That scoreline has become quite a familiar one after Manchester labored to yet another scoreless draw against West Ham. At first fans touted the barren as a simple symptom of a transition period led by Van Gaal. They believed that performances would change sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately for them, the Red Devils approach the new year struggling to find the net. And now a vast portion of fans have become restless, frustrated by their club’s lethargic play. So how do United fix this mess? Well, the first step is to recognize what is the primary cause of these results. Many have pointed to misfiring club captain Wayne Rooney but there is a much larger problem and it involves Louis van Gaal.
An ideal Van Gaal template is just that, a template. The ex. Netherlands boss expects various players to perform clearly defined roles in his team. Having such rigid regulations only works when there is a complete squad. Unfortunately for Louis, he doesn’t have that. Apart from the the back line, United fall short in almost every other position. Their midfield ranks are made up of technical but slow holding midfielders with Ander Herrera being the only energetic one. Further forward Rooney has failed to recapture his best form and teenager Anthony Martial has faded after a sparkling first few weeks.
Van Gaal has also instilled a possession based style of play and while it does suffocate the opposition, United struggle to score from it. Possession football has been used in some fairly exciting sides over the years, but there is one key difference between those sides and Manchester United. That key difference involves where possession is held on the field.
There was a passage of play in the Red Devil’s resounding loss to Arsenal indicative of the season as a whole. Daley Blind receives a pass from David de Gea as United proceed to play the ball around their backline. It is important to note how the ball never escapes past the halfway line. In turn, the forwards Rooney and Martial are incredibly isolated up top. Eventually Arsenal pressure Matteo Darmian into aimlessly launching the ball forward for Martial to chase. There really is no purpose of keeping possession when the end product is a meaningless long ball.
Yes, individual players like Rooney haven’t performed. But the problem does not involve a single player. Instead it involves the very philosophy that Manchester United now revolve around. And that is truly frightening for the United faithful.