What we can learn from Manchester United vs. Chelsea
In the English Premier League, there are certain games that bring about the pride, passion, and exuberance that make the beautiful game of soccer. Some steam from a deep history within the clubs, such as Manchester United versus Liverpool, while other steam from the legacy of the name. For those games, it is a special moment for the fans. It becomes an act of war where clubs fight not just for the three-points, but also for the glory and bragging rights for the win. Of those games, Manchester United and Chelsea will always be one of them.
After Sunday’s game, it is hard to dignify the vision and tactics that Van Gaal is producing for Old Trafford. In my own personal opinion, the project itself has been a complete and utter failure. Some people thing this is too critical because of the huge shadow that looms over his head since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure. But when it comes to Manchester United that is what is expected.
For years, the club has built up a status for all of their games as the most venerable institution for the Saturday and Sunday events. With high profile players, big money signings, and the history and glory of that of Manchester United, it is hard to see this team underperform week-after-week. But that is what is happening. Yes, Louis van Gaal brings much to the table with his experience and resume within the game. But when it comes to dignity and responsibility, it seems like the former Dutch manager is always pointing the finger at someone else.
But let’s move away from opinion and direct it more towards what we have seen on a fan basis. Since his crowning at Old Trafford, Van Gaal came to England with a reputation for being formidable, eccentric, and a tough disciplinarian. While we have seen that in his past clubs and on a national level, the manager’s self-image seems to be a mere shadow of the Van Gaal resume. Both on and off the pitch, Van Gaal seems to be a parody of a manager than the leader for the Red Devils. His lack of energy and lack confidence, especially with the press, has been questionable and frankly, down right embarrassing. But no matter what happens, he always goes back to his methods and tactics as the new United coach.
While those tactics may work for other teams, it does not seem to be working for United. For years, Manchester United has always been an attacking team. While he didn’t quite accept it at the start, his new summer buys showed signs of hope of where United should be. But for the Manchester United versus Chelsea game, we as fans have once again been disappointed by the results.
Throughout that Sunday’s game, United played more of a midfield-defensive style than their usual attacking formation. Even with the best goalkeeper in the world, the amount of shots and pressure situations that he was in makes us questions what type of team we were watching. Clearly, this was not the Ferguson-warriors who took risk each and every minute. Instead, we saw the same old display of missed shots, slop defensive plays, and wasted mid-field passing. Yes, the players themselves have a lot of questions to answer, but at the end of the day the responsibility remains solely on the manager. To squander a goal-lead happens. But to see the lack of enthusiasm and fight from the team is just unacceptable. Chelsea outplayed us from the start. We simply lucked out during the game and allowed them to steal the three-points for us. While Manchester United was able to at least draw, the draw itself was just another blotch for the Red Devils run for a Champions League spot.
For me, and for the Red Devil fans, this is not the United way. We were once known as risk takers and finishers. Now, I don’t even know what we are. All I know is that there needs to be a change.