Monday 19 August 2019

Manchester United may have to get used to Thursday night football: Five talking points from Old Trafford stalemate

Manchester United's Morgan Schneiderlin (centre) appears dejected after the final whistle during the UEFA Champions League game at Old Trafford
Manchester United's Morgan Schneiderlin (centre) appears dejected after the final whistle during the UEFA Champions League game at Old Trafford

Chris Bascombe

Manchester United may be facing an early Champions League exit, nothing will get in the way of Louis van Gaal's love for Wayne Rooney, and three more things.

United may need to adjust to Thursday nights

Failure to beat PSV means United’s Champions League future is likely to depend on winning away at Wolfsburg in their final game. A position of authority in their group was surrendered with this turgid performance.

Van Gaal can protest as much as he wants about whether the football at Old Trafford is dull, but the eyes can not deceive those raised on a feast of zippy, high tempo attacking football under Alex Ferguson.

The Van Gaal era may ultimately prove successful - a productive exercise in ship steadying - but we will look back on this as a holding period until United appoint a coach who will work to a less conservative blueprint. It’s a long time since the word ‘swashbuckling’ made an appearance in a United match report.

Manchester United's Jesse Lingard looks dejected after missing a chance to score Reuters / Phil Noble Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Louis van Gaal really loves Wayne Rooney

When Louis van Gaal was asked if Rooney would make an automatic return to the starting line-up after illness, it was akin to asking Antony if he’d make a date free in his diary for a liaison with Cleopatra.

Van Gaal teased Rooney would have to wait and see, but we all knew better. The love between manager and captain ensures the striker has a place, regardless of whether the team won in his absence.

It seems no matter how much the clamour for Rooney to be left out, Van Gaal is more adamant he should retain his place.

Manchester United's Jesse Lingard and Wayne Rooney rue a missed chance on goal during the 0-0 draw with PSV Eindhoven.

United fans know how to pay a glittering tribute in the social media age

Top marks to the United fans for their ingenious tribute to George Best seven minutes into the game – a remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the legendary winger (and former number seven’s) death.

Smart phones lit the stands in a glittering exhibition inspired by a social media trend.

“There is a Light That Will Never Go Out,” was the campaign. It was quite a sight inside Old Trafford. Expect copycats to be inspired because this worked marvellously. “Georgie… Simply the Best” read a banner. Never have Morrissey and Tina Turner made such an effective union.

General view as Manchester United fans wave lights during the seventh minute of the match in honour of former player George Best

United’s central midfielders and strikers may need to communicate via carrier pigeon

The space between Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin and United’s strike pair of Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial must require them to be formally introduced in the dressing room after each match.

Such is the distance between them, the deep-sitting midfielders may as well dispatch a postcard to get a message to the other end of the field.

Van Gaal was appointed to restore an attacking tradition at Old Trafford, but the ultra caution is more reminiscent of the David Moyes era than anything Alex Ferguson would have constructed.

Football Soccer - Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven - UEFA Champions League Group Stage - Group B - Old Trafford, Manchester, England - 25/11/15 Manchester United's Bastian Schweinsteiger is substituted for Marouane Fellaini Reuters / Phil Noble Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Anthony Martial needs help

The teenager was by far the most enterprising attacker, but most of his encouraging moments in the first half were a product of individual moments of trickery. How he must look in envy at strikers whose pace is utilised with the assistance of midfielder or number ten of vision, penetrating packed defences.

The French youngster’s strengths were not utilised enough as the ball moved from back to front in ponderous style. By the time Van Gaal sent on his ‘plan B’ – Marouane Fellaini – the direct aerial approach was favoured ahead of working possession speedily to the feet of Martial. This is not the United way.

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Anthony Martial with an effort on goal against PSV.

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