Saturday 31 January 2015

Match report: United 3-1 Leicester

MANCHESTER UNITED moved into third place and kept up the pressure on second placed City with a comfortable 3-1 over rock bottom Leicester at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Louis van Gaal's side were not at their best but we did not have to be against a Foxes side who offered little in attack.

United let a 2-0 and 3-1 lead slip the last time these two sides met in September, but there was never a hint of a similar fightback from Nigel Pearson's side this time.

Leicester concentrated on frustrating the Reds early on and their game plan was working until Daley Blind dispossessed Andrej Kramaric after a United attack had broken down.

Blind's excellent through ball played in Robin Van Persie who took a touch and rifled home his ninth goal of the season shortly before the half hour mark.

Five minutes later, United doubled their lead after 42-year old custodian Mark Schwarzer failed to hold Angel Di Maria's shot and Radamel Falcao beat two defenders to turn home the loose ball from close range.

Leicester's collapse was completed a minute before the interval when Blind met a Rooney corner and captain Wes Morgan could only direct his attempted clearance past Schwarzer and into the net.

Substitute David Nugent almost capitalised on a sloppy Phil Jones backpass, but the ever-alert David De Gea read the danger and cleared.

Another substitute, Marc Albrighton, lashed an effort over the bar before the visitors belatedly replied through Polish defender Marcin Wasilewski's header.

That was the last action of a routine win for United that lifts the Red into third, at least until Southampton play Swansea on Sunday.

United manager Louis van Gaal was pleased with his side, and said:I'm very happy because of the positive result. We lost the last home match so we had to show to our fans that we are coming back again.
"I liked my team in the first half. In the second half we tried to kill the game because we know what happened at Leicester when we were also 1-3 ahead and we lost the game.
"But in the second half we played the ball too much backwards, and that I do not like that as you always need to keep your eyes open for the pass forward.
"But we also have to learn to kill the game, we may have done that more than we wanted, but it is a learning process.”

United Faithful Man of the Match: Daley Blind
Overall Team Performance: 8/10 

Friday 30 January 2015

Van Gaal rules out January signings but Fletcher set for West Ham move

Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher is undergoing a medical ahead of a proposed move to Premier League rivals West Ham.

United boss Louis van Gaal had already revealed that the 31-year old Scottish international midfielder, was in talks with the Hammers.

He is now in West Ham, so we have to wait and see” said van Gaal on Friday
“He is my third captain so he is an important player not only in the dressing room, but also in the past for Manchester United I believe.”

I like him as a player and a human being, so we will miss him”.

Fletcher has only made five starts under van Gaal this season.

He hasn't played so many times and that is always the main goal of a player.
“We have talked about this and he preferred to leave.”

“We have helped him to go away, it is a loss and for the club that buys him- it is another player with a lot of quality- as a midfielder but also as a captain and a very experienced player.

“We have many experienced players in the same role here at Manchester United, so that is the problem.”

Should Fletcher's transfer to Upton Park go as expected, a quirk of the fixture list could see him line-up for his new side against his old one when the Reds travel to east London next Sunday (8th February).

Meanwhile, van Gaal says that United will not invest in new players during the remainder of the January transfer window.

The Reds signed Victor Valdes on 8 January and have, as ever, been linked with a number of fresh faces all month, but the boss advised fans not to expect any further arrivals before the deadline at 23.00GMT on Monday.

Asked for his thoughts on the January transfer window, van Gaal added: “I don't think its favourable for the league because it's a little bit unfair I think.
“You start a league and then you change your team- the richer clubs can do that and it's not fair on the other smaller clubs.
“But that's the rule and you can take benefit of it. We are doing nothing- that I have already said- but I read every day that I or Manchester United are interested in other players.
“This is not true- we only have Victor Valdes (as a January signing).
“We gave him a chance- at this moment we are only selling players, not buying them.”

Carrick out for up to four weeks but Young nearing return.

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal delivered mixed news on the injury front ahead of Saturday's game against Leicester.

The Reds boss had good news and bad news as he faced the media ahead of Saturday's home game with Leicester.
The good news is that Ashley Young is nearing full fitness but the bad news is that influential midfield playmaker Michael Carrick will be ruled out for up to a month.

The 33-year-old has picked up his third different injury of the season, a ruptured muscle, and will be out until late February.

The Reds vice-captain suffered ankle ligament damage in July that ruled him out until November, then picked up a minor groin shortly after his comeback.
As well as the game against Leicester, Carrick will miss the matches against Cambridge in the FA Cup, the trip to West Ham on the 8th Feb, the home game with Burnley three days later and, probably, the league matches against Swansea and Sunderland at the end of next month. 

Carrick has been one of United's most important players this term and this latest injury setback is a blow as the Reds look to seal a return to the Champions League.

