When Manchester United next take to the field against Liverpool on Sept. 12, the competitive season will be 5 weeks, or 34 days old. ...
When Manchester United next take to the field against Liverpool on Sept. 12, the competitive season will be 5 weeks, or 34 days old.
United will have played 6 games by that point. By the same stage last season, United had played 4; that’s 50 more games than last season. Maths professors are welcome to work out a more accurate figure (never liked maths and was never good at it anyway)
United are back in the champions league no thanks to Club Brugge and their poor showing over both legs of the qualifier.
Not much has changed at united despite an emphatic return to European competition, and if the result at the weekend is anything to go by then their win over Belgian side was a smoke screen.
The latest of lows came in Sunday’s loss to Swansea a team whose transition from lower league football to top flight has been in continuous ascendancy. A lot went into the build up to the fixture with many key battles already pointed out most notably Montero v Darmian, Gomis v Daley Blind.
Montero didn't make the match day squad as a result of an injury he picked up before the game. Daley blind coped with Gomis fairly well but was nowhere near the Swansea forward when it ultimately mattered the most.
For the United faithful’s, this summer's transfer activity has proven the only source of excitement and optimism. The end of last season saw a rapid acquisition of Memphis Depay followed by an early summer purchase of Matteo Darmian, Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin in the space of 72 hours.
For the supporters, the feeling was orgasmic the excitement levels reach an all-time high albeit in the post Ferguson era.
But that's just about where the frenzy ends, the supporters had hoped for more arrivals only to be frustrated at the sight of key targets ending up elsewhere.
The trust Ed Woodward had somehow managed to gain evaporated and once more the fans where calling for his head, the status quo has not been helped either by David de Gea's proposed move to Real Madrid, a summer episode that turned out to be the biggest transfer saga yet in United and Madrid history.
The last piece of transfer business (in and out) was to be the signing of a forward Anthony Martial, a 19 year old from Monaco in the region of £36 million making him the most expensive teenager in football history.
Albeit his arrival was greeted with no real fanfare, even club captain Wayne Rooney had to make verbal inquiries as to who martial was.
Over the years, fans are known to support their managers and players alike whether the circumstances are favorable vice versa,but on this occasion the arrival of Anthony Martial was not enough to raise the levels of optimism.
It is common knowledge that Martial doesn't arrive with a bigger reputation than his deadline day predecessors (Radamel Falcao or Angel Di Maria) and if the success of the duo under LVG is anything to go buy martial is in for a trying time.
'It is difficult to adapt to Van Gaal. I had a couple of rows with him.'
Van Gaal has his philosophy and one of the things that made me want to leave is that'. – Words from Angel Di Maria
The Argentine has been widely criticized for bottling and not willing to fight which in some quarters holds water, however football players will only knuckle down for something they believe in, nobody enjoys being tagged a flop or a failure, a fact people have failed to come to terms with.
The list is endless for great players who fell out with the Dutch tactician and one has to ask just how much longer can the supporters take to his side of the fight.
‘Whether we can win the title [in the next two seasons] is dependable if we can buy players with speed and creativity.
‘You shall always be compared with other clubs. Barcelona without Neymar and Messi, their speed and creativity, they have Pedro behind. Bayern Munich: Ribery and Robben. After that they can change with Muller and they also had Shaqiri [now at Inter Milan] at other times.
'Chelsea have Hazard, Willian, Oscar — that is speed and creativity. [Ashley] Young had a great season. [Juan] Mata also. But they don’t have the speed of Hazard or Robben. We have to improve our selection in that way.’ - Louis Van Gaal.
It would be important to note that before the signing Di Maria, Van Gaal did make a similar comment. ADM came and left after one season.
Sometimes you wonder if his predecessor David Moyes would have been allowed to get away with not getting the best of one of the most exciting players on the planet, a player united broke the British transfer record for.
LVG can groan all he wants about players with speed and creativity, however on getting them these creative players must be allowed the room to express themselves without thinking “what would LVG rather have me do".
A quick look into the Dutchman’s current group, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera are players blessed with an abundance of creativity and it would be unfair to say Oscar and Willian are miles ahead of the Spaniards in that regard.
So what exactly makes them flourish under Jose Mourinho? a one-time protégé of the tactician. The trio of Eden hazard, Willian and Oscar, now Pedro are allowed to dovetail off each other whilst still carrying out their defensive duties and staying within the tactical setup of the team.
We know he spends a lot of time on the training pitches drilling movement and shape into his teams; but of what use are double training sessions if players and fans are not ripping the dividends?
Sunday's lose at Swansea was the latest example of how teams have mastered the art of defending against Van Gaal's side while also finding a moment of brilliance to win the game.
Memphis - a player that possess "speed and creativity" spent 90 mins of game on the left side of the field; Juan Mata barely went past the center and his statutory right sided role; Hererra got overly caught up in trying to carry out his manager's philosophy by sticking rigidly to the number 10 role.
The resulting effect meant Swansea knew where each player would be at every given time as each Swansea defender never had to worry about being drawn out of position as a result of Red’s player movement.
Luke Shaw and Memphis have formed a great understanding off the pitch, one would've thought that their off field alliances will give way to some form of telepathy on the pitch, unfortunately this hasn't been the case.
The Dutchman doesn't play to the strength of his team, he has potent width in Shaw and Depay but fails to utilize them, for all the pace Shaw possess he should be ghosting past defenders with a simple reverse pass from Depay.
A constant feature of SAF's 2006 - 2011 was Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrice Evra combining to devastating effect on the left side of the pitch.
Paul Scholes was often found pinging balls to chest of Evra who would more often than not thrust forward without fear of being caught out; of course his speed and stamina ensured that he got up and down the pitch just in time to carry out his defensive duties. It would be important to note that Shaw is twice as pacey as Evra was.
Unfortunately with Shaw all that pace is canned and restricted. Sighs
Since joining in 2013, making 70 appearances for Monaco Martial has scored just a handful of goals, 15 he has managed, which suggests he is yet to master the art of goal scoring more so on a frequent basis.
This leaves you with the question 'what exactly is he good at'. Martial is a pacey type player with loads of tenacity and thrust going forward, plus he has a real impact when in top gear.
Martial can play across any position in attack which would suggest that at different spells in a match his natural preference would be to roam across the forward line.
The downside to all of this is that like those before him, Angel di maria and Depay whom of course is still a work in progress, Lvg doesn't really appreciate players running with the ball or not sticking rigidly to their positions, therein lies a huge problem as he would have to, like his fellow creative teammates play with the hand breaks constantly on.
Martial is an exciting young player and "should" be given time to blossom and adapt to his new surroundings but if history is anything to go by, players with huge price tags, and even more so the ones that come in on deadline day with the tag "panic buys" are never given the time to do so. How much more, the most expensive teenager in football history.
The writer if this article Yubby Nduonofit is a manutd correspondent on sportive23.net and founder of the Counter Attack desk. Follow @YubbyThePundit