Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admitted his concern for the future with the lack of goals for United in recent matches, including the 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in the UEFA Champions League.
United struggled to find the back of the net following the opening against Watford but the Reds managed to score on an own goal from a Bastian Schweinsteiger effort. The struggle to score continued into the more difficult matchup against PSV Eindhoven where United were held goalless at home to the Dutch side. Against Watford, United were without Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney due to injury and illness respectively. The duo returned in the fixture against PSV, but the lack of goals remained and Van Gaal showed his frustration in the post-match news conference.
“Of course I am worried but I know also that goals are coming and going. It is not a consequence of good or bad performances. Today we could have scored at least three goals.
“They were not the most difficult chances but we didn’t score and the next game you can score out of nothing. That is football.”
It seems as if the team goes through phases of goal-scoring and goal-droughts. However, this season has been a majority of goal-droughts with short stints of two to three goal games. This needs to change. With the strike force of Martial, Rooney, Memphis Depay and much more, the goals should be flooding in for United. If the case was that United were not getting shots on target, then that is a different story altogether, but this is not the case. United are creating plenty of chances and opportunities to score, and they are getting shots on target as well. Martial and Jesse Lingard had at least two decent chances each in the draw against PSV. Lingard also had plenty of chances to score for United against Watford, but could not capitalize on any of his chances. Van Gaal expressed his thoughts on United’s incapability to finish off matches:
“The result is disappointing because I have still the feeling we could have finished this game several times, in the first half more than the second.
“But in the second we had the chance of Jesse Lingard especially. In the first half Jesse Lingard played a very good game, but we didn’t play so well. In the first half I can say it was average but in the second half in spite of my changes it did not improve.
“Nevertheless we gave only one chance away in the second half so then you know at the end it is 0-0 but that is disappointing.”
One big question from the draw against PSV was the omission of Juan Mata from the starting line up. The Spaniard has been instrumental for United this season but started the match on the bench and only came on in the second half to try and help United obtain all three points. Van Gaal said that he does not think the result would have been different if Mata had started, but that is easy to say in retrospect. Van Gaal is wary of the final match of the group stage in the Champions League against Wolfsburg, but the Dutchman is optimistic:
“We have won already our home match in Wolfsburg so why can’t we win in Wolfsburg? Our away average is much better than last year.
“We are still second so we are still in the qualifying position and we have to do it in Wolfsburg but that is more difficult. It was much more easier if we did it tonight.
“It will be very difficult because Wolfsburg are the best team in our group to play against, but it is possible.
“We have won also at home and PSV has to win against Moscow, it is not so easy.”
United have a massive test in Wolfsburg, and the remainder of the season in the Premier League will not be a walk in the park for the Red Devils. Even though United sit second in both the Champions League group and on the table in the Premier League, things could look a lot different as United take on league-leading Leicester City on Saturday and Wolfsburg on 8 December. United need to get on the scoresheet more and use the strikers that the club has to connect up top and finish off matches earlier. Martial, Rooney, Memphis, Mata and Lingard can form deadly combinations in the attack for United.