Like most clubs up and down the land Manchester United’s balance sheet is blighted by the odd shocking signing from time to time.
While we disagree with those who suggest that Louis van Gaal’s purchases have been a complete failure his tenure has not been without transfer mistakes.
Radamel Falcao was awful. Angel di Maria wasn’t awful, but was badly mismanaged. And then there are players like Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin who cost an awful lot of money and have so far failed to live up to their price tags on a regular basis.
Our gripe with Louis van Gaal is not so much about who he buys – indeed, the likes of Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Timothy Fosu-Mensah may well prove to be masterful coups – but who he selects.
Angel di Maria was criminally wasted on the bench when United most needed pace. Playing Mata on the right side was the stuff of pure insanity in a league this fast and athletic. The persistent use of Ashley Young last year and the underuse of Memphis Depay this have also left a bitter taste in the mouth of The Football Freak. And don’t get us started on Fellaini.
But the worst decision of Van Gaal’s tenure surely has to be his current penchant for Jesse Lingard.
He may play well and even score at home against Leicester on Sunday. Like Mata and Fellaini, Lingard is a decent player. But decent players aren’t going to get Manchester United back to the top of the pile and they have been proving that for the last few years.
You might think it admirable that Lingard – a local lad – is being given the chance to play for Manchester United at this time. But we think that he’s very lucky to be wearing the United shirt.
He’s got no real pace. He never beats his man. He seldom puts in a decent cross and you can easily forget that he is playing for United altogether. There is a line of argument which suggests that Lingard gets picked over Memphis because of his defensive capabilities and the fact that he is prepared to track back.
If this is true then it’s a classic example of Manchester United’s problem under Van Gaal. They are simply too defensive. After all, they have only scored 42 Premier League goals all season. Yet Lingard is potentially selected because he defends!
Sometimes we aren’t sure if he is even aware that he is supposed to be one of Manchester United’s three specialist forwards in the side.
He flits around the middle areas of the park busily with pseudo-purpose like Juan Mata. But he doesn’t do any damage in the final third. He rarely if ever gets behind the opposition back four and TFF believes that most opponents would be delighted to see his name on the Manchester United team sheet. Manchester United need a fearsome front four. Lingard is nearly and tidy but rarely very effective.
Meanwhile Memphis rots on the bench because he’s not consistent enough. He’s got pace to burn, power to accelerate away from his man. He’s got guile, tricks and can beat a defender one on one. He puts in a fantastic cross off either flank and he has scored more goals (7) than Lingard (5) even though he doesn’t get anywhere near as many minutes as the Englishman.
Depay could be a world-beater but he isn’t going to improve by stewing on the bench. Fergie played Ronnie through the erratic stage of his formative career and look how he turned out. Memphis may never be that good but he is being badly mismanaged at this stage of his career.
Louis van Gaal moans about a lack of pace in his side yet he plays Lingard over Memphis. We are all for young players coming in and improving over time. But Lingard is 23 now and offers so little going forward that it’s obvious he’s not a top level offensive player and never will be.
Surely if LvG wants to give youth a chance then he should be putting an arm around Memphis and assimilating him into the team rather than wasting his time with an utterly ineffective placeholder.
Our opinion? Lingard will never be a prominent starter in a successful Manchester United side. He’s not being seriously considered for EURO 2016. He’s got a nice touch and he will have a decent career. But you have to be ruthless in modern football at the very top level. Would Lingard find a place in the first team at Bayern, Barca, Real, Dortmund, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Atletico, Liverpool or Juventus? If the answer is no, as we believe it is, then Manchester United are surely kidding themselves by selecting him.
TFF would take an erratic Memphis over the laboured and uninspiring Lingard every day of the week.
Manchester United fans: is Lingard a proper United player?