United manager  Louis van Gaal said
“Ashley Young is coming back, only now unfortunately Michael Carrick has been injured so he is out of the weekend.
“I think it shall take more than four weeks, so it is not a minor injury but a muscle rupture, I think.
“He is also the second captain but I have to say that's part of the job of a manager, especially at Manchester United this season because we have suffered a lot of injuries.
“But now we have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, of course Michael Carrick can be important for the team but he is now injured, so he cannot be.”

Match preview: United v Leicester City

Aaaaaargh, Leicester City.... their very mention makes us wince.

Unfortunately for the Foxes, though, such has been their change in fortunes since that 5-3 reverse at the King Power in September, when the Reds relinquished a 3-1 lead, that they sit rock bottom of the Barclays Premier League going into this Old Trafford encounter.

Despite their lowly league position, however, Nigel Pearson's side have re-found their form of late and have won three of their last four games in all competitions, so they will be not be pushovers for Louis van Gaal's team.
Having beaten United in that crazy game in September, Leicester then embarked on a 13-game winless streak, a run only ended with a 1-0 win at Hull just after Christmas.
That sparked an upturn in results and they have since lost only once in their last six games.

United midfielder Michael Carrick will be sidelined for up to a month after he sustained a ruptured muscle in training and will therefore miss his side's clash with the struggling Foxes on Saturday.
Ashley Young is close to full fitness following his hamstring injury, but defenders Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling are both doubtful.
Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata, who both sat out the FA Cup tie at Cambridge, could be restored to the starting line-up.

In an unusually brief pre-match press conference on Friday, van Gaal said:
“It's true that we have not created many chances in the last two or three matches, but therefore I have changed my system.
“We have to play more quickly with a high ball speed because our opponents are defending a small area so we need to make them more disorganised.
“It is difficult then to attack but everyone knows that we need to finish the chances and maybe also with a little bit of luck.
“We know that Leicester will come with a game plan so it is up to us to play with a higher level of aggression and then we will have a better opportunity to win this game.”

With the top two sides, Chelsea and Manchester City meeting at Stamford Bridge on Saturday tea-time, and Southampton not in action until Sunday, this game presents United with a perfect opportunity to make up ground on the teams above us in the league.

Form guide: United D D W L W D Leicester City W D W W L W
Match odds: United 3/10 Leicester City 9/1 Draw 4/1 (Unibet)
Referee: Martin Atkinson

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Fletcher to leave on free transfer

Manchester United will give Darren Fletcher a free transfer so he can move to another club during the current transfer window.

The 30-year-old Scotland captain has made 342 appearances in a 12-year career at United but has only started five times under Louis van Gaal.

Fletcher, whose contract expires this summer, has been linked with a move to either West Brom or West Ham.

Fletcher has risen through the ranks at Old Trafford and made his senior United debut in 2003.
He has won the Premier League title five times.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has confirmed his interest in signing Fletcher, who is currently the longest serving player in the United squad, but said his side "can't wait forever."

"When he makes his mind up everyone will know" added Allardyce.
"I don't know what the timeline is, if any of the other packages offered to him are accepted then we would accept that."

Fletcher was an unused substitute on Monday night as United's Under 21s beat rivals Liverpool 2-1 in a game that saw Victor Valdes make his United debut. 

Darren has been a loyal servant for United and we wish him all the best for the future. 

Monday 26 January 2015

Reds await FA Cup draw after replay date set

Manchester United and Cambridge United will contest a fourth-round replay at Old Trafford on Tuesday 3 February (KO 19:45 GMT) and go into Monday's FA Cup fifth-round draw as the highest and lowest ranked teams still left in the draw.

The two sides, who drew 0-0 on Friday night at the Abbey Stadium, will find out which team awaits the replay's winners when the draw is made at around 1920 GMT this evening.
United  and Cambridge will be represented by ball number two.

All three teams above the Reds in the Barclays Premier League- Chelsea, Manchester City and  Southampton- were knocked out of the FA Cup on Saturday, all on home turf.
The biggest shock, Bradford City's 4-2 comeback win at Stamford Bridge, featured former United trainee Ben Williams playing in goal for the victorious League One side.

The top flight sides in action saved some face for the Premier League on Sunday when Arsenal, Aston Villa and West Ham United all beat lower-league teams to join West Brom, Crystal Palace and Leicester City in the last 16.
Also through are Championship sides Blackburn Rovers, Derby County, Middlesbrough and Reading but several ties will, like Cambridge vs United, be settled by a replay.

Preston vs Sheffield United, Sunderland vs Fulham and Liverpool vs Bolton all went to replays while Rochdale and Stoke City will meet for the first time at Spotland tonight, after the draw. 

