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Deja Vu 2!

 Posted by on August 18, 2014 at 5:54 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Manchester United, Swansea City
Aug 182014

Manchester United 1-2 Swansea City
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Now do you get Louis van Gaal’s rhetoric about Manchester United’s stay in rehab taking much longer than we want. Deja vu? After this sad loss to Swansea City in the season opener, we realize that we were lucky to come in seventh last season, 22 points behind City’s grand total. Devoid of all ideas, United became demoralized the second after Ki put Swansea City into a well deserved lead. Faced with humiliation and embarrassment again, rather than at least put up resistance, United froze then capitulated.

Fans, players, ownership and management insist on all the clichés about attitude and change, but the pride and desire are long AWOL at every level. While the Glazer children bicker about selling the club, the man named to run it as an American-style CEO by them dithers and tries to negotiate every transfer like he’s in the bazaar. The lesson learned by Bayern Munich a few years back, just after the ouster of our own Van Gaal and before the hiring of Jupp Heynckes, is that the old politics of buying and selling are gone. Indeed when Bayern paid £45m for Javier Martinez to Athletic Bilbao as fixed and requested in his contrac,t it was a sea-change in the way they did business. When United attempted to ’negotiate’ with Athletic over Ander Herrera, they ran into a brick wall. United’s wasting of a year before actually finding the wherewithal to pull the trigger showed the whole professional footballing world that, rich as we are, the desire for success has been bloated up and softened by arrogance, greed and simply being out of touch with reality. From the boardroom down Manchester United are out of touch with reality!!!

Atypical was the Pierrot-like pathetic figure cut by Darren Fletcher, wearing the kit with all the panache of a bricklayer carrying the forged I.D. of a neurosurgeon. Already exhausted by the American tour. he is now incapable of protecting Ander Herrera, which should now be his only job. Always a dreadful passer, he now seems peripherally, challenged and, on the evidence of the day, simply unable to hold on to the ball. Even a player like Ryan Tunnicliffe, proclaimed surplus to requirements last year and sitting on Fulham’s bench, is light years ahead of the past-it pathetic Scot. Van Gaal has used injuries as an excuse a lot, but beyond Herrera, the distasteful truth is that we have no defensive midfielders whatsoever. Woodward’s election night rhetoric about buying the best players money can buy look more and more ridiculous as we inch toward squeaky-bum panic-buy time and Woodward considers buying a barely-ever-was-has-been, 32-year-old Philippe Mexes from A.C. Milan for £5m instead of spending a more than £30 to 40 million it’s going to cost for a quality performer like Mehdi Benatia. Actually, I’d even settle for concrete Ron Vlaar of Aston Villa over Mexes He’s slow, but fairly cheap and experienced in fitting with the Iron Tulip’s tactics. As bad as Evans, Jones and particularly Smalling can be because they’re all three pretty thick, Vlaar knows how to general a defense and would give the three back line donkeys the boot up the arse and the verbal bullying they deep down crave.

Well prepared by Gary Monk, just like last season, Swansea really were too street savvy for a soft, naive club of millionaires. Led by a savage Ashley Williams, Swansea were admirably merciless in their tackling, particularly on the misfield triumvirate of Herrera, Mata and Fletcher—who simply don’t own the stomach to reply in kind. it may have been there once for Fletcher when his benefactor-uncle Sir Alex Ferguson was there, but it’s gone now. Nobody will know better than Darren himself just how far his standards have slipped.

So what was it that Swansea offered up? Not much really. There’s nothing complicated about Swansea, they defend as a wolf pack and then hit you fast on the counterattack. There’s nothing more to it than that.f6f76016 5622 41a9 9736 8209ceeaeb2d 620x372 1 Deja Vu 2!

Up until the 28th minute, neither side threatened much. It was a remarkably dull game. When a lazy Ander Herrera gave up on following the industrious Ki, Swansea’s mountain of a striker Wilfried Bony was able to casually block a daydreaming Phil Jones. Simultaneously, a neat little bit of double give-and-go between Nathan Dyer and Gylfi Sugurdsson worked the ball to an unmarked Ki. With Smalling still keeping an eye on Bony, Ki was easily able to fire a perfect seeing-eye torpedo past David De Gea, who never saw it flying past him until too late.

What happened at half time kind of amazed me. Van Gaal and his coaching staff have been working with a 3-4-1-2 system since he took the job. Yet by half-time, he had seen enough. With both Jones and Smalling wincing in the vicinity of Bony, Van Gaal abandoned ship. With Ashley Young moved to left-back, the big Blackett moved inside to cope with Bony and Jones went to right-back as they formed a more orthodox 4-2-3-1 formation. This worked for about ten minutes. Rooney scored a beautiful goal with a kind of semi scissors kick-hook in off a Mata corner to make it 1-1, but that was to prove to be pretty much United’s last bit of true desire. With Rooney barely clicking and Javíer Hernandez about as much of a sleepwalker as he’s ever been in United kit, dud was the word!

Only Tyler Blackett did well in the back line. Another newbie Jesse Lingard, had his very first start ruined somewhere amidst a rough sequence of tackles with Neil Taylor, Ashley Williams and Nathan Dye, leaving the game early and leaving after the match in a cast and crutches. Will they turn out to be the new versions of the Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids, David Alaba and Thomas Muller Van Gaal brought up early to successful careers at other clubs? If Ed Woodward doesn’t do his job in the transfer window Manchester United fans may yet find themselves watching Tom Thorpe, Davide Petrucci, James Wilson, Guillermo Varela, Tom Lawrence and the Keane brothers be blooded.

A lot of folks are obsessing on Jonny Evans being injured because he’s “the best center-back at the club,” but this is the problem, not the solution. His ankle problem is not going away and, although he can be an absolutely wonderful tackler at decisive moments, his positioning skills have not not improved. I miss Rafael Da Silva, although I have no clue as to how Van Gaal feels about him and was puzzled to read that he was about to get his walking papers before a bunch of other players got injured. Surely he can be more effective than either of the erratic pair, Ashley Young or Tony Valencia. Van Persie is missed too, but it will take him a long time to get tuned up again just as it did last year. I’m not expecting much from him until the new year. Januzaj may deserve a place, but I can’t see where he can play unless he’s in the middle behind Rooney. Once again, the key is a high energy central midfielder and nobody at all seems to have a clue as to what is going on with Vidal and Juventus. There’s no way, it seems, that Marouane Fellaini can fit into the kind of specific stratagems practiced by Van Gaal and there is frustration all around.

As I write on Monday, the gossip is that we have indeed finally signed Marcos Rojo from Sporting Lisbon. Fingers crossed and–we hope!–more to come. We must all take it one day at a time.

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Ivor Irwin

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