More excuses from van Gaal as United lose 1-0 to Southampton

Posted on January 24, 2016  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Premier League, Southampton   No Comments »
Charlie Austin scores a late winner for Southampton to sink Manchester United

They say history never repeats itself. Well, watching Manchester United this season is like Groundhog day, although without the humour of Bill Murray smashing that bloke in the face. Southampton repeated their 1-0 victory over United from last season. Back in January 2015 it was substitute Dusan Tadic that nabbed the winner in what was a dire game – with the home team failing to muster up a single shot on Fraser Forster’s goal. Fast forward twelve months and not much has changed; a substitute scores, Southampton win 1-0 – but of course, this rime around – United did manage a shot on target.

Daley Blind’s drive from forty yards was as good as it got for United fans the whole afternoon. United have now failed to score in the first half of eleven home games this season, whilst the visitors picked up their first back to back wins at Old Trafford in nearly forty seven years.

It was Winston Churchill that once remarked “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it”. Indeed, if you are Louis van Gaal – you stick to your philosophy, regardless of how ineffective and mind numbingly boring history tells you it is. I feel that each performance warrants the same summary on here. “Slow”, “pedestrian”, “unadventurous”, “risk adverse” and “immobile” are all words that have been repeated time and time again when assessing United this season – rather than discussing contentious, thrilling or debatable moments as in years gone by. For all the suggestions that the 1-0 victory at Anfield could reignite something this season, Charlie Austin and Southampton reminded us that indeed, unfortunately, history does repeat itself some times.

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Wayne Rooney bags Anfield goal in smash and grab win for United

Posted on January 17, 2016  by Stretford-end  in Liverpool, Man United, Match Reports, Premier League   No Comments »
Wayne Rooney scores a late goal at Anfield to give Manchester United victory

Before the game, there was no distracting Manchester United fans from some epically glorious moments at Liverpool over the years. The memories of Roy Keane rampaging up and down the Anfield turf is quickly replaced by Diego Forlan’s brace against Jerzy Dudek and then concludes with John O’Shea scoring a last minute goal at the Kop as United march on to the 2006/07 title. Much has played out in the eighty-two league matches at Anfield prior to this afternoon’s kick off and although both sides aren’t now fighting for top spot, both managers were well aware of the fortunes that awaited the victor.

Mid week saw both managers speak about title droughts, with Louis van Gaal suggesting that United would not go on such a barren run as Liverpool, who have not won the Championship since May 1990. The charismatic Jurgen Klopp, who eulogised about Sir Alex Ferguson – described the former Manchester United manager as “The John Lennon of football” – spoke about the fact that he could have been in the United dugout, had the timings been right. Both men have crossed paths before in Germany, with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund doing battle, but it was the Dutchman who has continued his run against United’s biggest rivals with a 1-0 smash and grab.

Wayne Rooney converted United’s only shot on target, whilst David De Gea saved United once again with an array of saves to keep out Emre Can, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson. The home side will feel hard done by as United were second best for the majority of the game. Louis van Gaal kept with his usually 4-2-3-1 formation, with Ander Herrera pushed up just behind Wayne Rooney who was leading the line. Despite Liverpool’s dominance, it is United who picked up all three points and are now two points behind Tottenham in fourth spot.

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Newcastle United 3-3 Manchester United: United lose boring tag

Posted on January 13, 2016  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, Newcastle United, Premier League   No Comments »
Newcastle United
Paul Dummett scores a dramatic late equaliser as Manchester United draw 3-3 with Newcastle United

Author: Mitchell

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Where were you? Where were you when the Berlin Wall fell down? Where were you when the very first iPhone was announced to an audience in California? And where were you, humble reader, when a football match broke out at the Sports Direct Arena on Tuesday night?

Do not adjust your screens: your eyes do not deceive you. For 90 minutes in the middle of the season, the Uniteds Newcastle and Manchester decided to wake up from their slumber and play an actual game of football. Fast paced, exciting, full of goals and drama and, most importantly, entertaining, the game may go down as one of the best of the season so far.

There may be some lingering disappointment that such a spectacle only brought home another lone point, but that’s not the story. For the first time in what feels like a lifetime, Manchester United felt like Manchester United again – for better and for worse.

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Anthony Martial shows United the way with goal against Swansea

Posted on January 03, 2016  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Match Reports, Premier League, Swansea City   No Comments »
Anthony Martial was exceptional against Swansea City – scoring one and assisting Wayne Rooney

As New Year’s resolutions go; Manchester United fans will be hoping that Louis van Gaal can keep to his, as United beat Swansea City 2-1 at Old Trafford. The first fixture of 2016 saw United pick up three points, their first victory since the 2-1 win over Watford at the end of November – which marks the end of an eight game winless run.

