There were of course times when Sir Alex’s Manchester United teams scraped narrow victories against poor opposition that they should have battered.
But seldom in the last thirty years have I seen such a poor performance from United against a team of this level.
You could argue that Aston Villa were fighting for their Premier League status and put in a superhuman performance. But the reality was that an escape from the dreaded drop became unfeasible weeks ago.
And Aston Villa didn’t play particularly well. But, in the last 10 minutes Manchester United were clinging on for their lives against a team which started the day with a goal difference of -41 and which had only recorded 3 league wins all season.
In the end United were genuinely fortunate to escape with three points as Villa hit the post and De Gea pulled off some typically top stops in the last 10 minutes. Anyone coming into the game late would be forgiven for thinking that United were holding on to a lead in a Champions League semi as they repeatedly hoofed the ball away and couldn’t keep possession for more than a few seconds at a time.
Manchester United were awful. And with a team largely created by Louis van Gaal.
The cupboard is well and truly bare under the management of Louis van Gaal and the fact that it has been allowed to go on for so long beggars belief.
We would suggest that an FA Cup win would be bad for United at this point. Because this could keep Van Gaal in his job for another year of drab football and poor results which will prolong the mediocrity and increase Manchester United’s chances of ‘doing a Liverpool.’
Some think that Manchester United are too wealthy to slip into the abyss. But where has their wealth got them over the last two years? They are miles off the pace right now.
Increasingly over the last ten years the top teams are about their front three. Manchester United have a talented but coltish front line and have only scored 40 league goals all season.
But the real problem is more with the style than the personnel. Time and again on Saturday United chose the backward pass instead of an obvious forward touch. In so doing they repeatedly put the entire Villa team between the ball and the goal. These tactics stink and with his job on the line you might expect LvG to throw caution to the wind – especially against a side 12 points adrift at the foot of the table.
Louis van Gaal’s system is outdated and simply doesn’t profit in this league. The sideways passing possession game hasn’t worked and it’s time for Woodward to act.
Down in London Manchester City demonstrated that they are streets ahead of United with the sort of devastating counter-attacking play against Chelsea that used to serve The Reds so well. City weren’t obsessed with possession percentages at Stamford Bridge. They were more concerned with making it count when they did have the ball.
Ed Woodward looks like a rabbit in the headlights right now – paralysed by fear and seemingly desperate to avoid ending his cosy relationship with Van Gaal. Why?
This has gone way beyond loyalty. This is dreadful management of the club. And all Woodward has to do for everyone to forget how ostensibly awful he is at his job would be to press the button. Welcome Mourinho to the club and watch United quickly return to the boil.
We are certain that within 3 months of football any Mourinho dissenters would be fully onside. Jose has made a few mistakes but who hasn’t? The fact is that he knows exactly how to build great teams. And he would be adored at Old Trafford. Overlooking Mourinho because of his personality would be like refusing a lift in a Rolls Royce when you have 50 miles to walk, because you don’t like the colour of the seats.
We think that by not making the change at Christmas Woodward has cost the club millions in Champions League revenue. Because, based on City’s performance yesterday, United have a better chance of catching Arsenal who sit three points ahead with a game in hand and two winnable home games over the next week.
The only way to stop the rot is to appoint Jose Mourinho. Talk of signing anyone else is ridiculous. Mauricio Pochettino is impressive but far too risky having only overseen one decent season at Tottenham with no silverware to show for it.
In terms of available managers Jose Mourinho is miles ahead of the competition and if Manchester United miss out on him through this period of idiotic indecision then we genuinely fear for the club over the next 5 years.
Having no obvious solution to a massive problem is one thing. But the answer is slapping Woodward in the face on a daily basis like a large wet, smelly fish.
It’s embarrassing to watch the story unfold right now. Manchester United are being lead by a spent force who is too proud to see that his gameplan doesn’t work, with an executive vice-chairman who apparently still believes that LvG can turn things around. It’s difficult to grasp how Ed Woodward could have been allowed to rise into a job which requires genuine football knowledge and nous.