Monday 11 April 2016

Tottenham result seemed inevitable but Van Gaal's tactics baffle (again)

From the moment United's team bus arrived late at White Hart Lane, you got the feeling that it wasn't going to be our day.

The joke doing the rounds of social media was that it wasn't the first time a coach has held the Reds back but - that aside - the result at Spurs should come as no surprise.

We came up against a very good side, arguably the best footballing outfit in the league and, with nothing to play for from our point of view, they were always going to play with greater purpose.

Nothing to play for, I hear you ask? 

The Reds are out of the Champions League places but such is our state of flux and rebuilding is finishing fourth any different to fifth, sixth or even seventh? 

United are a world away from challenging for European honours and are at least three years away from doing so, so does it really matter where we find ourselves next season?

In my eyes, if you're not going to win the Champions League then there's not much to be gained from playing in it (apart from the obvious financial incentive but that's no barrier for United).

Having turned up to the ground late, United seemed set up to contain the hosts and finished with only five shots across the 90 minutes.

Bizarrely, Louis van Gaal decided to substitute young striker Marcus Rashford at half-time and sent on winger Ashley Young, who played as the furthest man forward for the second 45 minutes.

Van Gaal's reasoning for this was he wanted Young's pace and penetration to pin Spurs back, but, with Anthony Martial stationed on the left, it seemed a nonsensical decision.

Young was played up front based on one 60-minute showing there for the under 21s but it was the latest in a long line of unfathomable tactics from Van Gaal this season. 

It would be easy to blame the defeat on that call from the manager but, in truth, Spurs had threatened throughout and it was only a matter of time before they scored. 

Young made little impression, while 18-year-old Tim Fosu-Mensah was United's best player, defending bravely and combatively during his 68 minutes.

It was telling, therefore, that the Reds capitulation began two minutes after the young full back's withdrawal.
Just two minutes after Matteo Darmian came on because of an injury to Fosu-Mensah, Tottenham broke the deadlock in a move that came from his side of the pitch.

I'd much rather win on Wednesday at West Ham - United's task now is to ensure there's no repeat of this result in the capital's east end. 

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