Are Manchester United About To Miss Out On Felipe Anderson To A Rival?

Felipe Anderson
Felipe Anderson
Is this the end of Felipe Anderson to Manchester United?

As reports gather pace that Manchester United are set to complete a deal to sign Aleksander Dragovic from Dynamo Kiev, could they be about to miss out on a potential superstar yet again.

Since last summer Manchester United have been linked to signing 22 year old Lazio winger Felipe Anderson. The latest reports suggested that United were preparing to put together a £40 million package to sign the dynamic winger after a reported bid of £37.6 million had been rejected.

But since the 3-3 draw at Newcastle, transfer speculation of Anderson to United appears to have gone quiet, with new reports suggesting that Manchester United might face late competition from Bayern Munich.

“Oh no, not again” some United supporters may be thinking. Going back to players like Thiago Alcantara, Lucas Moura and Pedro who were all but signed transfer targets United managed to let slip due to stalling on deals. While some supporters maybe worried about Bayern’s interest, others are not entirely sold on the idea of bringing Felipe Anderson to Old Trafford, considering the poor season he has had for Lazio so far, opting for proven Premier League quality in Saido Mane and Riyad Mahrez instead.

But surely you would think that a player Bayern Munich are interested in signing would be a fantastic signing for United? You can only look at recent signings Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal who have both been outstanding in their first season at the club. At only 22 years of age, Anderson possess all the attributes United need in an attacking forward. Frightening pace to beat a player, fantastic dribbling ability and can strike the ball with either foot. Why would United let him go anywhere else if they have the chance to sign him. More importantly, the player wants to join United.

Felipe Anderson: Brazilians vs van Gaal

Inconsistent performances? At such a young age it is normal to have inconsistency in his performances, but with all the attributes Anderson has, and his direct playing style, there is great potential to turn him into a future world class talent.

The question is can Luis van Gaal get the best out of the Brazilian winger? That remains to be seen. The last thing any United supporter would want to see is a similar situation with Angel Di Maria. Who took the Premier League by storm in the first half of last season. But due to struggles with his private life and no matter what reports suggest, the manager, Di Maria was shipped off to PSG at the first opportunity. The system van Gaal set up contributed to Di Maria’s struggle to find the early season form that got the fans off their seats.

Van Gaal’s dislike for Brazilian players? Another suggestion while the deal might have gone cold could be van Gaal’s “dislike” for Brazilian players, as suggested by Rivaldo, Giovanni and former United fan favourite Rafael. All whom have worked under van Gaal and had fallen out with the Dutchman while working under him.

Although Manchester United’s Brazilian youngster Andreas Pereira came out against these accusations earlier on in the season, his defence of van Gaal has done little to cement a regular place in the first team. Many will point to Pereira’s outstanding performances on the pre-season tour as reason to give him a deserved run in the team. But has had to settle for a place on the bench. The FA Cup 3rd Round match at home to Sheffeild United seemed like the perfect opportunity to play Pereira from the start, especially after his star performance for the under 21’s, scoring a brace, one directly from a corner. But van Gaal opted for Marouane Fellaini as part of two holding midfielders to many supporters bemusement.

If the transfer of Felipe Anderson to United ignites again, and given freedom to express himself. There is no doubt he would turn out to be a fantastic signing. With players like Martial, Memphis and Hererra in attack and an addition of a World Class striker, the glory days could be back again.

Aleksander Dragovic to Manchester United?

A Risk Worth Taking

After a tumultuous month of December many fans called for the sacking of Louis Van Gaal. Manchester United were on their longest winless streak (8 matches) since the early 1960’s. United went from first place (for a brief period after defeating Sunderland 3-0) in the table to a possible 10th place if they lose at Liverpool Sunday. The fall from glory can only be compared to a pilot struck by enemy fire who has hit the eject button but cannot seem to find the pull string for the parachute to save the ground from consuming what is left of the prestige and aura that surrounded Manchester United after the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Many fans questioned the selection of Daley Blind in central defence to start the season for various reasons. Blind is not the strongest, fastest, or most physical defender in the world but he can do a job against teams with his keen sense of tactical awareness and a composure that most players couldn’t dream of. Now a half season into the Daley Blind experiment at central back you could argue he has been a success and an utter failure at the same time. Blind’s lack of physical nature and abilities have proven to be daunting for a defence that is already facing injury crisis with Marcos Rojo out, Phil Jones rarely fit for selection, and Luke Shaw gone for the entire season most likely. If we remember this central defence in the future it will merely be dubbed as the unit that replaced Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic (It could have been much worse had David De Gea transferred to Real Madrid).

