Give Van Gaal a break-Kris Voakes
It wasn’t the defeat that would surely have booked Louis van Gaal’s ticket out of Old Trafford, but nor was it the victory that would have instilled hope back into his stumbling squad.
Instead, Manchester United’s latest 0-0 draw against Chelsea was a shining example of the problems any manager would face at the Theatre of Dreams right now.
A run of four straight losses as part of a seven-game losing streak had left Van Gaal admitting he could leave the club before Ed Woodward and the United board had the chance to sack him, and he was clearly desperate for three points on Monday with a host of attacking changes throwing Chelsea onto the back foot early on.
But after an explosive start which saw both Juan Mata and Anthony Martial strike efforts against the woodwork and Wayne Rooney test Thibaut Courtois from distance, United reproduced some of the football in the final third which has become a staple of their season.
Far from going on to hammer Chelsea as they could have done, United instead delivered all the reasons why they have struggled this term. Ander Herrera and Wayne Rooney both missed glorious chances to open the scoring, while some of the crossing – particularly from Ashley Young on the right – left a great deal to be desired.
This was the match in which the players were supposed to be showing how much they were playing for their manager. And while those opening 30 minutes had suggested they had the heart required, the sheer fact of the matter was that they just didn’t have the quality.
Rooney has for some time been a shadow of the once-great striker we remember, while there remains a general lack of belief in United’s forwards. They simply haven’t been good enough all season and that doesn’t look like changing any time soon. With each passing game comes a new statistic recording fresh depths to which United have plumbed in front of goal.
Whoever leads United into the clash with Swansea City here on Saturday has a hell of a lot of work on. Whether much of that comes on the training pitch or, perhaps more favourably, in the January transfer market, they clearly need changes to be made regardless of the managerial situation they find themselves in.
For once, nobody can point the finger squarely at Van Gaal for this failure.[Goal]