Saturday 24 January 2015

Cambridge replay not new experience for Reds

Manchester United will be in the hat for the fifth round when the draw is made on Monday but to secure our passage outright we will have to dispose of valiant League Two Cambridge at the second attempt.

The Reds have been here before: United were held 0-0 by then Conference sides Exeter and Burton in successive seasons in 2004/05 and then 2005/06.
More recently in 2011, non league Crawley came within inches of taking United back to West Sussex as they narrowly went down 1-0 in the fifth round.
On both those earlier occasions United came out on top in the replay and will be red hot favourites to do so again this time around as the Old Trafford game will be a totally different scenario to Friday's stalemate.

The narrow confines of the Abbey Stadium certainly proved a big leveller in Friday night's encounter; United did not have the space and width to stretch the game and press Cambridge high enough.

Old Trafford's vast, energy-sapping pitch will play right into United's hands: we will stretch the game more, press Cambridge higher and they will tire quickly making it easier for the Reds to break them down.

The 3rd February replay in Manchester will earn Cambridge in excess of £1million with a share of gate receipts, ticket sales, TV revenue and sponsorship.
Not only that, but for their players and fans it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit one of sport's greatest arenas.

It is what the FA Cup is all about and just goes to show that anything can happen in the world's oldest domestic cup competition.

Asked if he thought his Cambridge side, 75 places below United in the league system, can go to Old Trafford and win, Us boss Richard Money said:

No, I don't think we have much of a chance, but you never know.
“I said after the game in the dressing room:
“You're going to Old Trafford.
“Who cares what happens, just go an enjoy it and soak it in. It's a once in a lifetime chance for us. Whatever happens, happens.
“This club has been in the doldrums for 10 years, out of the Football League and almost out of existence at one stage and suddenly here were are taking everybody back to Old Trafford.
“It's incredible.”

Everything was against United- Van Gaal

United manager Louis van Gaal said that "everything was against" his side in the disappointing 0-0 draw in the FA Cup- but also praised "magnificent" Cambridge.

The Reds had 80% of possession in the second half at the Abbey Stadium but could not break down a resilient and stubborn defensive unit that deservedly forced an Old Trafford replay.

"I was angry at half-time because we made the same errors against Yeovil Town and also Queen's Park Rangers" explained the boss.
"We have played in the same style of play as the opposition and you do not have to do that.
"I know that also in these matches everything is against you- the crowd- that is nice, I think- but also the pitch and also the defensive organisation of the opponent and even the referee as well.
"In the second half we have played better, we have built the game up from behind and played no more long balls.

"Then we could have scored, we had many chances, but we did not do this so now we have to play this team again, this time at home.
"Cambridge are the weaker team-everybody knows that- and you have to solve that problem (of how to beat them) but you cannot always solve that problem and I have seen that a lot of times.
"But fortunately we are still in the FA Cup, we have to play at home and we have to beat them."

Cambridge were rank outsiders for Friday's tie and manager Richard Money was rightly delighted by his team's display against English football's most successful club.
Van Gaal lavished praise on the plucky opposition too. 

"It's fantastic for them" he explained.
"I think a lot of players have dreamt of this and they fought with spirit until the end. Also, in the first half they have created one or two possibilities. You can lose these games and we haven't so this is good.
"It is not as easy as everyone was thinking.
"I'm very happy we're still in the FA Cup- we will have a better chance in the second game I think.
"Okay, we have to play another match but I don't think that's a bad thing because this season we don't play in European competition so it's good to have an extra game in February."

The replay at Old Trafford will be played on Tuesday 3rd February

Friday 23 January 2015


The two Uniteds will do it all over again at Old Trafford as despite a dominant second half the Reds could not break down a committed and organised Cambridge side.

It would be churlish to criticise Louis van Gaal's side; instead the Us deserve all the credit after they arguably edged the first half and then resiliently held out in the face of a United onslaught after the break.

Even the most diehard United fan cannot begrudge that Cambridge deserved their money-spinning day out at Old Trafford.
The only comfort is that we are still in the hat for the fifth round and the Manchester replay will be a totally different game that will surely see the Reds emerge comprehensive winners.

Louis van Gaal took no chances and named a strong side for the trip to the Abbey Stadium: Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Michael Carrick and David De Gea were all selected to start and Robin Van Persie and Luke Shaw made their returns from injury as substitutes.

75 places separate the two sides in the football pyramid but Cambridge looked far from overawed and carved out the best chance of the half.
Van Gaal had predicted a physical contest and so it proved as the Us went closest through Richard Coulson, who fired narrowly over after a chaotic scramble from a corner.

United struggled for flair and creativity without rested captain Wayne Rooney, but they finally clicked into gear in a much improved second half showing, enjoying 75% of possession after the break.

Falcao, starved of decent service for much of the game, finally got his chance on the hour when Michael Carrick picked him out but the Colombian striker was denied by a wonderful save from Cambridge keeper Chris Dunn.