With links to players around the world Manchester United is often used as a bargaining chip for players to increase wages at their current clubs (Sergio Ramos) or to sell papers for some journalists who claim to have the “inside source” to the next player United is signing. What is not a myth is that Manchester United could certainly use signings in a few positions to at least strengthen the current squad or risk missing out on yet another champions league campaign next season. Although it would be wonderful to sign the Neymar’s, Ronaldo’s, and Bale’s of the footballing world Ed Woodward and the board must do something, and fast, before the club misses out on yet another UCL campaign and the shot at drawing world class players gets even murkier.

Dragovic Or Blind?

The name of Aleksander Dragovic brings comfort to those who question Blind’s competence in the center of the United defence. It does not have the familiar ring of John Stones but Everton appear unlikely to sell Stones until summer, at the earliest. It goes without question that left back has been an issue also with the season long injury to Shaw and Rojo being ruled out for at least another month. The purchase of Dragovic could offer a stronger and more physical option to the central of defense and allow Blind to move into the left back position when needed.

Dragovic is a promising defender with superb marking and a good sense for intercepting errant passes. His height and physical nature could also allow David De Gea some peace of mind on set pieces and corner kicks where United have been abysmal all season. A partnership of Smalling and Dragovic could be very fruitful and although Dragovic is a bit of an unknown to most he is a risk that must be taken. United cannot afford to have a leaky defence in a time where goals come at snail’s pace under Louis Van Gaal. Dragovic also possesses the ball skills that Van Gaal desires from his central defenders with a decent touch on his passes also. Mainly, Dragovic can be the force in the back that has been missing since…. Rio and Nemanja. Now I am not saying Dragovic could be the next Vidic but he certainly has some of the traits that was found in the fearless Serbian most United fans adored and now seek in the current squad. Dragovic would be able to force teams who have been exposing Blind for his less than impressive physical stature and speed in the back to find different ways to attack this defence that so desperately needs an enforcer.

With a considerably small price tag compared to Stones this deal makes sense even if it is a short term solution to a problem that has been evident for awhile. Even with this purchase United would be able to pursue Stones in summer if that is what they desire. It is time to take action and make the purchase before it is too late.

How Close Is Ryan Giggs To Becoming Manager of Manchester United?

Ryan Giggs Man United Manager

Ryan Giggs is undoubtedly one of the greatest Manchester United players of all time. With 963 appearances, 108 premier league goals and 34 trophies spanned over an illustrious 24 year playing career, Giggsy will live fond in the memories of Manchester United fans for decades to come. Being branded as one of only two players that made Italian world cup winner Alessandro Del Piero cry when watching football (the other being Maradona) it’s not hard to see the impact the Welsh wizard has had on world football.

Great players don’t always become great managers, this was apparent with all-time premier league top goal scorer Alan Shearer. Shearer who suffered a disastrous first season as head coach of Newcastle saw their 16-year stay in the top flight ended with defeat to Aston Villa. Which presses the question, is Giggs ready to take the leap from playing to managing?

At 42 years old, Giggs will be a very young and inexperienced manager, but being an active part in United’s title winning side in the 2012/13 season means that, unlike Shearer, Giggs knows what it takes to succeed in the modern day premier league, something that LVG and David Moyes both lacked the knowledge off. Giggs has been with the club for 25 years now which signifies that nobody knows the club better, and more importantly nobody knows what makes the club succeed better than he does, so ideally he seems the perfect candidate. Giggs has slowly been learning the ins and outs of the responsibilities of the manager role, firstly through his 4 game stint as first team coach and secondly being assistant coach to David Moyes and LVG. Although time under David Moyes and LVG may not be casting Giggs’ managerial potential in particularly good light, he will be gaining invaluable knowledge of what not to do as a first team manager.

