We’ve seen glimpses of attacking football this season, notably against Newcastle, Chelsea and Wolfsburg. Not only does this invigorate the fans but it also gives the players a genuine reason to commit and show the fans that they care. The lackadaisical passing football we see week in week out often to fruitless, forgettable results… Even Louis Van Gaal is getting bored of it.
Against Newcastle our best chances came when we distributed the ball quickly and charged into the oppositions half – not when we were trying to play tiki taka with Marouane Fellaini.
The likes of Ander Herrera have the ability to spread Scholes-esque balls across the pitch, and the likes of Memphis Depay have the ability to make darting runs into the box. And arguably, Wayne Rooney still has the ability to put chances away… So what’s the problem?
There was a brief period of time when Fellaini was our only real outlet, the go-to player that we knew would test other teams. That was last season. Since then, we’ve added players to ranks that can replace Fellaini as a barbaric midfielder (Bastian Schweinsteiger!) & also as an outlet up front (Tony Martial)
Against Newcastle however, Fellaini’s incompetence was on display, he: Assisted the other team, missed a sitter, wasn’t strong in his tackles, constantly lost the ball and was a liability with his reckless challenges.
Honestly. He is not good enough.
Rooney is no longer the pitbull terrier that he once was; terrorising defences with his tenacity and running rampant around the pitch.
He’s developed a sense of calamity in his football. He doesn’t scream, he dictates play. He doesn’t run rampant, he picks his position wisely. He doesn’t go at it himself, he brings other into play. In the fixture against Newcastle we saw Wayne’s ability to run the show, we saw the ‘new’ Wayne Rooney
Too many times this season we’ve had started line ups with players playing in foreign positions. Positions they’ve had to grow into for the greater good of the team. But against Newcastle and many other teams this season there have been times when the Manchester United have lacked fluidity and instinct. Players often get caught out and or just don’t know what to do; often looking around… Searching for Eric. And this may largely be because we’re playing our players out of position. Players are in places they’re not accustomed to, places that they can’t play their natural football.
Take for example, Anthony Martial. He’s played as a striker, left winger and right winger. Firstly, the amount of game time he gets is brilliant. However, the fact that he plays a different position almost every week will hinder his development and understanding of the game. Ander Herrera, is another. Arguably, Ander’s best performances have come when he’s played in a two man midfield role where he can dictate and have a real impact on play… Not when he’s playing a Luka Modric-type position behind the striker.
And don’t even get me started on Mata
Many fans would’ve left the Newcastle match feeling disappointed that we didn’t grab the win. And there’ll also be some fans that will say we’re fortunate to concede a few more goals, either way, we rode our luck!
Man United have shown that they can’t run rampant against anyone, even bottom league Newcastle. And that’s not what we want when we’re trying to secure our place in the top four. So we’ll have to hope we can rekindle the brief run of winning form we touched upon last season, or just grind out 1-0 wins 13/14 Chelsea style. Either way, with the lack of intent the squad currently has, we can only hope some good fortune comes our way.
By Tyler Owusu