Van Gaal had seen enough and threw on Van Persie and Ander Herrera for ineffective duo James Wilson and Marouane Fellaini.

RVP almost answered the call straight away when he ran onto Di Maria's lofted pass but volleyed narrowly over on the angle.

Cambridge had given so much that it was inevitable they would tire, and United responded with late pressure.

Adnan Januzaj had an effort blocked, Falcao headed narrowly wide and Di Maria looked poised to break the hosts hearts at the death but he was denied by an excellent save from Dunn.
That proved to be the final moment of concern- leaving Cambridge's fans and players to celebrate wildly and savour the prospect of a historic trip to Old Trafford.

United Faithful Man of the Match: Marcos Rojo
Overall team performance: 5.5/10

Thursday 22 January 2015

Van Gaal wary of minnows bite

Louis van Gaal is adamant that his players will not underestimate Cambridge United during Friday's FA Cup fourth round tie.

The Dutchman has completed his homework on Richard Money's team and has instructed his defenders to expect plenty of long balls at the Abbey Stadium, based on the height of the opposition players.
But having taken note of the Us three consecutive victories in all competitions he is not taking the challenge lightly.

"It is always tough to play against weaker teams because in the players mind, they are thinking it is a weaker team" said van Gaal on Thursday.
"For example, on Wednesday, PSV Eindhoven- the number one in the league in the Netherlands- lost against the number three of the second league.
"It can happen also in the FA Cup- there are always surprises and I hope we are not the surprise.
"When you see Cambridge and when you analyse Cambridge, they play very direct with long balls.
"They have five or six players who are taller than 1 metre  90 so for us it will be difficult to defend against.
"That is why you have to prepare yourself very good- I have heard that for us we will beat this team easy but I think it is not so easy to beat Cambridge United."

Take a glance at his glittering CV and you will see that van Gaal has won the domestic cup in Netherlands, Spain and Germany.
Although those successes were of greater value to his previous clubs, he feels there is greater emphasis on knockout competitions in England.

"It is different more in the atmosphere, here the FA Cup is very important for the fans, for the people and also for the players. That is the difference.
In Germany, it is fantastic that you win the cup but not like here, and in Spain there are not many matches sold out and that is the difference."

Match Preview: Cambridge United v United, Friday 23rd January (19.55 kick off)

Who says the magic of the FA Cup is dead? This fourth round tie pits the 11 time winners against Cambridge United, a League Two side whose modest Abbey Stadium has a capacity of just over 8,000.

It is David v Goliath in every sense and epitomises why everybody loves the world's oldest domestic cup competition.

Robin van Persie and Luke Shaw are both fit to play and will be assessed in the final training session before Louis van Gaal makes a decision, but United are definitely without  injured trio Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Ashley Young.

Victor Valdes looks set to make his United debut and van Gaal could shuffle his pack and give outings to fringe youngsters Adnan Januzaj, Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira.

It is difficult to preview a match against a side I know very little about, but I have a feeling that this will not be easy for United.
We will start as red hot favourites to progress to the fifth round, but the game will be played out in front of a capacity crowd and a worldwide TV audience.

Ex-Liverpool defender Richard Money's outfit sit in midtable (they are 12th in League Two) and reached this stage with wins over Fleetwood, Mansfield Town (after a replay) and Luton.
Strangely enough, there is a United connection within this current Us side- former Reds youth product Luke Chadwick currently plies his trade at Cambridge.

At his pre-match press conference on Thursday, van Gaal said: “For me this game is no different to any other: I will prepare my team for Cambridge like we prepared for QPR.
"In our mind we might believe we are facing a weaker opponent but still we have to beat them."
On Valdes: "I read that already he is picked, this is strange, I cannot answer this question.
"You will have to wait and see. I do not tell the media my line-up."

Form guide: Cambridge D L L W W W United W D D W L W 
Match odds: Cambridge 11/1 Draw 5/1 United 2/9
Referee: Chris Foy

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Valdes set for United bow

Victor Valdes is expected to make his Manchester United debut at Cambridge in Friday's FA Cup fourth round encounter.

The former Barcelona keeper, who won 21 trophies, including three Champions Leagues, six league titles and three World Club Cups in a trophy-laden career at the Nou Camp, also won the World Cup with Spain in 2010.

There is something slightly ironic, therefore, in the fact that Valdes' United debut looks set for the-less-than glamorous surroundings of Cambridge's Abbey Stadium.

Valdes, 33, signed an 18 month contract at Old Trafford earlier this month and has been on the bench for the last two Premier League games at QPR and at home to Southampton.

Ever-present David De Gea is unquestionably the first choice but Valdes will get his chance with manager Louis van Gaal looking likely to field a number of younger fringe players.