Indications and clues that Giggs could even replace LVG are accumulating thick and fast. When LVG was questioned on the signing of ‘waste of money’ Anthony Martial, the Dutchman was quoted saying that United were “routinely quoted £10m more for a player but I have not bought Martial for me. I have bought him for the next manager of Manchester United.” Giggs was watching the Frenchman for 12 months prior to the transfer window closing, indicating that Giggs gave the instructions to LVG to give make the transfer possible.

A lot of fans are calling for LVG to be replaced by top managers such as Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, and Carlos Ancelotti. I don’t think we should be considering anyone but Giggs. To these 3 managers managing Man Utd would be just another club, but for Giggs it would be taking control of his club, the boyhood club he’s helped turned into world beaters. He more than anyone is going to be the most disappointed about the demise of the club’s standard of football and reputation, and I believe he’s the only person that has the passion and work ethic needed to successfully revive the club from the flatline of the Moyes/LVG era.

The players are growing increasingly fed up of the introduction of managers that don’t understand the way they work best, this is evident in the boring and lacklustre performances being displayed in the recent weeks. Giggs would not only have the respect of the players, but would have the complete and total backing of the fans and the board. Clubs like real Madrid and Barcelona have made the leap from plucking managers from clubs all over the world to realising that home grown is the way forward. With the board, fans and players becoming unsatisfied with externally sourcing managers I think Giggs’ appointment is a lot closer than most are anticipating.

Newcastle, Liverpool & Planning Failures

Twenty Four hours on from Manchester United’s most thrilling encounter in months, the Premier League table looks much clearer. Arsenal, Manchester City, and Tottenham all dropped points ahead of United in the table, while Liverpool dropped points behind them. If December was ground zero for United’s time with Louis Van Gaal at the helm, our trip to 18th placed Newcastle may have more signs of promise than a petrol station just down the road when your car is already on fumes.

United players all felt like their work at St. James Park was two points lost rather than a point gained. A win was desperately needed for the underperforming Red Devils against a poor Newcastle side who drew 0-0 at the beginning of the season at Old Trafford. This was not that match.

The football was a different brand. The pitch? Open and expansive. Rooney found the fountain of youth. Van Gaal found emotion on the bench no one in the Red half of Manchester has ever seen before. But the manager’s defensive frailties were exposed again in the harshest of ways. As many United fans quipped after the match, “I’d rather have 3-3 than 0-0 any day,” this loss still stung. Had Rooney and Lingard been even more clinical than they already were, United would have been 3 goals clear early in the second half. As it turned out, the chance fell to the much ostracized Fellaini to seal the three points. With the goal gaping his powerful header found the keepers grateful arms when it was easier to score. United took only 2 points from Newcastle in the 2015/16 season.

United’s owners, Executive Vice Chairman, and manager must now travel down the dark tunnel of brutal honesty and soul searching. Why were young defenders not purchased when Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were a season or two away from leaving United? Was the plan for Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, and Chris Smalling to be the next world class defenders at the back for the famous Manchester United? If so, only Smalling has come close. Evans and Jones have massively underperformed leaving United’s player development and performance grading system in serious doubt.

Whatever the reason, United now must dip into the transfer market yet again. Promoting from youth while purchasing the best up and coming talent around used to be how things were done. Now United must spend big to cover the gaping holes left by failed planning and proper investment. No less than two quality defenders must be purchased. The names of Athletic Bilboa’s Aymeric Laporte and Everton’s John Stones come immediately into mind. Young, fast, strong, dynamic, and ready to take the next step – United should throw 45-50 million at each of their respective teams to ensure they end up in the Northwest of England.

After a couple of goal filled days in the Premier League in the second week of January United sit only 2 points outside of the top 4. This surely can be their only goal for the Premier League yet again. Louis Van Gaal’s failings in seeing the problems clearly developing with his squad through the early part of the season and making little to no changes in formation, tactics, and player selection are mainly at fault. Since Van Gaal’s first season in charge it’s pretty much always been a dreary sort of United performance each time they step onto the pitch. Van Gaal has them setup to defend without attack or attack without defense. There seems to be no middle ground.

