeeding, you’re gone, that’s just the nature of the beast that is modern day football.

Louis van Gaal’s is a dinosaur, his methods and brand of football is outdated, he has failed miserably at Old Trafford after blowing £250m on new recruits. No other manager would get away with this in top flight football.

The timing of this disastrous and embarrassing run of results couldn’t have come at a better time, following the Russian crooks decision to hand Jose Mourinho his P45. Mourinho has already stated he has no intention of taking a break from football, a wounded Jose could be just the tonic.

Mourinho’s obsession with Old Trafford could be the key. The fact he would bring confidence, an ego, and a CV showing he wins trophies makes it a match made in heaven.

Questions will be asked about his failure to promote youth from within, but you get the impression that given the job, he’d adapt to this, he’d know what the club and supporters would expect of him and I believe he would respect and honour this tradition.

He could be the closest thing to Sir Alex Ferguson, the way he deals with the press, that “it’s us against the world” mentality, that ability to piss off every other rival manager and get under their skin. Mourinho would make us hated again, but never ignored.

A criticism of Lois van Gaal has been his inability to get off his arse during games, he doesn’t lead the team from the sidelines or bark instructions, you’d get the complete opposite with Mourinho. I recall the time he put his finger to his lips against Liverpool celebrating a goal that Chelsea had scored, what’s not to like about that kind of carry on?

Stick with Louis van Gaal and run the risk of finishing outside the top 4? No thanks. Appoint Mourinho and with the players actually playing for him and willing to impress, we could get ourselves back into a title charge. That’s the Mourinho effect, he would relish the job and the supporters would take to him. Rival fans see him as a bit of a twat, but he’d be our twat.

@KevinAshford7

Man United 1-2 Norwich | Match report

Man United slip out of top four after suffering second consecutive league defeat at the hands of Norwich City.

Despite a positive start from Man United, controlling the game, attacking; they were once again unable to come away with three points thanks to goals from Norwich’s Cameron Jerome and Alex Tettey, either side of the break.

The first goal came in the 37th minute following a Norwich counter attack. Jerome shook off advances from Michael Carrick in the United box and fired home past David de Gea to put the Canaries 1-0 up.

Shortly after the break, following a mix-up in the United midfield, Tettey doubled the visitor’s lead after driving the ball into the bottom left corner leaving David de Gea stood rooted to the ground.

Alex Tettey strikes to double the visitors lead against Man United (Source: Mirror)
Alex Tettey strikes to double the visitors lead against Man United (Source: Mirror)

Man United fought back and found their way back into the game on the 65th minute when an Ashley Young cross fell to Anthony Martial in the box. The French international battled past two Norwich defenders to power the ball into the roof of the net. But the goal wasn’t enough to inspire Man United to stage a fantastic come back.

During the first half, United had several attempts at taking the lead. However, none of them really caused Norwich any problems.

Captain Wayne Rooney did, however, have a goal disallowed in the 9th minute due to the flag being raised signalling that Fellaini, who played the ball to Rooney, was offside.

In the 23rd minute, Rooney played a one-two with Juan Mata and on the return pass the Man United veteran fired a shot at the Norwich goal but it was deflected out for a corner.

Anthony Martial pulls one back for Man United (Source: Mirror)
Anthony Martial pulls one back for Man United (Source: Mirror)

Late on in the second half both teams had chances to score. Man United could have equalised in the 78th minute if not for a Mata free kick being saved by Rudd and in the 83rd minute Norwich had a shot at goal bringing a save out of de Gea who was at full stretch.

Man United have now only won two out of their last eight league games allowing the teams above them to pull away and teams below to catch up.

These are worrying times not just for the fans but also for the club. If thing’s don’t improve, Man United may not only miss out on a title challenge, but also on a top four Champions League spot.

The loss means that Man United slip down to fifth with Tottenham Hotspur moving up into fourth.

Man United drop to 5th after loss at home to Norwich (Source: BBC Football)
Man United drop to 5th after loss at home to Norwich (Source: BBC Football)

What did you think of the game? Do you feel it’s time for the manager to move on? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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

Man United Team Sheet

01 de Gea
18 Young
04 Jones
12 Smalling
17 Blind
16 Carrick
27 Fellaini (Herrera – 60′)
09 Martial
08 Mata
07 Depay
10 Rooney

Substitutes

20 Romero
21 Herrera
28 Schneiderlin
30 Varela
33 McNair
43 Borthwick-Jackson
44 Pereira

Norwich City Team Sheet

13 Rudd
05 Martin
24 R Bennett
06 Bassong
23 Olsson
28 O’Neil (Mulumbu – 82′)
27 Tettey
22 Redmond
14 Hoolahan (Howson – 66′)
12 Brady
10 Jerome (Mbokani Bezua – 82′)

Substitutes

01 Ruddy
02 Whittaker
08 Howson
09 Mbokani Bezua
18 Dorrans
21 Mulumbu
32 Odjidja-Ofoe