If he does play as expected, it will be his first action for ten months after he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in Barca's clash with Celta Vigo. 
Van Gaal has emphasized that Valdes' arrival at Old Trafford will not affect David De Gea's United career, and moved quickly to re-assure fans that the 24-year old will pen a new deal amid speculation about his future.

United defender Chris Smalling has said that the United squad have been impressed by Valdes in training, despite his long-injury lay off.
The centre-back said:
“On the training field he's so sharp, very agile, a good communicator and a great addition to the club.
“We all look up to him as he has achieved so much in his career, but he is not done yet and we all look forward to striving for future success with Victor on board in the near future.”

It is thought that van Gaal wants to give Valdes a taste of first-team action to ensure he is prepared to stand-in for De Gea should his no 1 become unavailable through injury before the end of the season.

We will come good under Louis van Gaal- but 3-5-2 will not take us forward

In six months at United, Louis van Gaal's favourite buzzword has been "philosophy".I have a good idea what this "philosophy" involves: team-work, communication and adaptability, and for the most part, there have been positive signs that United are improving and moving forward.

However, for the Reds to truly flourish under a manager who has had success wherever he has gone, he needs to ditch his favoured 3-5-2 system and revert back to the 4-4-2 formation that has served United so well down the years.
The hallmarks of great United sides from down the years has been high-tempo, on-the-front-foot, all out attacking football with width and pace provided by surging wingers.

We have always played with an element of risk: in my opinion, the current formation has discouraged this and taken away the speed and dynamism United are famous for.

This, in short, is the problem with 3-5-2: it has made our build-up play slow, hesitant and focused on ball retention over scoring chances.

There have been positives with the system: Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young are men re-born under the van Gaal regime and, beyond doubt, United have improved from the shambolic mess of last season.

We had an idea that van Gaal might implement the system at Old Trafford when his Holland side played it, admittedly with great success, in last summer's World Cup in Brazil. 

But it is not going to take United forward.

Gary Neville, who along with his brother Phil, Paul Scholes and the vast majority of fans,  have criticised van Gaal's continued usage of a flawed system.Neville said:They play the ball out from the back, which is fine- most good sides do- but the build-up play and tempo is too slow.
“The three central defenders are on the ball too much, they pass between them and pose no threat to the opposition, they don't take enough attacking risk by using the 3-5-2 system.
“When they go to 4-4-2, there is less possession but more threat, more chances created and more creativity on the ball.
“United lack dynamism and my main problem with the 3-5-2 is that it focuses on monopolising possession and valuing ball retention over creating scoring chances.”

United fans have grown impatient- not angry- at van Gaal's reluctance to move away from the system- chanting "4-4-2" and "attack, attack, attack" at the manager during the dire first half at QPR on Saturday.
United's switch to a 4-4-2 diamond in the second half was the catalyst for the 2-0 win. 

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Reds to face step into the unknown in the FA Cup

Manchester United will face a step into the unknown when they travel to League Two outfit Cambridge on Friday in the FA Cup fourth round.
A city famous for its university and annual Boat Race against rivals Oxford will be thrust into the footballing spotlight on Friday when Louis van Gaal's 11 time winners are in town as we bid for a place in the fifth round for the first time since SAF's retirement.
The two Uniteds have only ever met twice before, in the two legs of a League Cup second round tie in 1991/92- the year before the Red Devils ended the 26-year wait for a league title.
A strong Reds side won 3-0 in the first leg at Old Trafford through goals from current Hull City boss Steve Bruce, current United assistant Ryan Giggs and Brian McClair. The second leg was a 1-1 draw 10 days later at Abbey Stadium, with McClair again netting the goal for the visitors.

Cambridge's only goal of the tie was scored by Dion Dublin, who was promptly signed by Sir Alex Ferguson the following summer.
The hosts are managed by ex-Liverpool defender Richard Money and, in their first season back in the Football League after a nine year absence, currently sit 12th in the fourth tier.

Their home ground is the 8,000-capacity Abbey Stadium and, although United are overwhelming favourites for the game, it would be foolish to write the Us off completely.
The Reds were taken to a replay by then-Conference sides Exeter City in 2005 and Burton Albion a year later, and although United eventually came out on top on both occasions, those results proved that games such as this can be potential stumbling blocks.

The Reds knocked out League One Yeovil 2-0 to reach this stage and Money's men knocked out Fleetwood Town, Mansfield Town (at the second attempt after a replay) and Luton in the first three rounds to set up this glamour game against van Gaal's side.

Friday's fourth round encounter will be screened live on BBC One with a 1955 (why not 2000?) kick-off.
Below: Cambridge United's Abbey Stadium and the tunnel that the two Uniteds will line up in ahead of kick-off on Friday. 

