After such a promising preseason, everyone was looking forward to the start of the new season. “New season, new manager, new formation” was the motto on everyone’s mind. Every United fan felt that a change was needed from last year. Finishing sixth is rather disappointing and it was inevitable that Moyes faced the sack. In my opinion, the manager’s fate was sealed as early as February when United drew with Fulham at Old Trafford. I can vividly remember United having an incredible 75% of the possession but there was no game plan or penetration in the last third. Actually Rio in his new book, 2Sides, goes on to criticise the manager in that game as he wanted to put in as many crosses as possible but it never worked as no one really bothered getting in the box. It could also be said that the year of Moyes in charge, there seems to be no pedigree or traces of footprints left, as the new manager has wiped off everything from the Moyes’era.
The first part of the season, we seemed to have struggled. In the games against Swansea, Sunderland, MK Dons and Burnley, United largely disappointed. Van Gaal chose to adopt a 3-4-1-2 system for these games and the system adopted was a failure simply as the results were poor. In a way, these disappointing results encouraged the Old Trafford hierarchy to heavily invest in the team, and with Rojo, Blind, De Maria, Herrera, Shaw and Falcao entering the fray, I believe that all of these are quality signings.
I went up for the West Ham game and it was great to see so many people from the local supporters club along with other regulars who attend most home games. I enjoyed exchanging my views with many knowledgeable supporters whilst travelling. Coming into the West Ham game, the main topics on the supporters’ agenda was that we could take some consolation from other rivals seeing them drop points and also our defensive frailties.
With regards our defensive frailties, this was evident in the previous game vs Leicester where we conceded 5 goals. Many believe that the issue lies with our central defenders who many argue are not up for the job. Personally, I believe that it is a combination of things and the balance of the team must be called into question. We are a very attacking minded team, and also, where once we had Valencia and Carrick performing their duties and helping out our defence, I believe that Blind, as good as he is with his range of passing, offers no protection to our defence, alongside Herrera. Rojo was outstanding against West Ham, and was a real leader. I am personally looking forward to a defensive partnership of Rojo and Jones. The away games will always pose a difficult challenge, especially when playing physical teams such as West Ham, Stoke, West Brom. Hopefully Rojo will adapt to the physicality of the Premier League and I believe that if he can keep his concentration intact, we have a potentially great defender.
Thankfully, we managed to reap six points from six from our last two home games. We all hope that it is the start of a winning run, considering that we have Chelsea and a derby game coming up very soon. The Everton game strangely enough took the same route as the West Ham game. We started brilliantly in the first half, and we couldn’t sustain the pressure and tempo in the second. De Gea, Rojo and De Maria were outstanding in the Everton game and deserve all the plaudits. It was also nice to see Falcao get his first goal for United against Everton. The supporters seemed to have taken to him and I am sure that he will be scoring lots of goals in the United shirt. Also, the standing ovation that I witnessed when he was subbed vs West Ham was impressive. I cannot remember another player who has made such a big impact on the supporters in such a small space of time.
A special mention must also go to De Maria and De Gea who have started the season well with De Gea helping us win the three massive points vs Everton.
When trying to analyse our season so far, it has just been ups and downs. The bottom line is that as at the end of September, we have not played any of our main rivals, and the big games against Chelsea and Man City are only round the corner. However, after the three consecutive home wins, we can start to build some momentum and hopefully, if we get the full three points in our next game against WBA and four points against Chelsea and Manchester City, I think that this will set up nicely for us and we can push on.
The team seems to be gelling by the week and if our balance throughout the team improves, together with the work rate, than we could be in for a good season. I also believe we are starting to make Old Trafford a fortress, as it once was under the Ferguson years’. A special mention should also go to United’s fans that have supported and have offered spectacular backing to the team from the terraces. They have been a great help to the team.