Sunday’ defeat to perennial mid-table botherers West Bromwich Albion was the last low point in the perpetual cycle of oblivion United find themselves in each month. One or two decent performances are invariably followed by one so abysmal it makes you wonder how the manager is able to get himself dressed every morning let alone pick a football side supposedly good enough to win matches and challenge for trophies. Van Gaal has made so baffling decisions during his tenure – why is it that his brief reign seems like an eternity- it’s impossible to remember let alone list half of them, so I’ll just stick to five that delivered three points into the lap of the club shop sponsored mascot that is Tony Pulis.
1. Dropping Schneiderlin. ‘Rested’ ‘rotated’ whatever way you put it Morgan Schneiderlin had began to look something like the player we knew he could be over the past few games. During the last four games, Schneiderlin had started all four and United had won them all. I’m not saying this is solely down to the Frenchman, but he was particularly impressive against Arsenal and his energy was vital against Watford. The former Southampton midfielder can take time to adjust when he’s dropped then brought back in, so the manager’s decision to leave him out seemed like an unnecessary gamble. Yes, United have another big game on Thursday and Schneiderlin has played a lot of football over the past two weeks but he’s a young man who’s more than capable of playing twice a week. It’s not that much to ask.
2. Subbing Herrera. Yes, I’ve just argued that Schneiderlin should’ve started, but that doesn’t mean he should’ve replaced Ander Herrera when the Spaniard was pulling the strings as United began to look dominant- despite being down to ten men. As soon as Herrera came off, United lost the initiative, then a goal, then the game. Not a clever substitution at all, if and it’s a big if, Van Gaal really needed to make a change then bringing off Michael Carrick for Schneiderlin would’ve made more sense, but even that probably wasn’t needed as at the time the Reds seemed more likely of the two sides to score.
3. Playing Daley Blind. One player who has looked knackered and who does need dropping is Blind who seems a shadow of the player we saw early season. His passing and positioning have deserted him while he’s not got the pace to get himself out of the bother he often creates for himself. Timothy Fosu-Mensah was excellent against Watford and could easily have started against West Brom and perhaps should have.
4. Darmian for Fosu-Mensah. Again you may wonder why I’m moaning about a player I wanted to start being brought on but with the Reds chasing the game, but why did Van Gaal waste one of his subs on a right back for right back change with seven minutes to go? Whisper it quietly but even bringing on Marouane Fellaini for the last few minutes and hoofing balls up to him made more sense than swapping full backs.
5. Carrick as captain is a waste. Maybe if Mata had kept the armband he wouldn’t have acted so stupidly, then again maybe if you put the armband on one of corner flags they’d show more leadership qualities than the former Spurs man. It’s pointless just handing the captaincy to someone who seldom speaks to team mates, is enduring his worst season in a red shirt, often shirks out of tough challenges and drops his head as soon as we go a goal down. Carrick has been a great servant for the club but he’s no more a captain than he is a teapot and when the Reds young side needs a bit of leadership you simply can’t look to him to provide it. People may argue the same with Rooney but at the very least he shows some passion, Carrick simply shows indifference.
Do you agree? Did Van Gaal get more than just five things wrong? Did he get it right and was simply let down by Mata’s madness? Answers on a brick through the usual window or you simply answer below.