English Premiership

'Gaal-acticos' continue to struggle

2015-01-12 09:53
Robin van Persie (AFP)

Manchester - How could a front six including Angel Di Maria, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata fail to get a single shot on target in a 1-0 home defeat by Southmapton?

That was the question that Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal would have been wrestling with over his Sunday supper.

On paper it looks a formidable array of attacking talent, especially with wing backs Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw providing width on the lush Old Trafford turf.

Yet the reality was worrying.

Following an impressive climb up the table after a slow start to the season under Dutchman van Gaal, United have managed only one win in their last five and the goals have dried up.

Since a 3-1 win over Newcastle United on December 26, they drew 0-0 with Tottenham Hotspur, 1-1 with Stoke City and on Sunday lost to Southampton in the league for the first time in 27 years.

Despite having plenty of possession they created precious little against a well-drilled Southampton unit that cost a fraction of the hundreds of millions it cost to assemble United.

British record signing Angel Di Maria, playing up front alongside Van Persie, looked woefully out of position.

The £60 million Argentine is at his best on the left, running at defenders and providing cunning passes to the strikes but too often on Sunday he was asked to be little more than a hold-up player with his back to goal.

Van Persie cut a frustrated figure and, like Di Maria, was eventually substituted while Rooney grafted hard to little effect in the hole behind the strikers, rarely getting a sight of Southampton's goal.

Colombian striker Radamel Falcao was not even on the bench, a strange decision by Van Gaal considering he had scored two goals in his last four league appearances and was fit.

United lacked rhythm and Van Gaal does not appear to know the right combinations up front.

Fourth spot is a sign of progress considering the defensive injuries he has had to absorb but the reality is he has the same amount of points (37 from 21 games) as David Moyes managed at United last season before being sacked.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss was in a tetchy mood after the game when reminded of that fact.

"Yes. You have waited until this moment to put this question? This moment I have the same points as David Moyes? OK," he told reporters.

"We have to be better, we have to improve and that is why we are working hard and working on that.

"I have said already we were the dominating team, but we have to create more when you are the dominating team. I think Southampton came for the draw, and went away with the victory."


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

29 October 2016
Sunderland v Arsenal, Stadium of Light 13:30
Manchester United v Burnley, Old Trafford 16:00
Middlesbrough v Bournemouth, Riverside Stadium 16:00
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City, The Hawthorns 16:00
Watford v Hull City, Vicarage Road 16:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City, White Hart Lane 16:00
Crystal Palace v Liverpool, Selhurst Park 18:30
30 October 2016
Everton v West Ham United, Goodison Park 15:30
Southampton v Chelsea, St. Mary's Stadium 18:00
31 October 2016
Stoke City v Swansea City, Britannia Stadium 22:00
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2016/17 season?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.