Next up is a trip to Liverpool. They seem to possess many of the same issues under Jurgen Klopp that United do under their Iron Tulip, but with squad talent vastly favoring the Red Devils. Last season’s trip to Anfield gave us one of the more dominant United performances against our hated rivals – Juan Mata beautifully on the double that day. United may be looking to Liverpool hater, Wayne Rooney to lead them to victory. His resurgence has seem him score 4 goals in 3 matches in 2016 – more goals than in the last two months for the Evertonian. An on form Rooney coupled with an incapable defense could see United score some goals and ship some goals.

At this point, your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen at Liverpool on Sunday. But one thing is for sure, with ground zero behind us there are few expectations with the United fans any longer. Three points could push us back into the top 4 while another draw, especially a loss, could see Louis Van Gaal shown the door at Old Trafford.

Louis van Gaal Out – Fan Review

The United Stand - LvG Out

After a poor display against Sheffield Utd which required a penalty to see Manchester United go through, The United Stand ask fans, is it time for Louis van Gaal to leave.

The Stand ask how much longer can the board stick with Louis van Gaal, who should take over is he does get the sack and what is the future of the Old Trafford club?

Match Review: Newcastle United 3-3 Manchester United – The Talking Points

Wayne Rooney Celebrating

What a game. We, as United fans, have clamoured for a performance that would see us score 3 goals away from home, including a thunderous return to form for our captain Wayne Rooney. If only it were a 3-0 win, eh?

Rather than give a step by step review of the game (because frankly the whole article would be nearing on a short novel), I thought I would give an opinionated overview of the big talking points from the game instead. And well, where else could I possibly start…

Poorest Man United Player?

People say it’s easy to jump on a bandwagon and blame one particular player for a result. That’s true. But when a performance is that bad from one particular player, they’re making it even easier. For those that criticise the negativity constantly centred on Fellaini, I want to give you a few statistics.

Against Newcastle, Fellaini had: 0 interceptions, 1 yellow card, committed 5 fouls (3 inside 20 minutes), 1 clear goal scoring opportunity missed.

Beyond the Newcastle game, Fellaini has missed his last 6 clear goal scoring opportunities in the box.

Even further beyond that, Fellaini has started 11 games, from which we have 10 points. Fellaini has not started in 10 other games, from which we have 24 points. For someone who relies so heavily upon statistics like Van Gaal, it’s not rocket science is it.

Tuesday’s performance was one of the worst I have seen yet from Marouane Fellaini. His positional sense was most worrying. He was supposed to be a footballing partner for Morgan Schneiderlin in that defensive midfield area, yet very often he was found straying onto the left wing, into attacking midfield and even into centre-back, which is where the first goal comes from. Taking up Smalling’s spot, Fellaini tries to head the ball clear, but instead heads it straight into Wijnaldum’s path, who finishes brilliantly. If Fellaini stays where he should be, then Smalling is able to attack that header, and if it goes wrong, then the partnership of Schneiderlin and Fellaini can either clear the ball, or block off Wijnaldum’s run, something I heavily mentioned needs to be watched out for in my preview of the game.

The guy was wreckless elsewhere on the pitch too. Before 20 minutes he had given away 3 fouls, and was booked soon after for his 4th. He continues to make a further foul after that, for which he was given his final warning. Later on, knowing he’s on that last warning, he has a kick out at Coloccini, which luckily for him was missed by Mike Dean. Fellaini was a walking red-card against Newcastle, and rather than be sent off, if we’re all honest, Van Gaal should have taken him off before that.

However he didn’t, and late in the game, we are 3-2 up, and Memphis whips in a glorious ball, inch perfect, onto the oncoming Fellaini. Pick a corner lad, definite goal if you do… Straight at the keeper. Would have been 4-2, game to bed, and we all go home thinking ‘United are back’.

Why Van Gaal is sticking with him is beyond me. I won’t even attempt to explain it.

Mike Dean

Mike Dean had a tough, but good, game tonight. There were many debateable decisions, and there will be no absolute answer to whether they were right or wrong. But for my money he had a decent game, and it’s refreshing to see a referee that doesn’t shy away from making big decisions, as every week in the Premier League we see at least one referee shirking off making a controversial call. I think the handball of Mbemba was a harsh call upon reflection after seeing the TV angles, but the referee only has his own angle to go by, and in that case, it would have looked like an unnatural position for the arm to be raised to whilst blocking the header of Fellaini.