The Dutchman will be have been pleased with his side’s performance in the 0-0 draw with Chelsea and although United didn’t start the game against Swansea City as quickly (i.e. hitting the woodwork twice within fifteen minutes) – the home side did look most likely to score early on, with Ander Herrera and Wayne Rooney close but failing to hit the target. United shifted from a 4-3-3 that worked so well against Chelsea to a 3-5-1-1 – which quickly changed to a 3-3-1-3 formation when United were attacking, with both Ashley Young and Anthony Martial pushing up high and wide to deliver crosses. The United coach had started the game with a four man defence, however – reverted very early on to a three at the back formation once it was clear that the visitors were playing a diamond in midfield with two very wide forwards in Ayew and Routledge.

Anthony Martial opened the scoring for United early in the second half following a brilliant cross from Ashley Young. The Frenchman got on the end of the cross to head home United’s opener. United looked dangerous and much more animated in the second half than in the first forty-five – but the home side were left stunned when Gylfi Sigurdsson scored the equaliser with twenty minutes to go. A neat header past the helpless David De Gea following some great work from substitute Modou Barrow (who again forced van Gaal into a tactical change) on United’s left hand side. It didn’t take long for United to hit back, with a superb finish from Wayne Rooney – who has now overtaken Denis Law’s goal tally of 237 and is now second on his own, eleven goals behind Sir Bobby Charlton.

Although both wide men, Ashley Young and Anthony Martial, had excellent games – it is the Frenchman that really is a shining light in this United side. As he did against Branislav Ivanovic last Monday, he gave Angel Rangel a torrid time on the left hand side with his pace and tricky. His burst of acceleration to setup Rooney, for what was a stunning goal, is priceless and although many reds – including myself – have called to play him through the middle, with match winning performance like this one, it is hard to argue against his inclusion on the left hand side.

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United much better against Chelsea but still winless in eight

Posted on December 29, 2015  by Stretford-end  in Chelsea, Man United, Match Reports, Premier League   1 Comment »
Manchester United’s Anthony Martial takes on the Chelsea defence in the 0-0 draw at Old Trafford

Manchester United finally put in a performance under the troubled reign of Louis van Gaal, however could only muster a 0-0 draw at home to Chelsea. The home side started with a flourish and hit the woodwork following a great layoff from Wayne Rooney to Juan Mata, who smashed the ball onto Thibaut Courtois’ crossbar. United were a lot more mobile and quicker with their passing compared to the horrendous performance put in against Stoke City on Boxing Day. Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger bossed the middle of the park, with Chelsea playing deep and looking to counter through Eden Hazard, who was operating as a lone frontman.

Anthony Martial, United’s brightest spark all evening, gave Branislav Ivanovic a torrid time on the left hand side and also smashed the woodwork, this time the inside of the Courtois’ post – before bouncing away from danger. The second half saw an improved Chelsea performance, however – it was United who were most likely to score and Ander Herrera saw Courtois pull off an unbelievable stop to deny the Spaniard the opener. However, it was Nemanja Matic who had, arguably, the best chance of the match but blazed the ball high and wide of the outrushing David De Gea. Willian was also lucky not to concede a penalty, when he handled in the box midway through the second half.

Wayne Rooney, who was voted the man of the match, had a great chance to win the match after Cameron Borthwick-Jackson put in a superb cross from the left hand side. The United captain, who is level with Denis Law on 237 goals for United, smashed the ball high into the Stretford End. He was also lucky to stay on the pitch following a nasty tackle on Brazilian Oscar late on.

Chelsea, who were poor, will be delighted with a point away from home in a game that they were very much second best. United on the other hand will be pleased with a much improved performance, but it is the same result for Louis van Gaal.

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Louis van Gaal’s future rests on victory over Chelsea

Posted on December 28, 2015  by Stretford-end  in Chelsea, Man United, Match Previews   No Comments »
Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie smashed home a last minute equaliser against Chelsea last season

Is D-day finally here for Louis van Gaal? The under fire Manchester United boss saw his side completely outclassed and outfought by Stoke City on Boxing Day, with Memphis Depay putting in a performance that would warrant being dropped from the Dog and Duck Sunday side. United welcome Chelsea who offer some humour for the Old Trafford faithful due to the West London club having an even poorer season and are currently lingering in the bowels of the Premier League in 15th spot.

Michael Carrick, who will surpass Paddy Crerand’s appearances today if he plays (both on 397 appearances for United), has been very vocal regarding the need for unity in a “difficult time”. A difficult time is an understatement as it is 79 years since Manchester United lost five games in a row in a single season. That season was 1936/37 – when United lost 6-2 to Grimsby Town, 5-2 to Liverpool, 2-1 to Leeds United, 2-1 to Birmingham City and then 3-2 to Middlesbrough before drawing 2-2 with WBA to stop the rot. Scott Duncan was United manager in that period and managed to keep his job until the following season before resigning. United were relegated that season and although there is no chance of history repeating itself if United were to lose for a fifth time tonight – a top four finish will be unlikely.

