That was an eye opener. Here’s what we learned against Sunderland.
We need investment
It’s nothing new, but it became far more obvious today as it has done every game we play. The midfield is painfully low in quality, another defensive injury leaves us painfully short and as for wing backs, what wing backs? Things seem to be gaining pace in that side of things, a fee reportedly being agreed for Angel di Maria fills me with a certain level of confidence, but the lack of movement on another defender and any midfielder at all fills me with far more concern. Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia are the obvious players that need to be shown the door, and Darren Fletcher isn’t up to playing as regularly as he has to, carry on like this and he’ll be done in by Christmas. We will now have to pay over the odds for players, but we need more so to get out of this hole we’ve dug for ourselves. Over to you, Ed.
The tempo needs upping
Whether van Gaal is doing it purposefully or not, I’m not sure, but he seems to have us set up playing such a slow tempo with no cutting edge what so ever. If he is doing it purposefully to highlight our weaknesses, then he is a genius, because they are there for everyone to see. Tom “I can only pass it sideways and to the opposition” Cleverley and Darren “this ball may reach you, bit probably not” Fletcher can’t up a tempo. Valencia and Young don’t like beating men. Young we knew this about, Valencia used to do it with aplomb. For the goal, he turned back the clock and did what he does best, but three minutes after that it was back to modern-day Valencia. People saying “but I don’t know where Di Maria will fit in” are either blind or stupid (or perhaps both), he and Januzaj playing out there will have a whole different effect on things.
It wasn’t all bad
Tyler Blackett looks very good. There’s some fine tuning to be done, but he is only 20, and has only played two competitive first team games, he’ll get there. Jones improved greatly from last week, playing in the middle of the three seems to suit him quite well, United’s man of the match certainly. Januzaj came on and was the only player all game to want to shoot from outside the box, he didn’t score and it may not have come off for him, but he showed intent, I like intent. Welbeck put himself about, talks of him leaving over Hernandez are upsetting, sentiment aside he really isn’t as bad as people say. Rooney put it in and was ultimately frustrated, same for van Persie, he being fit is a major boost. Mata scored and then didn’t do a great deal more, but he was in the same boat as Rooney and van Persie.
To conclude, I’m going to recycle words spoken by our new manager. There is so much to do and such a small space of time to do it in, I genuinely fear it may not be done fully until January or beyond. The system is in place, and is being worked on day by day, but the players capable of playing it are in short supply and are very much-needed. As van Gaal has said “it will take a miracle to win the Premier League this season”. Never a truer word spoken.