The second big decision was Jesse Lingard’s tackle from behind in the box. Again, from our luxury of the TV replays we may say it could have been a penalty. But once again it’s a case of from the referee’s angle, he cannot give that as a penalty as the ball looks to be won and the players look like they simply go shoulder to shoulder.

The 2nd penalty of the game came from a playground wrestling match involving Smalling pulling Mitrovic’s shirt half off, and Mitrovic ripping Smalling’s shirt down the middle. I cannot decide on this one. Smalling makes the first contact, but Mitrovic makes the worse contact. For me, I think we see every defender holding their opposing attacker from all set pieces in that way, and it’s only because of the escalation from Mitrovic that the incident gets seen. But from Mike Dean’s point of view, Smalling starts it, so Smalling concedes it.

Overall I think Mike Dean had a commendable game by showing authority to make big decisions the way that he did, and it’s more than welcome in many more games to come.

Boring, Boring Manchester United?

Tonight Manchester United played a high pressing team that conceded possession to the home team, intercepted the ball, and broke with width and pace. There was much to be said for us tonight in a negative light, but truth be told, we looked more like the United of old. As I also said in the preview, we needed to pull Newcastle out of position with wide stretching wingers, and Martial/Lingard performed that brilliantly. It was summed up best by our counter-attack for the second goal. A pass out of our half from Herrera, to a strangely pacey Rooney who held it up brilliantly, whilst then sublimely backheeling for the onrushing Lingard to slot through the keeper’s legs. Old skool.

So why is it we can play this well going forward, but as a consequence have to see goals go in at our end?  Or, why is it when we stay solid at the back, we can’t buy a goal? We heard many times from LVG in the summer that we need to have a ‘balanced selection’ – one that can attack and defend simultaneously. So why can’t it? For me, it can, but only when a very particular group of players are available. I look to the 3-0 win away at Everton as proof that this so called ‘philosophy’ can work. It doesn’t work so often because Van Gaal has a habit of tinkering too much with partnerships, overtrains players into injury or ‘the red zone’, and left the squad too thin in a mismanaged summer transfer window. On the flip side, Van Gaal’s system created several chances to bury the game against Newcastle, with Rooney missing a couple of one-on-ones, Lingard missing a glorious opportunity, alongside Fellaini’s previously mentioned header (the only reason I’m not slating Rooney and Lingard is because both actually scored elsewhere, and had pretty decent games all-round unlike Fellaini). My point is the system does work, Van Gaal has just left the squad too poorly managed for it to be able to do so on a regular basis. I don’t think our squad is too far away (in terms of players we can buy and current selection) from something that can compete; it’s whether Van Gaal can manage that correctly to make it work.


On a more positive final talking point, Wayne Rooney – wow. What a performance from the captain. It’s the Rooney we all used to pay good money to watch; the Rooney that bullied defences; the Rooney that actually looked interested in putting a shift in. When we won the first penalty of the game, we all thought, ‘he’s lucky to be getting penalties to keep his tally up’, be honest. But the match progressed, and Wayne did with it. He bullied defenders and midfielders off the ball, he ran in behind, he ran more directly at defenders; and it all culminated in a beautifully powerful but cultured strike into the top left corner to bring the game to make it 3-2.

2 goals and an assist – is Rooney ‘back’? Who knows. One thing with Wayne is he always scores in spurts; let’s just hope he’s only at the start of this one.

Player Ratings

DDG (7); Young (7), Smalling (6), Blind (6), Darmian (6); Schneiderlin (8), Fellaini (3); Lingard (7), Herrera (8), Martial (6); Rooney (9)

Subs: Memphis (7), Mata (5)

Liverpool (A) are up next. It will be completely down to Liverpool’s updates on squad injuries as to whether we can expect anything out of the game; but if it’s anything like last year’s game at (Ju)Anfield, then quite frankly, I can’t wait…

Rooney’s Resurgence: Is The Old Wayne Back?

Wayne Rooney first Manchester Derby

Wayne Rooney is back! He has played excellent ever since van Gaal has relaxed his “philosophy” on how the team should play. Rooney excels when he is allowed to pick up the ball deep and come in for crosses, or take those long strikes that always seem destined for the back of the net.