Saturday 17 January 2015

Our risks paid off- Van Gaal

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal believes second-half tactical changes that saw United revert to a four man defence were key to ensuring an important win against QPR in the capital this afternoon.

A scrappy first half saw few chances for the visitors with United struggling to find a rhythm against Harry Redknapp's stubborn, resilient outfit.
The manager felt his team's play needed an injection of pace and introduced James Wilson to the fray, in addition to the earlier arrival of Marouane Fellaini.

"I think pace is important, always, which is why we have tried to play with Angel Di Maria as a striker"  explained Van Gaal.
The manager added: "When I changed the shape, I wanted speed or pace also in the attacking line, this is why I changed in that way.
"It's a change in attack that brings lots of risk, but we have won 2-0 and I think we have deserved this scoreline."

At the other end of the field, the boss was also pleased with a shut-out at the back, with Marcos Rojo and Antonio Valencia making an impression.

"The defensive organisation has been good from the beginning, we have only had one match against Leicester City that was five goals and, because of that, we have bad average against us, but I think we have a very good organisation so that is not a problem" explained the Dutchman. 

On his tactical approach in Saturday's game van Gaal said: "I know in advance that when we play with four midfielders in a diamond that we create more chances, but then the balance of the team is also weak, I think.
"You see this today as we had created chances but so had QPR.
"We have to decide every week how we have to play, and that's the question."
On the form of David De Gea: "I think he's been playing well all this season, we have a lot of clean sheets and that is mainly down to him, he is very important to us."


MANCHESTER UNITED returned to winning ways after second half goals from substitutes Marouane Fellaini and James Wilson earned the Reds a hard-fought victory at struggling QPR.

Van Gaal again persisted with his 3-5-2 formation, a system that makes United hesitant, unconvinving and one-paced going forward, but after a half-time tactical tweak the boss was rewarded with a vastly improved second half performance.The recalled Radamel Falcao had an early chance to put United in front but he could only fire straight at QPR stopper Rob Green after Mata had played him in.

Predictably, 13-goal Charlie Austin was Rangers' main threat in front of the watching England manager Roy Hodgson and he brought the best out of David De Gea with two well-struck volleys.

With the interval approaching, van Gaal felt the first signs of unrest from the travelling United fans with chants of "4-4-2" and "attack, attack, attack" in the face of a lacklustre, insipid first half showing.He duly acted and introduced Fellaini for Juan Mata at the break, also reverting to a more orthodox back four.

Our play immediately carried a greater threat and it took a brilliant flying save from Green to turn away Falcao's header when he seemed certain to nod home Angel Di Maria's pinpoint cross.

United were turning the screw and, just before the hour mark, finally broke the home side's stubborn resistance.Van Gaal's decision to bring on Fellaini paid dividends as Wayne Rooney's clever pass played in Antonio Valencia who in turn picked out the giant Belgian to power home his finish.

QPR's threat had diminished but a defensive mix-up (is there ever a United game without one...) between Michael Carrick and Marcos Rojo presented Eduardo Vargas with a chance to equalise but he couldn't pick out the unmarked Austin and was crowded out.
With QPR pressing for an equaliser in desperation, United made the game safe in the dying minutes.
The raw pace of young substitute striker Wilson had caused the home side's defence problems and when he had a shot on the counter-attack well saved, he followed up to slot in the rebound, make the game safe and give United a first league win of 2015.
United Faithful Man of the Match: Marouane Fellaini 
Overall team performance: 7/10

Friday 16 January 2015


Manchester  United boss Louis van Gaal says striker Radamel Falcao still needs to prove himself at Old Trafford.

The 28 year old forward has scored three goals since joining United on a £6m loan move from big spending AS Monaco in the summer.

Van Gaal said: "If a player costs £95m or £5,000 to me this makes no difference, you still have to prove yourself."

Falcao was left out of United's squad for the 1-0 home loss to Southampton and with questions also being asked of Robin Van Persie's future, there is a degree of uncertainty in the Old Trafford ranks. 

Falcao has started just seven league games, admittedly being hampered by injury, but his agent Jorge Mendes has suggested that Falcao may not extend his stay beyond the end of this season.

United have an option to activate a £40m buy-out clause for the striker, who earns £265,000 a week.
Van Gaal added: "He has to prove himself, this we have agreed. We have made this deal and everything is clear and it is not the end of the year (the duration of his loan spell) so he has the chance for this still.
"For the manager it is the quality of the training sessions, the quality in his performances and matches and he has to compare favourably.
"A player of £95m has to prove himself also, maybe he has less motivation so I have to be like that."  

Amid talk of another major spending spree during this transfer window, van Gaal moved quickly to quell these rumours.
He said: "I don't think we shall be very active as not many players of a certain level are available, when we buy a player he has to be better than the players that are playing now and this is a difficult job." 


