Stoke City 2 Man United 0, December 26th: Reality bites, how do you make United better?

December 27, 2015

United haven’t lost four in a row since 1961 therefore this is an ‘official’ crisis. So what can be done? 

  • A knee jerk firing of Van Gaal?
  • Van Gaal beats the board to the punch and resigns?
  • United stick with their manager and give him to the end of the season at least to try and sort it out. 

It’s a very tough call given the amount of criticism but if it’s me I stick. There’s a whiff of player power these days at United and there’s no doubt Van Gaal has had to back off his tough approach to lengthy team meetings, stultifying attention to detail and discipline. Yet the players didn’t respond yesterday to any change in his approach. 

Again there was no spirit or leadership until Rooney appeared and charged around yelling at the ref, made a few tackles and set up Fellaini for United’s best chance. Even in a poor display you want players who are obviously trying to make something happen, who take responsibility and try. Rooney did. The others? 

Memphis DePay? Absolute waste of money.

The senior players? Carrick, Smalling, Fellaini, Mata? Blind, Jones, Young, Herrera? Not enough leadership or contribution. Individually Carrick has been a great player. Smalling is a good as good as anyone in the Premiere League this season. Blind is under rated and technically a very good footballer. Fellaini needs to release his inner wild man. Mata is another very good footballer but he needs runners in front of him. Herrera is busy and often positive. But again has no runner to hit. 

That leaves Martial and De Gea. Martial is still learning, De Gea is under siege. 

Schneiderlin has missed the last few games and coincidence or not the defence is not the same without his bite and screen. 

Then there are the injuries. Shaw, Valencia, Darmian and Rojo. Is there a leader or a team bully there? Other than Rooney and the suspended Schweinsteiger I don’t think so. All good teams have leaders and United are missing a couple. Players need to step up. 

Collectively this is not a team. Where is the drive and passion? 

Who takes responsibility for this situation. Van Gaal and his selections, tactics and use of the 250 million? The players? Would a new manager turn the group into a more cohesive force?  

In the end surely you have to stick with a manager who has managed the best and won? Van Gaal bought and rebuilt the current squad. However bad it is, and it is bad, shouldn’t he and the players be given the opportunity to dig themselves out of the hole? If only because it’s got to the stage where bringing in anyone else who can make a difference either manager or players is going to be very hard. 

These are hard days. Every game is now a must win if Europe and better recruits in the summer are to be realized. Chelsea are without Costa on Monday and are another team in crisis. Now is the time for United’s players to step up.