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Rat race rages on as Manchester United slip up

What a difference three weeks makes hey? Even two. In the aftermath to the Chelsea defeat the mood was still reasonably chipper. Top four looked assured, and it was merely a case of win the next two games and off to the beach we go. What a difference it is to now. All of a sudden things aren’t too solid. The four point barrier is flimsy and means failure to win any of the remaining three games will make things unbearably tense.

Fortunately it hasn’t escaped the attentions of Louis van Gaal. The official Manchester United website report that the Dutchman is fully aware what yesterday’s result means for his side, and he is looking for ways to rectify the current rut. Speaking in his post match press conference, Louis van Gaal went on to say;

“Maybe you’ll remember that in all of my press conferences, I’ve said that until the end, it will be a rat race.

“I was the only one, because we were seven points ahead and I said it was still possible to slip up. I’m aware if that, my players are aware of that. We have to keep our confidence and finish our chances.”

And there Van Gaal has hit the nail on the head with what the problem is; finishing chances. Or rather the lack of doing so. This has, obviously, hindered United as failure to overturn one goal deficits has cost them dearly. And even before conceding, failure to convert pressure into leads has meant the inevitable sucker punch remains just that, inevitable. It’s really quite unacceptable from the forwards. You can blame the tactics all you want, but eventually blame must lie at the feet of the players.

Should United fail to obtain top four, the lack of goals in the run in will be entirely to blame. The defending against Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion was good (though West Brom caused one issue from a set-piece and not much more), as it has normally been against the bigger sides (looking ahead to the Arsenal game). Therefore you must look elsewhere to see where cracks are appearing, and there is no other place to look bar the top end of the park.

The unfortunate circumstances surrounding injuries currently require Wayne Rooney to play deeper. Daley Blind cannot as Luke Shaw is injured (and Blinds ability to cope with pace is rather suspect) so the potency Rooney has bought up front recently is removed and entrusted to the pointless Radamel Falcao and the finished Robin van Persie.

I still believe that top four will remain United’s come the end of the season, I don’t believe Liverpool will catch up in the alloted time. But that will depend solely upon how United do. A win at Selhurst Park will need to be earned, and Michael Carrick returning would help no end. Though if he doesn’t, perhaps it is gamble time. Van Persie and Falcao simply don’t deserve to play, leaving just one man – or rather boy. James Wilson. Perhaps a leap of faith is what is needed. Either way, something needs to happen and fast. Failure to qualify for the UEFA Champions League two seasons running would be catastrophic. More fool me for being confident, hey?

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