Rooney scores a brilliantbackheel
Rooney scores a brilliantbackheel

His two-goal display, a penalty and a cracker from the edge of the penalty area, have shown this resurgence. He has now scored in three straight games. This New Year is certainly showing a new Rooney. With four goals in those three games he is closing in on his tally of six goals last calendar year, showing he is finally back to finding his scoring touch and that he is indeed still good enough to lead the attack.



Why Fellaini needs to go.

Marouane Fellaini needs to go. United supporters are getting beyond frustrated with him, and although he has not had a good game in what seems like a lifetime, we still stand by him. Just because we stand by him does not mean he gets to stay. He loses us games. He is poor, technically speaking.

We have all made this motion when Fellaini misses
We have all made this motion when Fellaini misses

His first touch is awful. His only attacking contribution is with his head, and he can’t even win a ball in the air and put it on target. He missed an absolute perfect opportunity for somebody of his size from a perfect cross. Defensively he is a liability. His errand passes, poor tracking back, and continuously losing his man consistently costs us.

The Beauty in our Youth

This year LVG has had many youth players join the first team, most recently the talented midfielder James Weir. United look set for the future with youngsters being given first team experience, whether they’ve been kept on the substitutes bench or not. These have so far included:

  • Adnan Januzaj

    Shaw and Memphis have become close
    Shaw and Memphis have become close
  • Andreas Pereira
  • Anthony Martial
  • Axel Tuanzebe
  • Cameron Borthwick-Jackson
  • Guiellermo Varela
  • James Weir
  • James Wilson
  • Jesse Lingard
  • Luke Shaw
  • Marcus Rashford
  • Memphis Depay
  • Nick Powell
  • Paddy McNair

    Varela overlaps Januzaj
    Varela overlaps Januzaj
  • Sean Goss
  • Tyler Blackett

Note: All players on this list have a first team number.

Potential Man United Targets

Felipe Anderson: I have three words to describe the pursuit of Felipe Anderson. Not United quality. While Anderson is undoubtedly a skillful player, the amount of money being asked for him is outrageous, over €50 Million being rejected over the summer according to Lazio executives, especially when he will quite possibly become the next Angel Di Maria. Until LVG changes his style Anderson wont fit in to the XI nor be the quality that we would expect as supporters.

Bale in a United kit is something we all wish to see, but this looks as close as it will get in the near future.

Gareth Bale: Oh no not again. Manchester United are still repeatedly targeting Gareth Bale with “a world record bid”. I see no truth to this rumor as Bale is in Zidane’s plans according to BBC Sport. Although Bale is the type of player United need, the odds of Real Madrid giving up one of their star men is slim to nil, and edited pictures are the only hope we have left of Bale to United being completed in the near future.

Morata celebrates a goal

Alvaro Morata: So there is no basis to this yet, Morata is just the type of player that I would love to see United target. Young, strong, quick with the ball at his feet, and quite technically gifted the Juventus front man is the prime example of the type of player United should be targeting. He is projected on Transfermarkt to cost €23.5 Million but will end up costing United around €45 Million

Matthias Ginter: Ginter is a young centre-half currently plying his trade with Borussia Dortmund. The 21 year-old was brought with the 2014 World Cup winning Germany to Brazil, although he did not receive any time on the pitch.

Ginter playing for Germany
Ginter playing for Germany

He is a perfect partner to Chris Smalling and is still young enough to prove to be a good pairing for years to come. He is seen as the future of the Dortmund defense so his €10 Million projected value as given by Transfermarkt but will cost by my calculations about €25 Million with possible add ons.



Outgoing Transfers:

Ben Pearson: The now ex-Manchester United starlet has been sold to Preston North End for an undisclosed fee. This is a disappointing move, but one that in the end Pearson had to make for his sake.

Ben Pearson signs for Preston North End
Ben Pearson signs for Preston North End

He needed first team time in order to continue his development. As for an immediate impact this does not hurt Manchester United at all as the 21 year-old midfielder had never featured in the first team with United, although having a loan spell with Barnsley in which he earned 45 appearances.

