Tuesday 29 March 2016

A year on from LVG's purple patch- has there been any progress?

United had a spring in their step when the clocks went forward in March 2015 in the most promising period of Louis van Gaal's fraught tenure at Old Trafford. 

After wins over North East giants Sunderland and Newcastle, the Reds really turned it on against Spurs at ours and then went to Anfield and pummelled Liverpool.

Aston Villa were dispatched with relative ease and Manchester City were played off the park at Old Trafford in the demolition derby.

We were third in the Premier League, a little behind rivals in the scoring stakes but as tight as a shoestring at the back- it looked like it had all clicked and a golden new era beckoned.

It all went pear-shaped after that but van Gaal still felt on solid ground when he was able to declare during his memorable eight-minute end-of-season player awards speech that he felt the Reds were "very close".

United have won three fewer matches this time around, and, though the encouraging derby win put us back in the top four race, we are still three places lower in the league table.

The defence is still largely held together by the heroics of DDG, but the biggest plus from last spring is that Chris Smalling has come on a ton as a reliable defender.
Last April he was handed a new four-year contract with Van Gaal declaring "He's improved and developed immensely in the short time I have been at the club".

Angel di Maria was in the last throes of his troubled United career, Marouane Fellaini was a regular and Ander Herrera was hailed as our best signing of the season.
Two goals against Villa a year ago this weekend highlighted his increasingly burgeoning impact.

But the Spaniard has not really progressed, Juan Mata- influential in the purple patch- is now running hot and cold.
The two major summer signings of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger have not paid dividends- United's engine room looks no more masterful, powerful or creative than it did a year ago.

Wayne Rooney was shouldering the goalscoring burden a year ago- Chicharito had left, Danny Welbeck had left and Robin van Persie was facing the exit door after an underwhelming season.

The purchase of Anthony Martial and the emergence of Marcus Rashford has energised the forward line and their return is decent but they are not getting enough support from elsewhere and are being let down by the number of chances being created.

There was a belief a year ago that the negativity surrounding LVG's early months was just the Dutchman building a foundation and he might kick on and give the fans the attacking football they so craved.

The same old complaints are still the major bone of contention. 

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