6 home matches. 3 goals. No wonder the boos continue to ring round Old Trafford. Manchester United fans are not used to seeing goalless draws, with their side having just one shot on target. Since his arrival at the club, Louis van Gaal has constantly said he needs time to enforce his “philosophy”. Over a year later, we’re still not quite sure what that philosophy is. His style of football hasn’t bought joy to the Old Trafford faithful, and it hasn’t seen consistently convincing performances on the pitch. The Dutchman isn’t the right man to bring the glory days back to the Theatre of Dreams.
This season, Man Utd have become known as the Premier League’s most boring team. Van Gaal’s system is based too heavily on a pair of defensive midfielders, whose job it is to ‘start attacks’; if that’s what you can call it. This often involves playing countless sideways passes that often lead to little. Only games involving Stoke in the Premier League this season have seen fewer goals than in games involving Man Utd. However good their defence has been, you can’t win titles if you don’t score enough goals. 0-0 draws with Middlesbrough and PSV saw Utd exit the League Cup and leaving them with a tough task of beating Wolfsburg to stay in the Champions League.
The blame for Man Utd’s struggles cannot be placed solely on Van Gaal. Too many of his so-called top players simply haven’t performed. In the summer, he spent over £60m on the ‘next Thierry Henry’ and the ‘next Cristiano Ronaldo’. Instead, we have seen the ‘next Federico Macheda’ and the ‘next Gabriel Obertan’. Anthony Martial started his career in Manchester so well with goals against Liverpool and Southampton, but has simply gone missing since then. The same cannot be said about Memphis Depay, who it appears never turned up at Manchester United in the first place so there wasn’t really anyone to go missing. For £30m, you would have expected much more input from Depay.
Then there’s the small matter of Wayne Rooney. For someone who you pay £300,000-a-week to, you’d imagine you’d get a player who led the team during its toughest moments and inspires them. Rooney no longer seems to have the heart for Man Utd. His involvement during games has fallen. His assists have fallen. His goals have fallen. Despite this, Van Gaal insists on starting him whenever fit. Rooney no longer has the capability to play for a team with the standard of Man Utd.
Van Gaal’s stubbornness when it comes to style and team selection will only see Man Utd slide further into the gutter. A replacement of manager will see Man Utd play faster and more exciting football, which with the quality they possess, will undoubtedly see their results improve as well.