Archives For Matteo Darmian

louis-van-gaalWhere do we start? Worst performance of the season?  The boos? Champions League receding? Injuries?  Or the alleged Mourinho begging for a job letter?

Let’s begin with the squad and the lack of depth and quality players. Even with all the injuries there should be better players available.

Eleven new players have arrived in Van Gaal’s era. Everyone keeps talking about the enormity of the estimated 250 million pound spend, but keep in mind how much Chelsea, Barcelona, Real, Bayern and City also spent in the past few years. What matters is is how the money is used, and that maybe Van Gaal’s undoing.

As my friend John says:

In the end LVG, like all managers is judged on two things. Results obviously, but also signs that a team is improving. I think it is the second which will ultimately condemn him, since the eleven signings made on his watch have not improved the team.
He’s been unlucky with Shaw. Of the rest,  Blind is good value and arguably the best buy, Martial is a talent; Schweinsteiger provides leadership; Schneiderlin is solid; Depay is dreadful; Rojo injury prone; Herrera flatters to deceive; the jury is out on Darmian; Romero is a bench warmer; and Falcao and Di Maria were complete failures.
How many of the current team would get into the current Arsenal, City, Tottenham or Leicester starting line ups? De Gea and Smalling definitely. Rooney and Schneiderlin probably.
Yesterday United were beaten by a goal from a 4 million pound centre forward, yet Martial and Depay collectively cost around 60 million pounds. In a collective team performance lacking every traditional club value United ended the match with four teenagers on the pitch, Januzaj preferred before Depay as a sub and boos cascading from the stands. Van Gaal isn’t helped by inheriting a youth policy which in the past 20 years has delivered only one star, Paul Pogba, who, of course, in an ultimate irony for one of the world’s richest clubs, left for Juventus after an argument over wages.
The supporter’s anguish is perfectly summed up today in an open letter to the Glazers from the ManchesterLalaLa blog.

You are obviously intelligent, highly successful businessmen, but having been a United fan for 60 years, just like my father before me and his father before him, I have never seen such a clueless pair effectively in charge of this sporting empire.

I completely understand that Woodward is a star in your eyes on the commercial front, and that’s obviously where he belongs. But thanks to Woodward and Van Gaal, the football side has descended into farce, and if this continues, the damage to the brand will be disastrous. The core values at United are winning and doing it with style – something United are a million miles away from at this point in time.

This week Columbia Sportswear was added to the money roll as yet another sponsor. But what good is a worldwide brand if the team at its heart doesn’t perform? You can only market the past for so long.
Meanwhile it’s reported that Jose Mourinho has written a 6 page letter to the board outlining his credentials, and explaining why he should be immediately appointed as manager. Jorge Mendes, Mourinho’s agent and friend of Ed Woodward, rejected the report as “ridiculous and absurd”. I hope so because unless you believe in winning at all costs Mourinho’s practical approach and theatrical temperament is not right for United.
After the match Van Gaal acknowledged the supporters’ right to boo. You have to admire him for that. If only the Glazers would do the same.
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A win is a win in a Champions League where British clubs are finding the going difficult. Ask Arsenal and Chelsea. All in all a resilient performance against a wMata-Man-Utd-goals-356760ell organized and competent Wolfsburg team.  Mata with a penalty and wonderful assist for Smalling’s goal, Martial, Smalling, Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin and Darmian were all excellent.

Yet for me the most positive sign in recent weeks is the team spirit. Van Gaal acknowledged this in his post match comments, while also being underwhelmed by the overall performance.  There is no doubt Van Gaal is the team’s toughest critic. He sets the standard high, and tells it like it is.

“We have given a lot in the first half to get back in the game and maybe it was also because of the accumulation of matches in the last weeks but I cannot understand how we can give the ball away so easily.

“We have to keep our feet on the ground and we have to improve a lot to be the top of Europe. We have beaten Wolfsburg and I am very happy about that. The players are also very happy but we have to improve and we have to know that. So I have said that to the players. That is why we are here, to improve ourselves so we win every game. Today we have won this game but it could have been done in a better way. We were suffering in the end. A lot of players are very tired because of the accumulation of matches. But I think the team spirit kept us in the match.”

The players did look leggy at the end and now there is that season defining month ahead. Starting with Arsenal on Sunday the team’s fitness, character, depth, talent and togetherness will all be tested. Maybe it’s time to accept Bastian Schweinsteiger’s invitation for some well deserved r and r at the Munich Beer Festival?

This is the one

Arsenal, CSK Moscow, Everton, City, Palace, no problem. it’s a regular social event for Bayern Munich’s players and staff. Beer and footballers, what could go wrong with that? Cheers Louis.

Beer for Van Gaal

Solid victory over Ipswich. Pereira a boost. Schweinsteiger’s influence grows by the game. Now for Sunderland at home on Saturday.

Due to the long term loss of Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo’s short term hamstring knicknack and Paddy McNair’s injury, Van Gaal must reorganize again at the back. Every team has to cope with injuries but Phil Jones is back in contention and there are other defensive combinations available.

Darmian can play left back. So can Young.

Saturday could see

Valencia/Jones-Smalling-Blind-Young/Darmian

or

Darmian-Smalling-Blind-Young

I keep Smalling and Blind together. As argued previously Blind complements Smalling and makes him more effective. Blind’s technique, defensive smarts and ability to pass the ball are a very valuable package. It’s fullback where he has to make decisions.

Sunderland are a poor team, so further up the field is this the opportunity to give Pereira a further test. Who knows maybe Van Gaal even has plans for James Wilson?

There’s a lot that can go wrong for City at Tottenham on Saturday, and a draw in the Arsenal Leicester game would also benefit United.  It’s after Saturday when it gets much, much tougher. For me October defines the season.

BBC Sport Football Manchester United Fixtures

The Champions League fixtures are must win. Twelve league points are available from away games at Arsenal, Everton and Palace and of course City at home. It’s a serious test for the squad and the club’s ambition. Emerge out of October flying and who knows what may happen.