Reality hit Manchester United and it’s manager, Louis van Gaal, in the face on the opening match of the new Premier League season. Wayne Rooney did score a goal, but it was far from enough against an alleged inferior opponent. The combination of new and changing tactics, young and ill-positioned players with similar problems to those from last season resulted in a terribly disappointing performance.
What was it all about in the preseason? All those wins, all those goals? It just goes to show just how much preseason success has little to do with what actually happens when the lights are turned on, and the real season begins. The 3-4-1-2 was quickly changed into a 4-4-2 that played players out of their comfort zones, and it seemed that way for most of the match, when Manchester United went back to crossing without thinking en route to a frustrating ending.
It begins with the three man defense that has no link to the midfield. Ander Herrera and Darren Fletcher playing in the middle isn’t a bad idea, but it didn’t seem like there was someone actually playing the defensive midfield position. It was quite obvious during the conceded goals. Marouane Fellaini, for some reason, came on for Herrera after the Spaniard, making his debut, got better. Fellaini was as ineffective and mostly busy hitting other players as he was last season.
Ashley Young still playing in the lineup, trying to understand the role of a winger who does defense and offense, meant Van Gaal either has a big problem in terms of the players he has compared to his vision and tactics, or that he hasn’t watched enough tape from last season and the overall career of Young since arriving at Old Trafford. Jesse Lingard might be a huge talent, but an injury cut short his unimpressive debut. “Wonderkid” Adnan Januzaj, maybe one of the most overrated players in the Premier League, didn’t do anything worth noting during his time on the pitch.
Robin van Persie didn’t play, and Van Gaal made some bad choices in the way he dealt with it. Chicharito as a striker isn’t bad, but asking him to do what Van Persie or Wayne Rooney can is wrong, and resulted in a terrible performance from the Mexican. Wayne Rooney as a second striker isn’t a bad idea, but that means Juan Mata is limited in his role, and it showed as both him and Rooney failed to be creative and dangerous for more than a few instances, including the equalizing goal.
Van Gaal inherited a squad that isn’t what most would call balanced. One of his problems is Ed Woodward, who seems to be messing up the transfer window for a second straight season, as Manchester United keep failing bringing in the players everyone is sure they’re in need of. Maybe the end result, which will take patience, is going to be satisfying, but for now it seems like a lot of growing pains are something Manchester United fans have to look forward to.