20 Premier League/League Division One Cups, 11 FA Cups, 4 English League Cup, 3 European Cups, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 European’s Cup Winner Cup and 1 FIFA World Cup. The Manchester United’s trophy room looks nothing short of a crowded wall of fame. Seeing the array of trophies sitting in the cabinet, Manchester United has certainly been one of the Goliaths of the football world.
However, the fall in United’s performances for the last two years has been tremendous and almost bewildering for fans. The 2014/15 campaign of the English Premier League opened with a disastrous start as United lost to Swansea on the opening day. The shock defeat to MK Dons in the Capitol One Cup was extremely humiliating.
Adapting To A New System
Louis Van Gaal’s introduction as the manager of the club after a short spell by David Moyes was well received by all the stakeholders of the club. The man’s curriculum vita is flooded with success at some of the best clubs of the world. The club’s pre-season added to that excitement as United remained without defeat and won against Real Madrid, Liverpool, Inter and Roma to claim the Guinness International Cup. Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation has not been effective yet and might not in the future, given the fact that the team’s centre backs are devoid of experience and the team lacks wing-backs who can move up and down the entire wing. In order to regain their former glory, here Manchester United needs more than just a bunch of praying fans.
In a recent interview, Louis Van Gaal disclosed that he has found two types of players at the club, players who are not performing at the level he wants them to and players who do not want to perform at the required level. Mutiny from United players has been quite evident over the past season even under David Moyes’ reign. Shinji Kagawa was late for a flight for a match and Welbeck and Smalling were caught creating havoc in bars. Discipline, a virtue that was strictly followed by Sir Alex Ferguson in his own draconian way, seems to be lost at the moment. Tom Cleverley’s flimsy passes and Ashley Young’s inability to get past players has been infuriating fans. Anderson, Fletcher, Evans and Smalling have all been under-performing and face the scrutiny of fans over social media platforms wanting them to be offloaded.
Depth of Squad
The club has suffered some bad transfer windows over the past few years. Refusing to spend too much money and other clubs hijacking United’s bids for players have been two key elements for the failures. Therefore, the club lacks depth in its squad. The club faces a huge dearth of quality centre-midfield players and centre-backs. The team facing MK Dons over the past week had 3 strikers, 3 wingers and 2 midfielders playing a 3-5-2 formation. Van Gaal also revealed that the squad lacks balance with 4 no. 10s in the team.
As a reality check for every United fan, the rebuilding of the club will take time. The squad has been infused with 4 players until now including Angel Di Maria. Patience is what United fans need to hold onto for now.
(That said, it is inevitable for me to say that my respect for Sir Alex Ferguson has grown exponentially after realizing that the man won the EPL with the current squad)