If there’s one word to describe Manchester United in the Louis van Gaal era, it’s probably “boring”. Luckily for him, one brief moment of stepping out of those rigid boundaries resulted in a flashy Adnan Januzaj goal.
Not a great match from the 18-year old Belgian, but in the first half, the one in which Manchester United looked like the better team, he provided something from the stagnant midfield that resulted in the goal. Juan Mata provided the assist with a nice through ball, but it was Januzaj’s attitude and drive for those 45 minutes that broke the rigid form Manchester United don’t step out of.
With such a weak defense, maybe that’s the most important thing right now. A midfield with hardly any adventurous characters in it, be it Michael Carrick in the lineup or Bastian Schweinsteiger, while Ander Herrera joined the match off the bench. Even the team’s lone striker, Wayne Rooney, looks busy most of the time doing “tactical” work.
And what about scoring? Rooney had his chance. In the first weekend, and that was taken from him by Kyle Walker, resulting in the own goal. Since then? He keeps feeding the few players joining the attack, and that’s about it. Rooney isn’t the kind of player who thrives when he’s alone up front, and it’s not difficult to spot with Manchester United sending so few players up there to join him.
Boring and steady wins the race. Van Gaal doesn’t give a f@#$ about how good or bad this looks. He cares about his team winning the first two matches of the season while keeping two clean sheets. He’s dealing with plenty of problems at the position, but Sergio Romero, in the short time he’s been in Northwestern England, seems like someone who isn’t going to downgrade the position.
As for Januzaj? He had a bad season under Van Gaal in 2014-2015. He played 18 times but didn’t score once, and looked nothing like the player who put in a few electrifying performances under David Moyes before disappearing onto the depths of the bench or even the stands. Diving at every opportunity didn’t help him, but he’s fighting that awful habit, and maybe his performance in a difficult match that made the difference between a goalless draw and a win will earn him more credit with the Dutch manager.