Friday 18 March 2016

Poor tactics and bad game management cost us dear

Louis van Gaal's decisions and tactical set up again made little to no sense against Liverpool.

Chasing three goals to rescue the tie, his rigid and inflexible 4-2-3-1 system - with Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini as the axis - was never likely to produce the result we needed.

United's spirit and endeavour was admirable, especially in the form of young forwards Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, but there is no surge of old in this team.

Once Philippe Coutinho's goal went in there was no sense, no belief, inside Old Trafford that a come back from days of yesteryear would ensue.

It did not.

Ander Herrera was missing, which did have an affect on United's tempo and intensity but why Van Gaal ignored the gritty steel of Morgan Schneiderlin in favour of the incompatible Carrick and Fellaini was hard to fathom.

The Frenchman has, like many of his team-mates, suffered an inconsistent season, but when on form his engine and industry is important to United but it appears Van  Gaal remains unconvinced. 

Not for the first time, his substitutions were extremely strange.

Granted, United never looked like finding the three goals we needed to go through - and the tie had all but gone by then - but Van Gaal should have at least been seen to try and go for it.

Instead, the cavalry consisted of right-back Antonio Valencia, left-back Matteo Darmian and veteran Bastian Schweinsteiger in place of another veteran in Michael Carrick.

Van Gaal has a paucity of attacking options available but the one forward thinking option he did have, Memphis Depay, was left kicking his heels on the bench.

Why was Juan Mata on the right? 

His best performances have come in his favoured position tucked in behind in the number 10 position, but United needed to play on the front foot and the Spaniard is wasted out wide.

He lacks the pace to go past people and instead is at his best pulling the strings as a playmaker- as he has done to great affect in recent weeks - so his positional switch to the wing made little sense.

Van Gaal and United's game management was, once again, not good enough.

In the ten minutes between Martial's penalty and half-time, we needed to consolidate, solidify, play sensibly and regroup.

Instead, naivety and inexperience struck again as the Reds went for the jugular too early, exposing themselves at the back.

Conceding on the stroke of half-time killed us and left us needing four to progress, which we never looked capable of. 

United were once trailblazers and pioneers, feared and revered throughout Europe under Busby and Ferguson (even Moyes got us into the Champions League quarter finals!!) 

Out at the round of 16 in Europe's secondary club competition, those days couldn't look any further away right now. 

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