Only three shots on goal were enough for Manchester United to pull off another win that puts them in a decent distance from the top of the table. Robin van Persie coming back to life with two goals is excellent news, but the team’s ability under Louis van Gaal isn’t.
Five consecutive wins for the Red Devils and now they are only eight points behind league leaders Chelsea, five behind their city rivals. Looking back at their current string of wins – Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Hull City, Stoke and no Southampton, none of them came with great football. On the contrary – it’s been quite rubbish, especially in the win over Arsenal that came with that endearing term ‘parking the bus’.
Manchester United’s football in the win over Southampton wasn’t far from that approach. Some might call it a tactical battle between two resentful Dutch managers, but in truth, Manchester United seem to be counting on the quality of their finishers and a little bit of luck to pick up their points recently.
When it’s working, why change it? It’s quite clear this approach won’t be working in the long run. Better football has to come, surely. Not that Alex Ferguson didn’t win championships and produce great teams without a hint of attractive football in certain years. His legacy is that of success, not of free flowing football.
Manchester United have a better set of players than what Van Gaal has been able to produce in terms of ability, but difficult times call for even more desperate measures. Grinding out wins, which includes jolting Van Persie back into scoring form, is what it takes, and they’ll carry on with it until it stops working, or once Van Gaal is confident enough to try something else.
With the way his defense and midfield have looked this season when not overloading it with disciplined players, it’s hard to say when that change will happen.