MANCHESTER UNITED striker Robin Van Persie looks set to miss the visit to West London with the ankle injury that forced him off against Southampton.

Radamel Falcao, controversially left out of that match, could come back in up front as a result and Ander Herrera could also be given a rare league start.
Ashley Young is United's only other absentee but Marcos Rojo and Rafael are both in contention after recovering from their injuries. 

These two sides last met back in September at Old Trafford and the Reds emerged comfortable 4-0 winners in LVG's first victory as boss. 

Despite their lowly league position- only Leicester are below Harry Redknapp's strugglers- the trip to West London will pose a test for Louis van Gaal's side.
Only Hull and Liverpool have come away from Loftus Road with all three points, all five of their Premier League wins have come at home and in 13-goal Charlie Austin, Rangers possess a natural finisher of genuine quality. 

United's form on the road is patchy to say the least with our only away wins coming at Arsenal and Southampton in the league plus the FA Cup win at Yeovil. 

Speaking at his post match press conference on Friday, van Gaal doesn't expect an easy game.
He said: "It's always the same, no game is a guarantee, Manchester United are a big club and we are aware that our opponents QPR have been strong on their home ground.
"They have a style of play that is very difficult for us, we have seen that already. They play a lot of long balls, they have strong strikers and we have to find a plan to beat them because of this.
"Going forward, the Champions League is our goal, of course we want to be champions but you have to win matches at Southampton or Aston Villa.
"When you do not do this you cannot be champions but our goal is now to be within the first four because we want to play Champions League." 

Match odds: QPR 4/1 United 3/5 Draw 31/10 (bwin)
Form guide: QPR W L D D L L  United: D W D D W L
Referee: N Swarbrick 

Monday 12 January 2015


Louis van Gaal has confirmed Dutch striker Robin Van Persie was substituted during United's 1-0 defeat to Southampton because he picked up an injury.

With the game delicately poised at 0-0 at the time, replacing our star striker at such a crucial stage seemed strange but the boss has since confirmed that it was an enforced change.
Van Persie was replaced by Ander Herrera on the hour mark during Sunday's disappointing home reverse and headed straight for the tunnel in obvious discomfort.

At the end of his post-match press conference, van Gaal told reporters that van Persie had an ankle injury that would be assessed further on Monday.

Luke Shaw and Angel Di Maria also exited the action midway through the second half prompting fears they both may have aggravated previous injuries, but van Gaal was quick to provide a positive update on both players.

Shaw was not injured but he needs match rhythm” he explained
“Also Di Maria was not injured but he needs match rhythm as well I think, that is why I had to change my team.
“Of course we have players who are coming back but then we also need match rhythm.
“It is not so simple to play in the Premier League so I had to adapt to the circumstances.”

Van Persie will not attend tonight's FIFA Ballon D'Or ceremony because of the injury. 


MANCHESTER UNITED were beaten for the first time in 11 games as Southampton's smash and grab raid saw them leapfrog the Reds into third place in the Premier League.

In a game of few chances, United dominated the match but substitute Dusan Tadic scored the only goal when he tapped home from close range in the 70th minute.

The Reds welcomed Phil Jones and Daley Blind back into the starting XI and Angel Di Maria was restored to the line-up in an unfamiliar centre forward position but it was Southampton who could have taken a first minute lead.

Nathaniel Clyne fired narrowly wide from the edge of the area after only 48 seconds before Di Maria went close for United and Jose Fonte blocked a Robin Van Persie effort.

The visitors had come to frustrate United, defend in numbers and play for a draw and to their credit they executed this game plan superbly.

What turned out to be the decisive moment came in the 70th minute when Southampton took the lead against the run of play out of nothing.
At the end of a rare breakaway, Grazziano Pelle's shot struck the post and rebounded to Tadic who slotted in.

United took off former Saints full-back Luke Shaw and switched Daley Blind to the left, and the Dutchman's teasing deliveries presented the Reds with two good chances to level.
First, he whipped in a dangerous cross which Fraser Forster failed to deal with and the ball dropped to Juan Mata who lashed his shot inches wide from a tight angle.

The two combined again minutes later when Blind squared for Mata who could only lift the ball over the bar from six yards out as the home side's frustration grew.

Despite five minutes of added time and late pressure from the Reds, the Saints held on to go above United and record their first win at Old Trafford for 27 years.

United Faithful Man of the Match: Luke Shaw
Overall team performance: 6.5/10

Sunday 11 January 2015

Van Gaal reacts to Southampton defeat

Louis van Gaal rued missed chances following United's 1-0 defeat to Southampton on Sunday but accepted the visitors defended well in the Barclays Premier League encounter at Old Trafford.