Both Eden Hazard and Wayne Rooney, who have been extremely poor so far this season for their respected clubs, could both returned to the starting line ups this evening as they could only make the bench two days ago. Diego Costa is suspended for picking up a fifth booking of the season in the 2-2 draw against Watford. Chelsea have not won at Old Trafford since the 1-0 victory at the end of the 2012/13 season, when United were already crowned champions. United haven’t beaten the Londoners at home since the 3-1 victory in the Autumn of 2011/12, when Fernando Torres missed an open goal.

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Louis van Gaal can answer press critics with a win at Stoke City

Posted on December 26, 2015  by Stretford-end  in Man United   No Comments »
Former Manchester United forward Falcao scores the equaliser against Stoke City

It has been an eventful week for Louis van Gaal and the Manchester United boss has come out fighting. There has been speculation that the Ducthman could be out of a job, with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho waiting in the background; however this notion was well and truly quashed in van Gaal’s press conference during the week.

The game against Stoke City is crucial for United to pick up a win, which would be the club’s first win since beating Watford 2-1 last month. The Dutchman, along with club captain Wayne Rooney, understand that the current form is simply not good enough and United must “improve immediately” if they are to retain last season’s status as a top four club. United have won thirteen times at Stoke City in the league, with the last one coming in the title winning season of 2012/13.

Louis van Gaal was defiant in his midweek press conference and acted as you would expect a Manchester United manager to respond. However, it will be on the pitch where he can really showcase a response. United have been far too slow and pedestrian under his watch and the results haven’t been good enough for a club looking to return to the pinnacle of English football. Van Gaal needs to show there is a long term strategy in place – which hasn’t yet materialised despite the so called “philosophy” in place.

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Louis van Gaal clings to United job following Norwich defeat

Posted on December 21, 2015  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Managers, Match Reports, Norwich City, Premier League   1 Comment »
Alex Tettey boots home Norwich’s second goal as Manchester United lose for the first time at home

The pressure is piling on Louis van Gaal and his Manchester United side following a humiliating home defeat to Norwich, who were third from bottom at the start of play. The newly promoted side fully deserved their hard grafted win, with two simple goals on the counter attack. United looked limp, slow and uncreative in a game that was very reminiscent of previous fixtures.

Alex Tettey, who scored Norwich’s second goal, was immense in the middle of the park. The visitors were first to every ball, harried United’s players and were well worth their first win at Old Trafford since 1989/90. Van Gaal, who had been defiant in recent weeks following similarity poor performances and results, appeared to be in a more sombre mood – perhaps a man who realises that his job is on the line – following the 2-1 defeat. Ryan Giggs, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are all candidates that have been linked with the United hot seat and the next two games against Stoke City and Chelsea will be crucial in the fate of the Dutchman.

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Norwich City travel to United as Jose Mourinho rumours grow

Posted on December 19, 2015  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Man United News, Managers, Norwich City, Premier League   No Comments »
Shinji Kagawa, Manchester United v Norwich
Shinji Kagawa scores a hattrick for Manchester United against Norwich City back in 20013/14

Manchester United are looking for their first win since the 2-1 victory over Watford a month ago. In that time, United have been dumped out of the Champions League and have lost ground on leaders Leicester City in the league. This week has also seen the biggest managerial casualty of the season so far. Jose Mourinho was shown the Stamford Bridge exit as the Portuguese departs Chelsea for what is surely the final time. Some bookies have put Mourinho as favouite to be the next Manchester United manager. The independent have also suggested that Mourinho’s representatives have reached out to Manchester United as it is “the job he covets the most”.

Louis van Gaal will be looking over his shoulder as pressure grows on the United boss to start delivering a brand of football that is usually associated with the twenty times English champions. The news that Pep Guardiola is set to leave his post at Bayern Munich will of course have alerted Manchester City, Chelsea and to a lesser extent Arsenal – who will only ever act on Arsene Wenger’s terms. United will be in the mix for the in demand Spaniard, but Ryan Giggs is surely the more likely candidate to succeed the Dutchman when his contract expires in 2017.

United’s last home goal came in the 2-0 victory over WBA at the start of November , so United need to put in a performance against Norwich City, who last won at Old Trafford back in 1989/90 with a 2-0 victory at the beginning of the season. The visitors have conceded 18 goals away from Carrow Road this campaign, but are up against a United side that are goal shy at home – netting nine goals so far; sixteen goals fewer than Manchester City in third.

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FA Youth Cup: United’s Under-18s to finally be rewarded for their performances?

Posted on December 18, 2015  by Stretford-end  in Man United, Man United News, Youth   No Comments »

Will Manchester United be rewarded in the FA Youth Cup for their performances?

No matter how the season has gone to date, when the FA Youth Cup comes round there is always an expectation at Man United that the Under-18 side will do well. So far this century United haven’t been dominant like they were in the past; two trophy wins is bettered by both Arsenal (3) and Chelsea (4). Last season United beat Bury and Hull but lost to an impressive Spurs team in the 5th Round, this year can they go further?

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