Soccer is a brutal game. You can play your best, have a dominating performance and come out the wrong side of a 1-0 result. This was the fate of Manchester United this past weekend and Van Gaal did not hold back his frustration in the post-game interview below.
Proud and frustrated is a tough way to win the league but United look poised to secure a Champions League spot, something we would not have been talking about around Christmas time.
It is one thing to lose your first league home opener in the past 42 years.
Just in case you forgot some of the fun:
It’s another to draw your next game in an inglorious fashion.
It is completely different and borderline unacceptable for a team as “mighty” as Manchester United to get played off the park by a League One team. MK Dons taught Manchester United a lesson. In front of a sold out home crowd of 29,000+ the Dons found a 4-0 win against a Manchester United side that looked eerily mediocre and stoic. You can argue that United played a bunch of young players that were incapable of handling the pressure or the task at hand. You can argue that the new system is taking longer than expected to shine through. The best argument is that United just were not good enough. They looked lifeless, as if MK Dons was the team with massive reputation and payroll. Sometimes it is easy to be the underdog; there is no pressure or expectations and any success is a lucky benefit. This time, MK Dons, whose total payroll of 235,000 euros (Rooney is on 500,000/week) found a result and a dominant one at that!
So the question becomes, is this humiliating enough? Or is United destined for greater shortcomings before they return to greatness. You look at the transfers in this summer and it seems that the defensive posture needed in Van Gaal’s system has largely been forgotten. Herrera and Di Maria are the biggest signings of the summer but offer no solidarity to a defense that couldn’t stop my U12 team from getting chances. We must wonder what is going on in Manchester? Three in the back requires some incredible athleticism and excellent 1 v 1 defending. Does Manchester United have that back there? No. And the club continues to pursue attacking options and that would be fine if United scored four goals a game. Alas, the struggles are on both ends and the signs of improvement and progress are limited at best.
All is not lost though. The next three fixtures for United are quite favorable with the likes of Burnley, QPR and Leicester City on the docket. It is almost like the league knew United would need to be bailed out from its struggles so it could once again compete for something. If United get 7 points out of these three games, this could be an early turning point in the season to hopefully instill a bit of confidence in the group. It does not matter that two of these games are on the road. If you are Manchester United, you need results and you need them now. I am not a Manchester United fanboy but I do appreciate when the big clubs stick to a system and find a way to success, so I hope, and I know all Manchester United fans hope, that Van Gaal and company figure themselves out sooner rather than later. It would be some travesty to see one of the biggest clubs in the world find itself in the Championship division next year!