The Reds controlled the majority of the game but struggled to break down a well-organised defence that showed great energy while pressing the ball. In the end, Ronald Koeman’s team bagged all three points courtesy of Dusan Tadic’s 69th-minute winner.
We didn’t create so many chances in spite of dominating the game,” said van Gaal. “We gave Southampton a chance in the first minute but after that we have dominated the game without creating many chances.
"We created chances at the end, and we played with our heart. I put Fellaini at thetop and then we made three big chances but it was not enough.
I think Mata had three chances but okay, we cannot change the result anymore.”
Asked why United could not score, the boss continued: “Because they were defending well. You have always got to take into account that the opponent can play well.

They defended well, [they had] good organisation, but they came for a draw I think and they go away with a victory. That is disappointing."

Saturday 10 January 2015


United manager Louis van Gaal is confident his side will discover more rhythm and consistency in the second half of the season, particularly when players such as Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo are available for selection.

Van Gaal was asked if his rejuvenated squad will produce more consistent performances in the coming weeks now that nearly everyone is back available for selection.

“I hope so because now the players are coming back and I will have a full selection of players within two or three weeks.
“Normally we should then play better because a lot of players who were also fixed in my line-up, Daley Blind and Di Maria for example- are now coming back.
“Marcos Rojo was also fixed in my line-up and I didn't have the chance to build up the team with the same players.
“I hope I can do this now, but you never know.
“Blind has trained already for one week along with Rojo and Fellaini also trained with us this week”

Ashley Young is now United's only injury with the hamstrung winger turned wingback ruled out for between “four and six weeks” according to his manager.

The usually stoic Dutchman was in jovial mood with reporters in his Carrington press conference on Friday.
“We now only have one player injured- Ashley Young, it is unbelivable, and for me, I think a miracle”

Blind and Rojo have returned to first team training, and although this weekend's match against Southampton is likely to come too soon, they are not far away from a return.

New United signing Victor Valdes has been signed as “competition” for David De Gea, Van Gaal revealed.

Friday 9 January 2015


 Unbeaten in 11 games, United tackle Southampton with their manager Louis van Gaal able to pick from a virtually fully fit squad for the first time this season.Only Ashley Young is missing, with the wing back out for between four and six weeks with a hamstring injury. Robin Van Persie and Michael Carrick, who both sat out the 2-0 FA Cup win at Yeovil should come back in and Angel Di Maria, who impressed as a substitute in that match, also looks set to start.Rafael and Luke Shaw, against his former club, are available despite both being substituted at half-time at Huish Park.

Speaking at Friday's press conference, Van Gaal said:“I have to select, for the first time in my career at Manchester United, the 11 players and the 18 and everybody is fit and healthy except Ashley Young.“Rafael and Shaw are both ready, they are both not injured, maybe we don't take any risks with Rafael, but Shaw can definitely play.

“Southampton are a team who, like us, are fighting for a top place in the league but we are at home where the fans have been patient and fantastic, I am sure they will again support us in a very crucial game for Manchester United.”

Ronald Koeman's high flying Saints travel to Old Trafford only one point behind United and sit fourth in the Barclays Premier League.The two sides' last meeting was as recently as December at St Mary's when a Van Persie brace gave the visitors a somewhat fortunate 2-1 win.

Southampton have surprised many this season and come to the Theatre of Dreams on the back of a current five match unbeaten run which has revived their push for a top four finish after a run of five successive league and cup defeats.Manchester United are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League matches against Southampton, winning six and drawing two.

Match odds: United 5/6 Southampton 7/4 Draw 14

Form guide: United W D W D D W Southampton L W W D W D

Referee: Phil Dowd




Hi. I'm Jamie, and I have decided to start up a new blog through two of my life passions: journalism and the greatest football club on the planet: Manchester United (OK that's just my opinion).

My affinity with United started when I was six when my uncle took me to Old Trafford for the first time, and from then on, I was hooked....

I have been a sports journalist in my local  area since my teens and, as I enjoy it as a hobby, I decided I wanted to do something a little different. There's a gap in the market for a United blog, so I thought: why not combine the two? United Faithful is the result....

On United Faithful, you will find anything and everything to do with the Red Devils. Transfer news, injury updates, match reports and previews, player profiles and contributions from fellow United fans (and opposition fans as well).

We will regularly keep you updated with all the latest goings on at Old Trafford. We also have a Twitter and Facebook page where you can all get involved.

Any ideas you have we would love to hear about it. Anything to do with United, the more tenuous the better, please get in touch...


Thursday 8 January 2015


United Faithful: THE blog for Manchester United fans
Welcome to "United Faithful" - your regular Manchester United blog on all things Devils.

Injury updates, transfer news, match reports, player profiles and anything else to do with the biggest club in the world. You'll find it all here.

The blog for United fans, written by United fans (and maybe a few opposition fans as well) ... So, get in touch if you fancy writing for us!