Marouane Fellaini: The Manchester United big man,

Fellaini in action for United
Fellaini in action for United

midfielder converted defensive midfielder, converted number 10, converted striker has been tipped for a move away from Old Trafford. Many United supporters are excited to see this as Fellaini is a symbol of the boring play at United. The reported asking price is €32 Million a massive asking price for the big Belgian who is calculated to have a value of over €10 Million less by Transfermarkt.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Louis Van Gaal & Getting Lost Along the Way

What can be said about Manchester United these days that hasn’t already been said a thousand times?

“The football is boring!” Heard it.

“Fans are falling asleep!” I’ve seen the videos on Twitter.

“The manager is delusional!” I’ve said it myself a few times.

“If you were a top red you’d support your club!” This ‘top red’ nonsense needs some explaining anyhow.

You’ve heard them all too, no doubt, and more.

We’ve all seen the statistic pages about goals scored (or lack of), points obtained (or missed), matches in a row not scoring at home in the first half (what are we at now, 10?), and new records set (in a negative way) – we’ve seen them all. They hurt. They cut deep into a fan base who, save for the last 2 ½ seasons, has basically known only large amounts of success. The failures have come few and far between, but there were failures. We’ve been knocked out of the FA Cup unceremoniously more than a few times (Oh Danny boy); same with the League Cup (will we ever forget MK Dons). This is football.

Bad losses and streaks happened under Sir Alex Ferguson, but we’ll choose to remember it all with rose colored glasses. Truth be told, after Manchester United won the Premier League 8 times in its  first 11 seasons in the newly formed top flight (never missing out on the top prize longer than one season), they only won the trophy once in the next 5 seasons (going three straight seasons without winning it). There were calls for Ferguson to do what he had planned to do and had changed his mind, retire.

For United fans these were tough times. During this barren stretch, the only trophies to make their way into United’s famous trophy cabinet was the FA Cup in 2004 (the year before Rooney’s arrival) and the League Cup in 2006. I’d reckon to say Van Gaal would love to have these trophies now. A bang on-form Van Gaal display meant the League Cup is gone for another season. We are still, somehow, in the FA Cup – no words will be wasted here on the Sheffield United debacle. Our next opponent is the Rams of Derby County FC. They sit second in the Championship and love to score a goal or two at home – I wonder what that’s like. As predictable as Rudd van Nistelrooy scoring goals, Van Gaal will deploy two defensive midfielders with the hope of a replay at Old Trafford. Don’t let the sarcasm get lost on you now…but am I wrong? One thing is for sure – it will be dire. Apparently Van Gaal believes you and I are happy.

Next up for United is a trip to St. James Park. Historically a tough trip for United. These two famous clubs have faced each other 162 times with United winning 83 of those matches. Quite honestly, a win tomorrow for United seems almost impossible and there is little hope in the reserve tank to believe for something else. The players look devoid of confidence and joy, and the manager seems more firmly rooted that his system will be found true. His resume is impressive and Van Gaal has won the lot – something we all pointed to when he succeeded the clueless Moyes. His history of getting fired for failing is also impressive. Sadly it looks like we’ve gotten the delusional-needs-to-be-fired Louis Van Gaal, as opposed to the trophy winning mad man we expected.

A trip to Liverpool next Sunday looms on the near horizon. Van Gaal has not yet lost to the Red half of that famous city just down the M62 from Manchester. A loss for Van Gaal at Newcastle may not be the final straw of his United career, but a loss to Jurgen Klopp’s rebuilding project at Anfield would surely send the Dutchman to his hideaway in Portugal 17 months sooner than planned.

Rebuilding is tough, but money has been spent and good players, even a couple great ones, are currently playing at United with a youth team filled with promise. This dire, boring, drudge-filled, fearful, impassionate football doesn’t have to be a part of that process. Van Gaal, while trying to implement strict policies in his philosophy, somehow lost his way on the pitch. His inability to reverse the trend is alarming, and a spirited 35 minute display against Chelsea is no turn around. Louis Van Gaal needs wins, and uncharacteristically of a win, he needs them to be done in a manner that not only entertains the fans but rejuvenates the players he has lulled into a stupor.

Your guess is as good as mine what the next 6 days of Manchester United football will bring. There is little hope right now for anything but draws and losses and that should never be the expectation of a Manchester United fan, much less of the manager in charge of the whole show.