Today, Manchester United were beyond poor once again yet somehow they escaped with a deceiving 2-0 victory at Loftus Road. John Murphy runs through the talking points.
1. Falcao Deserves More
LvG’s treatment of the highly rated Columbian over the past few weeks has been borderline bizarre. Having left him out of the squad against Southampton last weekend, The Iron Tulip claimed that El Tigre’s name and reputation meant nothing to him. Falcao would have to prove himself in training and on the pitch. However, on two of the three occasions that Falcao has scored for United this season, Van Gaal has subsequently substituted him.
The fact is that a name and a reputation do mean something. They are built through a consistency of performances. Falcao has shown the world over the course of several seasons what he is capable of and he deserves more respect than he is being given by the Dutch manager. Today however, Falcao was indeed far from his best but one cannot look solely at a centre forward when the team as a unit puts in such a lackluster performance.
United have now been incredibly average for the past six games. Van Gaal should be pointing the finger less at his players and instead looking to his own methods for improvement.
Falcao’s relationship with Van Gaal so far: https://t.co/42ZejE29MW
— FootyHumour (@FootyHumour) January 16, 2015
2. Charlie The Great
Just yesterday the English striker was named the Barclays player of the month for December. Austin scored five goals last month and provided one assist. He is just the second player in the history of his current club to take this award, the last being Trevor Sinclair 20 years ago.
With Zamora having scored just two goals in his last 25 appearances, Harry Redknapp’s reliance on Austin is simply massive. The big striker was dangerous once again today drawing two hugely impressive saves from David De Gea in the opening half hour. On one occasion in particular, Austin struck a dipping volley from 25 yards out that was destined for the top corner had it not been for the athletic Spaniard.
If Harry’s side are to avoid the drop this season, Austin will be beyond crucial.
— Bosco Fernandes (@hawk536) January 17, 2015
3. 3-5-2 Is Simply Not The United Way
United started this season with a loss against Swansea at home followed swiftly by two draws against the Premier League giants of Sunderland and Burnley. Upon signing Di Maria, Van Gaal shifted to a 4-4-2 diamond and United looked to be improving greatly. However, in December he reverted to form with a 3 centre back approach and United’s performances have duly dipped in kind winning just one of their last five league matches prior to today.
It seems painfully obvious to most fans with even a passing interest in football that this system simply does not suit the Manchester United players. Mata and Jones both played cross field balls that were dangerously intercepted in the opening five minutes and the amount of individual errors that United are making under this regime is consistently worrying. It simply does not seem to be the United way yet Van Gaal is remaining stubborn.
Having taken Evans off for Wilson on 57 minutes and shifting to a diamond formation, United scored a minute later. Although they were far from excellent in the closing half hour, they still scored two goals and created several more opportunities than they had in the opening hour. It will now be very interesting to see how their Dutch manager approaches Leicester at Old Trafford next week.
4. Adel Taarabt: Gift or Curse?
Taarabt is somewhat the Mario Balotelli of Queens Park Rangers. Undoubtedly talented, the player comes with a bad reputation and a negative attitude. Having played just one minute in the league so far this season after falling out with Harry Redknapp, the manager chose to bring on the controversial attacker with 20 minutes to go. If this means that old feuds have at last been forgotten QPR fans should look forward to what Taarabt can add to their side in the coming months.
5. Marouane Fellaini…
Fellaini was last season the most highly criticized player in the United squad. This season, his performances have drastically improved and it is safe to say that in general, United are better when he is on the pitch. What a finish today and the Belgian deserves all the plaudits after a poor performance over all from the Red Devils.
— BelgianPlayersAbroad (@Beplayersabroad) January 17, 2015