Wednesday 21 August 2019

Stephanie Roche: Manchester United are too easy to defend against

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney has copped a lot of flak in recent weeks
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney has copped a lot of flak in recent weeks

Stephanie Roche

Champions league football returns to Old Trafford for the second time this season tonight and fans will be hoping for another win in the group to add to the point the team brought back from Moscow last time out. However, since that trip to Moscow things haven't quite ticked for Van Gaal's men.

It has been a disappointing run of results for Manchester United in the last week.

Three scoreless draws in a row including extra time against Middlesborough.

Over 300 minutes without a goal but more worryingly for United very few attempts.

It's not hard to see where the problems lie, United have become a team with little pace and imagination in the final third and are subsequently not very difficult to defend against.

Louis van Gaal's tactics have been criticised heavily by fans and former players with calls for system and personnel changes. I believe he's working towards a team that can dominate possession and keep control of the game but transition from that to quick incisive attacking play.

They haven't got it quite right yet but it seems two thirds of what he wants from his team is in place. The Everton result (3-0) in Goodison being an example of what Van Gaal is looking for on a more regular basis.

The main target on the pitch for United's attacking impotency is of course Wayne Rooney. The club captain and face of the club will always draw media attention and opinion from the stands.

In good times probably receives too much praise and likewise in negative times is probably being criticised too much right now. He's badly out of form but he has been restricted by United's inability to create and maintain attacks in the final third.

It's difficult to play upfront for a team that is not producing much in the final third. Your touches are limited, defenders surround you in numbers as the lone forward and chances to score are few and far between.

But it does fall to Rooney to lead this team as captain and as the star player. I feel his best position is dropped off the front man and Anthony Martial seems to be better suited to the centre forward position.

Allowing these two to play together consistently in these positions could be the spark United need upfront to jolt them back to life this season.

I would like to see that front two starting tonight against CSKA where any win would be welcomed but some goals added to the performance would be ideal for Louis Van Gaal's men.

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